You might have missed that the Mean Green played #4 Kansas this week on Thanksgiving lost, and then blew a lead to Miami at the ESPN Events Invitational. These were not great showings, but there were a lot of good things. As anything involving these early-season tournaments, take it all with a grain of salt. North Texas is figuring out who they are with this new-look roster and integrating the new guys. Playing good competition and even playing in a tournament-like situation will prepare the squad for the important things to come. As good as NT was last year, the road to the NCAA Tournament is still goes through the CUSA Tournament.
Thoughts, in an unorganized list:
- Kansas is good, and North Texas struggled with the high-level athleticism and talent but settled in for a bit before succumbing to another KU run late. NT stayed roughly about 10-15 points down after the first 5 minutes, which is what happens when a team is not very ready for the jump in talent.
- Miami came back in the second half and NT looked a bit flat and unready for the adjustments. The team lacked a late-game closer, which was a role that Javion Hamlet played the last two seasons. That played a role the Miami comeback as it is easier to settle down when you can give it to your stud guy and let him cook.
- There were some good things happening and you can see NT still defends man-to-man, and relies on spreading the floor to get some buckets.
- Tylor Perry has been good, and was great vs Kansas. Thomas Bell is still a baller, and is being more aggressive. I like Ousmane, still, but he got bullied a bit vs Kansas and was slow to react vs the pick and roll
- There is plenty of time to settle in before the league play starts in earnest on Jan 1 vs Rice.