During a trip to the Bahamas, UT Arlington blew out four teams by an average of 39 points per game and still found time to snorkel, fish and put on a basketball clinic for area youth.
Over six days, the Mavericks invaded the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort as part of their international tour allowed to a team every four years by the NCAA.
While basking in the luxuries that the Bahamas have to offer, UTA used four games against the Real Deal Shockers (93-67), PJ Stingers (114-64), Providence Storm (108-61) and the Atlantis All-Stars (109-77) to experiment with rotations and get a head start on the upcoming season. The final game was Monday night.
“It was an awesome trip,” coach Scott Cross said. “We grew a lot by spending every day together. You could take the number of passes we had last year and multiply it by three and get close to the number we had this week.”
Cross doesn’t have his starting five figured out this early, nor does he need to. But if the trip gave him anything, it’s solace in knowing that he can count on just about anyone to be an offensive presence on any given night.
UTA featured a different leading scorer in each of the four games against semi-pro teams. Kevin Hervey led in the opening game with 21 points, Drew Charles scored 20 in the second game, Brandon Williams had 17 in the third game, and Kaelon Wilson closed the week with a 25-point showcase.
“I feel a lot better after seeing this team in person,” Cross said. “We have eight or so guys that could make a case to start for us, but really everybody on this team has value and adds something to the team.”
It was a perfect getaway for a team that enters the 2015-16 season with higher expectations than they’ve had in recent years. By infusing a mix of junior college transfers to pair with last year’s talented freshman class, UTA has an interesting combination of youth and experience. There are only two seniors and one freshman on the roster.
The team’s potential made the foreign trip that much more important. After UTA’s last foreign trip in 2011, the Mavericks won a school-record 16 straight games and turned in the best season in school history.
As the only team in the conference to take a foreign tour this year, the Mavericks now have a leg up on the rest of the Sun Belt.
Foreign trips have proven to be a catalyst for successful seasons, according to USA Today, but the summer tour isn’t the time to dwell on the pressure of the upcoming season.
Instead, the Mavericks ate every meal together, toured the city of Nassau and even burst out into Lean On Me on the bus from Sir Kendal Isaacs Gym across town.
“I see a lot of the same characteristics as the one we had back in ,” Cross said. “This team is capable of winning a championship.”