It was a terrible watch. Though it never reached forty points like last time out it was terrible. Much of the same problems that plagued the Mean Green in Arlington on the Stage followed them to Starkville at the Humphrey.
UNT has been at its best over the years when it can throw it into the post to Eric Tramiel, George Odufuwa, Quincy Williams, Keith Wooden or someone and work out. Those perimeter shots fall a lot more often on inside-out action that allows a guy like Calvin Watson, Tristan Thompson, Josh White or whoever to catch the ball in rhythm and knock it down.
These last two games have felt something like rooting for the football team during the Todd Dodge years. In this case we have Chris Jones and Jordan Williams playing the roles of Lance Dunbar, Jamario Thomas, and Patrick Cobbs.
That is being a little pessimistic. These guys are freshman and played some fairly tough competition. Seeing them in the string of seven straight home games in December should give us a better picture of the team. That and Tony Mitchell should give us an inside scorer to balance the offense.
The offense, as much as it has struggled is not the biggest problem. Last season Tristan Thompson and Josh White were pretty much called upon to do most of the creating. When they were out, tired, or when they faced a particularly tough defense the offense would stagnate and look terrible. Not much has changed here. Chris Jones is getting criticism for not creating enough for others and taking some poor shots. Though any guy can probably improve their shot selection and work on the right balance of distribution and shooting, that isn’t going to make up these twenty point deficits.
The problem as coach JJ mentioned, is the defense.
“Our shots are going to fall eventually, but we’ve got to get some things cleaned up on defense,” North Texas coach Johnny Jones said. “You just can’t let a team shoot 63 percent in the first half and over 50 percent for the game and expect to win. That’s just not good enough.”
There was a lot of reaching and no cohesive defensive structure. For you unfamiliar with basketball, that means one guy would try for a steal instead of moving his feet and getting in front of his man. If he was beaten, then another defender would “show” or help out by sliding over. Watch a good defensive team and they fly around the court and swarm around anyone attacking the paint. We would have one or two guys get beat and no one to help. That means wide open threes and easy lobs and put backs.
There is a whole season to improve. We should see some progress going forward, especially at home. I expect we won’t see really amazing improvement until next year or so. The good news? With the NBA toying around with two-year wait before entering the Association, we may have our NBA-level talent for a while.
I will be there. Other people will, too.
Honestly, when I got my $4 tickets (post-TTU) I was really excited. Now? I’m really expecting another blowout. There really is no evidence that this team will improve vastly in a few days.
Texas put Sam Houston down by 12, in an apparently ugly game.
If you weren’t able to make it to the Erwin Center on Saturday night or don’t have a cable provider who carries the Longhorn Network, you should consider yourself lucky. The game was that ugly and the individual performances by most of the Longhorns were forgettable. This is a young team that will definitely improve as the season progresses; however, this team would also be best served if tonight’s performance was the worst of the season.
Another quote I liked that could probably be applied to this game/team/week:
Maybe tonight was a New Jersey hangover, maybe it was due to Thanksgiving, maybe it was a lack of focus. I have no idea. However, this was the least impressive performance of the season.
This late-November and December stretch is about learning to defend and play as a team, about sharpening our offensive sets, and about helping the freshman adjust to big time college basketball. Other than McClellan and Holmes, none of that occurred against Sam Houston.
I go into this game expecting nothing but slight improvement in our defense and more excellence from Chris Jones. By the way, for the hell of it here is a statistical comparison of Josh White and Chris Jones.
Do with it what you will.