Sophomore Giovanni De Nicolao attempts a floater. Chase Otero/The Paisano

What to look for in Henson’s second season as head coach

Two years ago, UTSA men’s basketball had their worst season in program history. The 2015-2016 squad finished the season with a dismal 5-27 record, and their three wins in conference play placed them dead last in Conference-USA. Following that season, long-time Head Coach Brooks Thompson was fired, and UTSA hired former Oklahoma Sooner Assistant Coach Steve Henson to step in and replace him.

In the first year under Henson, UTSA men’s basketball improved quite a bit. The 2016-2017 men’s basketball team earned a 14-19 record in Henson’s first season as head coach. Although it isn’t an impressive record at first glance, it was a big step up from 2015. One of the biggest stories of last season was the team’s success on their home court. The Roadrunners were almost unbeatable when playing in the Convocation Center, going 11-3 at home. After seeing the stands nearly empty at every 2015 home game, it was refreshing to see UTSA fans fill the bleachers for men’s basketball once again last season.

Now, UTSA men’s basketball is on the horizon of a new season. In only his second season as head coach, Steve Henson will face quite a challenge.

Last season, the men’s basketball squad was led by forward Jeff Beverly. Beverly proved to be the heart and soul of the team, as he consistently led the team in scoring. Beverly averaged 15.8 points and six rebounds per game last year and quickly became the star of the team. Beverly played in all 33 games last season, and he put up a total of 522 points throughout the year, which was first on the team by a long shot. Byron Frohnen was second with 280 points to his name.

UTSA fans expected Beverly to return as the same leader and superstar for his final season. However, Beverly’s success in his 2016-2017 campaign drew the attention of other basketball programs, and over the offseason, Beverly jumped at an opportunity. Beverly accepted an offer to play with Big XII school Iowa State, and will play with the Cyclones for his final season.

With the departure of Beverly, there is now a massive hole the team must fill. As the 2017 season gets underway, there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the teams offensive production.

One of the surprises last year was freshman point guard Giovanni De Nicolao. He averaged a solid 8.7 points per game and over three assists. He was also a stickler on defense, averaging almost two steals per game. Heading into the new season, De Nicolao will try to avoid a sophomore slump and help fill the offensive void.

Frohnen was another impressive freshman on the court last year. With so much attention on Beverly, few took notice of Frohnen’s stellar freshman season. Frohnen averaged 8.5 points a game and led the team in field goal percentage with 47 percent. Frohnen also grabbed nearly seven rebounds a game and was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team at the end of the year. The Las Vegas native will look to follow up his impressive freshman year with an even better sophomore season.

This past weekend, UTSA men’s basketball played in an exhibition game against Sam Houston State in order to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Roadrunners were victorious with a score of 89-76. Freshman Keaton Wallace led the way with 22 points while shooting 6-7 from three-point range. De Nicolao also added 14 points of his own while earning four steals on defense and dishing out six assists.

If the exhibition matchup was any indicator of what’s to come, perhaps the Roadrunners are poised and ready to make a run at success in the 2017-2018 season and earn their first winning record since 2011. The ‘Runners home opener is Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the Convocation Center.

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