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Basketball Basketball Recaps

Heartbreak in Hot Springs: North Texas 70 WKU 74

We were punched in the gut for the second year in a row. Same result from different opponents.

This was a lot different than last season, though. That was the last hurrah for the most successful class in UNT history, this is the start of the most talented. All five starters in the SBC title game were  underclassmen, and we were missing the talented duo of Chris Jones and Jordan Williams this time.

I am more optimistic than last year. Back then, the new guys were all potential. We know what CJ can do now. We saw him get buckets to start the campaign. We saw Jordan get in passing lanes and cash threes.

Oh and if Tony comes back? Yeah, he is just a once-in-a-generation caliber player. So there’s that.

Losing still hurts, though. There will be a time where it won’t be excused away. That isn’t now. Last year  Soloman Bozeman, SB POY, cashed a clutch three in Shannon Shorter’s eye. This year it was a youngish squad that had problems closing games out having a problem closing a game out.

I cannot be angry at them. I can be devastated. I can be heartbroken. I can feel like I had my gut punched and the life drained from my body. I can be sports-sad. I cannot be angry.

It was a hell of a good time this season. Tony Mitchell was all he was hyped to be and about 30% more. Even if we won’t see him fly in the Super Pit anymore we will still have all those highlights of him wearing the colors. He will always be ours.

As far as the future goes, Johnny Jones is still the coach and that means we have a chance.  He has built this thing into as much of a juggernaut as can be done this side of WKU. Every good thing that has happened has been under his watch. In this decade, we have gone from complete nothings to trending topics in DFW. If Denton/Dallas were a basketball town, there would be much more hype and love coming his way. As it is, he is appreciated by those who know the game and have seen the improvement. For all the hype and money and support football gets, UNT basketball has outperformed that program year after year under Johnny Jones. He gets talent to play here and then turns said talent into wins. Think about it, people: three straight Sun Belt title trips. Two NCAA tournament trips. Two back-to-back heartbreakers isn’t negative momentum. If it was, do you think we’d be getting guys like Chris, Jordan, Roger, Trey, and TONY?

Nope. They see this program as a viable, winning option in the same way guys like George Odufuwa, Tristan Thompson, and Josh White did because of what JJ did with the previous classes. It is a process and it is working. I’m hella excited about the future, and were I the suggestin’ type, I would say you should be, too.

Chris Jones, Jordan Williams, Jacob Holmen, Tony Mitchell, and Roger Franklin? With Trey Norris, Brandon Walton, and Alzee Williams off the bench? I’m hyped already. The team will have an entire year to mesh, and a SBC title game loss to fuel them.

In a rebuilding year, this team achieved what a senior-laden, former SBC championship caliber team did. This SBC title game is our rightful place in this world, now. I said it last year and it is still, true. Getting there is a Should, winning is the Challenge.

The Game Proper:

It seems to me like fatigue was the culprit. Alzee missed two free throws in a crucial spot, and Brandon was swiped on back-to-back possessions. The rebounding looked a step too slow (again), and there were mental mistakes throughout, but especially late. Criticism of the players who were declared ineligible mid-season can be placed here. The fact that Tyler Hall was getting 17 minutes in the SBC title game is telling. He availed himself well, but he is a walk-on. Chris Jones is a scholarship  player who averaged nearly 14 per game as a freshman. Those boys know their mistake. They tweeted as much. No need to pile on.*

*That isn’t a knock on Ty. Dude went out there and busted his ass. Facts are facts though.

Closing games was the weakness of this version of North Texas basketball for all of the ’11-’12 season. That we fell victim to said weakness in this moment should not surprise. That we were unable to get Tony the ball in scoring position late in the game is similarly unsurprising. More experienced and talented players playing with him next year will be able to find him when he is open and streaking toward the rim, or calling for it on the wing against their tall, slow, big man.

It is important to congratulate WKU. The Zen view of this thing says that there is benefit to building a rivalry with that team. Someone needs to inspire hate and feeling in this spread-out conference. It might as well be them.

Going forward, we might not even be in this conference, or it will look vastly different than currently constructed. Denver is bouncing to the WAC, and UTSA is rumored to join up. The Mega-Conference Super Fun Time MAC Yeah may be courting us as we speak (and drown our sorrows).

Whatever the case may be, I know that this basketball team will be fun to watch. It has been criminally under-appreciated for a six or seven years now and the fact that it is over a smidgen too soon hurts most of all.

 

Go Mean Green.

 

 

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Basketball Basketball Recaps

Back in the Sun Belt Championship Game: North Texas 76 Ark St 72

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Football

North Texas National Signing Day 2012

Dan McCarney has the gift of motivation. He has long been known as master of the press conference and I must admit I fell for his charm at the podium once again. I came away thinking we had the recruiting class that will be essential to our future success.

Hell we just might have.

There is, however, an underlying tone of … something. It don’t know if it is disappointment or frustration or something else. Having built a program before it would seem he would understand the difficulty in recruiting to a historically moribund program. Perhaps he thought it would be a tad easier considering the proximity to the most fertile college football recruiting ground this side of southern florida.

Dan McCarney is not a quitter and he is ever positive. I’m not worried, just intrigued.

It has been chiché to say “No coach will tell you they had a bad class”. This one was … okay. We managed to nab a stud on the offensive line in Boone Feldt, ESPN 150’s 10th ranked center in the nation. He will be the starting center going into next year.

Dan said there were no shocks or surprises in this class. I wonder if that was the reason for the relative lack of excitement on twitter for these guys. Other than a few shoutouts from high school classmates, there was no “JUST SIGNED WITH UNT!” updates. Of course, I could just suck at twitter. . .

So, the state of the program is thus: we are unknown, and have few positives outside of a shiny new stadium with which to woo recruits. The carrot, as it were, is the opportunity to be a part of a culture change. “We have lots of challenges ahead of us”, says the coach. “we need guys that want to take those kinds of things on.”

That kind of thing is hard to do. I think we probably end up with less talented, more motivated guys when we open up Spring Camp. Is that good? Yeah. Unmotivated talent is a drain. Guys that can play okay combined with a desire to succeed and a coaching staff that can teach them how? Well we might just do something pretty good, ya’ll.

Let’s get into some totally random, quick observations after looking at their minute-long highlight videos on Mean Green Premium, shall we?

Mark Lewis RB  5-10, 210 –looks shifty. and quick.

Boone Feldt OL 6-3, 276 — dominating the competition. Looks beastly.

Brad Horton 6-6 DE 230 –looks quick.

Carlos Harris WR 5-8, 175 –fast and shifty. has breakaway speed. good returner.

Connor Trussell OL 6-5, 285 — yeah pushing people around.

D.Q. Johnson JUCO DB -5-11, 185 — Can make tackles –blocked a kick. good in special teams. Apparently really fast.

David Busby S 5-11, 180 — reads the play well.

Devante Davis CB 5-11, 185 — can tackle. blowing dudes up. blew through a blocker to beat up a runner. He played LB??

Dustin Clark LB 6-1, 205 –fast. special teams guy?

Dutton Watson DT 6-3, 250–quick and big off the end.

Jamal Marshall DB 6-3,185–fast. chased down a guy from across the field. play recognition.

Jamarcus Jarvis RB 5-10, 195–shifty. quick. fast. breakaway speed.

Jarrian Roberts LB 6-2, 220– strong.

Lajaylin Smith LB 6-0, 218– quick and fast

Malik Dilonga DE 6-4, 250– Big. strong. quick.

Mustafa Haboul DT 6-0, 247 — quick. strong.

Nic Schrapps WR 6-3, 197– big and good hands. not that quick or fast.

Rex Rollins S 6-1,185 –big hitter. had some time as RB. — pretty damn fast.

Rodrick Lancaster 6-2, 200– WR –fast and plays big.

Ryan Rentfro OL 6-4, 280– Yeah. Sure is blocking and stuff.

Sir Calvin Wallace DT 6-2, 300– monster. big and strong. gets into the backfield with some quickness too.

Xavier Kelly CB 5-11, 165– quickness and speed.

Cam Feldt OL 6-5, 308 –will start JUCO transfer

Marcus Trice DB, 5-8, 190 –will start JUCO transfer.

Other:

As always, this list likely includes a bunch of guys that won’t be on the roster in three years for various reasons. Rankings and stars are tabulated on a lot of things that do not necessarily translate into on-field success. Like coach said, a lot of this is about evaluation: what you have, what you can be, and what these recruits can be.

Here’s hoping we have some gems in this thing.

Go Mean Green.

hat tip: ESPNDallas.

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Basketball Basketball Recaps

UALR Wins Again

I missed this one too. It’s a bad habit I’ve been developing and I mean to stop it dead. I gathered what I could from this thread, Vito’s blog , and Mean Green Premium to say this:

1. We need a better fucking stream on MGP, dammit.

2. This loss was a bad one.

3. Chris Jones is probably performing to Johnny Jones’ expectations but lower than mine (given his previous performances)

It was telling that the scout Bret Vito was chatting with (my imagination runs wild constructing the details of that encounter) said that Chris Jones’ turnovers were a problem.

“That’s all I need to know.”

I read that and felt a gut-punch. It was a signal that I’ve been watching with Kelly Green-colored glasses. He hasn’t been great but is making freshman mistakes. Methinks I’ve been overlooking those things or just excusing them. That said, he still is our leading scorer. Why? Well, mostly because the big time future NBA-er is fouling everyone.

He only put up three shots last night (made two) thanks to foul trouble. In the five games he has played, he has fouled out twice and reached four twice also. It is difficult to lead a program to new heights from the bench or while hacking people.

I want to knee-jerk and start heaving blame at Johnny Jones for not making it work and producing results immediately. I can’t think of a reasonable argument to make, though. Everyone that gets major minutes either is new or isn’t a leader-type anyway.

They need time. Still. It has only been 14 games for these guys and only 5 with Tony Mitchell. Splitting that total is damn-near as reasonable as it is going to get. The young-un’s are inconsistant as young players tend to be.

Please help me remember that.

Maybe I’ll chant it or something.

As it is we are 0-1 at home in the conference. We have fifteen more games and seven more home dates. It may be more Unreasonable Fan talking, but I think we can do better than 8-7 in that stretch.

 

Go Mean Green.

 

Categories
Football

McCarney Speaks To The Masses

I was watching through my computer screen. There he was, pacing back and forth, winning me over again. The first time was back in November. Then he sold hope. This time he sold facts. Stinging facts about the guys who ran this joint before he stepped in.

His honesty is refreshing. Instead of trite cliches, he admitted that “There’s not anybody respectin’ what we’re doing here.” When talking about waking the sleeping giant that is North Texas, he pointed out that “you better get guys that know how to coach and recruit and develop and motivate young men.” Ostensibly, he was talking about his staff and how good they are. Good is a relative term, however, and in this case, in relation to the previous staff. After all, he had just finished listing the problematic state he found the program in.

It is all true. No one respects North Texas, no matter what happened in the early 2000s. Acknowledgement is the first step, guys. The next step is fixing it and for that he has a plan.

The guy loves to talk. He did a little Kevin Smith up there, taking a question and stretching the answer into a story. That’s the kind of stuff that will win over the media. All three of them. It can get a little tiresome if you have to hear it everyday … but that is a future complaint.

On that checklist of coaching traits we know Danny Mac can recruit and handle the media. Can he handle glad handing? You know it. Why did we even ask? Among the videos available was the highlights of the golf classic. There you can find Danny Mac making (poor) jokes and shaking hands with any and everyone. You know that had to be a beating.

Still he soldiers on with enthusiasm. Makes me like the guy even more.

[Links]
[Mean Green Premium]

Categories
Football Sunbelt Stuff

Linking: Yahoo Edition plus Clint Bowen!

Coogs Preview NT

Danny Mac on the task ahead of him:

“North Texas has gone many years without playing good defense,” McCarney said of his new team. “Most defensive stats were in the bottom ten in college football in 2010. We must learn to make many more big plays, game changing plays and dominant plays such as sacks, tackle for loss, turnovers, deflected passes, blocked kicks, etc.”

The difference between Dodge saying things like this and Danny Mac saying ’em? I believe McCarney can coach/motivate the squad to make it so.

Dr Saturday

Matt Hinton’s ‘hyper-specific’ predictions:

North Texas will lose at least one key conference game because of kicking woes. That’s part of what led to new head coach Dan McCarney being fired from his previous head coaching stint at Iowa State — twice in consecutive seasons Bret Culbertson missed field goals against Missouri that would have given Iowa State the North Division title in 2004 and 2005. Instead, Colorado went on to play in the Big 12 championship game and McCarney was shown the door. North Texas kicker Zach Olen was first-team All-SBC after hitting 13 of 15 field goals with a long of 53 as a true freshman, but he can’t fight fate.

Oh to be in such a position …

Clint Bowen Teaches You

From his bio:

In just one year at Western Kentucky, he helped the Hilltopper defense improve in every statistical category – going from 120th to 77th in passing defense, 118th to 86th in rushing defense, 118th to 69th in total defense and 119th to 99th in scoring defense. His 2010 unit led the Sun Belt Conference in total defense and passing defense in conference games.

There is even a sample video there so you can see if you want to shell out $40 have the man himself show you power point slides with football clips.

Seriously, the guy has some skins on the wall and looks to be a solid hire. Excited to see what he can do.

Categories
Football Sunbelt Stuff

Linking: Revisit 2010, Todd Dodge’s New Home and More

Football Study Hall

This is a good, objective look back on last year. It is fairy accurate (he missed some of the details) and provides the statistical version of the story your local season ticket holder would tell you without the harping on the use of tight ends.

Quick version: UNT was predictable on offense. Given the injury situation, it was understandable. The defense was terrible defending the big play.

Favorite quote:

To that end, does it really matter that the Mean Green only return six starters, few of which made much of a statistical impact in 2010? Does it matter that they lose both starters at defensive tackle … when the line was basically a sieve anyway? Their 2011 performance will be based on how quickly McCarney and incoming defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who previously served four years as Mark Mangino’s D.C. at Kansas, can tweak UNT’s scheme, conditioning, skill, mentality, etc.

Couldn’t agree more.

Pitt Panthers Preview

Care where the Worst Coach In UNT History is now? At Pitt helping Todd Graham spread ’em and shred ’em as QB coach.

Crimson Quarry

The Hoosiers SBNation site lamely previews our upcoming clash.

Pre Snap Read

No doubt you’ve read the Pre Snap Read preview. If you haven’t — shame on you.

Favorite quote:

Take note: North Texas outgained 14 opponents over the last two seasons but won only five of those games. In those 14 games, the Mean Green gained an average of 445.6 yards per game while allowing an average of 345.0 yards per game — 100 more yards per game — yet still lost nine times. So coaching played a role.

FAU Blog

FIU’s TY Hilton for Heisman? I know the dude is smoothness but if the Sun Belt is going to produce a Heisman candidate my vote is with our own Lance Dunbar: Touchdown Machine.

New Stadium

This guy went. Took pictures. There are around 50 or so. Sweet. MGN wishes it could have attended the cookout yesterday but sadly that wasn’t possible.

Fave quote:

Everything is amazing from the sight lines, to the huge concourse with monitors everywhere, to the team store, to even small things like having bathrooms on the student side accessible pre-game for tailgaters without opening up the rest of the stadium.

[Links]
[Football Study Hall]
[Crimson Quarry]
[PreSnapRead]
[FAU Blog]
[New Stadium]

Categories
Basketball Recaps

MTSU Ends The Streak: MTSU 78-NT 71

Shawn Jones: Slump Buster

So I might have jixed us.

Categories
Football

Riley Dodge To Transfer

Riley Dodge doing stuff

Per MGR, espndallas and MGB,

Riley:

“I have loved my time at North Texas. I have many friends and teammates that I will miss greatly. I hope all the best for North Texas football as it enters a new era and a great new stadium. Under the circumstances that I have been presented, I feel it is in the best interest for all, for me to seek a transfer at this time.”

Categories
Football

Mike Canales on Attacking the Overhang

Mike Canales

Wut? Surely you know what the overhang defender on an odd-man front is? No? Then you probably don’t know why you are clamoring for a tight-end, do you?

Coach Canales is on board with bringing in a guy that can block the safety and help in the run game, something Boise St. and an assortment of other coaches are doing in response to the odd-fronts defenses are using to stop the spread.