Let me admit something right off the bat: I was less than thrilled with the opening of season in the exhibition game. I’m glad the team rallied for a win, but Oklahoma City shouldn’t be giving you any kind of game if you are a CUSA team.
Welcome to Tony Benford Basketball!
The enthusiasm for this season stands in stark contrast to the last year of the Johnny Jones era. It is somewhat unfair to compare the twain, but even the most reasonable North Texas fan admits that Tony Benford is nowhere near the coach that Johnny Jones is, and the program will be lucky to be respectable this year.
The trio of highly-touted Jones recruits is down to one: Jordan Williams, on whose shoulders rest the scoring burden. He is supplemented with freshman and JUCO transfers. I don’t think it is cynical to doubt the chances Benford improves his record. Oh that’s right, he has to win more than 16 games to keep his gig.
It is remarkably similar to Todd Dodge’s last year in that it is stocked with the coach’s guys, and an outside chance of being respectable.
On Friday, the squad began the season with a relatively easy win against outmatched, and out-sized Arkansas-Monticello, then host two other weaker teams in Nicholls, and Delaware State before taking on Iona at home. The rest of the schedule is here.
Bret Vito and his colleagues rank the team tenth in the conference. Honestly, that’s about right. The league is deep, and this team has a lot of gelling to do. Here’s hoping that North Texas catches lightening in a bottle and has great season.
Here are some of Greg’s thoughts:
3 Things the team needs to improve on in order to have a 20 win season.
- Help side defense
I got tired of seeing an opposing player get passed a UNT defender at the 3 pt line and have a wide open lane to drive through.No easy buckets this year with half court defense. Ball-You-Man. See it happen, help, and rotate. Defense is will more than anything else.
- Better understanding of a motion offense
It will interesting to a watch a group of guys who arent that familiar with playing one another. The best motion offenses is usually a group of guys who have played together a long time an know what each other is thinking. In a motion there is no pre-determined sequence of movement. Players are filling specific spots and reacting to what the defense gives them. Lots of cuting, screens, and movement. Its a very hard offense to scout, but it takes players with good basketball IQ to execute it/
- Block-out fundamentals
Look UNT is chalked full of guys who can go be an athlete and go get the ball. I want to see those guys but their man on their back and then go get the ball. Rebounding in not just about jumping for the ball.
Prediction – I think this team will struggle early to find its grove. To much is working against them for me to believe they will be able to tear it up out of the gate. Come mid-January I expect to see vast improvement. I think they finish strong to end the season and wind up in the top 7 of the conference. I have them finishing the regular season at 16-14 and winning 2 conf tourney games.
Final Record 18-15
Team MVP – Jordan Williams
Best Newcomer – Jeremy Combs
Most Improved – Maurice Aniefiok