|Josh White: Beast|
Already being called the most amazing atmosphere at the SuperPit — and maybe at a UNT venue ever– the win versus the Red Raiders was many things — a statement, a big win, a great way to start the season — but most of all it was fun. Yeah. Fun.
It had a little drama, a lot of action, a little underdog (literally) and a great finish. Oh what a finish.
I hugged a stranger.
That kind of finish.
Texas Tech fans will (and already have) talk about missed opportunities, turnovers and missed free throws. They are right. There were a couple of times where Tech could have pulled ahead into double digits but those turnovers, missed opportunities, and yes, missed free throws allowed little North Texas back in.
The Mean Green did all the little things that have defined them under Johnny Jones: hustling, playing defense, and getting out and running.
Oh thank goodness they were running, by the way. That offense stagnates when they get into the half court. They take bad shots, turn it over, and stand around. It was only when they could score in transition and/or the secondary break where they look most comfortable. Tonight, that was not a huge deal. Against Kansas? Well, I do not even want to think about it.
Where was I? Right. Josh White: Clutch Shooter. The team’s co-leading scorer put on a show late in the second half and into overtime. Remember that stagnant offense? Well aside from occasional sweet interior passing, the best play was Josh barreling into the teeth of the Tech defense for a tough layup or a sweet dish. He opted for the former with precious seconds ticking off the clock with the game on the line. Instead of a little jumper like in the Sunbelt Championship game, he took it to the rack. The place exploded. It was so awesome.
Side note time:
With only a month or two before I began my freshman year at UNT, I picked up like College Hoops 2k-something and took a little virtual visit to the Super Pit. Firstly, ‘That is an awesome name for an arena” , I thought to myself. Secondly, “Looks like that place is rockin’ when there is a good game.” Sadly, it wasn’t until I graduated before I could attend a game with such a badass atmosphere.
The announced crowd was something like 7,000 plus, good for fifth largest in UNT history. The student section was more like a student half. Taking up three or four additional columns instead of the usual one or two, clad in green and shouting the whole time it was, well, fucking awesome.
Or, for you straight-edge types: Fun. It was really fun.
Now for the obligatory break-down of Why:
-The team has been getting good buzz for something like four years now. They have made the tournament twice in four or five years with the same squad. Not only is the team good, but this team is good, with these players.
-Texas Tech is nearby. A crapload of TecaTec fans live in the Metroplex. The crowd was made up of a good portion of Raiderites (who tried to ‘Raider Panty Power’ over our ‘North Texas’ chant, by the way)
-Not a holiday. I am serious. A good portion of basketball games are played during Vacation time. Such a drain on home attendance.
When did I hug a stranger? Well that was when Josh White hit his first 3 ball in overtime on a fast break. Dude kicked it out. I stood up, yelling “There it is!”
Net. Screams, yells. High five and hug time.
Things Little Josh overshadowed:
-The play of Tristan Thompson. He had a nice little run of silky smooth plays. A little baseline jumper, a sweet layup in traffic and I think one other play in transition. He kept the defensive focus off of Josh and scored clutch baskets.
-Odufuwa and the post guys. They really kicked ass inside on the defensive end, and cleaned up the boards. They had a couple of lapses where Tech scored some ridiculously easy layups off cuts and slashes to the cup but got clutch boards late.
-Tech missing freebies that would have a) put them in the lead at one point and b) put them up three instead of two with under a minute left. That is a world of difference. You can run your offense and get a good shot no matter where it is from. Also, it takes away the foul option. Huge. Also, quickly.
Look ahead to the Beast:
Prospects aren’t good for a win. The cynic says that TecaTec was down a couple dudes and had a great chance at winning on a tournament team’s home floor. North Texas struggled a bit in the half court and relied on Josh putting up 32, and timely steals to get the win.
The optimist says that we have a nice boost of confidence from this game and that we beat a Big 12(ten) team and that Kansas is ripe for an upset. So what if we got shellacked by the other squad from Kansas in March?
Tell you something: I want a win not for all the usual reasons. I want the same kind of crowd for Rice on Tuesday the 23rd and I think beating the Jayhawks at the Phog is the way to do it.