North Texas is 1-4: Longhorns 73 UNT 57

There were 9,488 of us at that place tonight. How many heard the public address guy call us North Texas State two or three times? Eff that guy.

You know what? He has to listen to the corny-ass music that Texas band plays throughout the game so at least he gets his.

We lost. That is what will go down in history. No one will remember the details. That isn’t anything to complain about –just a reminder of the way this thing works. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to take away from this game. We wanted improvement from the twin blowouts to Mississippi State and UT-Arlington. We got some.

I mean we were held at arm’s length pretty much the entire game. Even the Burnt Orange Nation guys thought so:

Texas built an early 8 point lead, extended it to 18 in the second half and comfortably held off an athletic North Texas squad 73-57 on Tuesday night at the Erwin Center. We played quite well for stretches, but we aren’t yet consistent enough to pull away and run the Mean Green out of the gym, which on a couple of occasions it looked like we might do. Still, we never let North Texas get within striking distance, we took care of the ball, played good team defense, and got looks at the rim when we needed scores.

That is pretty much right on.

They are and were more talented in all areas. Whatever height advantage we had from the guard spots was rendered null because of their front-court. There were a few bright spots: Roger Franklin was working his ass off grabbing rebounds. He even showed some range –which I really liked. Not so much for the results but the attitude. He didn’t look hesitant when he was open which is unusual for everyone not named Chris Jones.

Speaking of the freshman, he shot poorly (3-14) but was a little snake-bit. A couple shots rolled out of the rim and often he was either doubled, or left to take the shot as the shot-clock winded down. I imagine we could have made it a little more interesting if a couple of those close ones rolled our way.

We didn’t have to play perfectly to win there. Our margin of error was slightly larger against this Texas team than it was last time we played. Why? Texas is just as young and has been having similar problems adjusting. Their offense has stagnated and Rick Barnes is using this next few games against lesser talent to recalibrate the offense to revolve less around J’Covan Brown. Did he accomplish this? Sort of. Texas stagnated like we do, turned the ball over and was out-rebounded.

It was our turnovers that let them get on their two huge runs that we couldn’t climb out of.

Frustratingly, our initial transition defense is okay –that is they didn’t get dunks and layups off turnovers and misses, instead they got wide open shots in the “early offense.” For all you non-basketballers, early offense (sometimes called a secondary break) is the sets immediately after a fast-break fails. For some teams that means looking for a trailing shooter. For others, a quick pick-and-roll opportunity or a mismatch. Texas got the ball quickly to a big man running down the paint. We often did a great job to close down on said big man preventing an easy layup. The problem? Well the big usually just kicked it back out to the passer or another guy setting up for three, who was trailing the play.

When run correctly, it is beautiful stuff. North Carolina is famous for it and you’ll often hear it called the “Carolina break.” Any basketball team runs some form of it at least occasionally.

If Texas wasn’t so cold from outside, they probably would have done some real damage. As it was, they fell victim to our fairly staunch half-court defending. Other than a couple of sweet ass motion-offense-derived plays where the ‘Horns got wide open shots on the wing, we held our own fairly well on defense. Kabongo was bailed out a few times with a generous foul call after some terrible possessions.

It is hard to be angry with that stuff considering we were at their place and we are less talented. Why that last part? Well, when guys are bigger, stronger, quicker and just generally better you get caught out of position sometimes. That means you are more likely to foul.

We have the makings of a good team. We showed some gumption. Can’t wait until Tony Mitchell Day. (Bart Scott Voice)

***

Frank Erwin Experience

I mentioned on the drive (@meangreennation) that I plan to treat the San Antonio/Austin area like a metroplex. That means more trips to Austin. It helps that Tristan Thompson plays for the Austin Toros. Speaking of whom, he was at the game.

Tristan Thompson
That is the terrible spur-of-the-moment picture I took.

Anyway, it was my first time visiting the arena. Aside from the arena LED banner encircling the place, and the much better lighting system it was comparable to the Super Pit. I imagine that a good $10 million donation ought to bring our place up to that level. The Frank doubles as a community venue where big time acts swing through. If Denton were attracting Jay-Z to the coliseum we probably could add a light show introduction to our games.

My favorite part of the night was taking over the TEXAS/FIGHT chant and making it NORTH/TEXAS to the bewilderment of the T-shirt Longhorns surrounding us. That place definitely has the potential to be rocking for the right games. With all the suites and empty seats for a non-conference team that isn’t in position to do much damage? Well it felt like a neutral site sometimes. If they weren’t hooked up to the speaker system and armed with instruments we North Texas fans probably made as much noise as their fans.

So it goes. As much as I dislike moral victories, I find myself strangely contented with this outing. A lot of good happened the other night even if we are all getting tired of losing. Jordan Williams tweeted after the game that “this shit gettin old”. Chris Jones retweeted that . Consider this my retweetidge.

We are headed to California, now. As good as an experience as this will be for a number of reasons, part of me can’t help but wonder if the team would have been better for playing a few games at home before heading out. It has been a long, brutal, and slightly disappointing start to the season spent all on the road. Whereas we fans can probably rationalize and fight through the tough early losses, there is no telling how this young group of guys is taking it.

Confidence can be fragile.

GMG.

Also, got a chance to meet a couple of gomeangreen.com guys. That was cool. Head over there and post and chat and see if UNT has a CFO calling anyone a putz.