Resilience defines Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners

Steve Henson, UTSA beat Mid-American Christian 104-74 on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson has led UTSA into first place in Conference USA. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

In the first few years of the Steve Henson era at UTSA, one characteristic of his core group of players stands out above all the rest. It’s resilience. Physically, the Roadrunners won’t overwhelm anyone. But, like a wily boxer backed up on the ropes, they will deliver a devastating counter-punch when least expected.

Take, for instance, last year’s trip to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders thrashed the Roadrunners by 24 points and dropped them to 10-11 overall and 3-5 in Conference USA. But on the second stop on the trip, they somehow came up off the mat and delivered a few haymakers, winning 82-70 at UAB.

The rest is history, as the Roadrunners finished 20-15, including 11-7 in conference — the first 20-win season at UTSA in seven years. This season, it’s happened again. Starting the year without their best player, they plunged into their first few games and came up looking like Jerry Quarry against Muhammad Ali. They were 0-5 and reeling.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Southeastern Oklahoma State 70-67 on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson sat out the first three games this season to complete rehabilitation from a knee injury. He’s averaged 20.5 points since his return.

Undaunted, players on a trip to Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase talked among themselves and got some things straightened out. Since then, UTSA has ripped off a 10-2 record, including a seven-game winning streak and a school-record tying 4-0 start in conference.

Given all that, I talked to Coach Henson yesterday as he prepared his team for a return trip to Murfreesboro. I asked about his core group — Nick Allen, Giovanni De Nicolao, Byron Frohnen, Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace — and why he thinks those players are so resilient, so capable of handling adversity.

Here’s his response, in a Q&A format:

“A lot of factors there. It’s a very mature group. It’s a secure group. Got good leadership. And we’ve got so many guys whose only priority is finding a way to win. Doing whatever it takes to win. It’s a competitive, tough group. I’ve said it before. It’s not the type of group you’d literally want to get in an alley fight with. Basketball toughness, this group has it. They care about each other. There’s never been panic.

“This year, when we got off to a slow start, panic never set in. They knew we could right the ship. We just kept telling ’em, we have everything we need on this team to have a great year. And they believed that.

“Last year, you’re right on it. We lost a couple of games at home against teams that were not projected to be in the top half. We had an unbelievable stretch upcoming. Went to Middle Tennessee, and we were down 30 in that game. The next day, we had a great practice, a great film session.

“Pulled a few guys aside, the guys taking most of the shots. Jhivvan, Keaton and Deon (Lyle). Showed ’em their shots. Talked about getting better shots. Continuing to have that freedom, shooting it freely. Shooting it quickly. But let’s turn down a good shot for a great shot.”

Byron Frohnen. UTSA beat Southeastern Oklahoma State 70-67 on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Junior Byron Frohnen doesn’t need many shots to be effective. He leads the Roadrunners in rebounding. – Photo by Joe Alexander

So, part of it is just being coachable?

“Probably more succinct than what I just said, but, yeah. Willingness and coachability. For sure. Our season did turn at UAB last year. It was one of our best games of the year offensively and defensively. It was huge, because we were coming back home to play Marshall and Western Kentucky. With UTEP looming. So, our backs were against the wall. And our guys responded very, very well.”

When you’re recruiting, how do you find players who have those qualities?

“It’s hard. You watch body language. You talk to coaches. We try to recruit from successful programs. Guys who are used to winning. There’s great value in that. A lot of coaches value that. Sometimes, there’s going to be some unknowns. You just try to do as much work as you can … You want guys that just love to play, guys that are hungry. Guys that care about their teammates.”

It sounds as if some of the players got together after the loss to South Dakota State earlier this season and talked it over.

“When your players take ownership of your program, you’ve got a much better chance of being successful. I mean, we want it. We know they want it. They know coaches want it. When it comes from them, it’s got much more weight. And it doesn’t have to be upperclassmen.

“You know, leadership can come from anyone. When it comes from the players, it means a lot. Not surprised that they were frustrated (on the trip to Florida). But they also know that we could turn it around. (That) there was no doubt. I keep talking abouut panic. But there was no doubt. They believed.”


Last Saturday, UTSA played its trademark tough defense in defeating North Texas, 76-74. With the performance, the Roadrunners snapped the Mean Green’s eight-game winnning streak and took over first place in the conference.

Hype is building for North Texas-UTSA showdown

When UTSA basketball players ran through drills in practice on Friday afternoon, they’d look up to see a television camera in their face.

It was at least the second time this week that a local TV station dispatched a crew to cover a workout.

Not a game, mind you. A practice. And not in March, either. In the second week of January.

Roadrunners coach Steve Henson said he welcomes the attention.

“Hey that’s important for our program,” he said.

It’s not surprising that the Roadrunners are starting to attract notice.

After all, first place in Conference USA is on the line Saturday at 3 p.m. when the surging North Texas Mean Green pay a visit to the UTSA Convocation Center.

North Texas is 16-1 and is riding an eight-game winning streak. Perhaps more compelling, UTSA is 9-7 with six victories in a row, after starting the season at 0-5.

“It’s no secret we didn’t start the season real well,” Henson said. “Our schedule was tough early. We weren’t playing great. But now we are. Nine (wins) out of 11 (games). Six in a row. We hope there’s some buzz around the program.”

Having North Texas in the house on a Saturday afternoon certainly helps.

Games between the two squads are usually pretty intriguing, anyway, but this year it’s different.

This year, North Texas is 4-0 and sitting atop the C-USA standings, while UTSA trails in second at 3-0.

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said it would mean a lot on a number of levels to win and take over first place.

First, if the Roadrunners can win, they would tie a 30-year-old school record and would become only the second team in school history to open conference play at 4-0.

“That,” Wallace said, “would be big time.”

In addition, it would also feel good for players to beat an in-state rival that has won four in a row in the head-to-head series against the Roadrunners.

Last year, the Mean Green erased a 13-point deficit and beat the Roadrunners 72-71 at the Convocation Center.

Later, North Texas routed UTSA 80-62 at Denton, in the first game after Roadrunners guard Jhivvan Jackson was knocked out for the season with a knee injury.

The game in San Antonio stands out as the most emotional of the two.

At the end, with UTSA trailing by the eventual final score, UTSA’s Giovanni De Nicolao raced the length of the court on the dribble, stretched out for a layup in traffic and saw it skip off the rim.

“We know they got us last year,” Wallace said. “We expect them to come out hard and ready to play. We got to protect home court.”

Notable

Nick Allen hit career highs in both points (20) and three-pointers (four) against Rice Thursday night. De Nicolao’s 19 points were a season high. The Roadrunners hammered the Owls, 95-79, establishing team season highs in points, field goal percentage (49.3) and three-pointers made (12) against Division I competition.

North Texas survived a challenge from UTEP Thursday night in El Paso, winning 58-51. Redshirt freshman guard Umoja Gibson played well off the bench with 13 points and seven rebounds. Roosevelt Smart scored 13, Michael Miller had 11 and 6-foot-10 Zachary Simmons contributed 10 points and four rebounds.

UTSA wins its fifth straight, knocks off UTEP, 67-63

For the UTSA Roadrunners, an 0-5 start to the season is a thing of the past.

The Roadrunners won their fifth straight game and their second straight over UTEP in three days, downing the Miners 67-63 Saturday night in El Paso.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson has returned from inury to average 20.5 points per game this season. – Photo by Joe Alexander, Jan. 3 at UTSA.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson produced 24 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the Roadrunners, who rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 17 minutes.

“We went to that zone (defense) that we had in our back pocket,” Jackson told the team’s radio broadcast. “We worked on it. We just kept moving around and made ’em uncomfortable, and they weren’t making shots, and we just executed on offense.”

UTSA improved to 2-0 in Conference USA competition and to 8-2 in its last 10 since opening the season with the five straight losses.

Jackson sat out the first three games of the year as he completed rehabilitation from a knee injury.

The sophomore from Puerto Rico has returned to average 20.5 points in 12 outings. He’s scored 20 or more in nine of his last 10 games.

Records

UTSA 8-7, 2-0
UTEP 5-8, 0-2

Notable

Keaton Wallace came alive in the second half with 11 of his 16 points. Wallace burned UTEP for 23 in a 75-60 victory Thursday night in San Antonio. Nick Allen, meanwhile, continued to play well with 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Byron Frohnen pulled down 13 rebounds.

Quotable

“It was a good win, to go on the road and find a way.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.

UTSA’s De Nicolao weighing options on pro basketball

Giovanni De Nicolao. Texas State beat UTSA 69-68 on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Giovanni De Nicolao drives to the bucket against Texas State.

UTSA junior Giovanni De Nicolao confirmed Friday that he is on pace to graduate in the spring and could elect to make the jump to professional basketball next season.

De Nicolao, from Padua, Italy, is a third-year starting point guard for the Roadrunners.

He made his remarks as UTSA (2-6) prepares to host NAIA Mid-America Christian (6-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

“I still have open thoughts about everything,” De Nicolao said. “I didn’t make my mind (up), for sure. I’m … talking to people at home, about going back there and playing in Europe or in Italy.

“But, I also have the opportunity (to stay at UTSA). It’s always good to finish your four years eligibility and get a masters (degree).”

UTSA coach Steve Henson said he knew in the summer that this season might be De Nicolao’s third and last as a Roadrunner.

It all depended on whether his playmaker could take a heavier course load in the fall and the spring to earn an undergraduate degree.

De Nicolao said he is set to complete 17 hours this fall — he is currently holding down five ‘A’ grades and one ‘B’ — and another 16 hours in the spring.

He said he also needs to complete an internship next summer to complete his kinesiology degree requirements.

Henson said he is proud of De Nicolao for his work in the classroom, which will yield an earlier-than-anticipated degree, all while opening a door to get a jump start on a pro career — if that’s what he wants.

“It gives him options, which is great,” Henson said. “You never want to restrict someone in a situation like that. He made the decision to come to the (United) States. He came here to get a degree and play college basketball. The plan all along was to go back and hopefully play professionally back home.

“So, the fact that he’s able to do all that in three years is pretty impressive. But we didn’t want him to shut the door on the opportunity to come back (UTSA), you know. If we have a good year and at the end of the year he decides that he wants one more year, one more crack at it, we want that to be an option for him, as well.”

De Nicolao has started and played every game for the Roadrunners (76 in all) since arriving for the 2016-17 season.

He is averaging 7.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists this year.

Notable

UTSA is coming off a 69-68 home loss to Texas State last Saturday. Sophomore guards Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson are leading UTSA in scoring at 17.6 and 16.8 points per game, respectively. Jackson has played five games since returning from a knee injury.

Quotable

“I like the mindset. We’re defining and refining roles a little bit more this week. I think everybody’s settling in and understanding the significance of that. Hopefully that’ll allow us to be more efficient offensively. That’s the big key right now. We’re playing pretty hard defensively … But offense is where we’ve got to be sharper.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson, on the team’s recent practices.

UTSA’s Jackson has delivered ‘in a huge way’ since return

Guard Jhivvan Jackson said it feels “really good” to be back on the floor, playing in games again for the UTSA Roadrunners.

UTSA's Jhivvan Jackson shoots around before the Roadrunners' game against Oklahoma on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The sophomore guard has not played yet this season while he rehabs from an injury he suffered last season. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson shoots around before a
Nov. 12 home game against Oklahoma. – photo by Joe Alexander

Likewise, it feels good for the Roadrunners to see their leading scorer from a year ago rounding into form.

“He’s worked so hard,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said Thursday afternoon. “He’s had such a good offseason in so many ways.”

The offseason, for Jackson, was both painful and grueling.

Knocked out at the end of last season with a left knee injury, he underwent anterior cruciate ligament surgery and spent months consumed with strength exercises, combined with basketball workouts.

Jackson sat out the first three games of the new season, but he has since returned to play the last four, averaging 15.5 points in 16.5 minutes off the bench in that span.

It’s hardly a coincidence that UTSA (2-5) has won two straight leading into a Saturday afternoon test at home against the Texas State Bobcats (6-1).

“We were struggling a little bit offensively,” Henson said. “So, it was nice to throw him into the mix. The guys are ready to embrace him in that regard, (and) he’s delivered in a huge way — basically, a point a minute.

“So, it’s pretty amazing to be out that long and step in and do what he’s doing.”

Jackson was cleared medically before UTSA’s three-games in three-days trip to Florida from Nov. 14-16 at the Gulf Coast Showcase.

Originally set to return in the first week of December, he said the doctor told him that he could play in the tournament if he felt he was ready.

Jackson said he had felt ready earlier than that but didn’t want to risk anything.

“I felt great before the first game I played,” he said. “For a couple of practices before that, I felt really great. I told the coach I was ready.”

In the early stages of his return, Jackson has been on a minutes restriction. It was 15 minutes for the three games in Florida and then 20 on Monday in an 86-82 victory at Houston Baptist.

Jackson said he’ll likely be limited to about 20 against Texas State, as well.

Regardless, he has looked good, scoring 21 points each of UTSA’s last two games.

Henson said Jackson’s defense sparked a 12-0 run that erased a six-point deficit late in the game at HBU.

“We got down, and we came out of a timeout, and he was the one that really set the tone defensively,” Henson said. “(He) picked up the ball, got a little ball pressure, ignited our defense.

“He’s a competitor. He’s tough. He’s quick. We count on him for scoring, but he can do other things, as well. Getting him back in there is helping us.”

What if? Lon Kruger once got a call to gauge his interest in UTSA

Before Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger left the UTSA Convocation Center Monday night with his 621st career victory, I knew I had to ask him about a story that I’d heard for years.

Did former UTSA athletic director Rudy Davalos really call him back in the 1980s, inquiring about whether he wanted to coach the Roadrunners?

“I think we had that conversation,” Kruger said.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. — Photo by Joe Alexander

As the story goes, Davalos was worried that he was about to lose Don Eddy, who was interviewing for the head coaching job at Oral Roberts in Oklahoma.

Which prompted Davalos to start looking around to see who might be available to fill the void.

He ended up calling Kruger, who was in his 30s and coaching the Pan American University Broncs in Edinburg.

Pan American is now known as UT Rio Grande Valley.

“I don’t remember the details,” Kruger said. “But as you mention that, it seems like there’s some truth to that. We had a conversation about, ‘What if?’ ”

As it turned out, Eddy did not get the Oral Roberts job.

He returned to UTSA for a fifth season, and Kruger would continue to build his program in the Valley.

By the spring of 1986, Pan American won 20 games, and after the season, Kruger got a much better opportunity.

He took over in the offseason at Kansas State, his alma mater, and ended up reeling in a pretty good recruit by the name of Steve Henson.

As Kruger’s very first recruit in Manhattan, Henson went on to star as a point guard for the Wildcats.

Now in his third year as UTSA’s coach, Henson would also play several years in the NBA.

“Steve was our first recruit,” Kruger said. “He was a fantastic player and a great leader. No surprise that he’s continued that throughout his life.”

Henson later served as an assistant under Kruger at Illinois, with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, at UNLV and at Oklahoma.

Kruger was the first college coach to lead five different programs to the NCAA tournament.

He’s coached two teams to the Final Four, including his 2016 OU team, which was aided at the time by Henson.

“He’a just had an unbelievable work ethic,” Kruger said of the UTSA coach. “He had it as an NBA player and as an assistant coach. Now he’s doing it as a head coach.”

UTSA coach Steve Henson. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Postscript

For the record, Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday night in front of a rowdy crowd of 2,494.

With the victory, Kruger improved to 621-395 in his career. He is 4-3 against UTSA, including 2-3 in his four years at Pan American and now 2-0 at OU.

As for whether he would have come to UTSA if Eddy had left the program, we’ll never know.

“It just didn’t happen,” Kruger said.

Lon Kruger vs. UTSA

Legendary college basketball coach Lon Kruger is 4-3 in his career against UTSA, including 2-3 when he worked at Pan American and 2-0 at Oklahoma.

1983-84

Jan. 28, 1984 – At Edinburg – UTSA def. Pan American, 68-67

Feb. 25, 1984 – At San Antonio – UTSA def. Pan American, 75-68

1984-85

Jan. 19, 1985 – At San Antonio – Pan American def. UTSA, 79-70

Jan. 24, 1985 – At Edinburg – UTSA def. Pan American, 60-59

1985-86

Jan. 25, 1986 – At San Antonio – Pan American def. UTSA, 84-71, OT

2017-18

Dec. 4, 2017 – At Norman, Oklahoma – Oklahoma def. UTSA, 97-85

2018-19

No. 12, 2018 — At San Antonio – Oklahoma def. UTSA, 87-67

UTSA braces for a visit from the Oklahoma Sooners


UTSA coach Steve Henson starts practice Sunday afternoon in preparation for a much-anticipated home game Monday night against the Oklahoma Sooners.

On a rainy Sunday afternoon at UTSA, assistant basketball coach Mike Peck stopped outside the locker room, opening his eyes wide when asked about the challenge of playing a home game against the Oklahoma Sooners.

“I thought about staying in church til game time, just praying,” Peck said. “Steve said, ‘No.’ ”

Peck’s boss, UTSA head coach Steve Henson, smiled at his assistant’s comment.

Henson acknowledged the challenge at hand in facing the Sooners, for whom he worked as an assistant before taking the job at UTSA in 2016.

But he also said it’s not necessarily in his team’s best interest to slow it down.

Oklahoma (1-0) and UTSA (0-1) will tip off on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

“They’re an imposing looking crew,” Henson said. “They are. They’ve done a great job. A couple of those skinny guys came in there, and Bryce Daub on the (OU) strength and conditioning staff has done a great job, bulking them up.

“We’re not going to out-muscle ’em. We’re not going to overpower ’em. But, we’re going to try to spread ’em out, move ’em, attack ’em.

“A lot of times, when you’re playing an elite program like that, you’re worried about trying to slow things down, thinking fewer possessions is better, that fewer possessions is going to increase your chances for winning.

“We’re not going to look at it that way. I don’t know that that’s to our advantage. I think more possessions is better than fewer possessions.”

UTSA hopes to contend for a conference championship


UTSA forward Nick Allen rises up to hit a corner three-pointer in practice. The Roadrunners open the season Nov. 7 at home against St. Edward’s.

Eight days before showtime, third-year UTSA basketball coach Steve Henson stopped to talk to reporters after practice Tuesday afternoon and said he wants his team to compete for a championship.

Since UTSA has been picked to finish fifth in the C-USA poll, reporters asked Henson if the goals are loftier than that, given all the talent returning from a 20-win team.

“We’re not talking about a number of wins or any of that,” Henson said. “But we’re moving in the right direction. We’re stronger than we were. We’re deep. We got some pretty good maturity, some good leadership. We’re trying to position ourselves to make a run at a league title.”

The Roadrunners kick off the season at home against St. Edward’s, an NCAA Division II team from the Heartland Conference, on Nov. 7. On Nov. 12, UTSA will welcome coach Lon Kruger and the high-powered Oklahoma Sooners.

A starting lineup could consist of Nick Allen and promising newcomer Atem Bior in the post positions, with Byron Frohnen at wing and Keaton Wallace and Giovanni De Nicolao at the guard spots.

UTSA is expected to have one of the better backcourts in the conference, especially when sophomore Jhivvan Jackson is cleared to play.

Jackson, UTSA’s leading scorer last year, is recovering well from a knee injury and is tentatively set to play in early December, Henson said.

A promising newcomer

Henson said he has been particularly pleased with the play of Bior, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound power forward from Brisbane, Australia, who will bring a physical style under the glass.

“He’s a strong guy,” Henson said. “He’s extremely quick, rebounds the ball above the rim. You know, we got a bunch of guys that box out and chase after rebounds, but you notice him getting rebounds up higher than the other guys.”

Bior, who played last year at New Mexico Military Institute, averaged 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in leading the Broncos to an 18-12 record.

He started 29 of 30 games, shooting 48 percent from the field and 76 percent at the free-throw line. Bior is classified as a junior.

UTSA power forward Atem Bior hails from Brisbane, Australia.

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson expected to return in December

High-scoring guard Jhivvan Jackson’s return from a knee injury is now projected for “early December,” UTSA men’s basketball coach Steve Henson said Tuesday.

Late in the summer, Henson and his staff were hopeful that Jackson would be able to play in the Nov. 7 season opener against St. Edward’s.

Jhivvan Jackson

But the coach confirmed the new timetable after putting his team through its first official practice at the Convocation Center.

“The doctor, in studying that data, just changed his philosophy a little bit,” Henson said. “It pushes his return back. Which increases his chance for a full recovery, which is what we want.

“But we’ll miss him in some of those games now.”

The Roadrunners will play seven games in November, a schedule that includes a Nov. 12 home date against the Oklahoma Sooners.

They’ll play another six games in December, including a Dec. 15 game in North Little Rock against Arkansas.

Conference USA play opens Jan. 3 at home against the UTEP Miners.

Last season, Jackson set the school’s freshman scoring record with 534 points and led the team with 18.4 per game.

He suffered the injury on Feb. 24 in a home game against Louisiana Tech and sat out the remainder of the season, during which UTSA finished 20-15.

It was UTSA’s first 20-win season since 2011.

The former Puerto Rico junior national team guard had surgery in the third week of March.

High expectations

UTSA is expected to be strong again this season, with a backcourt including returning standouts Jackson, Keaton Wallace and Giovanni De Nicolao.

Before Jackson returns to the lineup, Henson could go with a starting guard personnel that would include Wallace, De Nicolao and Byron Frohnen, who swings between the wing and power forward.

Or, he could plug in one of his two freshmen standouts — Adokiye Iyaye or Tamir Bynum.

Senior Nick Allen leads a contingent of post players that include Adrian Rodriguez, newcomer Atem Bior and Toby Van Ry.

Giovanni De Nicolao. UTSA beat Lamar 76-69 on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at the UTSA Convocation Center in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Photo by Joe Alexander

Giovanni De Nicolao

Quotable

“We’re a veteran team right now. I think we can step up and show what we can do this year. Of course, we can still shoot from three. We can run. We just got to improve on some defensive things.” — UTSA junior guard Giovanni De Nicolao.

UTSA set to open three-game Costa Rica exhibition series


Still recovering from a knee injury, UTSA star Jhivvan Jackson (2) is running and practicing with the team this summer but won’t play in the team’s three-game series in Costa Rica.

The UTSA men’s basketball team is set to open on Monday a three-game series of exhibitions in Costa Rica.

Third-year Roadrunners coach Steve Henson put the team through 10 workouts in San Antonio leading into the trip.

The coach will have 10 players available, including forward Adrian Rodriguez, who sat out last season after injurying his knee in the regular-season opener.

In addition, newcomers Tamir Bynum, Adokiye Iyaye, Atem Bior and Knox Hellums will see action for the first time.

“The basketball portion is an opportunity for the new guys to get meshed into the system with the returners,” Henson said in an interview on campus last week. “The) things we’re doing now are things that will take quite a bit of time to do when the official season starts.

“So, we’re getting some that stuff out of the way now. Help them create that comfort level.”

Key players from last year, including Giovanni De Nicolao, Keaton Wallace and Nick Allen, are set to play.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson (knee) and forward Byron Frohnen (hand/wrist) won’t play.

Jackson, the leading scorer for a 20-15 team last year, is hopeful of returning to play some time around the start of the season after undergoing surgery last spring.

He has been running and shooting but hasn’t been cleared yet for contact.

“I feel great,” Jackson said last week. “You know, I’m getting better every day. I’m starting to do all the drills except the physical (contact).

“When we get back from Costa Rica, I’m going to get the knee brace. Then, most likely, two weeks after the knee brace, close to a month, I’m going to be able to do the physical (contact in practice).”

Costa Rica exhibitions

Monday — UTSA vs. University of Calgary
Tuesday — UTSA vs. University of Calgary
Wednesday –UTSA vs. U21 Costa Rica national team

UTSA roster

Jhivvan Jackson, sophomore, guard, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Byron Frohnen, junior, forward, Las Vegas
Tamir Bynum, freshman, guard, Houston
Giovanni De Nicolao, junior, guard, Padua, Italy
Mitar Stanojevic, junior, forward, Serbia
Adokiye Ayaye, freshman, guard, Oklahoma City
Adrian Rodriguez, redshirt freshman, forward, Tulsa
Knox Hellums, junior, guard, Tomball/Pepperdine
Keaton Wallace, sophomore, guard, Dallas
Atem Bior, junior, forward, Brisbane, Australia
Nick Allen, senior, forward, Surprise, Arizoona
Toby Van Ry, senior, forward, Fort Collins, Colorado

Notable

UTSA finished 20-15 last season, including 11-7 and fifth place in Conference USA. The Roadrunners reached the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. It was UTSA’s first 20-win season since the 2010-11 squad finished 20-14. Forward Deon Lyle and George Willborn III, who had eligibility remaining, are no longer with the team.

Quotable

“To be honest, we as a team, got really high expectations for ourselves. The main goal is to win the conference and go to the (NCAA) tournament … We got new guys coming in to help us get there and give us energy.” — UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson