UTRGV MBB hosts first practice of new season
RIO GRANDE VALLEY – Today marked the beginning of the 2023-24 season as The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) men's basketball team hosted their first official practice of the fall semester.
Head Coach Matt Figger proclaimed the importance of maximum effort in today's practice that will help set the tone for the rest of the season. The Vaqueros drilled hard, worked through offensive and defensive sets, and competed through every moment of practice.
"If I have to continuously coach effort, we're not going to be any good," Figger said. "Teams that are self-motivated will win. Guys that get competitive in practice will create a buzz and make the next person more competitive. It will catch like a wildfire."
Figger coached the importance of staying in line and not allowing opposing offenses to enter the middle of the paint. The no-middle defense instituted has proven to be a successful system to slowing down high-powered offenses and generating transition opportunities.
"This team is going to resemble my personality," Figger said. "My personality is to be aggressive in everything we do. Go earn it, go take it."
Offensively, the Vaqueros hope to compound on the success they saw last year when they finished the year first in the nation in free throw attempts and top three in the conference in assists per game, field goal percentage, and effective field goal percentage.
UTRGV is coming off a 15-17 season in Figger's second season at the helm. The Vaqueros are looking to improve their win total for the third straight season in 2023-24.
"We were probably 10 possessions away from winning 20 games," Figger said. "I blame myself. I have to evaluate myself and see where I can improve and how I can address the needs to help our team get better."
This year's squad welcomes eight newcomers to the team. The seven returners will be crucial in helping the newcomers become more familiar with the system and culture that Figger has implemented into this program.
Senior Daylen Williams was one of the 13 newcomers that joined the team last season and is looking to expand his role on-the-court and off-the-court.
"Leading by example," Williams said. "Truthfully, I'm not the most vocal person but leading by example and helping the new guys that don't know the plays. I'm doing what I can to show them what it takes, especially, on the mental side. The mindset that you have coming into a game or practice is extremely important."
Williams brings a level of success and consistency that saw him win UTRGV Men's Newcomer of the Year. The Vaqueros will continue to practice with that fire and intensity that exemplifies Figger's personality as they prepare for the season opener later this fall.
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