The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Mustangs looking to make a move in Conference USA

Doherty optimistic about team’s future in 2008

SMU men’s head basketball coach Matt Doherty has settled in his office at the Crum Center and now is focused on building a successful Mustang squad for the 2008-2009 season, but he had a summer he will not soon forget.

The globetrotting coach traveled from Africa to Las Vegas, met a famous actor and survived an earthqauke.

Doherty and the Mustangs kicked off the summer by traveling to overseas in late May, where players Mouhammad Faye, Papa Dia and Bamba Fall visited their home country of Senegal. The Mustangs scrimmaged the Senagalise and South African national teams and learned about African culture.

Doherty, who announced his plans of taking the trip to the team last fall, said he brought along a professor and an academic adviser to teach the team about African customs.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Doherty. “We did a lot of team building, and we got to learn about another culture…The guys showed a lot of respect to the national teams and to the families of their players.”

Fall and Dia, both post players, are the top returning scorers on this year’s team. Faye, a transfer from Georgia Tech, will be eligible to play when first semester ends.

In July, Doherty went to Las Vegas to scout a prestigious high scvhool basketball tournament, but got more than he bargained for when an earthquake rocked the gym. Later, he met fellow New York native and Hollywood star Denzel Washington, whose son was playing in the tournament.

Doherty has been tackling the task of reeling in young talent, which he hopes will translate to more wins in the upcoming years. Last year, the Mustangs’ roster was packed with seven freshmen, and this year four freshmen have joined the program.

Paul McCoy, a freshman point guard from Oregon, chose the Mustangs over perennial powerhouse Kentucky. He will likely fill the void left by departed senior Jon Killen, who last year led the team in scoring.

Forwards Cort Hodge and Frank Otis, and guard Justin Haynes fill out the freshman class. Derrick Williams, a junior college transfer, is also a newcomer.

Doherty hopes the new players can help the Mustangs, a tenth-place finisher in Conference USA last season, compete with the conference’s top teams. The Memphis Tigers beat the Mustangs twice last year and went on to play in the national championship.

Doherty held a team meeting Sunday, in which he called on Fall – the Mustangs’ only senior – to take on a leadership role and announced to the other players the ground rules of the program.

“I feel like we finally have a program in place, instead of just a team,” said Doherty. “By now, we’ve established a culture and a set of expectations, which the upperclassmen and former players can pass down.”

The Mustangs, who finished 10-20 last season, begin practicing Oct. 17 and play their first game on Nov. 14 against the South vFlorida Bulls.

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