North Texas Daily

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 6

Quick Hits: Basketball Coach’s Show – Episode 6

February 15
14:59 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexlikechexmix

Although both the men’s and women’s basketball teams failed to earn a victory last week, the weekly coach’s show made its return on Monday at Rudy’s BBQ. Women’s head coach Jalie Mitchell and men’s head coach Tony Benford each spent time going over recent games and did not deny that their teams have a lot to work on in order to qualify for the Conference USA tournaments next month.

First Half: Jalie Mitchell

With a chance to take advantage of two critical home games last week, the Mean Green women (8-14, 3-9) failed to come out on top in either matchup. Sluggish starts put North Texas in early holes it couldn’t climb out of in each game, trailing 20-10 after the first quarter Saturday against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and facing a 37-13 halftime deficit against Old Dominion University.

“I don’t like excuses,” Mitchell said. “I definitely feel like we can find a way to win still with everything going on. Every team is in the same position at the end of the year.”

North Texas came back strong in the second half on Thursday, outscoring Old Dominion 35-28 to avoid its largest losing deficit of the season. However, Saturday’s matchup with Charlotte was a completely different story. The Mean Green had put together a ferocious comeback, but gave up 36 fourth quarter points on the way to its fifth consecutive loss.

“Honestly, we just ran out of gas,” Mitchell said. “We gave up way too many points on the defensive end, but I think that was due to us being tired. I was trying to have us buckle down and get stops.”

Women’s head coach Jalie Mitchell and Steven Bartolotta covering the upcoming week in North Texas basketball at Rudy’s BBQ. Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

Women’s head coach Jalie Mitchell and Steven Bartolotta cover the upcoming week in North Texas basketball at Rudy’s BBQ. Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

Always alongside Mitchell on the bench is associate head coach Bobby Brasel, this week’s guest during the first half of the show. Mitchell had a lot of candidates vying for a spot on her staff when she arrived, but didn’t have much trouble convincing the well-known Texas recruiter to come to North Texas.

“I could feel after spending one afternoon with her the excitement, the passion and that the tide was going to turn,” Brasel said. “I really wanted to be a part of something that was going to erupt and be something special. It was a no-brainer for me.”

Brasel and Mitchell will look for the Mean Green to bounce back in two road games this week. Currently sitting in 12th place out of 14 teams in the C-USA standings, North Texas doesn’t have a large margin for error if it wants to qualify for the 12-team C-USA tournament.

“Our kids are fighting and trying to fight through being tired, being in the end of the season and injuries, that kind of thing,” Mitchell said. “We’ve just got to pull it together and make it happen.”

Second Half: Tony Benford

Coming off consecutive home wins the week prior, The Mean Green men (9-16, 4-8) suffered two blowout losses on the road against Old Dominion and Charlotte, its sixth and seventh losses of the season by at least 20 points. North Texas was ahead by three points at the intermission Thursday, but Benford said not getting 50-50 balls and paint touches proved costly down the stretch.

“I thought their offensive rebounding really hurt us in the second half,” Benford said. “They’re the best offensive rebounding teams in our league. It got away from us at about the four-minute mark, and just couldn’t ever get back in it.”

Meanwhile, rebounding was overshadowed by bigger team issues in the Mean Green’s 103-79 loss to Charlotte on Saturday. Benford’s squad found itself down 21 points at halftime on its way to giving up over 100 points for the second time this season.

“If you give up ten threes in the first half and 56 points, you’re not going to beat anybody, especially on the road,” Benford said. “We just didn’t do a good job defensively.”

One player that hasn’t gotten a chance to improve the North Texas defense is senior guard Todd Eaglin, who only played five minutes combined in the team’s last two games. This week’s player guest has seen a steep drop in playing time from 13.7 minutes per game last season to 3.6 this year, but still takes on the role of a key cog in the locker room.

“I want to play, but its more about the team than myself,” Eaglin said. “Going hard at [Reese and Brown] in practice, it’s going to make them better and do what it takes to win.”

North Texas will return to the Super Pit this week with matchups against Florida Atlantic University and Florida international University, two teams that sit just a sliver ahead of the Mean Green in the C-USA standings.

“This is a huge week for us,” Benford said. “We’re a half game behind FAU and two games behind FIU, so we’ve got a chance to take care of home. I’ve talked to the guys about this, to position ourselves going into the tournament in the top eight to get the seed and the first-round bye.”

Featured Image: Senior guard Todd Eaglin sits with Dave Barnett as this week’s men’s team guest at Rudy’s BBQ. Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

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