After coming off a national championship in 2017 and a regular season championship in 2020, the Movin’ Mavs have their sights set on winning again.
Losing is not an exception with the Movin’ Mavs. The team has a rich history of succeeding in the biggest moments, which is a reason why they have eight championships since 1991.
As of now, the Movin’ Mavs have competed in six games all against the University of Alabama and Auburn University, winning all of them en route to a perfect 6-0 record on the season.
The Movin’ Mavs were prepared to take on Alabama in the Homecoming Tournament, but due to inclement weather the series was canceled.
Head coach Doug Garner still has a positive outlook on the season despite things being moved around and players not being able to play as consistently.
“We won every game by a pretty good margin,” Garner said. “It’s a chess game now to finish the season, but I feel good about where we are.”
The Movin’ Mavs added four freshmen to the team this off-season, each one with their own story and experience playing wheelchair basketball. Sophomore Carrington Marendes said that with the practices the team has had has helped the team gel.
“I think the team overall, just playing together in practice and then it translating on to the court against other teams, it really helped us bond,” he said.
Marendes is only in his second year on the team and is already looked at as a leader and someone the younger players can come and learn from. He said his role is just to be a person who can help motivate his teammates.
“I feel like I did a pretty good job so far, I feel like my role is to lift up other people,” Marendes said. “Just to tell them to keep pushing and keep doing what they need to do.”
He said the team has done a good job so far, but the team has to keep their heads in the game and not get complacent with where they are.
“I feel like we haven’t even reached our peak yet, I feel like we’re still going up from here,” Marendes said. “All we can do is keep getting better and just try to do our best.”
Marendes credited the offense for playing well so far this season, but still wants to see improvement on that side of the ball as well as defensively.
Even with the rich history of winning this program has, the players on the court still have to buy into the ways the Movin’ Mavs run. Marendes said that not putting too much pressure on everyone and having fun on the court is the way to get everyone to buy in.
Another way this team is buying in is by having alumni James Ross, an instrumental part of the 2017 championship run, come in and help the team in an assistant coaching role.
Ross said he sees a big difference in this squad compared to his 2017 team. The 2017 Movin’ Mavs had a lot more experience and a full team.
“This year they’re a young team and it’s all on their backs, but they can definitely do it,” Ross said. “They’re getting better every time I see them.”
Ross said he understands that there is a ton of pressure on the young players to continue to win championships, but his role is to ease them into the game and teach them what they can do better.
“I like to come in and help the freshmen [and] sophomores as much as I can, because that's the most time that you learn,” Ross said.
Ross acknowledged that the team has massive potential and that the 6-0 start is good, but that's not equivalent to a championship.
“6-0 is good, but it’s not the end, you have to still play like you’ve lost all those games,” Ross said. “You have to play like you haven’t done anything, because it doesn’t matter until the championship game.”
The main thing Garner is trying to teach his team is consistency and preparation for the teams they haven’t seen this season.
“All of our games are against Alabama and Auburn, so we’re not in any games against the other three teams,” Garner said. “We can’t get complacent because we don’t know what they’re going to bring.”
He said the games against Alabama and Auburn help them smooth out the little things like consistency and making the right reads on the floor. He said he knows this team is good, but it's about finding out how to be great.
The Movin’ Mavs are scheduled to play the University of Arizona on Friday and Saturday. Garner said it is important that they get the support from the UTA community and have people livestream the games.