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Basketball

Tourney Time 2020

We are in full pandemic mode.

Oh, and North Texas basketball is having its best season in a decade.

Do not feel bad for thinking that is very North Texas because it is. You and I know. The dissonance acknowledged, let us remind the extreme among us that all of the precautions are for the greatest good. This pandemic is real and the most vulnerable are at real risk. Let’s not risk grandma’s life because you wanted to watch some live hoops.

Assuming the league tournament continues tonight, we have the Florida Atlantic Owls to prepare for. There will be no home crowd, just the bare minimum to broadcast the show and make it officially a game. All the jokes about it not being much different than the normal show are funny, yes. This was to be the best attended year for the Frisco. session of the tournament, however. North Texas was always the obvious missing piece the last two seasons. The three games NT have played in two seasons have been among the best attended. Tech and WKU also travel well. All three were top seeds.

It’s a shame. The games played among the top four seeds were all exciting and we had a good tournament ahead of us. It won’t be the same without fans there but it still might be compelling in a different way. Competition is its own motivation and there is a real chance that this is the last college basketball we will see for a long while. The big tournament will be played without fans if it continues at all.

Tonight

The Owls beat defending tournament champs ODU. They are big and tough and play solid defense but North Texas whooped them handily in January. FAU doesn’t have much of an offense and NT’s defense is good. Meanwhile, FAU’s size helps them have a mid-level league defense that will focus on CUSA POY Javion Hamlet. NT has a compliment of shooters and rangy athletes to take full advantage of any traps on the point.

Every once in a while NT gets sloppy with the passes up top and when Umoja Gibson has to do too much more than fire long range jumpers the team can be turnover prone. Assuming those are minimized, NT has a better than average shot to win this thing.

Any tournament game is all about the players, though. Any team can beat anyone and Jailyn Ingram is the Owls’ dude. He put up 22 and is real efficient about it. He doesn’t shoot it from three a ton, but he can draw a foul and score inside.

The real question for NT is whether they can hit the open shots they’ll get. A new venue is always a little strange and the Frisco Star is kind of weird at first. Beyond that, making sure Hamlet can pick his spots and not have to carry the team is good tournament-planning. NT has plans to win this thing and that is a very realistic plan. Sure, it is one game at a time but we cannot play our best five for 40 minutes and think it will not come into play on Friday.

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MGN Podcast

MGN 23: UTSA Hate Week

In this week’s episode:

Official Podcast of the Unofficial UNT sports blog Mean Green Nation! had @JustinBrumit and Greg Goedecker on to talk about the biggest UNT game in about 10 years — this week’s matchup with UTSA.

Click here for the podcast feed. That should get you everything you need. You can play the episode from there or subscribe via your favorite podcast catcher. 

We are also in the iTunes store

You can contact the podcast at podcast@meangreennation.com.

MGN23 download link

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MGN Podcast

13: Post ArkSt Loss

In this week’s episode:

Official Podcast of the Unofficial UNT sports blog Mean Green Nation! This week Adam and Tony talk about the homecoming loss to ASU, basketball, and soccer in the final.

Click here for the podcast feed. That should get you everything you need. You can play the episode from there or subscribe via your favorite podcast catcher.

We are in the iTunes store! The Mean Green Nation Podcast will be up every week!.

you can contact the podcast at podcast@meangreennation.com !

Click the following for a smartphone friendly link:

MGN13 download link

Things we discussed, or will discuss:

Categories
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.

 

 

Categories
Basketball Basketball Recaps

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

Categories
Football

Experience The New Mean Green

Totally awesome because I am an alumnus.

I must admit that I am not really that excited about the green helmet with “North Texas” on the sides. I maintain that it looks like a placeholder for the logo.

nTm imagines it this way:

Designer 1: Once we get the new logo files in, they’ll go here. Gonna be awesome with the diving eagle and all that.

Designer 2: Totally. I’ll add them later. Right now I am gonna crash.
Later as the deadline for production looms …

Designer 2: Lemme just email the final helmet design in. OH CRAP! I forgot to put the diving eagle. . . uh. Eff it. No one will notice.

That is how we got that design. Because I don’t want to think about the meetings where it was decided that spelling it out would be better than having a bad ass logo on TV.

That said, I cannot wait for the first game against Houston.

gmg.

Categories
Basketball

Horizon Gazing

It is way early to be looking into the future. Only one month removed from March Madness and seven months before November, anything and everything can happen.

That said, even yahoo has jumped on the bandwagon. Sorta.

If both Franklin and Mitchell are able to play next season and the incoming class makes an immediate impact, North Texas might be able to avoid a rebuilding year and contend once again in the Sun Belt League.

The key word being ‘if’. It has gotten to the point where I no longer am giddy at the thought of such a highly-touted group of guys coming in. Instead I am struggling to make sure I am not jinxing the thing, making sure my expectations are tempered by heavy doses of reality checks.

The last thing any of us want is the class to come in under heavy expectations and suffer through a ‘disappointing’ season that under different circumstances (reasonable expectations) would be pretty damn well respectable.

That may be a little good old fashioned UNT self-hate there. Still, it is worth being conscious of. Let’s not get too carried away by fantasy.

Links
[Yahoo]

Categories
Basketball Recaps

Bozeman Rips Out Our Collective Heart

I told those around me, whomever was listening, that we needed to defend the three at all costs. I even tweeted it. Unfortunately, that didn’t help the situation. Surely Johnny Jones, he of the five straight 20-win seasons knew the situation and had a plan. No doubt that plan was to not allow Bozeman or that white guy to jack up a potentially game-winning three point shot.

As it was, that shit was awesome if you are one of the nine UALR fans. No doubt. Bozeman lived up to his Sunbelt POY status. My hat, if I had one on my head, would be off to him.

That shot took balls. That shot was epic. It was slightly better than Josh’s last year.

It also was a bittersweet game if there ever was one. Looking at it from a September perspective, I would declare this loss a failure. Looking at it from a mid-February perspective, I would declare this a triumph of will.

None of that matters. Not really. Josh White, Tristan Thompson, George Odufuwa and ‘Nique Johnson have done us good. They made North Texas a winning program. They brought home a Conference Championship and gave us a hell of a performance in the this one.

I am disappointed. I am also excited. This group of guys along has done their part to bring us the 31st ranked class next year. Realistically speaking, as my dad noted to me after Bozeman ripped my heart out,  it was a decent way to go out considering the Beatdown that awaits UALR in the NCAA Tournament.

I can see his point. I also can see that in that situation the most significant trophy is the Sunbelt one. It was there for the taking. It was ours. It now belongs to an underdog team that we beat two out of three times.

There is a lot to dissect in that last minute or so. How did Tristan, the most prolific freebie maker this season, miss one?? How did we fumble away a five-point lead?? How did the referee allow that moving screen/murder on that three point shot?? Why did Shannon’s bodybuilding Grandma not teach him to defend the desperation three??

We did enough to win. That three was contested about as good as you can without blocking it. There are some tweaks that could have been made. I don’t care to dwell on those. This was less a loss than it was a win by UALR.

Bozeman took the ballsiest shot. He took a Best Player On The Team Shot. Give him credit, pat his back, like that shit on Facebook. As more time passes and more beerverages cross my path, I am prouder of our guys for getting to the precipice of the Promised Land again. I’d be much more disappointed if we petered out against Troy or FAU or fucking WKU.

Nah. Circumstances being what they are, we have to win the Sunbelt to get to the Tournament. So be it. I can’t be too mad at losing the game off a miracle shot by the other guys’ best player.

Let it be known from here on that North Texas belongs in the Sunbelt Championship Game. That is our rightful place, thanks to these departing seniors and their chief, Johnny Jones. We have come to expect it.

So shall it be written, so shall it be done.

You listening Tony Mitchell? You have a hell of a standard to live up to.

Go Mean Green.

Categories
Basketball Recaps

WKU Vanquished

Another game, another win, another Tristan Thompson scoring display. The dude is going to win the tournament’s most outstanding player award without question. He has 80 points through three games and is going to best the tournament record 82.

Yeah. We got our shit together again.

Through the grainy feed that was espn3, I was able to make out the squad vastly outdo their last performance at the Diddle.

That loss was the fourth of the four-game losing streak. This win was the fifth of our new five-game win streak.

If you can’t tell, Im enjoying the symmetry of it all. Getting some measure of closure is healing. That losing streak was horrible. It made a bunch of people hop off the bandwagon and call for Johnny Jones’ job. All along the guys said they were still focused on winning the ‘belt and getting to the Big Show.

The circuitous and drama-filled route we took to this point surely will have seeding ramifications if we get there but that is of no consequence tonight.

We are back in the championship game. Dare I say Where We Belong?

Nah. Fuggit. It is where we belong. We we are the defending Tournament Champs. There is no shame in letting it be known. For all the kudos and back pats and NIT bids you receive for winning the regular season, the bigger prizes are won in the conference tournament. It is more prestigious to set our sights on that prize than any other.

We have successfully reached the precipice of our goal, ladies and gentlemen. Let us bask in the moment and prepare for the coming hurdle. For us, that means getting hyped for tomorrow’s game.

Categories
Basketball Recaps

Thirty Six Points

Let me start by apologizing for my absence. Life has been bothering me and asking me to do things. I have complied, however unhappily, with the demands and have managed to carve out some time for important things like writing about North Texas basketball this morning. I hope it will suffice for now.

Tristan Thompson is a beast. The man carried a broken, tired team into the next round. Interestingly, he didn’t down FAU in a firestorm of long threes like Reggie Miller or Ray Allen in their prime. Nah, instead his Sunday night was akin to Death by a Thousand Free Throws (really only 20). Tristan demanded the ball in the second half. He delivered. ‘Nuff said.

Oh yeah, we got to 21 wins. A big to-do was made about our five-year 20-win streak. That bit where we lost eight of twelve really put us into Doubt-Mode. The consensus seems to be that injuries caused the problems and now that we are feeling a little better (if at all) and the conference tournament has brought the team a renewed focus on defense, something Johnny Jones has been pleading for all year, that we have have re-become the team we always planned on being.

Whatever the causes, we have a chance to continue to get a measure of revenge. Yeah. The Feb 26 game vs Denver scratched off that Jan 29th loss in Colorado. Sure, it was helped by the Senior Night boost. The Troy win in the first round? Yeah, scratch off the Jan 15th loss in Alabama. FAU? Yep, the Streak-Killer game.

Now we have big, bad WKU. They kicked our asses on national television in front of Bruce Bowen’s stupid ass bowtie. Perfect. If (when) we win, we get the winner of Middle Tennessee and UALR. One is a team we’ve beaten twice and the other squeaked out a win back in early January.

There is business to be handled, folks.

Also, the game will be on espn3.