North Texas has one game left on its non conference slate and that is tonight vs. Texas Tech. After that it’s on to conference play. Honestly the conference schedule looks pretty damn scary. I had this team winning 16 games during the regular season. That would mean that they need to win 10 in conference. It’s hard to circle 10 wins in a tough conference like CUSA. I broke down the games in 3 categories. First category is Winners. These are games I firmly believe that North Texas will win. Second category is Toss ups. These are games where it could go either way for UNT. Lastly you have the Need a Prayer category and I think you can figure out what that means.
Here’s what it looks like:
Winners (60% and up)
Toss ups (40-50%)
Need a Prayer (Less that 30%)
So if you give UNT the (3) Winners and half of the Toss ups (4) you come up with 7 wins. That would be one more than last year and 13 for the year. That would be pretty disappointing if you ask me.
Now early in the season I hinted at this team struggling early on and picking up steam mid January. Is that still a possibility? Sure it is. North Texas had so many moving parts and new pieces to start the season. It takes time for basketball team to gel. We’ve seen them put together a nice win against Creighton. We’ve also seen them lose to a bad team in Prairie View A&M. The Prairie View loss is hard to swallow as a fan, but if you look around the college basketball landscape almost every team this year has a bad loss. Still was unacceptable in my eyes. So how can North Texas right the ship?
- Fix the offense
This offense has been atrocious for most of the season. Part of the problem has been not having a point guard. The other and bigger parts of the problem are bad shots and turnovers. When UNT takes care of the ball they can stay in most games. When they get sloppy it turns in the double digit losses. The bad shots are just from poor execution. I understand that sometimes you have to take a contested shot, but you don’t have to do it as much as UNT does. Too many times a North Texas player attacks the basket with no lane or opportunity to get off a good shot. It turns into a bad shot, foul, or a turnover.
- Create an unequal opportunity offense
Just because you get the ball doesn’t mean you should be taking shots. There are only a few guys on this team that I believe can be viable offensive weapons. Those are Jordan Williams, T.J Taylor, Jeremy Combs, and Maurice Aniefiok. I left Voss off because I believe he is more a role player and not a go to guy on offense.
- Better Penetration D
Numbers tell us that North Texas has a fairly good defense. Film tells us a different story. UNT has adopted the 3-2 & 2-3 zone this season. I like the fact that this is forcing teams to beat North Texas from deep, but I would like to see better execution. If you go back and watch the Creighton game you’ll see Creighton get into the lane whenever they wanted and then kicked it out for an open shot. Penetration is the easiest way to break down a zone. If UNT is struggling to stay in front of guys well then just sag back a little bit. I feel pretty confident that we have guys with enough athletic ability to make up space when needed.
UNT has a lot of work to do down the stretch if they want to make a run during conference play. They have guys with talent to make a run, but I’m not sold on the coaching. Coach Benford needs to start producing results on the court. The product at North Texas has been in steady decline ever since his hire. Fans have voiced their displeasure by simply not showing up to the games. I wonder if the AD is even paying attention to that. Students, alumni, and fans won’t show up simply because of some promotion or marketing gimmick. Only way to get fans in the stands is to win games.