The Week before FIU: A Look Around

There really is a whole week before Johnny Jones gets his troops back on the court again. It is a good time to reflect on some things.

Where We Stand

Second in the West Division after dropping that tough game at Middle Tennessee. We sit at 2-1 behind Denver’s division and conference-leading 3-0. In the East, Florida Atlantic has the same 3-0 conference record.

We still have the best overall record in the conference, with our awesome 13-3 record. Only three other teams in the 12-team Sunbelt have a.500 or better overall winning percentage. They are Florida Atlantic (.625 at 10-6), Florida International (.500 at 7-7), and South Alabama (.500 at 7-7).

As a team, we lead the conference in points per game at 78.5, in FG% at .481 and in FT% at .754. We are third in 3FG% at  .371.

There is no doubt that we are the class of the conference. Nothing has changed that, not even the minor blip against MTSU.

Let’s take a look at some conference leaders, shall we? Okay.

The sexy stats:

PPG: Tristan Thompson 1st (17.3) Josh White 8th (14.6)

RPG: Big George 2nd (9.9)
3P Made: Tristan Thompson 7th (29)
3PATT: Tristan Thompson T-5th (82)
3P%: Dominique Johnson 3rd (.446)
BPG: Kendrick Hogans 6th (1.2)
APG: Dominique Johnson 5th (3.6)
SPG: None in the top ten.
FTM: Tristan Thompson 1st (104) Josh White 4th (62)
FTA: Tristan Thompson 1st (124) Josh White 8th (72)
FT%: Josh White 1st (.861) Tristan Thompson 4th (.839)

via Basketball Reference

If for some reason you had any doubts about the two guys who make this team what it is, then a quick look at the above stats will tell you that they are Tristan and Josh.

The team isn’t perfect or absurdly talented. In fact, there is no doubt that the top-ten teams are significantly better in multiple aspects.

That doesn’t mean we can’t do anything in the Tourney. We have the right ingredients to make a run. The NCAA tourney is all about guard play. Our best players are guards and Shannon Shorter and Dominique Johnson are guys who can push it up the floor, make plays and score. You can’t ask for more than that unless you are Kentucky or something.

Supporting the guards are the big men, specifically Big George Odufuwa. The dude dominates the boards and gets the ball to the wings. He can score one-on-one and is a great finisher off the dish.

Our biggest weakness is our oft-talked about lack-of-depth on the frontline. Alonzo Edwards and Ben Knox are useful against Sunbelters but will get eaten up against elite squads. I’m a fan of Hogans’ game aside from the occasional (read: most of the time) lapse in awareness defensively. Sure, he has 1.2 blocks a game but that is in no way a good indicator of defensive efficiency. He falls out of position and looks lost on both sides of the ball.

Jacob Holman, Tyler Hall, and Avery Redmond are a year or two away and only Holman will get non-garbage time minutes. He doesn’t bring a much more to the table other than 3-point range.

So that is the team. That group of guys has the future of North Texas Athletics on its shoulders. That is a hell of a lot to put on them and just might be some hyperbole but it feels that way to die-harders.

Message-boarders like to point out that “We could have been Boise!!”

If only THIS. If only THAT.

Well, even though Danny Mac and Mike “Third Person” Canales bring some hope to the football squad, as Vito points out in his blog today, UNT is losing a lot of talent.

If we believe in the equation “WINS=SUCCESS=GOOD FOR THE UNIVERSITY” then this is our chance. I’m not saying that basketball will be more popular than football in this region anytime soon. No, a nice little run into the tournament will not convert people. It may just wipe a little of the lingering stench of the Todd Dodge era off of our Athletics Program. It will be another single, another runner on the basepaths ready for Big Daddy Football to knock in the runs that make everyone say “Hey North Texas is pretty damn good — here is my money”

At the very least it will make for some nice memories this March.


[Basketball Reference]