Categories
Basketball

Basketball Recruiting Update -4/13

In the past couple of days North Texas Mens Basketball program has gone from 1 open scholarship to 4! Shane Temara graduated. A.J. Lawson, Allante Holston, and Khalil Fuller all decided to transfer out. So that leaves the question who is coming in? Well North Texas has yet to receive a commitment for their 2018 class. No worries, the UNT staff has been very busy scouting  some pretty good players. In the next couple of weeks you will start to see visits and most likely commitments. Lets take a look at who they are targeting that we know of.


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Here is what I expect North Texas to try to land with their 4 scholarships:

  • 1-2 High Schoolers
  • 1-2 JUCO (Guys that have 3 years to play)
  • 1 Transfer
  • None of the 4 scholarships will be used on DJ Draper. Draper will remain on academic scholarship. 

The consistent theme with most of the players that North Texas is targeting is that they are athletic versatile wings.  Guys that are 6-5 to 6-9 who can play multiple positions. Pretty much every guy on that list can handle the ball. They can also guard multiple positions.

Larry Wise the wing from Waxahachie is a guy who decommited from Drake in March. UNT wont be only one in the mix for Wise. He is getting interest from Major programs. North Texas is putting the full court press on him. He would be a tremendous pick up.

Keandre Cook from Odessa College has some pretty solid offers. He has two from CUSA teams, La Tech and UAB.  Dude is a beast of a scorer.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up as a starter for North Texas if they are able to land him. He can score from anywhere on the court.

Marvin Cannon recently picked up a UNT offer this past week. He should be visiting soon. He averaged 15.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game at Barton. He didn’t take a lot of 3’s. This guy plays above the rim.

Trace Young is a hard one to figure out. He has a lot of talent, and has a North Texas offer. It seems like he leaning towards Wyoming.

Brandon Averette is a transfer PG from Oklahoma St to keep your eye on. He’s from Richardson.

 

 

 

Categories
Basketball

Thoughts on the A.J. Lawson Departure

Sophomore Forward A.J. Lawson Will Transfer From the UNT Mens Basketball Program.

AJ is a scorer and his style and game just didn’t fit with what North Texas was trying to move to.  Lawson saw his playing time, and shot opportunities go down during the CBI run. If you look back during the season Lawson was a key piece to UNT winning games. Lawson was used on 24% of the possessions and took 23.1% of the shots when on the floor. His usage was second on the team to Roosevelt Smart.  During the CBI Tournament Lawson only averaged 13.5 mins per game. Compare that to the 26.4 mins per game he was averaging during CUSA play.  Lawson did play key minutes in the final game of the CBI Championship Series. UNT wouldn’t have won that game without him.UNT is going to miss his toughness and defense, no doubt. Lawson’s offense was hampered by the wrist injury during the season. He never had the mid range or long range shot that made defenses worry. Lawson did have the ability to get to the rim. There were times during game when Lawson took questionable shots both inside paint and beyond the arc.

I think the departure is good for both parties. Lawson needs a fresh start and an offseason to get healthy.  UNT needed the extra scholarship to upgrade their athleticism on the wings.  North Texas wants to feature a 4 guard lineup, and they need more athletic 6-6, 6-7, dudes who can play 1-4. Guys that can shoot outside, and defend every position. Lawson was a 4 who didn’t really threaten defenses from the outside.  Look what happened when Miller was inserted into the lineup and made outside shots at the 4 spot. It took a lot of pressure off Ryan Woolridge and opened the offense up.

If you are a UNT fan you have wish AJ the best. He stuck it out this season when he could’ve packed it in after the injury. Hell AJ probably could’ve transferred before the season if he wanted too. I know I have a ton of respect for him as a player and a person. I hope he lands at a good situation, and has plenty of success.

Categories
Basketball

2018 CBI Tournament: NT vs Jacksonville St

Overview

North Texas looks to continue its CBI run against a very physical defensive Jacksonville St team .

  • Wednesday, March 21 2018
  • 7:00 p.m. CT
  • The Super Pit , Denton, TX
  • TV:  ESPN 3
  • Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
  • Line: EVEN

What You Need to Know About Jacksonville St

Record: 23-12 (11-7 Ohio Valley)

Coach: Ray Harper 2nd season at JSU (43-27)

Last Game:  W Central Arkansas 80-59

Scoring Margin: 6.9

Ohio Valley Scoring Margin: 2.7


 Projected Starting Lineups

North Texas (CBI AVG)

Player Position Stat
Ryan Woolridge 6-3 G 10 A/pg
Jorden Duffy 6-1 G 25 PT/pg
Roosevelt Smart 6-3 G 32.5 PT/pg
Michael Miller 6-3 G 12.5 PT/pg
Zach Simmons 6-9 F 11 REB/pg

 

Jacksonville St (CBI AVG)

Player Position Stat
Jamall Gregory 6-3 G 6 PT/pg
Malcolm Drumwright 6-2 G 18.5 PT/pg
Marlon Hunter 6-3 G 10.5 PT/pg
Christian Cunningham 6-7 F 3.5 PT/pg
Norbertas Giga 7-0 C 9 REB/pg

Scouting Report

Jacksonville St

  • Defense – Primary is Man, but they will mix in zone.
  • Best Offensive Weapon – Jason Burnell
  • Best Shooter – Jason Burnell
  • Best Defender – Jason Burnell
  • Rim Protecter – Yes, Norbetas Giga
  • Primary Offensive Scoring Way – Mid Range Shots
  • Secondary Offensive Scoring Way – Second Chances/Offensive Rebound. One of the best in the country at getting put back points.
  • Offensive Weakness – Not a good outside shooting team.
  • Defensive Weakness – They dont have a lot of weak areas on defense.  If you can hit 3’s and mid range jumpers then you can score on them.
  • Defensive Strengths – Rim Protection, they dont allow their opponents to score much in the paint. They also dont allow their opponent to get up a lot of shots.

 


Go To Guys

 

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Player Match-ups

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Gregory is considered the best athlete on the JSU team, so this should be a fun match-up to watch. Gregory does most of his damage getting to the rim, but he can step out and hit a 3 if he is left open. Ryan has been dynamic in the CBI. With more shooting surrounding him, its allowed him to play free.

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Hunter played under Harper at WKU, and then transferred to Odessa College. Harper is a really good defender that should get the assignment of trying to shutdown Smart. On offense Hunter is more of a mid range and get to the basket guy.  85% of Hunter’s shots came inside the arch. If you’re a North Texas fan, you already know how dynamic Smart is.  Hunter isn’t the type of guy that gives Smart issues on the offensive end, so Smart should get his share of open looks again.

 

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Malcolm Drumwright is really solid player. He led JSU in points per game, and assists. He will be a tough guard for Duffy. Duffy has been nothing short of sensational during the CBI. He’s left many UNT fans exciting for next year, and wondering what if for the past year. Duffy will be able to get open looks against Drumwright when UNT has the ball, but Drumwright is the higher caliber player.

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Cunningham is a good low post scorer and defender. His size and strength maybe an issue for the smaller defender Miller. Cunningham is the top rebounder for JSU.  If Miller can step out and hit a few 3’s again, he will do his part in pulling Cunningham away from the basket. This match-up is the most intriguing, because of their differing style of play.  Miller is also going to see a lot of Burnell.

 

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Giga is one of those European players who can pass, dribble, and shoot.  He’s not a great shooter, but more of a capable shooter.  Giga has had somewhat of a disappointing year. JSU was expecting him to be more dominate. Simmons has continued to improve throughout the season.  Simmons has grown into a solid big. He can score around the rim with both hands. Giga gets the overall nod here, because he can do a little bit more. Simmons will still get his in this game, because Woolridge will break down the JSU defense.

 

Other Contributors 

JSU – Jason Burnell

Burnell is a basically the 6th starter for this JSU team. He will play the 4 for JSU when he is on the floor, but he is more of a guard. Wont’t take a lot of 3’s, but is capable of knocking them down. Burnell can really score from anywhere on the court. Burnell was a JUCO star, who struggled to find his way at Georgia Southern. Under Harper at JSU he has really taken off.

JSU – Jacara Cross

Big dude, looks like a football player. Doesnt get a lot of minutes, but he does contribute when he plays.  Against Central Arkansas he had 13 pts and 13 boards.

UNT – DJ Draper

Draper is a 3 pt sniper, who has seen his role diminish some with Duffy getting healthy. Draper is a solid bench contributor. He is a sneaky good defender, and as mentioned already he can knock down the open 3. Draper has struggled in the CBI going 0-6 from behind the arch.

 

UNT – Tope Arikawe

Tope is a high energy forward. He gets himself into trouble with his aggressiveness at time. Tope does a solid job with his post defense and rebounding ability. Tope didnt play against South Dakota, but had 7 boards and 6 assists against Mercer. Tope will need to provide solid minutes tonight vs the JSU front court.


 

Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up

 

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3 Points

  1. 3 Point Shooting – North Texas has been on fire from downtown in the CBI. That will need to continue tonight, if UNT wants to win. JSU is too good of a defensive team, when it comes to protecting the paint
  2. Second Chance Points – 32 second chance points for JSU during the CBI. JSU is one of the best second chance scoring teams in the country. North Texas has to do a great job of team rebounding, and blocking out.
  3. Attack – North Texas has thrived off of early runs in the past 2 games. The Mean Green will need to do that again tonight. Use the energy created, by what should be a great atmosphere, to bury JSU early.

Prediction

The way North Texas is playing right now you have to pick the Mean Green. They don’t have to go inside to score, they can get open looks by spacing the floor with shooters around Woolridge. That makes UNT a very hard team to guard. Jacksonville St is a little bit better of a defensive team then South Dakota was. They certainly are much more physical. If you’re a North Texas fan the one thing that has to concern you the most tonight is the front court of Burnell, Giga, and Cunningham. Their physical play could put the slim NT front court in foul trouble. Those guys could also do damage on the boards and second chance points.

I like North Texas to win this game and move onto the CBI Finals. Too much mojo, and firepower for JSU to overcome tonight.

My Pick:  North Texas by 5

Categories
Basketball

2018 CBI Tournament: NT vs South Dakota Preview

Overview

North Texas will take their young group up to South Dakota for some post season basketball.

  • Wednesday, March 14 2018
  • 7:00 p.m. CT
  • Sanford Coyote Sports Center , Vermillion, S.D
  • TV:  www.goyotes.com/Watch
  • Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
  • Line: USD -13

What You Need to Know About South Dakota

Record: 26-8 (7-11)

Coach: Craig Smith 4th season at USD (79-54)

Last Game:  L South Dakota St 97-87

Scoring Margin: 13

Summit League Scoring Margin: 9.5

Season Story:  South Dakota began the season with hopes of taking down reigning Summit League champs South Dakota St. Close losses at TCU and UCLA signaled that the Coyotes were going to be one of the best teams in the Summit League again. They even put up 80 points on Duke. The Coyotes were solid in their league, they beat South Dakota St in their first match-up at home. It was a 19 point beat down. When the Coyotes traveled to Brookings they only lost by 4.  USD lost by 10 to SD St in the conference championship game. The Coyotes could never recover from their 12 point deficit in the first half.

South Dakota will be one of the best teams that North Texas has faced all year. The Coyotes are extremely balanced. They play well on the offensive and defensive end. South Dakota had one 1st team All-Summit League player (G Matt Mooney), and two 2nd team All-Summit League players ( F Trey Burch-Manning, and F Tyler Hagedorn).  This game will be a great  challenge North Texas.


 Projected Starting Lineups

North Texas

Player Position Stat
Ryan Woolridge 6-3 G 5.5 A/pg
Roosevelt Smart 6-3 G 18.9 PT/pg
A.J. Lawson 6-5 G 9.9 PT/pg
Allante Holston 6-7 F 3.5 PT/pg
Zach Simmons 6-9 F 5.8 PT/pg

 

South Dakota

Player Position Stat
Triston Simpson 6-2 G 8.6 PT/pg
Matt Mooney 6-3 G 18.6 PT/pg
Tyler Peterson 6-4 G 7.9 PT/pg
Trey Burch-Manning 6-6 F 8.5 PT/pg
Tyler Hagedorn 6-10 F 13.2 PT/pg

Scouting Report

South Dakota

  • Defense – Man
  • Best Offensive Weapon – Matt Mooney
  • Best Shooter – Matt Mooney
  • Best Defender – Matt Mooney
  • Rim Protecter – Not Really
  • Primary Offensive Scoring Way – Inside/Driving to the Basket
  • Secondary Offensive Scoring Way – Mid Range
  • Offensive Weakness – Don’t Really Have One. They are balanced and can score well at all levels.
  • Defensive Weakness – If you’re good at getting to the free throw line, they will put you on the line. They give up a lot of mid range shots. Their mid range shooting % is good, but if you can knock down the mid range shot, you’ll find great success against them. They don’t have a true rim protector, and don’t block shots.
  • Defensive Strengths – 3 Point Defense, Forcing Turnovers.

 


Go To Guys

 

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Player Match-ups

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Simpson is an athletic young point guard. He does a great job running the show for USD. He gets the ball to the right people at the right time. He has above average quickness, and will push the ball every chance he gets.  Simpson is also a good outside shooter. In conference play he was shooting 41% from behind the 3pt line. Simpson is a solid defender as well. As good as Simpson is, he still isn’t as good as Ryan. Ryan should be able to get to the rim on Simpson. The biggest concern for UNT is if Simpson is able to speed Woolridge up. That’s where Ryan gets into trouble with TO’s.

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Tyler Peterson is a versatile guard for USD. Peterson can play 1 through 4 for the Coyotes.  Peterson does most of his damage near the basket, he isn’t much of a threat from downtown. He is though a solid rebounder on the offensive end.  We predicted this match-up because Smart doesn’t really match-up with well with Mooney. If Peterson is matched up with Smart then, Smart should be able to get his on the offensive end, because Peterson isn’t one of those long wings that has given Smart trouble all year. When USD has the ball Peterson’s ability to get to the basket and draw fouls could be bad for UNT.  The Mean Green don’t tend to fair well when Smart is in foul trouble.

Now when Mooney guards Smart, that will be a fun match-up to watch. Mooney is 6’3 210, Smart 6’3 185. Mooney is still quicker than Smart. Roosevelt is going to have a tough time finding his shot against Mooney.

 

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Mooney is such a special player. He does everything well. He has great ball handling skills, gets his teammates involved, solid shooter, and a good defender. Mooney is who makes the Coyotes backcourt so good.  Lawson is going to have trouble staying in front of Mooney. When UNT has the ball Mooney will most likely be matched up Smart. That will leave Peterson guarding Lawson, which would still favor USD.  Peterson has 15 lbs on Lawson, and should be able to keep Lawson from getting to the rim.

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Trey Burch-Manning is another versatile player in the USD lineup. Trey is the leading rebounder for USD. He can finish around the rim, doesn’t shoot much from outside, gets to the stripe at a good clip, and is a good defender. Burch-Manning was 6th in Summit league play for steals per game at 1.4.  You have to give Burch-Manning a major advantage over Holston.

 

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This match-up is intriguing.  Hagedorn is a skilled big man that can shoot the outside shot very well.  He is probably more of threat from the outside then down in the post, and that’s what makes this match-up intriguing. This is the kind of player that Temara would normally be guarding. Hagedorn is going to take Simmons out away from the rim.  When UNT has the ball Simmons should be able to get some good looks. Hagedorn at 6-10 isn’t a great rim protector.

 

Other Match-ups to Watch for

Draper vs Mooney

Draper is probably going to be that 1st sub for Lawson. Hopefully Draper can be scrappy enough to give Mooney some troubles.

Tope vs Hagedorn

If Zach can’t handle Hagedorn’s outside game, then UNT will turn to Tope, who is a little bit more versatile as a defender.

USD 6th Men Possibilities 

Nick Fuller 6-7 F, 8.7 points, 4 rebs. Not sure he will play since he was a graduate transfer.

Carlton Hurt 6-3 G, 6.3 points, 4.4 rebs

 


 

Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up

 

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3 Points

  1. Tempo – USD averages 15.8 seconds per possession. The Coyotes like to get up as many shots as possible. They speed their opponents up, and that’s where turnover’s happen. North Texas has to keep this game at their pace.
  2. Motivation – USD just lost in their conference championship game. Their whole season was about beating South Dakota St in the Summit League Championship, so how motivated will they be? A motivated USD team might be too much for UNT to handle.
  3. Free Throws – If your a team that can get to the line, USD will put you at the stripe. North Texas must be in attack mode, and they have to stay strong when finishing around the basket. Refs don’t reward weak inside shots.  If North Texas can get to the line and MAKE those shots then the Mean Green have a chance.

Prediction

CUSA flexed some of its muscle last night with WKU and Middle dominating. It proved that CUSA was a really good league this year. UNT’s best non-conference win was against San Diego who finished 4th in the WCC. WCC is a really good league.  CUSA is ranked as the 12th best league, but the Summit league were South Dakota resides is ranked 13th.  So if you were thinking that North Texas may have the upper hand based on conference supremacy you can throw that out the window.

Most of you probably weren’t thinking that way anyways. Most of you were thinking about how good South Dakota looks on paper, and how they almost beat a couple of NCAA Tourney teams. That’s the right way to be thinking. If USD comes out motivated at home tonight, then North Texas won’t have much of chance to pull off the upset.  There should be some of hangover for USD though, and that means North Texas WILL have a shot tonight. Expect a close game early, but South Dakota will pull away in the final four minutes.

My Pick:  South Dakota by 8

Categories
Basketball

2018 CUSA Tournament: NT vs La Tech Preview

Overview

North Texas opens up their conference tournament run with a battle against La Tech. Both teams suffered late season collapses. This game should be a battle till the end. The winner gets ODU on Thursday night.

  • Wednesday, March 7 2018
  • 8:30 p.m. CT
  • The Star , Frisco TX
  • TV:  Facebook
  • Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
  • Line: La Tech -2.5

What You Need to Know About La Tech

Record: 16-15 (7-11)

Last Game vs UNT:  W La Tech 66-65 (1/18/18)

Last Game:  L Southern Miss 72-64

Scoring Margin: 4.4

CUSA Scoring Margin: -0.7

Season Story: The Bulldogs season started out with great hope. Everyone including myself picked La Tech as one of the top contenders in CUSA. LT lost some tough games early on. They almost upset Alabama, played tough against Texas, and lost a couple of heart breakers to other good mid major programs (La Lafeyette, SFA). The season started to take a downward turn when sophomore stud Jalen Harris decided to transfer. It’s understandable to transfer at the end of the year, but Harris left mid season. La Tech has never really regained momentum. A close loss at the beginning of CUSA play signaled to most that the Bulldogs still had a shot, but 3 straight losses left more question marks. La Tech’s CUSA schedule was top heavy, and after being beat up by the contenders the Bulldogs claimed 4 straight wins, even without CUSA star DaQuan Bracey. Bracey has been hampered with a back injury. La Tech finished up the season going 2-6.  They remain a dangerous team heading into the CUSA tourney if they can find a way to play some defense.


 Projected Starting Lineups

North Texas

Player Position Stat
Ryan Woolridge 6-3 G 5.5 A/pg
Roosevelt Smart 6-3 G 18.8 PT/pg
A.J. Lawson 6-5 G 9.8 PT/pg
Allante Holston 6-7 F 3.6 PT/pg
Zach Simmons 6-9 F 5.9 PT/pg

 

La Tech

Player Position Stat
Amorie Archibald 6-3 G 7.1 PT/pg
Derric Jean 6-2 G 9.3 PT/pg
Jacobi Boykins 6-6 G 14.7 PT/pg
Anthony Duruji 6-7 F 7.4 PT/pg
Oliver Powell 6-8 F 7.3 PT/pg

Scouting Report

La Tech

  • Defense – Man
  • Best Offensive Weapon – Amorie Archibald
  • Best Shooter – Jacobi Boykins
  • Best Defender – Derric Jean
  • Rim Protecter – Yes, Anthony Duruji
  • Primary Offensive Scoring Way – 3 Pointers
  • Secondary Offensive Scoring Way – Free Throws
  • Offensive Weakness – Inside Shot Making
  • Defensive Weakness – 3 Pointers
  • Defensive Strength – Rim Protection

Last Game vs UNT 

  • Defense – Man
  • Shot Chart
    • 3 Pointers – 41%
    • Inside – 41%
    • Mid Range – 18 %
  • Best Offensive Weapon – Anthony Duruji
  • Best Defender – Exavian Christon
  • Offensive Efficiency Rating – 92.1
  • Defensive Efficiency Rating – 90.7
  • Stats That Stood Out
    • 7 Blocked Shots
    • 27 Free Throw Attempts
    • Allowed 12 Offensive Rebounds
    • Allowed 17 Points off TO’s
    • Lost the Bench Scoring 20-12

 


Go To Guys

*Stats are in CUSA Play*

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Player Match-ups

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Last Game

  • Woolridge 2 pts, 1-8. 75% of his shots were at the rim
  • Archibald 7 pts, 3-6. 50% of his shots were at the rim

Both Archibald and Woolridge had a tough time keeping each other out of the lane in the last game. As you can see by the numbers, Ryan couldn’t finish his shots and Archibald had more success.  What separates these two, is Archibald’s ability to hit mid range and 3pt shots. Woolridge got in some foul trouble, so much of the second half North Texas tried to get another match-up for Archibald. Woolridge needs to be more aggressive early in this game with his rim attacking. Ryan should also be able to get a lot assists as LT, likes to collapse hard.

Roose_vs_LT

Last Game

  • Smart 3 pts, 1-8. 88% of his shots were 3 pointers
  • Jean 0 pts, 0-5. 60% of his shots were at the rim

Smart missed a lot his good looks against Jean. Smart will be able to get any look he wants against Jean. Jean is only 6-2 so Smart can rise and fire over him. Roosevelt was a little 3 happy in this game. Smart needs to attack the rim and try to get to the free throw line. Jean averages 9 points a game, but he did very little against North Texas in their first match up. The concern here is if Jean is able to get hot from 3 point range. He is a 40% 3 point shooter on the season and 37% in conference play.

Lawson_vs_LT

Last Game

  • Lawson didn’t shoot while Boykins was guarding him
  • Boykins 2 pts, 1-3. 66% of his shots were 3 pointers

Boykins is one of the best 3 point shooters in CUSA. He wasnt matched up with Lawson, much last game on the defensive end, but they did see each other when La Tech had the ball. Boykins offensive ability gives him the overall advantage here. Lawson is a wild card for NT. Sometimes he finishes around the rim sometimes he doesn’t. Lawson has to take quality shots and not try to be a volume shooter for NT. The offense flows much better when he doesn’t try to force things.

Allante_vs_LT

Last Game

  • Holston 2 pts, 1-3. 66% of his shots were at the rim
  • Duruji 2 pts, 1-3. 100% of his shots were at the rim

Duruji was a match up problem for NT last game. The Mean Green had no answer for his offensive skill set. Holston couldn’t keep him out of the lane off the dribble. Duruji also was a on fire beyond the arch. Holston is a better match-up for him than Temera, but there are still concerns. When UNT has the ball Holston is virtually no threat, which will allow Duruji to help out around the rim. He had 3 blocked shots back in January. Holston has to find ways to keep Duruji occupied.

Simmons_vs_LT

Last Game

  • Simmons 2 pts, 1-1. 100% of his shots were at the rim
  • Powell 2 pts, 1-5. 80% of his shots were at the rim

This is the one match-up that North Texas could really do some damage with. Simmons was open a ton off of pick-n-rolls. He was also open a lot off dribble drives from the guards. Simmons did a good job of guarding Powell. North Texas likes to try to front the post entry. Against LT last time the Bulldogs got some good looks, because of that. NT should just let their bigs play from behind. Powell and the other LT bigs aren’t that much of scoring threat. Most times they are looking for the kick out 3.

Other Match-ups to Watch for

Draper vs Archibald

Surprisingly after going back and looking at the film, Draper did a solid job on the more athletic Archibald.  On offense Draper had the upper hand. Archibald had to over play DJ, and Draper was able to drive past him on a few occasions. Draper was also able to lose Archibald through some screen action. Would like to see Draper be more aggressive in looking to score once he gets past his defender.

Smart vs Boykins & Exavian Christon

Smart had 15 of his 23 against these two guys. Boykins and Christon arent the best defenders, but they do have some length that will bother Smart. Smart should still be able to drive around them, and run them off screens to get his shots. He had numerous quality looks vs. them.

Temara vs Duruji

Temara started out the game on Duruji, and was no match for him. Duruji was able to take him off the dribble, and was able to lose him in basic movement. Duruji racked up 15 points of his 25 against Shane.

Temara vs Powell

Shane is listed as the projected starter in the game notes, so its possible he will start at the 5. If he does, he should get plenty of good looks in the pick-n-pop game. Powell and LT in general had trouble with their rotations in pick action last game. Powell would lose his man often, and wouldn’t get back. Shane could become an X-factor in this game if he gets off to a good start.  Temara went 3/8 behind the 3 point line in the last two games. Temara had one stretch where he didn’t hit a 3 for 7 games.


 

Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up

 

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3 Points

  1. Inside Shooting – North Texas missed a ton of bunnies against LT.  They shot a pretty good percentage (65%) at the rim, but in reviewing the film, NT should’ve been better. We are not talking about making contested tough shots. We are talking about point blank put backs, and being stronger. LT is a tough team to score on at the rim, but NT will get plenty of looks.
  2. 3 point defense – LT is one of the better 3 pt shooting teams in the conference. North Texas has to run them off that line and make them finish around the rim, where they aren’t very good. 
  3. Tempo – If LT comes out hot, hits a couple of early 3’s and gets up by double digits North Texas can’t panic. If they do we will be watching another game like the FAU one where NT got blown out. Its very important that the Mean Green stay patient, work for those good shots. Don’t get caught up in trying to make up a deficient in one shot. March is all about momentum swings. Teams that can stay even through the good and bad are the ones that keep advancing.

Prediction

After re watching the game, you’d see why La Tech is the favorite even though North Texas is the higher seed. La Tech has the better athletes, and the better team. There are a few adjustments that La Tech will likely make, that could make life tougher for Ryan Woolridge.  A tough game for Woolridge could make things really tough for NT. Also North Texas is 1-6 in their last 7 games.

BUT La Tech has lost 4 in a row, and the Bulldogs aren’t a good defensive team. North Texas should get the same quality looks that they did back in January, but this time they will make those. Simmons is going to have a big game. Rose and Lawson will also be double digit scorers. North Texas will win this game in similar fashion to most of their other CUSA W’s, by making some key stops and shots down the stretch.

My Pick:  North Texas by 3

Categories
Basketball

CUSA Basketball Power Rankings & Thoughts (Tourney Edition)

  1. Middle Tennessee
  2. Old Dominion
  3. Western Kentucky
  4. Marshall
  5. UAB
  6. Louisiana Tech
  7. North Texas
  8. UTSA
  9. FIU
  10. Southern Miss
  11. UTEP
  12. FAU
  13. Rice
  14. Charlotte
  • Middle Tennessee is on the bubble now as an at large team. They need to win the whole thing in Frisco to not feel nervous on Sunday. Marshall must be their kryptonite. I wonder how Middle feels about seeing them on their side of the bracket. Analysts always say that its hard to beat a team 3 times in a row.

  • UAB got hot at the right time. Two dominating wins against Marshall, and WKU have Blazer fans feeling good about their Frisco trip. UAB is the most dangerous lower seed in this tourney. They have the offense and interior defense to win this whole thing.

  • WKU was mentally beat before they faced off against UAB. The beat down that Middle gave them really shook their confidence. WKU is still a good team, but they have to find some confidence. Its not going to be easy, since the team that just beat them by 28 will likely walk out on to the floor when WKU starts their tourney run in Frisco.

  • Feel bad for UTSA. It sucks to lose a star right before the conference tourney. Now they get a hot UTEP team.  That’s one early game to watch for an upset.

  • A lot of fans are already ragging on the Frisco set-up. Mainly WKU fans. I say give it a chance before saying anything bad about it. No destination in CUSA is going to please everyone. Frisco and The Star in particular is a unique set-up, that alone should get CUSA some nice publicity. I’m excited to see how everything looks, and feels. Sure there are going to be some hiccups, but the play on the courts should be exciting.

    MGN CUSA Awards

    Player of the Year – Nick King, F MTSU

Defensive Player of the Year – Ajdin Penava, F Marshall

Newcomer of the Year – Roosevelt Smart, G North Texas

Freshman of the Year – Taveion Hollingsworth, G WKU

Sixth Man of the Year – Gerdarius Troutman, G FAU

Coach of the Year – Kermit Davis, MTSU

All Conference 1st Team

  • Nick King, F MTSU
  • Chris Cokley, F UAB
  • Justin Johnson, F WKU
  • Jon Elmore, G Marshall
  • Ahmad Caver, G ODU

All Conference 2nd Team

  • Brian Beard, G FIU
  • C.J. Burks, G Marshall
  • Trey Porter, F ODU
  • Ajdin Penava, F Marshall
  • Cortez Edwards, G Southern Miss

All Conference Defense Team

  • Brian Beard, G FIU
  • Ajdin Penava, F Marshall
  • Cortez Edwards, G Southern Miss
  • William Lee, F UAB
  • Ahmad Caver, G ODU

All Conference Freshman Team 

  • Jhivvan Jackson, G UTSA
  • Taveion Hollingsworth, G WKU
  • Zack Bryant, G UAB
  • Zach Simmons, F North Texas
  • Evan Gilyard, G UTEP

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Basketball

CUSA Basketball Power Rankings & Thoughts

  1. Middle Tennessee
  2. Western Kentucky
  3. Old Dominion
  4. Marshall
  5. UTSA
  6. UAB
  7. Louisiana Tech
  8. North Texas
  9. FIU
  10. FAU
  11. Southern Miss
  12. UTEP
  13. Rice
  14. Charlotte
  • Middle and WKU flexed their muscles last week.  WKU probably had the best week. The Hilltoppers absolutely demolished ODU, who was ranked number one in these rankings last week. WKU put up 88 points on ODU, and to be honest you could make a strong case that they should be number 1 this week.  Since the UTSA loss WKU has been nothing but really good. Middle tore apart UAB. The Blue Raiders showcased why they are a top 25 team. Both of these teams WKU and Middle face off in Murfreesboro this Thursday. It is absolutely must watch basketball.  In their last meeting Middle controlled the tempo and held WKU to only 62 points.  I would not be shocked at all if WKU won this game. The Hilltoppers have more weapons, but Middle is a better overall TEAM. Should be fascinating.

  • What has happened to UAB? The Blazers should be a top challenger in CUSA, instead they are trying to figure out their offensive issues. In their last 8 games UAB is 2-6 scoring only 63.7 points a game. That’s not where UAB should be. Their offensive efficiency should be much better than it is.

  • North Texas is in an absolute free fall right now. The Mean Green have issues all across the board. First off they can’t get stops when they need them. NT just let FIU and FAU, two bad offensive teams, run right over them. Secondly and more importantly, NT is looking for some on the floor leadership. Ryan Woolridge and Roosevelt Smart are the leaders of that team. They really need to step up this week, and get things back on track.

  • What exactly is UTSA? Are they contenders or pretenders? The roadrunners from San Antonio have taken care of business in the last two weeks against the bottom half of CUSA. Then there was the 40 point drubbing ODU put on them. UTSA is still in contention for the 4th seed and a bye. They have NT and Rice. Both of those games are winnable, and should be W’s for UTSA. I wouldn’t be shocked to see UTSA get a bye.

  • Here is what the match-up’s look like if CUSA ended today.
    CUSA_Tourney
  • And here are my crazy predictions based off those match-ups.
    CUSA_Tourney_PredictionsYes I know what you are say UNT is not beating WKU. It’s hard to see that with how UNT is playing right now. Still my bold prediction is that if UNT wins their 1st game they are winning their second game no matter who they play. There are going to be upsets on day two. One of those top 4 seeds is going down. Marshall wants revenge on UTSA. UAB is in the same boat as UNT right now, struggling to stay afloat. So its hard to see them beating ODU. Its pretty crazy to believe that La Tech vs Middle would be a day 2 match-up. No one saw that coming in the preseason. If UNT can climb up to the 6 seed, and get by their first game I think its a more likely scenario of them beating ODU. If they stay at 7 they have a slim shot at WKU. NT probably has a better shot at Middle than WKU. So summarizing ODU, Marshall, and possibly UTSA if they are a 4 seed- one of those top ranked teams is going down on day two. It should really be a great tournament. Don’t expect chalk outside of WKU and Middle. There will be lots of close games, and potential upsets. Middle and WKU also might not be as safe as some think. Marshall is the one team that beat Middle, and WKU has shown it could have a bad night too. Would love to hear who your picks are right now.
Categories
Basketball

MGN Basketball Breakdown: Analyzing the Roster Needs

Right now North Texas is in the midst of a late season collapse, so lets take our minds off of that. Instead lets look to the future.  Lets analyze the roster.

Scholarships

Right now North Texas only has one open:  Shane Temara’s spot. There are probably going to be other departures that we can’t forsee at the moment. Typically programs lose 3-4 scholarships every year. Right now it looks like NT is planning on only having that one available as we have not seen them active in offering scholarships at the moment.

There will be conversation about DJ Draper, and his reward. He deserves a scholarship but he cannot be the only scholarship addition this off-season. If I were Grant I would it make perfectly clear to Draper that the staff will work as hard as they can to get him a scholly but it is best for the team if he waits.  Its a tough world for walk-ons. Draper has gone above and beyond my expectations. I sincerely hope he gets one this off-season.

Breakdown of the Returners

  • Woolridge – Rim Attacking Ball Handler
  • Smart – Shooting Ball Handler
  • Duffy – Shooting Ball Handler
  • Gibson – Shooting Ball Handler
  • Lawson – Rim Attacking Ball Handler
  • Holston – Defensive Ball Handler
  • Miller – Defensive Ball Handler
  • Draper – Shooting Ball Handler
  • J. Simmons – Rim Attacking Ball Handler
  • Tikhonenko – Shooting Rebounder
  • Simmons – Rebounding Scorer
  • Arikawe – Rebounding Scorer
  • Fuller – Benchwarmer Rebounder

Getting Gibson and Tikhonenko will help perimeter scoring. Gibson is a guy who should average double-digits next season. When healthy Duffy is a guy who can be a double-digit scorer. Duffy has been banged up all this year. He will be part of a high-scoring duo with Roosevelt Smart once he has an offseason to heal.

Tikhonenko is a bit of a mystery. He looks like a guy who be a stretch 4, hanging around the perimeter shooting threes. The hope is that he can be more dynamic than Temara. Temara was more of a spot up shooter while Tikhonenko should be a guy who can also do some damage off the dribble. Thats what makes a stretch 4 into a special player. I don’t expect Tikhoneko to be a rim protector.

North Texas will also be getting Jahmiah Simmons next year. He will add some ability to score inside. He is a smaller, bulkier guard that can finish around the rim and honestly anyone that can finish around the rim for this team is a welcome sight. Simmons will enjoy playing with Woolridge. Ryan should get him good looks like he gets the other Simmons.

Speaking of Woolridge, he is a guy that needs to find one spot on the floor that is his money-maker (so to speak).  So many teams refuse to guard Ryan off the ball. If he could make them pay from beyond the arc it would really enhance his game. He can also add to his game by adding a mid-range shot. For a guard with his quickness adding a floater would do wonders. It would make finishing around the rim a lot easier. He could also use it as part of his hesitation game.

Miller and Holston are valuable on the defensive end. They are versatile high energy guys. They also are liabilities on offense. Much like Ryan each one of these guys needs to find that money shot. Miller seems to like the baseline 3, but he hasn’t been close on those . Holston is a guy who should focus on the mid range shot. Holston is pretty good at getting to the rim, adding a spot on the floor from where he can hit a mid range jumper would add some diversity to his game.

Simmons and Tope both have had their moments. I would ike to see Zach develop a few low post back-to-the-basket moves. A baby hook would be nice. That left hand shot he has now needs work.

Tope has a nice smooth stroke. North Texas coaches need to get him hitting from that range along the baseline. If Tope can develop that shot, he will help open up driving lanes.

Smart is a guy who needs to be the on-court leader of this team. For him to go to the next level, he needs to do more work at all levels. He can’t just rely on 3pt shooting. He has showed that he can score at all levels. I think if he balanced out his shot taking it would increase his scoring.


Top 3 Needs

  1. Rim Protection
  2. Low Post Scorer
  3. Perimeter Scorer

At first glance, Zach Simmons seems like the ideal candidate to become the rim protector. I do not see it. North Texas is in desperate need of a true shot blocker, someone that allows the defense to be more aggressive  on the perimeter.  No opponent in CUSA respects NT’s post defense at the moment. Outside of free throw shooting, it is the one area NT ranks near the bottom of D1.

For as many minutes as he has played Simmons is 24th in blocked shots in CUSA. As a team NT is ranked 10th. It is easier to find a shot blocker than a post scorer. Everybody is looking for a big guy that can score inside.  It is easy to find guards and swingmen that can fill it up. It is much harder to find guys that can score with their back to the basket.

Thats why I went with a post scorer as a second priority. North Texas will not have many options here in the recruiting world. All the true post scores are going to get scooped up. North Texas is most likely going to be filling its top priority need with a JUCO product. North Texas should be looking for an undersized guy. Someone that is 6’7-6’6 and can hit a mid-range jumper, but can also play with his back to the basket. Is that guy already on the roster? No. The closest right now are Lawson and Jahmiah Simmons. (For the record I know Lawson doesn’t play the way I described, but he should. He should dedicate this offseason to getting healthy, finding a mid range jumper, and playing with his back to the basket.) If North Texas could find a poor man’s PJ Tucker, it would be a great addition.

Finally, you can never have too many perimeter scorers. CUSA is a league made up of talented guards. Adding depth in the backcourt should always be a priority. Next year Duffy, Miller, and Holston will be seniors. Duffy should become a primary scorer next year, so if possible North Texas should look at adding a high school guard.


Summary

Everyone is going to have their argument on which direction North Texas should go. Mine is based on what I’ve seen so far this year, and stats.  I really believe that a shot blocker could turn North Texas into a top-four CUSA team next season.  NT will have enough scoring and offensive threats, that finding a true low post scorer would not be necessary. There is enough talent between Simmons and Arikawe to get 12-18 points a game from those two. Woolridge, Smart, Gibson, and Duffy are all capable of averaging double-digits. Lawson, Draper, J. Simmons, and Tikhonenko are your supplemental scorers. Draper is a good scoring threat off the bench. J. Simmons and Tikhonenko are unknowns.  J. Simmons averaged 6.4 at Arky St. So it is not hard to see him putting up similar numbers or better here at North Texas.

It all sets North Texas up for a balanced roster if they can get that rim protector.

Categories
Basketball

2017-18 BBall Season: FAU Preview

Overview

North Texas ends its Florida trip with a battle against FAU.

  • Saturday, Feb 24 2018
  • 6:00 p.m. CT
  • FAU Arena , Boca Raton FL
  • TV:  CUSA TV
  • Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
  • Line: North Texas -1.5

What You Need to Know About FAU

Record: 11-16 (5-10)

Last Game vs UNT: L 59-53

Last Game: Rice L 79-76

Scoring Margin: –0.1

CUSA Scoring Margin: -4.0


 Projected Starting Lineups

North Texas

Player Position Stat
Ryan Woolridge 6-3 G 5.7 A/pg
Roosevelt Smart 6-3 G 19.2 PT/pg
A.J. Lawson 6-5 G 9.4 PT/pg
Allante Holston 6-7 F 3.9 PT/pg
Tope Arikawe 6-8 F 3.9 PT/pg

 

FAU

Player Position Stat
Justin Massey 6-4 G 12.9 PT/pg
Payton Hulsey 6-5 G 6.0 PT/pg
Jailyn Ingram 6-7 G 8.8 PT/pg
William Pfister 6-10 F 6.7 REB/pg
Ronald Delph 7-0 C 14.2 PT/pg

Game Plan

Attacking FAU

FAU Defensive Strategy: Man

Last game against FAU Smart was hampered with foul trouble.  Smart only had 4 points. The real hero was AJ Lawson. His offensive outburst wasn’t one that many were expecting. Lawson did a great job attacking and finishing around the rim. Woolridge was another dude who had a good game. NT killed FAU on the offensive boards last game. The Mean Green grabbed 16. FAU’s coaches will most likely make that a point of emphasis today.

North Texas feels like a much different team offensively since then. The Mean Green look like they are operating with much more efficiency.  That should give any NT fan hope that this is the game that stops the losing streak.  Other reasons for hope are the continue improved play from Jorden Duffy.  I get the feel that Duffy is close to a break out game.

Defending FAU

If Simmons doesn’t play which looks unlikely then North Texas is going to have a helluva time defending the size of FAU. Delph had a good game against NT when these two teams met in Denton.  He was pretty much the only starter that scored double digits. The other primary threat for FAU Justin Massey scored only one point. Massey has been playing much better, scoring double digits in his last 5 games.  The 6th man for FAU Gerdarius Troutman could be one to watch. He is the best 3pt shooter for FAU. Troutman has 15 3’s in the past 5 games.

FAU is going to follow the game plans of previous opponents of NT. The Owls are most likely going to throw lots of ball screens at NT. We all know that guys like Tope and Temara struggle in those situations. Hopefully NT has made a few adjustments. The other concern for NT in this game is front court depth. Tope often finds himself in foul trouble. McCasland would prefer that not happen. I dont think he wants to play Fuller or Temara. If Tope gets in foul trouble NT may go with a super small lineup. It will be something to watch.

 


Go To Guys

UNT_goto

FAU_Go_to


FAU_Matchups


3 Points

  1. North Texas dominated FAU on the glass last time. Can they do that again without Simmons? FAU is one of the better rebounding teams in the conference.
  2. Second half defense has been suspect for UNT the past 4 games. FAU is the worst offensive team in CUSA. North Texas really needs to lock down the Owls.
  3. If Simmons doesn’t play Tope AND Temara have to have good games against the big front line of FAU. I’m not talking scoring I’m talking rebounding.

Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up

 

FAU_advanced


Prediction

North Texas is playing well on offense right now.  FAU is playing better on offense too. This game is going to come down to NT’s ability to defend and attack the boards. I know I’ve preached a lot about defense, but to me this game comes down to the battle on the boards. I think NT will get a collective effort from everyone. I also think NT will find their defense. I think they will really get after FAU today.

My Pick:  North Texas by 3

Categories
Basketball Recaps

Dropping Dimes – 10 Thoughts Recapping NT vs. FIU

Woolridge couldn’t get his last second floater to drop, and North Texas dropped another heart breaker.

  1. North Texas let one of the worst offensive teams in the conference get pretty much whatever they wanted last night. It was hard to watch. North Texas has been a team all year that relied on their defense to set the tone. Yet the last four games, they haven’t been able to get stops.  FIU ran ball screen after ball screen for their guards, and early on North Texas had no answer. Part of the problem was UNT was without F Zach Simmons. Simmons is a much better ball screen defender than Arikawe or Temara. The other part of the problem was FIU was just straight making buckets. Jacobs and Douglas were non factors in the last game. They combined for 8 3’s last night. Beard was held in check for most of the night by Draper. Draper was solid on the defensive end again. It was really the 3pt shooting that was the difference for FIU last night.

  2. Roosevelt Smart was 3-13 from the field with no free throw attempts. That just cant happen. Smart was 3-10 from the 3pt line. When the 3’s arent falling Smart needs to be more aggressive in attacking the basket. He is the best free throw shooter UNT has. He should be getting to the line 5 times a game at minimum.

  3. I wonder who is the leader on this team. Perhaps someone closer of the team can tell you, but if you watched the team play do you have a sense of who it is? They all see somewhat quite. There isn’t one guy who stands out as a leader. If I put money on it I would bet Smart. Sometimes we forget or at least I do of how young this team is.  They are getting a lot of minutes, and production from underclassmen.

  4. Simmons was missed last night, but Tope Arikawe had a solid night. 12 points and 8 boards. I never would’ve expected Arikawe to be the second leading scorer for UNT. It would be nice if Tope and Simmons could be playing well together. I think where Simmons was missed the most was rebounding. The second and third big men Fuller, and Temara combined for 2 boards. Last game against FIU Tope and Simmons combined for 18 boards.

  5. North Texas had a 5 second count after a timeout. That is unacceptable high school level stuff.

  6. It was nice to see Shane Temara hit 2 3’s. It was long overdue. I really wish that guy had more of an impact. At this point he’ll only play because of the injury to Simmons. Temara is still a liability on defense.

  7. 3 games left to go and 4 losses in a row.  Where is the confidence of this team? As I mentioned before its a young team,  so no one knows how exactly they will take 4 tough close losses. That would take a toll on any team. It may do more damage to a young team. Then again it may not do anything. One thing I know whoever the leader is of this team, well that guy needs to come out and set a tone early on Saturday vs. FAU. This young team needs to get its swag back.

  8. I’m starting to wonder what is the best line-up for UNT going forward. Obviously a lot is going to depend on match-up. For example against the guard oriented teams Holston provides a better match-up than the bigs. I’d like to see Woolridge, Duffy, Smart, Lawson, and Simmons play more together. I like Lawson at the 4 because he is a more of a threat to score than Holston or Temara. Your 6th and 7th men are Draper and Tope. Holston is the 8th man. I think that is a solid group going forward. I start Duffy over Draper, because he provides a little bit more athleticism. He can get to the rim. I would like to see a few lineups where Tope and Simmons are on the floor at the same time too. Just to see what kind of mismatches I could draw.

  9. North Texas should be able to find their defense against FAU on Satuday. FAU is the worst offensive efficient team in CUSA. If the Mean Green can’t get back some defensive momentum vs. the Owls then it isn’t going to happen.

  10. North Texas is projected as a 6 or 7 seed by TeamRankings. They also should be favored in 2 of their last 3 games. If things go according to TeamRankings the first round matchup for UNT would be against either Southern Miss or FAU.  Neither one of those teams concern me much. Honestly North Texas could lose to either one, its just how the season has gone. If North Texas does get through the first round they would draw ODU or WKU.
    Team_Ranking


Player Grades

 

Player Game Grade
Roosevelt Smart C –
Ryan Woolridge B –
AJ Lawson D –
Allante Holston B
DJ Draper B +
Jorden Duffy B +
Shane Temara B
Tope Arikawe B +

Players with 10 minutes + get graded.

Next up for North Texas is FAU on Saturday, February 24th in Boca Raton.