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.
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.