Jacob Holmen is UNT's best hope for improvement from outside - and it isn't a strong hope. - Eric Francis
We take a look at what is really causing all the trouble down at North Texas, and the answer is not what we expected. Time for Tony Benford to buy stock in a dairy farm.
We have left very little to the imagination regarding our opinion about how North Texas' season has gone. Or at least Ben has, though I certainly was hard-pressed to get a grip on Tony Mitchell's usage early in the season for sure.
This led me to dig deeper about what was going on (since I don't read the daily ins and outs of each team, otherwise I would have had the answer already - but that comes later, bear with me). What better place to start than Mitchell's stat page?
His face stats haven't changed very much, and I eventually noticed that, while he's about six games away from last season's minutes total right now, he has already passed his total three-point attempts from last season (50 vs 41) despite his shooting being way down (33% vs 44%).
On the surface, that looks like a guy who is shooting from long range a lot more and exposing himself as someone who probably shouldn't be doing so as often as he is, that it should be saved for the right shot at the right time. So why still jack them up? He had five attempts in Saturday's loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
Turns out, he's covering (or trying to cover) for all the losses that have happened thusfar. His 41 attempts last season made Mitchell the team's fourth most prolific long-range shooter by volume last season. Of the four players above him in that list, three of them returned - Brandan Walton, Chris Jones, and Jordan Williams.
Well, Walton has a grand total of one minute to his name this season after breaking his foot in the opener against Creighton, and the adjustments they had to make in his absence may have played some role in that ugly loss to Alabama-Huntsville.
No worries there, though, that still leaves two guys to handle the volume, right? Except Chris Jones then went and broke his foot on the 29th against Western Kentucky, so that's out the window as well. Jordan Williams just isn't capable of picking up any of that slack, either, as his three-point percentage is currently down even further from last season's 27%. No wonder Tony is cranking them out.
Perhaps the best hope here is for some further improvement from Jacob Holmen, though I doubt it. Holmen is a senior now, and while his attempts are well up, he isn't really shooting it any better, which is obviously of limited utility.
An interesting sidenote here is the foot injuries. Walton is an interesting case in the nature of broken feet. As you read here and elsewhere earlier this week, C.J. McCollum broke his foot this past weekend and will still play in the post-season, as his time table is an 8 to 10 week absence.
Tonight marks eight weeks since Walton's injury, but it was announced long ago that he would be out for the season. Sure would be nice to get him (or Jones) back, but he only recently returned to light shooting.
This is either a demonstration of how much more cautious head coach Tony Benford is with injuries, or the varying nature of how the foot can break (and thus need different times to heal), but it's interesting either way.