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ULM 82 UNT 75 February 19, 2011

The Loss Proper

Oh hell. Oh hell. The shame of losing to the team with the worst record in the conference is nigh unbearable. North Texas was the second conference victim and the seventh overall on the year for the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe.

Disappointing as it was, it was not surprising in the least. I sort of called this. Sort of. I didn’t know what to expect after ULM was spanked at Denver. I figured they could start with a little more fire but if they were handled early then they’d fall into “Uh oh. Not again” mode.

Unfortunately we didn’t make that happen. We played a very typical UNT game, let them hang around (or did they let us hang around??) and tried to break free late. Instead, they took control down the stretch, made clutch defensive stops and executed.

Simple as that.

The solution is less simple. Of course, that assumes there is one.

What the– ?

It has been a horrible 2011. We are 4-7 thus far in it and look at the averages: 78 points per game for against only 71 allowed in the 2010 portion and 75 points per game against 79 allowed in 2011.

What does that mean? Means we losin’.

My gut feeling is not that these guys are giving up nor that Johnny Jones is getting out-coached. We are being outplayed. They guys we rely on to score are missing. The dudes we need to handle the ball are turning it over. They guys that are supposed to rebound are whiffing. The collective defensive cohesion is absent.

I have seen no give up.

There are many theories purporting to explain the collapse. Let’s explore.


Depth Theory: We are injured and missing former contributors or potential contributors because of injury, graduation, or transfer. The lack of depth has stretched our starting and most important guys to the limit and they just cannot carry the load for a whole season.

Give Up Postulate: They hate us and gave up on Johnny Jones, the fans, Denton and probably America. Commies. After facing some adversity the team decided to pack it in and not try.

First Law of Hype: Team was/is overrated. Johnny Jones is/was overrated. We probably should have saw this coming and then we wouldn’t have been so blinded and fooled by the sham of a team.

So which is it?

At the risk of sounding lame it probably is a little of each. The Depth Theory has some weight. It has been a concern of every fan since preseason.

I took a look at the minutes played of the leading Sunbelters and compared them to the Good Guys. Here  they be:

The ones highlighted in orange are guys that have played 15% or more of their team’s available minutes. Green is a player who has played 10-14% of available minutes and blue is 5-9%.

This flawed look tells us what we already know: we go seven deep and sprinkle Ben Knox and Zo in sparingly for various reasons. FAU and Denver, the two top teams, go nine deep. Coincidence?

For more perspective, last season looked like this:

Remember, this doesn’t take into account injuries or suspensions. It doesn’t provide solid proof of the Depth Theory but shows it isn’t complete bullshit.

So if these guys are tired and thus not able to carry the load properly …

… maybe we overestimated their win potential. That is to say, if there was anything misrated or perhaps more accurately, overlooked, it was the Bench. The starting guys have played up to their standards.

I suppose it is confusing to call a Bench overrated if most believed it was not going to be a strength in the first place. Methinks we all just kind of secretly hoped someone would step up and take over. I know there were some that thought we were good enough up top for it not to be a huge problem.

I don’t buy into the Give Up Postulate. They are playing noticeably hard — just poorly. Does that suggest that Johnny Jones somehow was fooling us into thinking he could coach? Hardly.

It is far easier to accept that fitting in guys who barely cracked the rotation last season while relying on the big guns to carry more of the load has put a strain on our defensive abilities. Which sucks.

[Sports Reference]

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