Henson applauds UTSA’s competitive edge, chemistry

Lachlan Bofinger. UTSA beat Lamar 88-66 on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Lachlan Bofinger has emerged at the start of camp as one of the most improved of the returning players for the UTSA Roadrunners. — Photo by Joe Alexander

After his seventh practice of the preseason, UTSA coach Steve Henson said Thursday that he likes the progress his team has made thus far.

“I’m very encouraged,” Henson said. “It’s a real competitive group. I mean, they get after it. They want to keep score on just about everything we do.

“We’ve got a good ability to compete and talk and fight each other, and then as soon as it’s over, they move past it.

“They don’t carry any grudges when things get a little rough. I think that’s a good sign for us.”

The Roadrunners are about a quarter of the way through their preseason. By rule, Division I programs get 30 practices.

Josh Farmer, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Houston Sharpstown, at the first day of UTSA men's basketball practice. - photo by Joe Alexander

Josh Farmer is a promising 6-9 freshman forward from Houston. – Photo by Joe Alexander

On Thursday afternoon, freshman forward Josh Farmer had a solid day, showing off an ability to hit jumpers, as well as a knack for finishing drives with soft banks off the glass.

Henson said he’s seen “quite a few” pleasant surprises.

“All of them have been good,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with the freshmen. Those guys are doing a great job.”

The coach also mentioned transfers Dhieu Deing (a junior) and Darius McNeill (a senior) for playing up to high expectations, with 6-6 sophomore Lachlan Bofinger emerging as one of the most improved players among the returners.

“It is early, but he is playing with so much confidence,” Henson said. “He just makes a lot of good plays. Doesn’t matter how we pick the teams. His team has a chance to win most of the time.”

After Farmer utilized his 6-foot-9 size and shooting touch to score a few baskets, Bofinger blocked his shot, saved it from going out of bounds and flung it downcourt to start a fast break.

The sequence ended with a resounding two-handed stuff by senior forward Cedrick Alley, Jr.

“He’s a pretty versatile guy,” Henson said of Bofinger, a native of Australia who averaged 9.9 minutes in 17 games last year as a freshman. “It looks like he’s taken a big step here. He’s relentless (in every practice). Every drill, every rep.”

The Roadrunners have suffered some adversity in the early going, the most notable being senior forward Adrian Rodriguez, who has elected not to play because of medical reasons.

Rodriguez has been slowed since 2017, his freshman year, by a knee injury.

In addition, freshman Lamin Sabally and junior transfer Aleu Aleu have also been held out of most of the camp thus far.

Aleu, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Temple JC, hasn’t had a full practice yet but he does attend and is gradually increasing his work load.

Sabally worked out on media day last Wednesday, on the first day, and he showed off potential as a wing defender.

But the 6-7 forward, slowed by a concussion, hasn’t practiced much this week though he could be cleared for more work by Saturday.

Frontcourt minutes available

Most of the talk as camp opened centered on how the team would make up for the loss of guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, the Nos. 1-2 scorers in school history, who are both pursuing pro careers.

But the team also has some questions to answer about the frontcourt, as well.

Rodriguez played some at backup center and power forward last season. Now that he has decided not to play, that is one void the team must figure out how to fill.

Also to be determined is a replacement for Eric Parrish, a starting small forward last season who elected last spring to leave the team.

Deing, a 6-foot-5 transfer, apparently is the guy to step in for Parrish.

He is a player of African descent who was born in Louisiana and played in high school in North Carolina. He attended Dodge City (Kan.) JC last year and, last summer, suited up for South Sudan’s national team in the FIBA AfroBasket tournament.

Deing shoots well from the perimeter and can create on the dribble.

Right now, he appears to be the leading contender to step into a starting lineup that would also include big men Jacob Germany at center, Alley at power forward, McNeill at point guard and Jordan Ivy-Curry at shooting guard.

Bofinger, Farmer, Aleu and Sabally are all players who could play both forward positions.

While Bofinger is a hard-driving type who thrives on creating havoc on the defensive end, Farmer is a burgeoning offensive talent.

Aleu was born in Kenya, in Africa, and Sabally in Germany.

Both have also played in high school in the United States, Aleu in high school in Austin and at Temple JC, and Sabally in prep school in Arizona.

Returning senior Phoenix Ford is expected to play a prominent role at the power forward position.