North Texas Daily

North Texas’ Conference USA basketball outlook

North Texas’ Conference USA basketball outlook

January 30
09:58 2018

The men’s and women’s basketball teams are now both at the midpoint of their conference schedules and both have experienced close wins and losses along with exceptional performances from star players at this point. Here is a breakdown of everything on each of the two teams as they hit the home stretch.

The Women

11-9, 2-6 | T-12 in C-USA

The Good

The next six opponents for the women are a combined 15-29 in conference play, making this their real chance at pushing for a higher seed and softening up their tournament opponents.

Terriell Bradley has been on fire over the past six games, averaging almost 23 points per game on 40 percent shooting from the field and 53.3 percent from 3-point range. Not to mention she has made 45 of 56 free throws over the past six contests.

The Bad

The defense has taken a step back in conference play. Head coach Jalie Mitchell and her players have shown concern about the team’s consistency on that end, and while they still create a good amount of turnovers, they have lost a step which hurts against the top notch teams in Conference USA.

Bradley has scored 39 percent of the teams points over the last six games and has accounted for even more when adding assists. The team ranks dead last in C-USA in assists per game. The guard depth of Brittany Smith, Lauren Holmes, Trena Mims and Grace Goodhart need to be able to produce and create on somewhat of a consistent basis.

Overview

The women should make the conference tournament, and it would be a downright tragedy if they did not. They are going to win and lose games on the defensive end of the court which is why they are 1-4 in games where their opponents score over 65 points since their season-opener. After having the best non-conference season of this decade, the women find themselves again with their backs against the wall to end this season.

The Men

12-10, 5-4 | T-5 in C-USA

The Good

Those two sophomore guards are pretty terrific for coach Grant McCasland. Obviously, that is referring to Roosevelt Smart and Ryan Woolridge, who have torched opponents in conference play. In the nine C-USA games, Smart has hit more threes (37) than the rest of his team combined (36) on 24 fewer attempts, while Woolridge has 20 more assists (65) than the rest of the team combined (45). They are really good.

The men are third in the conference in rebounding margin per game and second in offensive rebounds per game, both of which are a testament to the coaching staff who stress crashing the glass.

The Bad 

They need to pick up this win against Rice University on Saturday because the next four games are against four of the top five teams in the conference. Luckily, their last four games are against teams they have already beaten.

McCasland is still struggling to find a consistent forward rotation with senior Shane Temara not having a good conference season and freshman Zachary Simmons seemingly always in foul trouble.

Overview

The men’s team looks to be in a good position as they battle to stay in the top-six seed hunt. There are four teams below them that are 4-5 in conference, and one slip up could cost them three or four spots heading into the conference tournament in the end. They are getting junior Jorden Duffy back which will help, but DJ Draper, Tope Arikawe and the other role players will need to continue to contribute if they want to close out McCasland’s first season on a high note in the conference tournament come March.

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore guard DJ Draper dribbles the ball in a conference match against Florida Atlantic University on Jan. 25 at the Super Pit. The Mean Green defeated FAU 59-53.

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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