Editor’s Note: Five North Texas Daily sports writers answer four questions on each of the Mean Green basketball teams as they enter the Conference USA tournament on Wednesday. They will be taking a look back on this season and looking forward to the tournament.
The team ended 15-16 and 8-10 in C-USA play. They also lost five of their last six, but the question is, was this season a success regardless of what happens in the conference tournament?
Jordan James, Staff Writer
Without question, this season has been a success. It amazing how quick [head coach Grant] McCasland was able to establish a culture filled with toughness. They have been competitive in most games this season, so I think it safe to say Conference USA has been put on notice about this North Teas squad.
Asher Feltman, Staff Writer
After the past few seasons, this season was a success to me at the halfway point. If you told me they would lose five of six and then drop the first tournament game, I would have maintained that belief, so I will. Not an ideal end but an overall huge step in the right direction.
Matthew Brune, Sports Editor
This season would be a success even if the team loses to Louisiana Tech in the first round, but man that would be depressing. They have been in so many games this year you have to feel like McCasland is a few pieces away from being a perennial top four seed in C-USA.
If you had to describe this team’s season in one song, what would it be and why?
Sam Cooke- “A Change is Gonna Come”
That song embodies this team to be because it has been a long time coming for this basketball program. Many fans and members of the basketball team can sense that something special is being built in Denton.
Deondre Jones, Senior Staff Writer
Drake- “Started From the Bottom”
Looking from where we came from last season with fan attendance and the fact that us fans were ready for the season to be over compared to where we are now. It’s #NewDenton.
Nas- “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”
It ain’t hard to tell McCasland is a major coaching upgrade from Benford.
Grade Grant McCasland’s first regular season at North Texas.
I would have to give McCasland a B average. Looking at this roster heading into this season the only sure thing was [Ryan] Woolridge and [A.J.] Lawson. The emergence of [Roosevelt] Smart has been key for this team. He managed to get the most out of a roster that’s not the best on paper.
McCasland gets a strong B- from me. We all knew he wouldn’t be able to turn this team around completely in only one season. One of the things that I thought he did a great job at was utilizing his backcourt and establishing multiple lineups that he could turn to. This is a team that went 1-11 on the road last year and improved to 5-10 this year so I’m impressed.
Seriously though, how far can this team make it in the conference tournament and how far will they make it as the 7 seed?
Luis Diosdado, Staff Writer
In reality, they should be able to get past Louisiana Tech and at least make it a game with Old Dominion. They lost to Tech by one and ODU by three so obviously they can compete with them. However, I can’t see them getting past the semifinals, especially if they run into Western Kentucky who put up 102 on them.
This team can make it to the conference semifinals, but they will make it to the second round even though I think it’s a toss up between them and Louisiana Tech in round one. I’m just ready to watch the mayhem ensue because we all know that’s the only way this season will end. Chaos and/or a buzzer beater.
The team finished the season 15-13 and 6-10 in C-USA. Was this a successful season for the team after their terrific non-conference season and their underwhelming conference results?
All things considered, it’s a step in the right direction. They won some games that surprise us and lost some that did the same. Lauren Holmes could be a star and Terriell Bradley and Micayla Buckner will have big senior years. Conference play must be better next year.
After having one of their more successful non-conference seasons, my expectation started to rise for this team. As they began conference play I realized this team struggles with consistency. Overall, it has to be called a successful season when you look at the record and realize they haven’t had a winning season since the mid-2000s.
Of course, it was their first winning season in forever and they had a great scorer in Terriell Bradley. But their offense was not good. But their defense was good. But…OK, it was a decently successful season.
Who was the surprise player for you on this team this year?
It has to be Lauren Holmes. The Arkansas native led the team in steals as a freshman, so defensively she’s already one of the best on the team. If she can remain consistent on offense, she’ll be dominant next year.
It might sound a little cliché, but Lauren Holmes played a great season for only being a freshman. I mean, she came out of the gates firing away with 20 points in her first collegiate game, I don’t think anyone saw her making as big as an impact as she did.
In need of another playmaker, junior point guard Brittany Smith asserted herself with a very impressive 3.5 assists per game average. With Bradley and Buckner and potentially Holmes forming a “big three,” North Texas will still need more to become a better team.
How good was this team’s defense really?
As legit as the struggles offensively. Thankfully, this group is disciplined, well-coached and hustles on defense. Because the other side of the ball doesn’t come so easy.
The defense was just a little inconsistent. At times great, but in games they lost, not so much. However, holding your opponents to under 50 points 12 times is an accomplishment and shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Same final question: How far can this team make it in the conference tournament and how far will they make it as the 11 seed.
Unfortunately, despite defeating Charlotte earlier in the year, they will need a huge game from Terriell Bradley to knock off the favorable seeded 49ers.
I believe this team is bound to make it to the second round and eventually lose to Louisiana Tech. I believe [head coach] Jalie Mitchell is capable of getting the most of this team, and they will be ready to play on Wednesday against Charlotte.
The Mean Green are one of the lowest ranked teams in the tournament, so the chances aren’t good, but a first round upset over Charlotte isn’t far-fetched.