Lehigh Recap

CJ McCollum didn’t even play. Sixty or so NBA scouts attended tonight’s game to figure out where they were going to take CJ and our own Tony Mitchell in the upcoming draft. CJ is a senior while Tony is only a sophomore. He is widely expected to go pro after this year.

Without a possible first-round draft pick to go against, Tony Mitchell had the floor all to himself. He began the night on the bench because of some rule-breaking. (Something about skipping a class??) The team started off well enough. Lehigh obviously had a problem adjusting to the 11-days off and absence of  the nation’s leading scorer. It briefly looked like the offense was going to run smoothly and that this might be a good game.

Then Lehigh went on a run that erased a North Texas 2-pt lead and put them up 52-33 at the half. Aside from a few mini-spurts from the green guys, Lehigh quelled any rebellion and sailed smoothly into an easy victory.

You can get that all from the Associated Press. That isn’t what we do here, ya’ll. We obsess over the little things. Like how we can’t defend. Like how we can’t score. Like how this team is an embarrassment. Stick a fork in us, we are done, says SBN’s Benjamin Miraski.

This is officially the end for North Texas. Even if they should win the Sun Belt, you can’t honestly believe that it will happen at this point. There is too much wrong with a team that shows up and doesn’t compete.

That’s about right. The frustration from the fans is palpable. Same old North Texas, they sayIt is hard to disagree. All the excitement and hope that we had after last season is gone now.

Tony Benford looks lost. The team, following his lead, looks lost. Chris Jones isn’t playing like the guy who dropped 30 on Texas Tech in his first college game. Jordan Williams looks like he could really use someone to pass him the ball in good positions. Tony Mitchell looks like he wonders what could have been at Mizzou.

We must resign ourselves to our fate, ladies and gents. We have no money to fire Benford, not even to threaten to fire him. We have even less money to pay another guy to come in here and fix this mess. This has been our problem for as long as I can remember. Why not North Texas? Well, because we tend to miss badly with our coaching hires. Where Arkansas State was hitting with Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn, we swung and missed with Todd Dodge and Tony Benford.

There is an entire conference regular season and therefore lots of chances to turn this thing around. The  players can rally, talk about how no one believed in them (right) and everyone wrote them off (yep). It will be awesome. I can’t wait for that to happen.

If it doesn’t? We have four more years of Tony Benford. We’ll have to learn to love him as he learns to coach a team. Tonight? He learned that losing the jacket didn’t inspire the team to close out Gabe Knutson. It didn’t  inspire flawless execution of the fast and secondary breaks. It didn’t inspire any cohesion at all.

The players? They played hard in spurts. Mitchell was jogging at some points, sure, and everyone loves to point out how hard Roger Franklin plays (he plays really hard). This doesn’t matter. Did you watch Lehigh? They weren’t out-hustling our guys. They just executed better. When you know where to go and make decisive moves it looks quick. It looks fast. It looks like desire and hunger. It really is just a better coached team doing what they do.

The slowness, the poor shots, the bad passes on our side? Those are overthinking mistakes. Tell me, what is our go-to play? You Mavericks fans know what I mean. You know where Dirk wants the ball late in the game – on the left elbow ( that means near the free throw line to you basketball n00bs). Where does Tony Mitchell want the ball besides under the rim? When teams counter the easy pass to Dirk in his spot, the Mavs will run counters off of that. Some pick-and-roll, some slips, backcuts right? What are our counter moves for Tony Mitchell getting quad-teamed underneath? Nada.

Nothing.

It’s standing around looking lost.

I get that we can’t shoot threes. Brandon Walton and TJ Taylor could have stretched the defense and created space. Sure. Basketball is a rhythm game, though. Clarke Overlander has taken precious few part-of-the offense threes. Instead the ball will somehow find its way into his hands after a failed entry pass. He fires, he misses. I am not surprised.

I suppose the chance that the guys just refuse to buy into Tony Benford’s regime and so this is the problem. Most of the team was constructed by Johnny Jones, with his style in mind. We don’t know Benford’s true style. He hasn’t had time to put his touch on this program. Under normal circumstances, a grace period would be expected. These aren’t normal circumstances. We have had only one first-round-caliber guy here. You do a little adapting to get the most out of the situation.

Right now, this is clearly not happening.