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Freshmen show bright future for UNT sports
Tim Cato / Senior Staff Writer
A mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors on a team is typical around all of college sports, but getting contributions from a freshman is not always the norm. Despite that, several Mean Green freshmen are breaking that stigma by becoming key factors in their team’s success.
Two freshmen on the women’s basketball team, forward Alexis Hyder and guard Loryn Goodwin, are excellent examples of this. Hyder leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks, while Goodwin is second in points and tops the team in steals and three-pointers made.
“We handle the pressure by being dependable,” Hyder said. “If we don’t handle our business on the court, we’re going to be accountable later. I’d rather play well than be accountable for it later.”
Goodwin said the entire team helped her adjust, but singled out assistant coaches Cayla Petree and Wesley Brooks as playing significant roles in her development.
Coming into the season, freshman guard P.J. Hardwick was not expected to have a huge role on the men’s basketball team, but when sophomore starting point guard Chris Jones was injured with a broken foot, Hardwick was forced to step in..
Though men’s basketball has had its fair share of struggles this season, Hardwick has been a bright spot for the team.
Since Jones’ injury, Hardwick has started eight straight games, averaging 6.4 points, 4.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He attributes his work ethic as a reason he was able to step in immediately and produce after getting inconsistent opportunities before.
“I’m constantly in the gym working on my game almost every night and anytime I have breaks,” Hardwick said.
The volleyball team had its best season in recent history, reaching the Sun Belt Conference Tournament finals before losing to nationally ranked Middle Tennessee State University. Freshman outside hitter Carnae Dillard played so well that she was honored with the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year award.
Dillard said she had to avoid letting outside influences impact her on the court.
“Being here and being focused, and [leaving] things like having a bad day at school outside the gym, so you can come in here and work your hardest.”
Dillard said that UNT’s welcoming environment helps many freshmen succeed.
“I love it here,” Dillard said. “Even the first day I met a ton of new people and was just ready to come out and have a new experience.”