UNT will have its annual basketball tip-off event tomorrow at the Super Pit.
The festivities will begin at 7 p.m. and will give people an opportunity to see the new video board and shot clocks. I’ve seen them. They are pretty nice.
This will also be the only opportunity for UNT fans to get a look at the Mean Green men or get an unfiltered opinion on how UNT will look this year before the exhibition season begins.
UNT closed practice this year, just like football practice in the fall.
What will I be looking for? It’s hard to tell anything from an canned fan event like this, but here are some thoughts. First up the UNT men:
– Is the up-tempo style back?
UNT played a wide open style and was among the Sun Belt’s highest scoring teams for years. A series of injuries made UNT a whole lot less effective offensively last year. Are there signs this team has the players to run like it did in the past?
– Can anyone shoot the deep ball?
We know Brandan Walton can shoot it from 3. He will be back from injury after missing last season with a foot injury. Jordan Williams also returns and can shoot it. Is T.J. Taylor going to help in that regard? Vertrail Vaughns shot it well at George Mason. There is no reason to think that he won’t shoot it well at UNT, which was among the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country last season.
– Will UNT be better offensively?
UNT was horrendous at times offensively last season. UNT shot 18.5 percent in the first half of a loss to Middle Tennessee, scored 45 points in a win over Southeastern Louisiana, 59 in a loss to UTA and scored 55 points in a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference tournament. UNT didn’t have all of its key pieces the whole year, but had some really bad games shooting the ball. Will UNT have more continuity offensively this season?
– How does UNT look down low?
Tony Mitchell ended up being one of the more divisive figures in recent UNT sports history. Some people loved him and his contributions. Some were bitter when he said he didn’t give it his all for a team that was pretty clearly going nowhere at the end of last year. Bottom line — UNT is going to miss the 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 87 blocks he put up last year. And don’t forget this team doesn’t have Roger Franklin and the 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds he provided a night any more either. Keith Coleman, a 6-10 junior who didn’t do much of anything last season, returns and is supposed to be dramatically better. UNT also added Kelvin Gaines, who was playing very little at Cincinnati, and JUCO transfers Colin Voss and Armani Flanigan. All are huge. Can they play?
– Is T.J. Taylor the real deal?
Taylor was a big-time recruit coming out of high school and signed with Oklahoma. He played Paris JC, made a brief stop at Marquette and landed at UNT. He has all the talent in the world, but has essentially never played at the college level. Is he a guy who can carry UNT as much as people hope?
The bottom line is that there is a lingering skepticism about UNT’s program at the moment. Last season was too big a letdown and there have been too many busts in recruiting for people not to feel that way. Tomorrow is a chance to build some good will for the UNT men.
As far as the women go:
– Will the players who sat out help?
UNT had a ton of players sitting out last year, including TCU transfer Briesha Wynn. Will Wynn, Kiara Davis, Joh’Vonna Darrington and some of the other newcomers make a big impact?
– What does the point guard situation look like?
UNT wants to push the ball and did it last year with Laura McCoy handling the ball quite a bit. Cedar Hill guard Candice Adams has arrived and is one of the top recruits UNT has signed in years in any sport. She was a top 100 player nationally. Does she start immediately at the point? Does McCoy move off the ball more where UNT can take advantage of her ability to shoot the 3?
– How to all the pieces fit together?
About half of UNT’s players are new. The team and the rotation will entirely different. It will take weeks for UNT to hopefully come together. Tomorrow will be a sneak preview of that process.
UNT really seems to be on the right track under Petersen, who has brought in a ton of talent, but petered out at the end of last year and finished 11-19. We could see tomorrow if the added depth will make a difference.