One final shot at glory

Senior shooting guard Ben Smith played 21 minutes during the Dec. 2 game against Sul Ross State. Smith had four rebounds and a .750 free throw percentage. The Comets moved to 4-2 on the season with the 63-60 win, including 2-0 in conference. Photo by Will Nguyen | Mercury Staff.

The four seniors on the men’s basketball team have one last chance to make a run in both the ASC and NCAA tournaments after going 12-15 in 2016-2017, the team’s worst record in over a decade.

Last season, the Comets had eight losses within the ASC. Despite the Comets’ record, they finished the 2016 season on a high note. Senior shooting guard Ben Smith has one last chance of winning an ASC championship before he graduates.

“Our leadership wasn’t completely there, but this year we have four seniors, including myself,” Smith said. “If we can share what we have learned over the past three years, over the losses and the wins, I think we’re doing really well this year.”

Senior point guard Caleb Banks said he believes senior leadership and experiences are important in helping the younger players succeed because it allows them to learn from the senior athletes on the team.

“I want to show them the ropes and teach them how everything goes, but at the same time, help them to develop into the player they want to be,” Banks said. “You have to develop into your own player and see what works for you.”

The four seniors on the team have earned a variety of honors throughout their basketball careers. Banks earned a spot on the all-ASC First Team, and center Reagan Keogh was named the ASC East’s Defensive Player of the Year. In addition to this, the league’s preseason poll projected the Comets to place second in the ASC East.

“Last year, we kind of struggled early, but we finished strong, so I’m hoping we continue that momentum,” Keogh said. “I think that everyone’s goal is to win the ASC this year, and it’s definitely within our capabilities.”

Head coach Terry Butterfield named Keogh, Banks and senior guard Jon Hatcher “group leaders.”

The Comets started off the season with wins over Trinity University and Schreiner University to tip off the 2017 season before dropping a pair against Southwestern and UT Arlington. The 2-2 start is an improvement over last season, when the team lost its first four games. UTD also won the first two ASC games this season. Last season, the Comets went 1-3 to start ASC play. By starting off with these wins, the team is in a better position for seeding in the ASC tournament.

“I think we’re in a really good spot to compete athletically,” Keogh said. “I think that we can build off our preseason games and scrimmages to get off to a better start.”

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