Categories
Basketball

MBB: Let’s Get Hopeful

Back in November we discussed this team and were less than enthused. Some of those concerns remain, like the fact that NT has no obvious closer or system to generate crunch-time buckets. Others have been addressed — the new guys are getting comfortable.

North Texas handled FIU handily to open conference play in Denton yesterday, and blew out FAU on this afternoon. Before that, the squad split the WKU/Marshall road trip but impressed enough to be frustrated at the WKU loss.

North Texas sits at 3-1 and KenPom has them favorites for most of the rest of the way. The team plays hard, gives good effort, and is well-coached.

Against the Herd, there was some good fortune that helped NT in the win column rather than excellent play. The good news is that NT puts itself in positions to win and be in those tough situations. The hope is that eventually the team learns and grows from being in that position so often.

Umoja Gibson is shooting 40% from three, on 101 attempts thus far and stretches the floor for the slashing of Hamlet, Bell, and opens space for Zach Simmons and Deng Geu, everyone’s favorite player.

NT is still not overly long or big, but they play tough, fight for every possession, and have shooters. It is a nice basketball team. The most exciting recent development was the play of Roosevelt Smart against FIU. Two seasons ago he was NT’s best offensive player but has lost that position these last two seasons.

North Texas will run into problems when it faces talented teams like WKU and UTEP, and will struggle against good defensive teams like ODU and Charlotte, but no one in this league is unbeatable.

Javion Hamlet and James Reese — two of those newcomers — were stars of Saturday’s win vs FAU. Last year, NT had a balanced scoring attack but was overly reliant on Ryan Woolridge getting inside the paint and Zach Simmons doing a one-man wrecking crew at center to initiate much of that action. This season the improvement of Geu and the others gives NT a little more variety in attack and Hamlet, Bell and others can all attack off the bounce or slash to get second-chance buckets.

NT played a tough schedule and competed well even if they did not put up wins. They’ve opened conference play on a great note, but they’ll face some challenges and we will see how much improvement they have made. March and the conference tournament is just two short months away and McCasland will want to build his team to play the best basketball right as the tournament starts.

That is everyone’s goal, sure, but playing good basketball in the conference season is how you make it easier on yourself in Frisco. Long term, we see the kind of program that Grant Mac wants to build in Denton. He won 20 at Arkansas State, but escaped that situation as soon as he was able. He won 20 in Denton, and followed that up with a good team with some obvious flaws.

This season is his third in Denton and we know the style he wants to play and the kind of guys he wants to coach. In short, this season can possibly result in some championship hardware and the future is bright.

Categories
Basketball

NT Men’s Basketball Is Off To A Slightly Rough Start

It is almost turkey time and you will be busy travelling or hosting family, or making food or fighting people at the store on black friday.

You might have forgotten the basketball season has started already. Let us recap the season thus far and mixing in a look ahead at the schedule.

The season thus far:

North Texas beat an overmatched squad to start the season, then hung tough with #25 VCU before losing by three points. They followed that with an ugly loss at Arkansas and then lost as favorites against Eastern Michigan at home.

The beat North Carolina A&T by 20, and head to Jamaica for the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic. There, they’ll face Rhode Island and Utah State. Both of those games will be on CBS Sports Network.

Sitting at 2-3, North Texas has simultaneously impressed and underwhelmed. You can be proud of the fight and toughness they showed against VCU but disappointed by the lack of the same vs Arkansas and EMU.

The squad is depending on a lot from new faces, but it is the usual suspects that have under-performed relative to their abilities. Roosevelt Smart is not the same player he was two seasons ago, when he was the most dangerous player on the court for the Mean Green. Zach Simmons was incredible last season but has struggled to find his form this year.

North Texas has very little size outside of Simmons and McCasland needs him to be efficient. Last year he shot 61% from 2-point range. This year, he is at just 44%.

It is early, and some of his struggles are from not having Ryan Woolridge finding him and NT not really having an identity thus far. In the VCU game, NT blew two offensive possessions late that could have tied the game, and struggled to run the offense or find their best player. That last part is the key. Who is the best player?

Umoja Gibson has been great so far, but struggles to create his own shot off the bounce. He almost exclusively shoots from distance (240+ attempts from three, 78 from two for his career). He does not get to the line or the cup like Rose did two seasons ago, nor like Woolridge did in his time here.

Javion Hamlet has played well in spots, but has not been the one-for-one replacement for Woolridge (no one was ever going to be able to do that) and there is plenty of time for him to adjust to the team.

The short version is that this team is scrappy, but will be frustrating to watch offensively unless one of these guys makes a leap. We have seen players bloom late in the season for McCasland — remember Mike Miller suddenly switching hands and becoming a ridiculous shooter? — so do not hold tight to an opinion just yet.

The tough schedule — UTA on Dec 2nd, Oklahoma on Dec 5th, Dayton on the 17th — should prepare the squad for the solid CUSA schedule. The travel in this league can be rough, and the teams good enough to beat you on any night.

North Texas’s most realistic shot of an NCAA berth is via the Frisco tournament so all the focus should be on earning a good conference seed, developing the kind of team that can play great basketball over a week’s time in March.

It would be great to see Zach get some easy buckets and that means someone is going to need to be able to attack the basket with authority. There are plenty of guys who can and the rest of this early period will be about finding the one who will.

Categories
Basketball

NT Basketball: NT Nearly Upsets VCU 56-59

North Texas barely stole a game against 25th ranked VCU on the road. NT jumped out to an 8-point lead early before getting bullied by the harassing press. VCU went on a big run and led by ten at the half.

The good news was that the Mean Green stuck with it and scraped and clawed back to single digits. They even managed a brief lead late.

The game ended on a series of threes back-and-forth with NT failing to put up a shot on their final two possessions. The first could have put NT up, and the second would have tied.

It is a bitter sweet loss, as the fight and shooting impressed against a good opponent in a hostile environment. Obviously, NT wants to win these and not just come close.

There were some clear improvement areas — NT had trouble finishing inside with the physicality — but the threat of multiple shooters and the various players with ball handling ability meant NT was able to break the press late.

The Rams had a surprisingly good season last year, winning the conference regular season before bowing out of the NCAA tournament in the first round. They are ranked, well-supported and a good test for NT. We can feel good.

As we wrote recently, in this the third season of Grant McCasland’s tenure we should see more of a fully realized vision. There is no Ryan Woolridge — well here at least. He’s at Gonzaga, now — but there are some guys there.

The new names are Thomas Bell, James Reese, and Javion Hamlet and they are trying to replace Woolridge, Mike Miller and Jorden Duffy — all double figure scorers. New faces in new places is the only thing that is consistent in college basketball so we cannot complain.

Tonight, there were contributions across the board so that aspect of the McCasland Way is intact. Thomas Bell’s rebounding was really nice to see early. He helped build the first lead.

There were some shooting hiccups — James Reese went 3-12, 3-9 from deep — but the season is young and shooting and rhythm will come. It’s nice to see the grit and fight in this one.

The schedule sees NT take on one more top-25 opponent this November, so we will learn of this is something we can expect all season or a on-off performance.

So far, you can be excited about the team.

Categories
Basketball

Expect Anything In Grant McCasland’s Third Year

North Texas beat up on overmatched Oklahoma Christian 79-40 in the traditional glorified scrimmage that kicks off the season. The basketball prognosticators have NT anywhere from 2nd to 8th or so, depending on your flavor of preview.

Last year NT absolutely needed Ryan Woolridge to play every minute and when he was hurt, the team struggled. Umoja Gibson filled in at point, but he is much better as a shoot-first off-guard.

NT started hot but cooled after injuries took the depth and required a change of pace. Even though the team beat FIU in the first round of the league tournament in Frisco, they limped to a loss vs WKU. The day after exiting the tournament, Ryan Woolridge and Zach Simmons looked like walking wounded as they returned to pick up their stuff, limping in and out of the Star in Frisco.

North Texas head coach Grant McCasland has back-to-back 20-win seasons under his belt. His first was bolstered by a pay-for-participation postseason tournament and his second saw a dramatic dip in form.

Whatever criticisms you have of his style, he is winning in Denton, and that was not the case under his predecessor. This season we will likely get the full McCasland basketball theory. He had the one season at Arkansas St and the two here in Denton. Now, with a third year in the program the foundation is laid. It is time to build.

NT wants to drive and kick and have shooters everywhere. Last season, the offense struggled when Roosevelt Smart had a season-long dip in form, but got good moments from Umoja Gibson and Jorden Duffy. Gone is point-guard extraordinaire Ryan Woolridge, but in are a couple of guys with some talent and the ability to shoot.

Javion Hamlet is the new lead guard with Gibson playing his preferred off-guard spot. Rose is at the third guard spot, and hopefully is back to the version of himself that was a problem for defenses across the league.

NT has a lot of length on the depth chart, but the starting lineup is guard-based and will need the shooting and attacking off the dribble to make the offense hum.

James Reese is a shooter with the same measurables. Larry Wise and Abdul Mohamed have been on the team but redshirted. The thinking is that the renewed depth will give North Texas the resiliency to play at the pace they want instead of mitigating because of injury.

The problem with playing such a high-variance style is that some nights everything looks bad. Relying so much on drive-and-kick means the team has a tendency to stagnate, especially against the more disciplined and defensively talented teams in this or other leagues. Drive-and-kick means that you A) can drive and B) the kick options are open if and when the defense collapses to rotate.

Teams with great interior presence will simply let the big man clean up the mess. WKU made it hard for NT to finish inside with either Zach Simmons, who had an incredible year last season, or anyone else.

The schedule is much tougher this season so we will not see a sterling start — but the team may be better for it. Playing a softie schedule can make it difficult to prepare for challenges in conference play. NT did not even get the supposed benefit from it: staying injury free.

WKU is the more talented team and UTEP is rebuilt and renewed. UTSA has the shooters but North Texas has some good players and a coach with lots of respect among those who follow the game. Expect to be entertained.

Categories
Basketball

Roosevelt Smart

Do not drink and drive. Do not do drugs and drive. Do not text and drive. Do not put on make up and drive. Do not dance and drive. Do not close your eyes and drive. Do not eat and drive. Do not play fight and drive. Do not argue and drive. Do not laugh and drive. Do not change the radio station and drive. Do not browse your phone and drive. Do not read and drive.

I have done one or more of the above. The thing about getting older is that the purity of rage and righteousness fades and an empathy replaces it. It becomes harder to vilify and cancel someone who has made a mistake.

How many mistakes should anyone be given? How harshly should we punish someone for doing any of the above or anything at all?

I know that when it comes to punishments ascribed to me, I want leniency, forgiveness, and understanding. When it comes to others, I am quicker to prescribe tough, harsh, unforgiving stances.

I do not know what kind of punishment Roosevelt Smart should receive for driving while intoxicated, exactly. It should be something that will ensure that he will take his role as a vehicle operator seriously, and at the same time be an example to everyone who looks up to him.

Categories
Basketball

Ryan Woolridge to Transfer

Ladies and gentleman, he is gone. Ryan Woolridge was pretty much the heart of this team throughout his career. That was none more evident than in his final postseason tournament. He limped his way to competitiveness, but he was nowhere near the engine that he was during the season. You can make the argument that the decline in form for Mac’s team was all due to Woolridge’s health.

MGN wishes him good luck on his next journey.

Categories
Basketball

Exit Interview: 2019 Basketball Team

No one wanted to go out and say “Injuries are why we struggled late, and ultimately why this team underperformed” as no one wanted to “make excuses” but still, the injuries were mentioned and well, that was the real reason.

After the tournament was over for NT, Zach Simmons and Ryan Woolridge could be seen limping on Friday. It was not the usual post-game soreness, but actual pain.

Not many teams at this level can overcome that kind of thing. We knew this team was over-reliant on Woolridge’s contributions, playing him huge minutes often last and this year.

If he went down or out, NT was going to be in a bad spot. That is not surprising or even something to blame the staff or the program for. It is the nature of the game. The roster is only so big, and recruiting limitations mean you cannot simply pick up whomever you want to rebuild your roster overnight.

McCasland said his goal was to get to the NCAA tournament, and given the scheduling, that road was always going to be through the league tournament. To do that successfully, the team needed to earn a second-day spot via bye through earning a top-4 seed.

That mission failed, as NT’s late-season collapse kept it out of the top pod, ensuring the best seed it could get would be the 5th spot. They fell all the way to 10th, after a disastrous pod play schedule in which no one could shoot or defend, or take care of the ball. This is where injuries took their toll and NT limped into the league tournament with seven-straight losses.

The win over FIU was dramatic, cathartic, and well, fun. North Texas blew out the team that had handed a big loss to NT in Miami just the week prior. Revenge gotten, NT went into the quarterfinal round vs WKU with some hope, but nothing serious.

They were blown out handily, and that is forgivable. NT had to play perfectly against the league’s most talented team and the most disappointing part was that they did not even muster much of a fight.

Asked if we could expect some CBI or anything, Grant said “we set our sights on the NCAA Tournament” which is an elaborate way of saying “no.”

The CBI and CIT tournaments are pay-to-play ideal for giving, say, Marshall another set of games to basically send out Jon Elmore with another tournament. North Texas used the opportunity last season to continue to build the program under McCasland and experiment with the set of guys that would play the most this season.

As it was, it all went well. From the CBI opener to the WKU game in February, NT only lost 5 games. They went 21-12 this season, completing back-to-back 20-win seasons since the Johnny Jones era. Realistically, this program was going to give a nice conference tournament run but come up short to the ODUs and WKUs of this league.

That is basically what happened. NT finished with one more win than 17/18 and six fewer losses. Home attendance was up, and they won a league tournament game. All told, we had improvement across the board.

So why the lingering anxiety across the internet fan base? Well, some of that is just typical North Texas angst. The rest is because there was plenty to be concerned about watching this team play. The team defended well — they ended as the number one defense in efficiency according to kenpom.com — but suddenly could not score worth a damn.

The early season success was predicated on four guards around Zach Simmons. Theoretically the small ball would be vulnerable to size in rebounding and defense, but the hustle and athleticism helped NT lead in those categories even against some of the bigger and better teams in this league.

The advantage to playing small-spread ball is shooting and quickness. Unfortunately North Texas’ two best shooters from last season — Roosevelt Smart and DJ Draper — regressed significantly. Smart went from being a threat to being a bad shooter. Incredibly his 3pt percentage dropped from 37% last year to 27% this season. His offensive rating dropped to 86.9 from 110.7.

Anecdotal evidence: he hit 20 points just twice — 20 exactly twice — this season. Compare that to the number of times he went for 30+ last season: 4 times, including a 42-point explosion vs Rice.

DJ Draper dropped from being a sharp-shooter who could change the game to just another guy shooting in the 30% range. He finished the year shooting 37% from distance, making only 16 in conference play compared to his 36 last season. He shot 42% last year.

The whole season is not on those guys in particular, but they had big drops in efficiency. Jorden Duffy dropped a bit also, mostly on this missing more threes than last year (six fewer on ten more attempts).

North Texas has five guys that take greater than 20% of shots for this team. Only one of them is 100+ in offensive rating: Michael Miller. He’s graduated now.

Going Forward

NT needs more height, some dynamism, and someone else that can be a threat to attack the basket aside from Ryan Woolridge, and Zach Simmons. Also, it needs more from the man they call Rose. He has had a tough year mentally, emotionally, and physically.

If he can get back to being the guy we saw last season, NT will be loads better.

Jalen Jackson, the commit from Wager in San Antonio, is a point guard with good athleticism and a nice handle. Watching the tournament and seeing Ahmad Caver, Zack Bryant, Tyree Griffin, Tavieon Hollingsworth and DaQuan Bracey handle the ball really highlights and issue NT had when Ryan Woolridge was hurt.

Jackson addresses that backup PG need. NT can get away with more small ball if the guys that sat can light it up from distance. Umoja Gibson can thrive when he doesn’t have to create for himself and can simply catch and shoot.

Wish List:

  1. Backup Big
  2. Go-to scorer — either Rose of 17/18 returns or a guy to push him for minutes
  3. Another ball-handler

This program had a good season despite the poor finish. Grant McCasland completed his first 2nd year at a D-I school. He previously took Arkansas State to a 20-win season and NT to the CBI title last year.

This league is wide-open. NT went from a laughing stock to top-five for a good portion of this season in just two years.

Categories
Basketball Basketball Recaps

North Texas Loses Big to WKU, 67-51

All seasons that do not end with a trophy presentation end badly. For North Texas, who this time last year was feeling much better about itself and its program, this was a doubly bad game.

In some ways, however, it was a relief.

“We had some guys playing with some things that you wouldn’t believe. It’s inspiring, that leadership” said Zach Simmons in the post game press conference debrief.

McCasland said “we had our sights on the NCAA tournament” so this is it barring some fluke of a Selection Sunday.

North Texas basketball finishes 21-12, one win better than last season’s CBI tournament team and six losses better to boot. It most ways, it was a better year than last. Why does it feel so devastating? Well, the terrible finish to the year, after a 20-4 start, NT fell seven straight times.

Tonight, they fell to the better team. Grant McCasland blamed himself in the post game, crediting the Western Kentucky defense and their game plan to deny entry passes and make things difficult.

WKU coach Rick Stansbury said they focussed on Umoja Gibson in particular, limiting his touches and “not letting him get 7 threes tonight.”

The game plan worked for Western.

North Texas struggled in the first half. At the 7:50 mark, Roosevelt Smart had just travelled and WKU led 22-8. This was not about the effort or even the energy level. It was about talent and defense.

WKU defended everything well. They denied the ball and the next pass and the on-ball stuff that NT was killing FIU with. They denied entry passes and swing passes and NT was travelling and double-dribbling because they had to make second and third moves to create space.

Grant McCasland said “we got sped up.”

The Mean Green made a little run with a little over a minute left in the half to get something going. The crowd, ready to celebrate anything positive jumped on that and began a North/Texas chant. Simmons scored a tough bucket and then the defense forced a WKU turnover.

Rick Stansbury, WKU coach, was upset and called TO. NT couldn’t convert but that got the energy up. NT forced another stop — a shot clock violation — that got Stansbury as red as the uniforms.

“When North Texas cut it to 13 we got five straight to make it 18 and they never threatened after that” said Stansbury in the post game press conference.

It was true. Tavieon Hollingsworth was finding space in the midrange and pulling up for clutch jumpers. He had 23 on 9/15 shooting.

In the end the half ended in stark contrast to last night’s first half. Instead of Ryan Woolridge hitting a three-quarter court bucket, he was stripped of the ball as time expired. NT was down 31-16 at that point, shooting 25% in the first, turning the ball over 11 times.

WKU had shot a mediocre 38% with 6 turnovers of their own during that period.

North Texas played Western 35-36 in the second half, to little progress. The first half deficit was too much. Ryan Woolridge had 13 and Jordan Duffy had 11 to lead NT. Gibson added 7 and only went 1/7 from distance.

Zach Simmons had 8 and 13 against future NBA-er Charles Bassey, who only had 9 and 8 himself.

What It All Means

Grant McCasland was noticeably devastated after the game. The last half of the season was full of injuries and poor play. The roster is kind of a weird mix, and McCasland deserves credit for getting this short team to out-rebound and defend really well.

The offensive end has a nice one-two punch in Ryan Woolridge and Zach Simmons. Unfortunately, the spread attack went limp too often. DJ Draper’s 3PT % dropped to 36% from 42% while making just over half his total from last year.

Roosevelt Smart went from a 36% gunner to a 27% guy and his offensive rating went from 110 to 86.

Was it injuries? Mental focus? It is difficult to say but it is McCasland’s job to know and change it. Still, whatever quibbles the fan base has with this program are just that — quibbles — given the tremendous progress this team has made in just his two years at the helm.

It is easy to see a future where NT is one of the favored teams in Frisco, but it is a long way before NT has a program the calibre of Western Kentucky, a basketball mainstay for decades.

Categories
Basketball Basketball Recaps

North Texas Women Lose To Rice 61-43

North Texas lost in the quarterfinal round to Rice 61-43 and it was the slow, inevitable kind of game against a superior opponent that happens. Though the venue is a ‘home’ one, the crowd was light on green and had a good sprinkling of Rice fans.

The early start didn’t help, and the grinding game that NT succeeded with against Southern Miss got away from them late, as the Owl found easy buckets from their 6’9″ center Nancy Mulkey and star Erica Ogwumike.

North Texas got good contributions from Madi Townley and her smooth midrange jumper — she was 5/9 for 11 pints and 8 boards.

NT tried to attack the big center through Deja Terrell and Charlene Shepherd with some success. Ultimately, a friendly Rice whistle and lack of length combined to do them in.

Mulkey was able to get easy layups to kill runs or draw fouls to stop momentum. While NT forced her out of the post a couple times and into turnvoers — travelling violations — she did enough blocking of shots or bothering or challenging NT player drives to keep NT from scoring comfortably.

When she sat, NT could not take full advantage. Terriell Bradley, the senior scorer for NT, did nto have one of her typical games. She missed a layup after taking on the whole Rice squad and getting into the lane.

Her midrange game was short all night, perhaps on account of playing just yesterday. All told, a good portion of the performance can probably be attributed to the game yesterday. It was hard-fought, and there was only a short break.

Two straight years with at least one tournament win for Jalie Mitchell in the Frisco version of this tournament.

Categories
Basketball

2019 CUSA Tournament Day 2: More Mean Green

Both basketball squads were in action yesterday and both produced quality wins. The men are always going to get a little more praise than the women, but Jalie Mitchell has the more recent tournament success.

Last year NT rode a pair of upsets into the semi-final round before losing to eventual winners WKU. This year they beat 8th-seeded Southern Miss in an ugly game to earn the right to take on top-seeded Rice at 11am.

The last time NT took on Rice — then ranked #25, now ranked #24 — deep into the game with the Owls pulling away in the 4th quarter to win. Rice is undefeated in league play, and is led by 6’9″ Nancy Mulkey and 5’9″ Erica Ogwumike.

After the last matchup Jalie Mitchell was quoted as saying

Our players and staff believe we can beat Rice and play with anybody in this league. I thought we played hard for 40 minutes, and I think we will be prepared to win as many games as possible,

Jalie Mitchell

The men have a giant hurdle to overcome as well in WKU, the most talented team in the league led by imposing 6’11” Charles Bassey.

The last time WKU visited the DFW area, the beat NT with a dominant first-half in front of a huge Super Pit crowd. The beginning of the now well-known shooting woes began there.

Still, NT always plays a little bigger than their short-stature suggests and there is hope. F Zach Simmons played outside of his mind yesterday, and Umoja Gibson looked like the sharp shooter he needs to be when he didn’t have to take ball handling duties. With Ryan Woolridge and Jordan Duffy back in their normal roles, everything resembled the look this team had early in the season when they were top-four contenders and not also-rans.

It was just a little over a month ago that we all thought the WKU game in Denton was a preview for pod play and not the beginning of a slide down the standings. Whatever the case, this team’s road to the NCAA tournament was never going to be with a regular season resume.

It, was and still is, all about the league tournament.

So here we are, the most talented team in the league with the best team in the conference possibly waiting after that. This is what we all wanted from North Texas.

North Texas vs WKU

Line: WKU -3.5
Kenpom: 43%

Let us be honest: the numbers say we are bad offensively, good offensively, and do not match up well in any significant category.

The real question of course, is if any of that matters come 8:30pm on Court A.

Basketball is a weird game in which it is heavily reliant on a team, but then can become an individual sport in one or two crucial moments. Teams need to run the offense for the majority of the game, but when it comes to winning time, sometimes the best strategy is giving the ball to your best player and having him make a play.

North Texas fans have quibbled over who that guy is on this roster. My vote is probably Ryan Woolridge, given he can get to the rim seemingly at will. His issue, aside from recent injury, is his outside shooting and well, his free throw shooting.

Those are two big areas that can and do limit his ability to deliver in the clutch.

When you think of the league’s best — Jhivvan Jackson, Jon Elmore, DaQuan Bracey and the like — you think of players that can get a bucket when their teams need it.

WKU has something like a similar problem. Their whole roster is stacked — Bassey, G/F Josh Anderson, Lamonte Bearden, Taveion Hollingsworth — but unlike last season when Justin Johnson was the go-to guy, I do not know who gets the ball in crunch time here.

If North Texas can stay close to Western until the end, I like their chances late. The crowd will be decidedly pro-green, and that can make a difference. Western has blown some big leads this season, and that is evidence of a lack of execution and experience. They are vulnerable despite being talented.

How to Win

Zach Simmons needs to be match Bassey inside. We cannot expect another 7/7 performance but the aggression and decisiveness he showed vs FIU is key. Bassey will not let Simmons get position or go up with power, and Zach cannot help him by being passive or trying one too many post moves.

Mike Miller is the only other consistent scorer who can get the rim not named Ryan Woolridge. He was attacking on the catch — the whole squad was — and that is the kind of play NT needs.

Umoja Gibson was incredible shooting yesterday, and he probably regresses a bit so NT will need one of Smart or Duffy to take up that burden.

Roosevelt Smart is and should be more of a scorer than a shooter. He was off yesterday, even missing a wide open shot where he had a chance to spin the rock before letting it fly. He can get to the bucket and finish, and more of that is needed.

Gibson said WKU baited them into shooting too many threes early in the last matchup. I imagine the whole staff is aware of that for this game.

North Texas can beat WKU but it will require some good fortune. Every major contributor played big minutes vs FIU and had to break the press for the entire second-half. That kind of thing takes a toll. I imagine we will see some poor shooting tonight.