The Movin’ Mavs begin the long trek toward a ninth national championship after falling short last season.
UTA finished in third place at the 2019 National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament after losing 82-76 in the semifinal round to the University of Alabama.
Head coach Doug Garner said he has noticed a positive difference in the team’s attitude coming into the 2019-20 season.
“They’re staying more mentally focused this year. They’re keeping their heads in the game, thinking ahead,” Garner said. “[We’re] starting to see some good basketball IQ from some of them.”
Seniors Fabian Romo and Clarence McCarthy-Grogan will be co-captains of the team, consisting of 10 returners and three newcomers.
The team’s last championship came in 2017, giving Garner his first title as head coach of the Movin’ Mavs.
McCarthy-Grogan said missing out on the championship final for the second year in a row served as a wake-up call for the team.
“This year we’re quite, quite hungry, more than ever,” McCarthy-Grogan said. “Having three of the last four here that are graduating from our last championship, it’s gonna mean that much more.”
Having players of different heights will help the squad strategically, graduate student Antoine Gray said.
He is already embracing the team’s ability to have multiple talented lineups that make the team more flexible based off the matchup an opponent presents.
“Each lineup brings something different,” Gray said. “They can go big and just tower over everybody [or] we can go smaller and be fast, and still be potent both ways.”
McCarthy-Grogan said the chemistry on the team this season reminds him of the beginnings of the 2017 championship season, but he knows he and his teammates have to keep studying and learning the game throughout the season.
“You gotta take it one game at a time, one tournament at a time,” McCarthy-Grogan said.
Senior Adryan Powell said he is optimistic about the Movin’ Mavs raising another championship banner because rival schools like the University of Alabama and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater lost key players over the off-season.
“‘Bama lost their top players, Whitewater lost their top players, and they were the only two teams above us,” Powell said. “We’re the most experienced.”
Garner said the expectations for the team are high because of the hard work and dedication the players have demonstrated in practice.
“The guys say championship game. I think there is a really good chance [we] will be in the championship game,” Garner said.