Troy Greisen endured a noisy bus ride to North Texas on Tuesday, and couldn’t have been happier about it.
Greisen, chief executive officer of Special Abilities of North Texas, contacted UNT men’s basketball coach Tony Benford in the fall to see if his team would be willing to work with the special-needs adults who spend their afternoons at the facility he oversees in Lewisville.
That phone call led to an afternoon clinic that saw members of the UNT men’s and women’s teams work with more than a dozen special-needs adults from the center for an hour at the Ken Bahnsen Center. UNT’s players shot baskets and passed the ball around with several campers.
“We want to give back to the community,” Benford said. “These are special-needs kids. We want them to feel special. I think our kids get more out of it than the special-needs kids.”
Benford and members of his staff spoke to the campers before allowing them to interact with his team. UNT women’s coach Mike Petersen and the rest of the staff also helped with the camp.
“When we got them on the bus, they were screaming the whole way here they were so jacked up,” Greisen said. “It was awesome.
“They didn’t know what they were getting into, but for them to get out into the community and feel included builds their self-esteem.”
UNT earns No. 1 seed in Sun Belt tourney
UNT earned the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt Conference tournament, which will begin Thursday at Louisiana-Lafayette.
UNT, the defending tournament champion, will face the winner of a first-round match between No. 8 Florida International and No. 9 Arkansas-Little Rock.
UNT (15-5) is ranked 60th nationally.
“We worked for it,” UNT coach Sujay Lama said. “We were consistent this year and didn’t really have any lapses. I can only point to two matches where we were not quite prepared the way we were for the rest of our matches.”
UNT capped the regular season with easy wins over Sun Belt rivals Troy (4-1) and Middle Tennessee (4-0).
“We have the best schedule and, on paper, the best draw,” Lama said. “Now we have to go out there and deliver.”
Dykstra credits stay at UNT for shot at Utah position
Joe Dykstra was named the head coach at Utah on Tuesday, ending his seven-year stay at UNT — one he credited for helping him prepare for a return to the Pac-12.
Dykstra was a team captain at Washington and later spent six years as the associate head coach at his alma mater before becoming the head coach at UNT.
“North Texas is a great place and I am grateful for my time here,” Dykstra said. “This was my first job as a head coach. I learned how to manage a program. This was one of the 10 worst teams in Division I when I got here, and we finished this year ranked in the top four of the mid-major poll. We have come a long way.”
Dykstra worked with both the men’s and women’s teams at Washington and now will be in charge of a program with both men’s and women’s programs at Utah.
UNT only sponsors a women’s team.
“I wasn’t looking for a new job, but they came calling,” Dykstra said. “I couldn’t be more excited about coaching both a men’s and women’s team.”
UNT to face Baylor today riding five-game slide
UNT will face Baylor in a 4 p.m. doubleheader today, when the Mean Green will try to snap a five-game losing streak.
The Mean Green (18-19, 6-9 Sun Belt) fell under the .500 mark after being swept by South Alabama in a doubleheader Saturday before Sunday’s game was rained out.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.