North Texas opens its 2017-18 season with a match-up against the Eureka College Red Devils. A lot of excitement and unknowns surround this North Texas basketball team. Not many fans or basketball analysts know what to expect from the Mean Green. There are lots of new faces on the roster, but these guys have enough talent to make some noise in CUSA down the road. Don’t expect to see the end result of this UNT team tonight. They are going to get a lot better as the season progresses. Tonight’s game is just a glimpse of what this team can be.
- Friday, Nov 10 2017
- 5 p.m. CT
- The Super Pit, Denton TX
- TV: CUSA.TV
- Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
What You Need to Know
Eureka College is a part of the St. Louis Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference which resides in NCAA Division III. The Red Devils are a small ball team who returns most of their 13 win team from last year. They’ve got a really nice scoring guard in Shea Feehan. Feehan averaged nearly 27 points per game last year, and hit 42% of his 3pt shots. As a team the Red Devils hit 39% of their 3pt shots last year. Most of their starters for tonight game were above 40% in 3 pt shooting.
Eureka presents a nice open season challenge for North Texas, because of their ability to shoot like I highlighted above. The Red Devils can score at a pretty good pace. They averaged 90.5 points per game last year. As you will see below Eureka is not a big team, but they rebound the ball fairly well. It will be interesting to watch what kind of advantage UNT has on the boards.
With 7 new eligible players and a new coaching staff North Texas will be a totally different looking team. There are lots areas that I expect to see improvement from. The two biggest improvement areas should come from defensive efficiency and 3 pt shooting. At Arkansas St. McCasland improved the Red Wolves from 229th to 146th in defensive efficiency. In conference play they improved from 8th to 2nd. That was just in one year. Having a coach that preaches offense through defense will make North Texas a much better team.
The 3 pt shooting improvement comes from adding good shooters like Jorden Duffy, Roosevelt Smart, Umoja Gibson, and Michael Miller. They should get plenty of good looks with guys like Ryan Woolridge and A.J. Lawson breaking down the defense.
So how does North Texas approach this game? Well they have the clear advantage in size and athleticism, but I wouldn’t expect North Texas to throw it down in the paint a lot. That doesn’t suit McCasland and the team he built. Instead McCasland will have his team focusing on spacing the floor efficiently to allow for plenty of driving lanes. I’m no expert on Eureka College, but I would anticipate them playing plenty of zone. I don’t believe they want to have to defend North Texas on the perimeter. This type of game favors guys like Smart and Gibson they should get plenty of quality looks on the perimeter.
Defensively since Eureka is a pretty solid shooting team expect North Texas to play lots of man and aggressive man at that. The last thing Coach McCasland wants to see is open shooters, so ball rotation will be imperative. Again I’m no expert on Eureka so its hard to say if they have the ability to break down the North Texas defense. But anytime you play aggressive man your going to have lapses. Its the teams that play solid help defense that win 20+ games. We didn’t get to see solid defensive fundamentals under Benford, that all changes under McCasland.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Ryan Woolridge 6-3||G||3.2 A/pg 2016|
|A.J. Lawson 6-5||G||11.4 PT/pg 2016|
|Umoja Gibson 6-1||G||22.4 PT/pg 2016 *|
|Roosevelt Smart 6-3||G||18.8 PT/pg 2016 *|
|Zachary Simmons 6-9||F||6 B/pg 2016 *|
* Played in JUCO or HS last year
|Ryan McElmurry 5-10||G||2.6 A/pg 2016|
|Shea Feehan 6-0||G||3.6 3pt/g 2016|
|Hank Thomas 5-10||G||14.5 PT/pg 2016|
|Alex Wiegand 6-4||F||5.4 R/pg 2016|
|Jordan Dehm 6-5||F||3.4 R/pg 2016|
Go To Guys
- Roosevelt Smart will lead the team in scoring vs. Eureka College.
- With the new aggressive defense style can North Texas effectively defend the paint?
- Ryan Woolridge will have at least 5 steals, 5 assists, and 5 turnovers.
And 1 – Specifically in this game I want to see how well North Texas rotates defensively.
I’m never going to give you a score, because predicting basketball scores is way too difficult. Instead for every game I’m going to give you the margin of victory or defeat. Much like a Vegas Spread.
Its early and there are a lot of new parts to this North Texas team. I’m not expecting this game to look pretty from a stats point of view. I think there will be times when the Mean Green look good, then there will be times of sloppiness. The outcome wont be indicative of how good or bad this team will be during the season.
North Texas by 13.