Tony Benford: Compared

Dagga Roosta broke down some numbers (as he did for Texas’ Charlie Strong hire) for UT’s basketball search. It is good work. Let’s piggy back off of it to see where our guys land.


BBcoaches Tony Benford and Johnny Jones compared, since 2006

As we know, Johnny Jones ever-so-steadily increased the talent level here, culminating in the Tony Mitchell-Chris Jones-Jordan Williams class of his final year.  The ‘T’ column tracks talent1 and the ‘C’ tracks coaching. We see what Tony Benford did with that talent in 2012-2013: 12-20, with a 56.53 Coaching x Talent rating. Perhaps surprisingly, Johnny Jones didn’t do that much with his talent. He underperformed relative to the talent level he brought in. His strength lies in bringing in the talent and getting about what you’d expect from them. Other coaches do more with less, relying on their coaching ability than their sweet talking on the recruiting trail. I mean, not everyone can be Coach Cal. It looks like our head man Benford is doing less with decreasingly less. He’s brought in lower rated talent than Johnny ever did and isn’t really making up for it by coaching them up any.

Again, this pretty much squares with what we’ve seen at the Super Pit.

I encourage you to check out the rest of it. Here is the link to the entire work.

  1. Check out Daaga’s explanation for more on this. Essentially, it is the 247 Sports ratings of the recruits pulled in. Although these aren’t necessarily hard facts, they represent the best idea of talent we can measure. 

The (Half-Ass) 2014 North Texas Sports Media Awards

2014 started with so much promise. We traveled deep into the Heart of Dallas, felt its rhythmic, tribal beating, and took what was rightfully ours. I remember when the game started and UNLV marched right down and scored early, that familiar “ol’ North Texas can’t have nothin’” dread quickly washed over and started numbing my extremities in a way only this fan base understands. Then, the team just beat the crap out of them and there was joy and a sense that anything was possible.

Now, we’re a year out and all of those happy thoughts have been replaced by anything ranging from this

to this

depending on a number of factors ranging from world view, age to political preferences. On the plus side, the last sports match of the year featured our Hoops Benfords on the road holding Texas Tech to 43% shooting (and still losing by 15.)

Wait — was that last sentence a compliment?

I’m glad you asked, because the only thing that seemingly evolved this season was the media coverage around the program, including how things were reported out, spun and otherwise covered. That is why I am proud to present the first Mean Green Nation media year in review. This is by no means comprehensive or coherent, so please direct any and all hate mail to your personal twitter account and hashtag appropriately to fully capture your outrage.

The Quoner Memorial “Hey – Remember When Johnny Quinn Was Everywhere?” Award: Johnny Quinn, for being everywhere
Who else but Olympic hero Johnny Quinn. Now that he broke down the walls to everyone’s hearts, we surely won’t hear the end of him, right? See, he’s right there between the TCU/Baylor controversy and Donald Sterling forever!

The George Dunham Bravado Award: SMU speech at the coach’s show
George usually finds ways to show how little he cares for the message board/blog crowd on his show, but that didn’t stop him from firing up his own YouTube comment section-worthy “HOT TAKE” on SMU before the game:

“I am a North Texas grad,” Dunham said on the radio show. “That is our rivalry. I hate SMU and always have. If they were playing Russia State, I would root for Russia State to beat them by four touchdowns.”

Two theories here – he’s been watching Red Dawn between film study and show prep, or he just hadn’t fired up the old Taketronic 6000 since the Reagan years. Don’t worry, those sea legs come back quick.

“I Bet Coach Wants This One Back” Award: Dan McCarney on how hard it is to win at North Texas
Of all the Dan McCarney decisions that can be second guessed this year, I think the one to complain about his situation is the worst one – because if he doesn’t win next year, you’re going to read it endlessly from every angry internet hot take artist with a pulse.

Weirdest Twitter Feud Award: The SID and Student Body President
It all started with an attempt by the North Texan to explain why people aren’t attending basketball games anymore (probably a major mystery we should put out best men on), and ended with a very weak quote to come out of a student representative’s mouth. That said, I think most of us would have missed it if not for some hot Twitter action a few days later. It looks like they hashed it all out and even came to an understanding, but it just seemed weird to do it publically. Thanks internet.

Best Rehash of an Untrue Origin Story Award: Each CUSA Broadcast team who recited the Mean Joe Greene story.
We didn’t name the team after the player. It is a fun story but untrue. Do we want it to be the origin story? Doesn’t matter. Do we think it would be easier to just let the announcers run with it and keep up the fun? Doesn’t matter. Is it laziness on the part of the announcing crew, who are either inexperienced weatherman doing a gig where they get to be Pat Summerall and John Madden; or a couple of pros who actually wish they got the TCU/Baylor game on FSSW? Doesn’t matter. Is it on the SID’s plate o’ facts that are always ignored? Doesn’t matter. Where is Snopes when you need them?

I Hope That Guy Does Well Award: The kid that did the sideline reporting during the CUSA broadcasts that writes for NT Dailyit turns out he doesn’t write for the Daily. Where did I get that from? — and also does the Green Guys show. Green Guys isn’t particularly great, but it is a show about MG and I love them for it. Three cheers for good ol’ Evan Nemec, who was miles ahead of any of the other school’s sideline kids. A special shoutout to UAB’s sideline reporter lady, whose less-than-awesome dispatches spawned a bit on the Deranged Pengwin Podcast that no one understands. Woot!

Most Random/Optimistic Tweet in the Face of Sorrow Award: Mean Green Sports Social Media
Running the official social media feed is a thankless task – so why start thanking anyone now? They knew what they signed up for. Sometimes, when things are going poorly or the situation is a little odd, you got to just dive in and make the best of it. [You can totally pick which one here]

SID Intern Working OT Fun Fact of the Year Award: (Tie) November Record vs. Four Year Record
We won November, which is more than Indians can say. Also, it was pointed out we have 22 wins in fours years in some game notes. Don’t be depressed about that – just the number make you feel like you just got 4 Dodges worth of wins.

Best North Texas State Reference: All of Them!

I didn’t get a chance to see the LHN coverage of the first game from the crowd, but dammit I know one of them called us North Texas State. Damn you 1961-1988! Damn you SCOTT BAKULA!!

Craig Miller Memorial Allegiance Award: Mike Taylor of the Ticket in San Antonio
Imagine if Randy Galloway’s less talented clone from another dimension was trying to do Ticket (Dallas) bits and you have imagined Taylor. In his defense, he is the best San Antonio has on the air and when his bosses let him be fun he was fun. He went to NT (for a while) , but insists on rooting for TCU (he’s from FW) and throwing shade this-a-way. Like purposefully calling us NT State in the lead-up to the UTSA-UNT game (it’s as genius as calling a guy named Chuck Charles until he politely asks you to stop for the 50th time.)  Its grating after a while and when you are in San Antonio and the only bit of Fortune 500-funded-media (iHeart Radio, neé Clear Channel) that is talking UNTvUTSA is Taylor, it is relatively inescapable.

Citizenship Award for Classiest Opponent Play-by-Play: Rice Owls Soccer Announcer Calls Our Soccer Coach a Prick on the Air
Watching women’s college soccer is an interesting activity when placed in the context of larger college sportsball watching activities. One of the things you realize is that the broadcasts are unrestrained, un-good, and sometimes unhinged.

Here is the audio!


2012-13 Mean Green Basketball Highlight Video

MGN Podcast

Ep 2: Is for Co-Host

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.

This episode of the Mean Green Nation welcomes co-host Tony (@bstnsportsfan3). In this week’s episode we talk CUSA move, travel distances, potential roster moves (John Odoh v Keith Coleman, PJ Harwick, etc), coaching moves.

you can contact the podcast at !

I’ll have available in the iTunes store soon so be on the lookout.The Mean Green Nation Podcast will be up every Thursday!

Click the following for a smartphone friendly link:

MGN2 download link

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.



Basketball Basketball Recaps

NT 81 FAU 86: Blowing 19-point Leads Edition

I’ll take the heat for this one guys. Right around an hour before the clocked ticked down to double-zeros on a FAU 19-point comeback, double-OT win I tweeted that UNT had this thing locked up.

Although Johnny Jones thinks at that point the squad could have converted some opportunities and pushed it out to 30 points, we all know what he really means.

Seriously, though. I spent the day at various times looking over the Sun Belt standings, planning my rooting schedule (I was torn between rooting for MTSU and UALR). Although I did know that my projected seedings were dependent on North Texas winning out, I must admit I was feeling confident.

How am I feeling now? Well like I shouldn’t have felt so damn confident. It was hard not to, with the way the dudes were dominating the game and one Tony Mitchell balling so hard. I think everyone is coming away from this with a similar nasty taste in their mouths.

We can’t blame this loss one Tony getting into foul trouble or missed shots. No, everything was going green until FAU got hot and we didn’t convert. Johnny Jones called it a trend that he means to correct. No doubt the message board is looking at CJ and JW as culprits (haven’t checked).

This is just an ugly loss in a league where ugly losses are common. Hell, you can even call it unlucky. Holmen, who had a monster game, missed two potential game-winners in regulation, and then in overtime.

Chalk this one up to bad luck.

Chalk this one up to me calling it like a dumbass.

I’ll chalk it up to the bad juju FAU put on us by not offering some way to watch this game. I know they are FAU and thus, terrible. Still, can’t I guy get a terrible web-stream? What is this, the Southland Conference?!

I also want to blame Time Warner Cable for cutting out on me (again) and Whitney Houston for distracting me during the crucial 19-point-lead giveaway.

Effing Eff.

Next Up: ULM, who are terrible. It’s like knowing you aren’t going to be allowed in post-season play means you don’t even give a damn. Or maybe being located in Monroe, LA is what does that. Who knows? All I know is that the specter of shame that would come from losing to that horrid team should propel the squad to a nice victory, with or without a Tony Mitchell Box Score Special.

Again, we are just looking to play some good basketball in this month leading up to the conference tournament. It’d be nice if we could skip the first day of tournament basketball so as not to have a situation like this, where Roger Franklin is missing the front ends of FT trips because his legs feel like Jello.

If not? Well remember that Josh White and Tristan led the squad to within a Bozeman-clutch-shot-over-Shannon-Shorter of a Sun Belt championship.

The regular season is a glorified conference tournament preparatory tour at this level. You’ll see when MTSU drops their first game. All that matters is that damn tournament and we have the only NBA-level talent, yo.


Basketball Basketball Recaps

Jan 28th: North Texas is 13-9, 6-3

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.

Basketball Basketball Recaps

North Texas 78 South Alabama 73

I don’ t know why I feel like I have a personal rivalry with USA. I found myself looking forward to watching this game as I left the parking lot this evening. I was about to tweet something when I asked myself, “why?”

The answer? Dunno. That still escapes me. I only saw the first half against USA last season in Denton. I had an indoor soccer game to play. I saw UTSA play the Jaguars here in San Antonio this year. They won in overtime. It wasn’t that.

I have yet to figure it out. Maybe it is the name combined with the large amounts of alcohol I consumed in college.

Whatever the reason, I found myself watching on a tiny screen that cost me $5.95 for the privilege.

tiny screen

It was well-damn-worth it. Tony Mitchell exploded in the second half the way you and I always hope he will. He finished with 34 points and 16 rebounds. Augustine Rubit — the Sun Belt’s leading scorer coming in to the game– finished with only two in 11 minutes after leaving due to injury.

There can be only one  … star basketball player on my tiny screen, apparently. So it goes. It is a zero-sum game and this time we were the lucky ones. It is awesome having the guy that can fly above 6-9 dudes and punch it. It reminds me of playing NBA 2K9 (I buy the cheap ones three years out of date for $7 to play once or twice) and abusing my opponent with LeBron or Kobe. It feels like cheating sometimes –for only a brief moment — and I almost feel bad for the other guy.

As much as I loved having Tristan Thompson and Josh White in Green and White (and black) when they scored it never seems like the other team was really afraid or felt helpless. With Tony, you can see the other guys look at their coaches with a look of hopelessness. “What? I can’t jump that high, coach.”

What could they do? He stepped out and cashed three treys. He hopped up and punched a couple lobs and rebounds. He used his length to snag sixteen boards and tip a few others to his teammates. He slid into passing lanes and started breaks. He found guys in transition.

He did damn near everything a guy can do to win the game by himself. We know how it looks without a transcendent talent to draw the double team away from Chris Jones. We know how it is without a guy inside to battle and scare away easy buckets.

It ain’t pretty.

I won’t pretend to break down what this means going forward for the team and the chances for another 20-win season. Go ahead and assume that we don’t have as good a chance as we will next season. Just remember these two things:

1. Last season the 20-win streak looked bleak for a good stretch there when we lost 8 of 12 from January 5th to February 24th. That was with experienced guys.

2. We have Tony Mitchell.


Go Mean Green.

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.


Basketball Basketball Recaps

North Texas 53 Sam Houston 50

Katfans dot com or dot org or whatever are a hearty little band of shit-talkers. A part of me, I do not know which, respects them. Another part, the evil, spiteful, arrogant bastard that reduces the amount of a tip when I get poor or spiteful service, wants bad things to happen to their sports teams. Nothing terrible like an injury or death but more like a series of forty-point losses.

They, the Bearkats, began Saturday by demolishing Montana State and their U of Washington style uniforms. After and during there was chatter from on the twitter feed. The work of a lone rogue you say? Perhaps. However, like the popcorn-brained 20-something I am, I immediately attributed it to the whole of their fan base.

It was fortunate that we had them on the schedule that night, finally back in the sweet confines of the Super Pit with tailgating gomeangreendotcommers outside. Unfortunately for my pettiness, we only managed a hard-fought three-point victory that looked even uglier than the feed from on Mean Green Premium.

I watched the ugliness with the sound off in my extra room (den? library? room on the other side of the apartment?) while I half-watched Hall Pass with The Woman. That isn’t going in my autobiography but it will go in this post.

Again, there wasn’t much to be excited about if you like pretty basketball. If you like ugly basketball then there were plenty of stretches where the teams looked to be doing anything but putting the ball into the hoop.
Tony Mitchell Day is approaching. Though I don’t like to pin all the offensive hopes on one guy, this is a sport where that is not only possible but an intelligent thing to do. Bret Vito has often pointed out that we lack a post-game to remove the pressure on Jordan Williams and Chris Jones. I have agreed equally as often. Kedrick is sketchy on offense and more of a cleanup guy. Roger Franklin is a hustler but likes to face up. Niko Stojiljkovic is another outside kind of big man.

Tony Mitchell can score from anywhere Even on passes to himself. Can’t wait.

Video Link