I know zero people who enjoy watching anything on CUSATV. The stream today for Rice vs North Texas from Houston was not bad for most of the program, but the early lag and the radio-voice of the Owls had me worried. I suspect my own clear anti-CUSATV stance stems from years of watching on team-specific hit-or-miss streams or not being able to find games at all. It was not bad. I also hate it. I see the same decision tree every time: should I buy it and cancel? is it worth it? For me, the answer is it is not worth it. Still, I watched this afternoon.
The struggle over whether to pay for CUSATV was about all of the drama we saw this afternoon. Rice jumped out to a little run early, but North Texas basketball was too much of a machine for the Owls throughout. After the game Rice head coach Scott Pera called it a ‘domination’ and it was. NT got up big, and executed their game plan and did not let Rice even sort of get close to getting back in this one.
Truth-be-told the game was more of the same kind of stuff we have seen from the good guys in recent weeks. Thomas Bell (21 points on 9 of 17 shooting) looked like the best player on the best team on the floor. The defense was active, there were some weird possessions, but overall NT got what it wanted and stopped the other team from doing much of what they wanted. We saw minutes for Rasheed Browne, Bryce Zephir, Matthew Stone, and Hameir Wright. It was that kind of night. Rice was held to their second-lowest scoring output of the season (the last time they played NT they only managed 43). The camera side of the stands was packed with green. NT — and pretty much every nearby CUSA program — usually travels well to Houston. There is a good contingent of UNT alumni in the area and so it makes it easier to fill out the house when NT comes to town in any sport. Since I was a student in Denton, I have been saying to anyone who would listen that the basketball team deserves the kind of obsession and attention that we give to the football team. This hoops squad has put hardware in the trophy case, y’all. I am aware that in Texas — and hell, America — football is KING and that is that, for now.
This ten-game win streak is enough to get a little wider recognition ahead of the huge schedule next weekend: FAU, and UAB. I wildly speculated that the win streak may provide a little national attention that could maybe get North Texas the kind of love that would result in an at-large bid. College ball is funny because of the tournament structure. While the regular season is not as meaningful, it has value as preparation and as a sorting mechanism. As a way to fairly determine a winner, it is very flawed. It is all supposed to be entertainment, however.
For a hoop head like me, this is very enjoyable. I have written here before about how awesome it is to watch these dudes get into their sets and execute. It is even fun watching them work through the challenge of entering new roles and embracing and incorporating new teammates.
I do not know what the AAC will bring but I hope that this program can continue to build and the fan bases will embrace watching such good teams. CUSA and the Sun Belt do not fully appreciate hoops. Some of that is our fault as well — NT basketball has been under invested in for a while — but it’s beyond time to change that.
Next Up: A surprising FAU team that is very good at home on Thursday, followed by the scoring machine that is Jelly Walker in Birmingham.