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Is It Panic Time For Mean Green Basketball?

The short answer is ‘no’.

The longer answer is that as far as opening weeks go, this was mighty underwhelming. All around college basketball, there have been many upsets. The transfer portal has cut both ways. I watched in person as Evansville gave SLU a hard time thanks to a few new transfers including one from UNLV. It is easier for small programs to get better quickly, by importing experience and talent. North Texas is excited about the new roster full of transfers but they are gelling together and settling in. Add to that the fact that the entire team had the flu, and North Texas’ two best ball-handlers (including number one scorer) have been absent and you can see why NT would struggle.

North Texas has struggled. The squad looks like they were just introduced to the concept of offensive basketball, afraid to shoot, and only occasionally seem excited to even shoot. The defense — the foundation of the program — has been good and there. Even against St. Mary’s on the road, the defense and effort were present. If and when Tylor Perry‘s ankle heals, he is a big time scorer and facilitator that should allow everyone to fall into their preferred and most effective roles.

Abou Ousmane was good against DII Southern Nazarene, but struggled against a higher quality opponent that looked to limit him. The “outside” of the inside-outside plan did not open things up for him, as no one could throw the rock into the Pacific if they tried. This is a long season, and the question of whether or not the team would get into the tournament on the strength of resumé is always a long shot. The shortest, most clear path into the NCAA Tournament is by winning the league tournament in Frisco. A bad week in November does not derail that plan, and in fact could help the team achieve this. A question about this roster is how they would build the mental toughness together the the championship winning teams had. They had won, and won via overtime wins against tough opponents and hit big shots and grabbed big rebounds and got big stops. This squad has not done that wearing the Green and White. Getting rocked in Maraga, CA is one way to build a little closeness. Bouncing back from that to battle a Fresno State at the Super Pit is a way to get the togetherness required to work when March arrives.

The new guys have not replaced anyone’s memory of Perry, but have shown some good things in spots. Huntsberry is finding his scoring form, Eady looks tough defensively, and Martinez even found his range against St. Mary’s late.

Be cautiously optimistic. Perry’s ankle is a concern, as all ankle injuries are. His role involves a lot of heavy minutes and it would be ideal if NT could build up some depth on the roster as he recovers. He is obviously important for NT’s plans this season but finding a way through the schedule without him will help the squad in those moments come conference play when he is sitting to catch his breath.

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