North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball faces off with the impact from key injuries

Men’s basketball faces off with the impact from key injuries

Men’s basketball faces off with the impact from key injuries
February 28
01:07 2019

The North Texas mens basketball team (20-8, 8-7 Conference USA) is currently on a four-game losing streak against conference opponents. The loss of multiple starters has led to a decrease in proficiency for the Mean Green. Despite a 12-2 non-conference record, these injuries have resulted in a conference record slightly above .500. 

During these games, North Texas’ two key players, junior guard Ryan Woolridge and senior guard Jorden Duffy, have yet to play together in a game. The last time the two guards shared the court together was during their one-point win against Rice Jan. 19th. 

“[Woolridge] is a vital piece to this team and he helps us win at a high level,” senior guard Michael Miller said. “[Woolridge] and Duffy have helped us win the way we have been all season before we hit our losing streak.” 

It’s no secret that injuries have been a trend on the Mean Green’s four game losing streak. During their 10-point loss to Florida International, North Texas came into Miami with six active players, excluding Duffy and Woolridge.

The Mean Green were required to play freshman guard Umoja Gibson, junior guard DJ Draper, junior guard Roosevelt Smart and senior guard Michael Miller for 40 minutes. North Texas’ five starters amassed a total of 192 minutes.

There have been six cases where a starting five has played more combined minutes. On the second occasion, the team played just six players and four starters for 40 minutes in a regular season game with no overtime. There has been 19 occurrences in the last nine years where a team has played four starters for 40 minutes in a non-overtime game. It’s been 15 years since the last time North Texas has played four starters for 40 minutes.

 Woolridge’s role in the Mean Green system of play led him to average a team high 34.2 minutes per game, Duffy averaged 27.8 minutes before his injury. Losing two high volume players has had a strong effect on North Texas’ play as of late. 

“It impacts you from a comfort standpoint, you’ve been playing a certain way for an extended period of time with a player averaging a lot of minutes,” McCasland said. “It really not only took a toll on our team from a fatigue standpoint but from a flow standpoint.”  

Duffy made his debut on Feb. 23 against Louisiana Tech after missing the previous eight games. Despite North Texas falling to the Bulldogs in a 53-66 loss, Duffy would play 28 minutes and amass nine points, three rebounds and three assists. The last time Duffy played was against Rice on Jan. 19

“He played tremendously, his composure and ability to score and distribute the ball really gave us another level of confidence to win,” McCasland said. “[Duffy] gave us another body defensively where we could keep pressure on the other team.”

There were speculation on how Duffy would be reimplemented into the Mean Green’s court of play after an extended absence. In the 2017-18 season, Duffy missed seven straight games across January and February. McCasland said that Duffy is familiar being injured during this time of year.

His feel for the game allows him to be reinserted because he’s done this last year and it’s basically the same timing as this year,” McCasland said. “He’s got some experience and a patience about him that you can see and be confident in his ability to come back and play.”

Last season, Duffy came back into the starting lineup and finished the season well, said McCasland. Duffy would also end the regular season leading North Texas in scoring and be the Mean Green’s second leading scorer in the CBI tournament.

“[Duffy] is usually the guy we put on the other team’s best players,” McCasland said. “Anybody on the other team who can really shoot, [Duffy] is there. We’ve missed that defensive energy that he brings.”

Woolridge has led the team in several stats this season. The junior guard currently leads the team in points per game (12.3), assists per game (5.1) and steals per game (2.1). He is also fourth in C-USA in terms of assists per game and steals per game. Woolridge is scheduled to play again at home on Feb. 28 against Florida Atlantic. 

“I’d say [Woolridge] is the engine of our team and when he went down we took a big hit from it,” Draper said. “When fully healthy, they’re a great one-two punch because they’re both unselfish players and help people get their shots and when the time comes, then get their own shot.”

Featured Image: Senior guard Michael Miller begins his drive against a Thundering Herd defender at the game against Marshall at the Super Pit on Feb. 7, 2019. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

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Matt Suarez

Matt Suarez

Sports Editor

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