North Texas Daily

Preview: Men’s basketball meets South Dakota in opening round of CBI

Preview: Men’s basketball meets South Dakota in opening round of CBI

March 12
14:32 2018

In head coach Grant McCasland’s postgame press conference after the conference tournament loss to Louisiana Tech University last week, he said working to become a great team “starts tomorrow.”

While it is a few days later, that process does indeed continue as the Mean Green are playing in the College Basketball Invitational against the University of South Dakota at the Coyote’s home court at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“We had been invited about a month ago, but we didn’t ever commit to it because our hope was that we’d be playing in the NCAA tournament,” McCasland said. “Then after the season, they expressed interest to have us involved in the tournament still knowing we had a young team that would benefit from it.”

As has been reported, both seniors on this team will not be making the trip to South Dakota as Bryce Jackson is pursuing internships he had lined up, and Shane Temara is getting calls from basketball teams in New Zealand.

While the CBI is not the dream most players have when they prepare for the season at the Division I level, it is another opportunity to play and compete for the young Mean Green squad.

“At this time of year, it’s a blessing [to play] no matter what, [and] I think our guys feel that way,” McCasland said. “I wouldn’t say this is what they all dreamed about, but you can sense this is a team that will want to win when we get up there and get ready to play.”

South Dakota is 26-8 with an 11-3 record in the Summit League where they came in second in the regular season and the tournament. They also host a 13-1 record at home this season.

They average 81 points per game and allow only 68.1 and hold opponents to 32.1 percent 3-point shooting and 40.9 percent from the field.

This South Dakota team pops off the page statistically as they are No. 30 in the country in offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) at 112.8 and No. 15 in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 94.7. North Texas ranks at No. 208 and No. 143 in those stats, respectively.

Another interesting statistic is that the Coyotes are No. 26 in the country in turnover percentage while the Mean Green rank No. 236. However, two numbers that play in North Texas’ favor are 3-point attempt rate and block percentage.

South Dakota ranks No. 311 in 3-point attempt rate while the Mean Green is No. 154. Long range shooting is going to be a major key to North Texas’ success Wednesday. Additionally, the Coyotes rank No. 344 in block percentage, only blocking 5.1 percent of opponents shots, compared to the slightly better Mean Green who block 7.5 percent of opponents shots. This bodes well for players like sophomore guards A.J. Lawson and Ryan Woolridge.

“They’re a tough, physical, defensive-minded team,” McCasland said. “They play great half court defense. They are a great offensive team in that they know their roles and they shoot it well. Their only [shortcoming] is they don’t have a lot of size that can score around the basket in a dominant post player, but they drive and put a lot of pressure on you.”

While the same challenges face this team, and the trip to South Dakota will not be warm, McCasland’s team promises to be ready for the challenge and opportunity to continue to compete Wednesday.

“It’ll be about our ability to score, and that’s something that’s been a struggle for us,” McCasland said. “Then on defense, not letting [Matt] Moody (18.6 ppg) get going, so just trying to limit his opportunities.”

Featured image: North Texas sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge (0) drives the ball against Marshall. Marshall faced off against North Texas Saturday at the Super Pit in Denton, Texas., Saturday, February, 17, 2018, Super Pit in Denton, Texas. Jake King/DRC

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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