After that revenge win against the Red Wolves, neé Indians, we are 9-2 at home going into the biggest game of the season. Middle Tennessee is in the middle of a perfect campaign in the Sun Belt Conference.
It is a great time to face them.
Tony Mitchell is in excellent form (to steal a soccer description.) Partnering with Roger Franklin inside has opened up the perimeter for guys like Brandon Walton, who has shot 48% from deep in the last six games including 3 of 5 today. When Tony isn’t fouling people, he is dominant and he is making us better.
He has played in only 13 of our 23 games. In December, his first official games with the team he struggled to get in game shape, avoid fouling and find his role. Stat line for December: 22.8 minutes per game, 10.3 ppg, 6.6 rbg, 3.8 fouls per game. January*: 30.3 minutes, 20 ppg, 11.3 rbg, 3.2 fouls per game.
*Not including the Ark St. game today.
Those fouls per game don’t really illustrate his discipline as well as putting it this way: In December he fouled out twice, and had four fouls 3 other times. In January he had four fouls only once (the ULL game where he played 17 minutes.
As I’m watching him overpower the opposition, flying over dudes for monster dunks, blocking shots that no one else can block, and fly into passing lanes for easy steals I cannot help but feel fortunate for having him on the team while simultaneously thinking of how bad it would have been if we didn’t land him.
With Chris Jones and Jordan Williams out for the rest of the season because of academic ineligibility, we would probably be looking at Holmen and Hogans’ return as our hope for a return to respectability rather than the pieces that could carry us to a nice Sun Belt Tourney run.
This may be a one-and-done year for Tony. I couldn’t blame him for it if that is indeed the case. I’m just going to enjoy the ride through the Sun Belt, enjoying the carnage left in the wake of the most gifted basketball athlete the conference has ever seen.
I’m just glad he is wearing green and white right now.
I couldn’t even stand to write anything about this game. Right now all I could stand is to show you the video. Chris Jones was blocked (fouled?) on a shot that he made just seconds before to put us in the lead.
Then this happened:
This is one of those games that can shape some expectations. Tony Mitchell has been getting a lot of love (and rightly so) for his 34-point, 16-rebound effort against South Alabama last time out. Some major media college basketball guys have their eye on him, and thus the program.
It is an opportunity. They say that Luck is when Hard Work meets Opportunity. Well we’ve been putting in work. By we I mean Johnny Jones. He’s been shaping this program for eleven years and the fruits of his labor are sweet. North Texas basketball has won conference championships and been to the Big Show twice under his watch. It has produced one NBA Development League player in Tristan Thompson and attracted two guys — Chris Jones and Jordan Williams — that could do the same.
Of course there is also Tony Mitchell. No other UNT player has had so many scouts visit the Super Pit. No other player has come in as highly touted or as talented. Sure, he originally committed to Missouri, and we get a lot of players that are returning to the Metroplex after circumstances forced them to leave their first choice programs.
Johnny Jones takes what he can get. This is an opportunity to make this a destination. Every program needs a guy that opens the door and makes the team a cool place to go to. TJ Ford opened it up at Texas. Tony Mitchell may be the guy that opens it up here in Denton.
It may be a bit of a stretch to call it a gigantic opportunity. I mean, it isn’t even on TV. Two 30-point games would turn the hype meter up pretty high and maybe bring some fans to the Western Kentucky game on the 12th.
Where I’ll be:
At my uncle’s watching NFL football and shelling out the $9 dollars to watch it via AStateRedWolves.com.
Where you’ll be:
Likely doing the same. You might have fun hanging out at gomeangreen.com/forums or on the twitter machine with me — i’ll be tweeting out goodness like always.
This spur-of-the-moment interview started because of drinking.
My friend had had too much last night at a rock show and I had to give him a ride to his car this morning. On my way back, I stopped by the apartment office for free coffee and whatever free snacks they like to put out. So I’m chillin’, enjoying the freebies like the bum I am when I see that UNT basketball great Josh White is out walking with his dog. It was a weird moment because I knew I had to chase him down, really stalker-like, without looking like a creepy guy. I had been planning to ask him for an interview for a while but, well, I’m kind of lazy. You know this.
With his career in Denton at an end, this was likely my last chance and he was good enough to oblige Yours Truly with a few minutes of his time.
We sat down over half-pint Ozarkas and I asked him a few questions. I’ll tell you this: the dude is as laid back as advertised. He is a genuinely cool dude. You can’t ask for more from one of the school’s all-time greats.
Plans for the future:
” I just recently signed with an agent. I’ve just been working out. I’m going to France in the summer, Chicago for a showcase, lot of traveling. I just want to find somewhere to play. I have a lot of friends who are overseas, making six-figures. Of course the NBA is the number one goal but if I’m able to do what I love and get paid for it? That’s what it’s all about.”
On the far future:
“Maybe coaching, I want to own a restaurant. I don’t cook, no, but like owning it and managing it. Probably put it in Louisiana, where I’m from, though. Haha, don’t have a name yet. We’ll have to wait on that. ”
“Well you know, I saw my brother playing in those big games and the way he was treated. You know those big schools in the big conferences: ACC, BIG 12, etc. They get treated like royalty. People recognize him all the time, ask him for interviews, thank him. Here? Well, a lot of people just walk by you without knowing who you are. They don’t even know we play basketball. Don’t get me wrong, though, we have some great fans. There are some really loyal, good fans. It is different, though. ”
“Growing up and being a basketball player I of course wanted to play in front of those big crowds and packed houses. We get some of that here, like the Texas Tech game and for Oklahoma State. You know they are going to show up for that. It would be nice to play in front of that every night, though. Some players and some people ask me if that bothers me. I am just happy to play basketball. I love it, so it doesn’t really matter but it would be nice to have a packed house. Sometimes you look around at the stands and there ain’t nobody there. We do have some good fans, though.”
on Message Boards and “advice”:
“I’m a humble guy. I try to take anything that can improve my game and consider it. If someone has something helpful I try to listen.”
“Message boards? I try to stay away from all that. My mom and some of my family and friends kind of follow that. I try to stay away from all that negativity, though so I don’t really know exactly what they say. I do hear about it sometimes. The worst? Someone told me that they were saying that the team would be better if I wasn’t starting. That I was harming the team by starting.”
“It definitely motivated me.”
On his team’s place in UNT history:
“I’m glad to be a part of it. You know with the way coach Jones recruits and coaches, they are going to continue to do good things.”
“I play every day with them [new guys coming in next year] at the rec center and yeah I think how good it would have been to play with them during the season. It is fun now, it’s too bad we couldn’t play together.”
On Josh White, the person:
“I’m really family-oriented and it is nice to have my mom and my family supporting me. There haven’t been many games that she’s missed. We are really close. They’ve really been there for me. My brother is like a second father to me. I’m a quiet guy — a little bit of a loner sometimes– so it is kind of good that Denton is quiet and I can just go about my day.”
More on Denton/Dallas:
“Denton is a small town. I didn’t really like it all that much at first. There wasn’t a whole lot to do here. It kind of fits my personality, though. It’s quiet and I learned to like it after a while. I wish I had more time to go to Dallas more. There was just no time being a student and playing basketball, though. I maybe would go here and there, go to a Mavs game, downtown and stuff.”
“I’ll definitely be back and try to make a couple games and stuff. I won’t be able to see the first game in the new stadium next season but I do want to try and come back.”
“I’m going to miss Denton. I never thought I’d say that, but I’m gonna miss it.”
If you happen to browse the most popular UNT-centric message board you might have noticed the concern over UTSA and its progress toward prominence. That isn’t to say that UTSA is making large steps toward prominence. Well, none that are amazing. The basketball team is in the NCAA tournament again and won a play-in game. The football team begins play in the fall. They join the struggling WAC conference in 2012.
All cool stuff if you are a Road Runner, are from SA, or root for them because of some ties, family or otherwise. Nothing that hasn’t been seen before, though.
Why are we afraid?
UTSA is very similar in both population, community support, perception and even endowment. Both schools are in the 30K range in student population, are or were fighting the stigma of being long time commuter schools, hit-and-miss athletic performances and are not rich.
There. With momentum seemingly in UTSA’s favor, surely they will ride it to success? Probably not. The audacity of Lynn Hickey, UTSA’s athletic director, to move so quickly into full FBS status when so many have struggled even after maintaining successful FCS programs for years no doubt rankles some.
I can’t say if UTSA’s plan is a smart one. It is bold. Some people don’t like bold. Especially fans of teams that have struggled so often and are perennially “on the verge of success” like UNT.
It is understandable that we as a fan base are looking at a program with an excited (and minting new blowhards by the day) fan base and get a little jealous. After 94 seasons of mediocrity with blips of relative success, it is only natural to get a little miffed at the boasts of an upstart proclaiming their planned awesomeness. We are the grumpy old men who like to boast of what could have been.
If only. If only.
When UT-San Antonio was founded on the fifth of June, 1969, we were in the offseason following Rod Rust’s second season in the midst of what would become a .476 career record in Denton.
In the time before Rod, UNT had four coaches who managed a better-than .500 winning percentage. Since, they have squeaked out only the revered Hayden Fry and his .629 mark. (Jerry Moore went exactly .500.)
Long story short: UNT has been pitiful. The die-hards and long-timers will tell you all about the “great” defenses of the Dickey era and how, when the circumstances are considered, the records don’t tell the entire story.
They have a point.
It still doesn’t inspire fan appreciation. Dallasites are stereotypically fickle, fake and fans of shiny things. Cranking out boring football and losing seasons did not grow the fan base outside of those long-timers with stories and a soft spot for Saturdays full of disappointment. It is our legacy. Losing at North Texas is what was done, at both football and basketball, all the way until Johnny Jones decided he liked winning better.
The past is the past. It can be overcome. The losses have no doubt hindered our abilities to attract students with pure allegiances and our endowment has no doubt suffered for it.
Just as the start of a new season holds the promise of possibility, of what could be, of hope, so does the start of the tenure of a new coaching staff.
Yes we can and all that.
The easy solution to our problems is just to win. On our end, there isn’t much to do other than offer support. Do that. Enjoy the wins and don’t be so damn cynical. Don’t be a hater. Quit comparing the team to other squads.
If you really need the advice women’s magazines give then here it is: be the best you you can be. Don’t compare yourself to other [programs].
There is nothing to be gained from hating on UTSA. Nothing. Unless it is good old fashioned rivalry hate.
Even that can get stupid, though so just watch yourself. You don’t want to end up killing 100-year old trees like that ‘Bama guy.
I was playing the semifinal game of our little indoor soccer league when North Texas was succumbing to fatigue (I suppose) and the defense of Arkansas State at the Convocation Center. We won by the way. Browsing through Vito’s running blog (dude needs a twitter account) I relived the game in all of the glory that one can considering the situation.
So we were done in from 7:36 on, huh?
What does it all mean? Well, aside from sadness and a feeling of despair, it means we need to win 4 games in 4 days.
For seeding scenarios, check out the excellent post by this guy.
With that, I’ll leave you with this to make you feel better:
This is such a weird year. 2010-2011 is the Year of the Injury in basketball and, most memorably, in football.
That is right folks! I am hinting at more bad news! Holmen is out for the season with a broken hand!
I hate to say this, but you have to wonder if this just isn’t UNT’s year. This team has gone through a lot this year, and not much of it has been good. The injuries to key guys have really tested this team’s depth, and it didn’t have a whole lot of depth in the first place.
Holmen had scored in double figures in three of UNT’s last six games.
I feel ya, bro. With that news it is time to readjust our expectations. This is clearly not the juggernaut that we hoped it would be. Instead it is comprised of seniors gutting out a respectable season in light of a more-difficult-than-first-thought circumstances. I can root for that and so should you.
Sadly, not only was Holmen making an impact recently, he was also The Woman’s impact player.
So we head to The Den to deal with a team that is surging and atop the Sunbelt West. Last we played each other, we handed them a loss at the Pit by twenty. It was the second of two road beat downs. Denver applied the first. That was January 20 and 22nd.
February 5th, Arkansas State handed Denver a little revenge to the tune of twenty five. Arkansas State fans are already looking passed us.
After what they did to us in Denton, I’ll be stunned if we don’t beat them at ASU–perhaps comfortably.
Arkansas State is sure to have a rowdy crowd thanks to this generic piece of sportswriting. (Seriously? What the Howl??)
Any way. The Good Guys have their work cut out for them if they are to do something magical. No doubt it is time for we fans to not treat it as an expected magic show but as a truly impressive feat if it were to happen.
That sounds kind of weird when I read it.
Let me try again: Quit bitching. Get behind the team.
Here we go.
Last week, after a throttling of hapless Western Kentucky I said we should put a hold on printing out a new head coaching contract for ol’ Chico. If we get a similar result today, I think maybe we can at least think about formatting said contract.
I won’t bore you with stats that you don’t care about nor with fun facts that aren’t so fun.
Arkansas State isn’t very good. They come in to Denton with four losses, the most recent being the hurting Louisville put on them in Jonesboro. Sure, 34-24 doesn’t look like a beat-down, but the first half was. Methinks that second half Louisville took their foot off the gas. I know, I watched part of this horrible game on espn3.
Make no mistake, however, they aren’t very bad either. Despite the fan-base grumbling and becoming frustrated, Arkansas State has played decently. They went to Troy and made the perennial conference favorites rally 35-28. Louisiana-Lafayette beat them by only seven also.
All in all they are not so dissimilar to UNT. They spread it out, (but who doesn’t now-a-days) and have a nice balance to their playcalling. The Red Wolves have thus far both ran it and thrown it185 times for a total yards per play of 5.8 and 26 points a game.
Methinks it is their defense that has the biggest holes. Unfortunately, our offense has taken the biggest hit on the injury front. So, although it is possible the ideal spot for Chase Baine to come in play — not facing an Alabama type defense or something– but it might require the also-shorthanded defense to play above their average.
In any case, it remains a chance to contend for the Sunbelt title, however unlikely that goal is. Sitting at 1-1 in conference play is alright.