Basketball thoughts (extending the morale “collapse watch”)

So here’s the good news: The UNT women beat Louisiana-Lafayette tonight and appear to have a pretty solid team that will be competitive in the Sun Belt outside of what one would expect to be the top pairing of Arkansas-Little Rock and Middle Tennessee.

And now on to the issue at hand:

The UNT men lost again tonight, this time to Louisiana-Lafayette in its Sun Belt opener.

UNT was in it down to the wire before falling, 80-76.

The good news was it was pretty obvious that UNT had worked on its half court offense that was terrible against UTA in its last outing and for large parts of the first few games of the season.

UNT put up 76 points.

The bad — and baffling aspect — was that Tony Mitchell fouled out after taking one shot, a breakaway dunk, and turned the ball over five times.

Tony Benford said that UNT has to find a way to get Mitchell going on a consistent basis and get him shots. He talked about getting the ball to Mitchell and having him make a quick move before the double team can get to him.

Chris Jones had a great game with 23 points and Roger Franklin hit all but one of his seven shots on the way to 14 points.

Jacob Holmen and Justin Patton played well off the bench with eight points each.

UNT didn’t get much else from its bench.

Benford talked about playing some of those guys more.

And, yes, I have asked about this team’s substitution patterns. Benford has said that he is looking for the right combinations in terms of players on the floor, although I need to broach that subject again.

Benford talked about the importance of getting stops. He’s right it is really important. UNT should be a better defensive team than it is with Mitchell and Franklin who is a good post defender, not to mention Alzee Williams and Justin Patton, who are both good all-around defenders.

UNT talked a lot about being a better defensive team since this summer. It just isn’t there yet, and it’s running out of time to get there this season. UNT has some tough games coming up and is already in a hole at 3-5 and 0-1 in Sun Belt play.

The bottom line, though, is that this team isn’t going to get to where it wants to go unless Mitchell is playing well. Benford and UNT’s staff have to find a way to get him going.

And by the way, the collapse watch for the morale of the Mean Green Nation is still on. Judging from my e-mail, people are getting more and more frustrated with how things are going in basketball season after a tough year in football as well.

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