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Jordan Williams and Chris Jones are Ineligible

This via Denton RC

Chris Jones and Jordan Williams, two key members of North Texas’ highly rated freshman class who have started most of the season, did not meet academic eligibility requirements in the first semester of the school year and will not play for the Mean Green the remainder of the season, head coach Johnny Jones confirmed on Tuesday.

Both Jones and Williams will remain with the team and work to regain their eligibility heading into next season.

Vito pretty much says what everyone is thinking: We were just hitting our stride as a team and it will be tough to extend the 20-win season streak that was going to be tough anyway. I don’t know their circumstances so I will not comment on the two guys’ academic work habits and abilities. I’m sure they are getting all the speeches they can stand right now.

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Gameday: January 7, 2012 at Arkansas State

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.

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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

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North Texas is 1-4: Longhorns 73 UNT 57

There were 9,488 of us at that place tonight. How many heard the public address guy call us North Texas State two or three times? Eff that guy.

You know what? He has to listen to the corny-ass music that Texas band plays throughout the game so at least he gets his.

We lost. That is what will go down in history. No one will remember the details. That isn’t anything to complain about –just a reminder of the way this thing works. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to take away from this game. We wanted improvement from the twin blowouts to Mississippi State and UT-Arlington. We got some.

I mean we were held at arm’s length pretty much the entire game. Even the Burnt Orange Nation guys thought so:

Texas built an early 8 point lead, extended it to 18 in the second half and comfortably held off an athletic North Texas squad 73-57 on Tuesday night at the Erwin Center. We played quite well for stretches, but we aren’t yet consistent enough to pull away and run the Mean Green out of the gym, which on a couple of occasions it looked like we might do. Still, we never let North Texas get within striking distance, we took care of the ball, played good team defense, and got looks at the rim when we needed scores.

That is pretty much right on.

They are and were more talented in all areas. Whatever height advantage we had from the guard spots was rendered null because of their front-court. There were a few bright spots: Roger Franklin was working his ass off grabbing rebounds. He even showed some range –which I really liked. Not so much for the results but the attitude. He didn’t look hesitant when he was open which is unusual for everyone not named Chris Jones.

Speaking of the freshman, he shot poorly (3-14) but was a little snake-bit. A couple shots rolled out of the rim and often he was either doubled, or left to take the shot as the shot-clock winded down. I imagine we could have made it a little more interesting if a couple of those close ones rolled our way.

We didn’t have to play perfectly to win there. Our margin of error was slightly larger against this Texas team than it was last time we played. Why? Texas is just as young and has been having similar problems adjusting. Their offense has stagnated and Rick Barnes is using this next few games against lesser talent to recalibrate the offense to revolve less around J’Covan Brown. Did he accomplish this? Sort of. Texas stagnated like we do, turned the ball over and was out-rebounded.

It was our turnovers that let them get on their two huge runs that we couldn’t climb out of.

Frustratingly, our initial transition defense is okay –that is they didn’t get dunks and layups off turnovers and misses, instead they got wide open shots in the “early offense.” For all you non-basketballers, early offense (sometimes called a secondary break) is the sets immediately after a fast-break fails. For some teams that means looking for a trailing shooter. For others, a quick pick-and-roll opportunity or a mismatch. Texas got the ball quickly to a big man running down the paint. We often did a great job to close down on said big man preventing an easy layup. The problem? Well the big usually just kicked it back out to the passer or another guy setting up for three, who was trailing the play.

When run correctly, it is beautiful stuff. North Carolina is famous for it and you’ll often hear it called the “Carolina break.” Any basketball team runs some form of it at least occasionally.

If Texas wasn’t so cold from outside, they probably would have done some real damage. As it was, they fell victim to our fairly staunch half-court defending. Other than a couple of sweet ass motion-offense-derived plays where the ‘Horns got wide open shots on the wing, we held our own fairly well on defense. Kabongo was bailed out a few times with a generous foul call after some terrible possessions.

It is hard to be angry with that stuff considering we were at their place and we are less talented. Why that last part? Well, when guys are bigger, stronger, quicker and just generally better you get caught out of position sometimes. That means you are more likely to foul.

We have the makings of a good team. We showed some gumption. Can’t wait until Tony Mitchell Day. (Bart Scott Voice)

***

Frank Erwin Experience

I mentioned on the drive (@meangreennation) that I plan to treat the San Antonio/Austin area like a metroplex. That means more trips to Austin. It helps that Tristan Thompson plays for the Austin Toros. Speaking of whom, he was at the game.

Tristan Thompson
That is the terrible spur-of-the-moment picture I took.

Anyway, it was my first time visiting the arena. Aside from the arena LED banner encircling the place, and the much better lighting system it was comparable to the Super Pit. I imagine that a good $10 million donation ought to bring our place up to that level. The Frank doubles as a community venue where big time acts swing through. If Denton were attracting Jay-Z to the coliseum we probably could add a light show introduction to our games.

My favorite part of the night was taking over the TEXAS/FIGHT chant and making it NORTH/TEXAS to the bewilderment of the T-shirt Longhorns surrounding us. That place definitely has the potential to be rocking for the right games. With all the suites and empty seats for a non-conference team that isn’t in position to do much damage? Well it felt like a neutral site sometimes. If they weren’t hooked up to the speaker system and armed with instruments we North Texas fans probably made as much noise as their fans.

So it goes. As much as I dislike moral victories, I find myself strangely contented with this outing. A lot of good happened the other night even if we are all getting tired of losing. Jordan Williams tweeted after the game that “this shit gettin old”. Chris Jones retweeted that . Consider this my retweetidge.

We are headed to California, now. As good as an experience as this will be for a number of reasons, part of me can’t help but wonder if the team would have been better for playing a few games at home before heading out. It has been a long, brutal, and slightly disappointing start to the season spent all on the road. Whereas we fans can probably rationalize and fight through the tough early losses, there is no telling how this young group of guys is taking it.

Confidence can be fragile.

GMG.

Also, got a chance to meet a couple of gomeangreen.com guys. That was cool. Head over there and post and chat and see if UNT has a CFO calling anyone a putz.

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Blowout: Mississippi State 82 North Texas 59

It was a terrible watch. Though it never reached forty points like last time out it was terrible. Much of the same problems that plagued the Mean Green in Arlington on the Stage followed them to Starkville at the Humphrey.

Vito had a good point before and after the game about scoring.

UNT has been at its best over the years when it can throw it into the post to Eric Tramiel, George Odufuwa, Quincy Williams, Keith Wooden or someone and work out. Those perimeter shots fall a lot more often on inside-out action that allows a guy like Calvin Watson, Tristan Thompson, Josh White or whoever to catch the ball in rhythm and knock it down.

Amen, brother.

These last two games have felt something like rooting for the football team during the Todd Dodge years. In this case we have Chris Jones and Jordan Williams playing the roles of Lance Dunbar, Jamario Thomas, and Patrick Cobbs.

That is being a little pessimistic. These guys are freshman and played some fairly tough competition. Seeing them in the string of seven straight home games in December should give us a better picture of the team. That and Tony Mitchell should give us an inside scorer to balance the offense.

The offense, as much as it has struggled is not the biggest problem. Last season Tristan Thompson and Josh White were pretty much called upon to do most of the creating. When they were out, tired, or when they faced a particularly tough defense the offense would stagnate and look terrible. Not much has changed here. Chris Jones is getting criticism for not creating enough for others and taking some poor shots. Though any guy can probably improve their shot selection and work on the right balance of distribution and shooting, that isn’t going to make up these twenty point deficits.

The problem as coach JJ mentioned, is the defense.

“Our shots are going to fall eventually, but we’ve got to get some things cleaned up on defense,” North Texas coach Johnny Jones said. “You just can’t let a team shoot 63 percent in the first half and over 50 percent for the game and expect to win. That’s just not good enough.”

There was a lot of reaching and no cohesive defensive structure. For you unfamiliar with basketball, that means one guy would try for a steal instead of moving his feet and getting in front of his man. If he was beaten, then another defender would “show” or help out by sliding over. Watch a good defensive team and they fly around the court and swarm around anyone attacking the paint. We would have one or two guys get beat and no one to help. That means wide open threes and easy lobs and put backs.

There is a whole season to improve. We should see some progress going forward, especially at home. I expect we won’t see really amazing improvement until next year or so. The good news? With the NBA toying around with two-year wait before entering the Association, we may have our NBA-level talent for a while.

Up Next:

Tuesday Nov 29, 2011
7pm Central
@Texas
Frank Erwin Center

I will be there. Other people will, too.

Honestly, when I got my $4 tickets (post-TTU) I was really excited. Now? I’m really expecting another blowout. There really is no evidence that this team will improve vastly in a few days.

Texas put Sam Houston down by 12, in an apparently ugly game.

If you weren’t able to make it to the Erwin Center on Saturday night or don’t have a cable provider who carries the Longhorn Network, you should consider yourself lucky. The game was that ugly and the individual performances by most of the Longhorns were forgettable. This is a young team that will definitely improve as the season progresses; however, this team would also be best served if tonight’s performance was the worst of the season.

Another quote I liked that could probably be applied to this game/team/week:

Maybe tonight was a New Jersey hangover, maybe it was due to Thanksgiving, maybe it was a lack of focus. I have no idea. However, this was the least impressive performance of the season.

This late-November and December stretch is about learning to defend and play as a team, about sharpening our offensive sets, and about helping the freshman adjust to big time college basketball. Other than McClellan and Holmes, none of that occurred against Sam Houston.

I go into this game expecting nothing but slight improvement in our defense and more excellence from Chris Jones. By the way, for the hell of it here is a statistical comparison of Josh White and Chris Jones.

Do with it what you will.

gmg.