#110 North Texas: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #110
Conference Rank: #2 Sun Belt Conference
2009-10: 24-9, 13-5
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Johnny Jones (150-121 at North Texas, 165-137 overall)
With five starters returning, North Texas was supposed to win their first ever Sun Belt West divisional title. And that is exactly what they did. They also reached the NCAA Tournament and were easily the most consistent team in the conference. With four starters returning, the Mean Green could do it again, but replacing Eric Tramiel will not be easy.
Key Losses: G Collin Mangrum, G Richard Thomas, F Eric Tramiel
The Mean Green hope Alonzo Edwards can help fill the void. The versatile 6-8 forward was a top recruit coming out of high school and signed with Nebraska. After redshirting in Lincoln, Edwards failed to find much playing time as a freshman. He then went off to junior college before landing in Denton. Edwards is very much like Tramiel in the fact that he can shoot, rebound and play some defense, but he has pretty much underachieved throughout his career. North Texas will need him to at least fill part of the void left behind by Tramiel. The other newcomer is 6-5 freshman Ronald McGhee. McGhee is a do-it-all wing and he could find a place in the regular rotation as a freshman.
However, there is already a logjam in the starting lineup on the perimeter. Josh White and Tristan Thompson are both back after averaging 14.5 points per game a year ago. White also led the squad with 3.5 assists. White and Thompson are the main two shooting threats on the team and both shot around 39 percent from beyond the arc. Shannon Shorter is not as prolific of a scorer as White or Thompson, but he is a decent rebounder and the team’s best perimeter defender. The depth behind those three is gone, but Dominique Johnson is back after missing all but four games last season. Two years ago Johnson averaged 11.0 points and a team high 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals. Whether or not he makes it back into the starting lineup probably depends on whether or not Coach Johnny Jones wants to play small or if somebody else can man the power forward position. Thompson, at 6-5, would be the guard who would have to slide up to the four spot, but this is a team that lacked great individual defense and moving him out there would not make things any better.
Ideally, Johnson or Shorter would come in off the bench and either Edwards or sophomore Jacob Holmen will fill in at the four spot. Holmen did earn eight starts during his freshman campaign, but he only averaged 13.5 minutes per contest. While the 6-8, 220 pound Whitehouse, Texas native did prove to be a capable scorer and rebounder, it remains to be seen if he can do it consistently. Cameron Spencer could fill in a few minutes here and there like he did last season too, but this team really needs Edwards and Holmen to be ready play some major minutes.
Who to Watch:
No matter what happens with the power forward position, UNT knows they still have a great frontcourt as long as George Odufuwa is on the floor. The 6-8, 240 pound senior is a beast on the glass and ended the season averaging 11.5 points and 10.7 rebounds. Even if the power forward situation remains muddled, Odufuwa will grab any ball coming his way and the Mean Green will still be a solid rebounding team. Odufuwa’s ability to score in the paint has really opened up the offense and given space to the talent on the perimeter. A little work at the free-throw line and Odufuwa could be looking at 15 points and 12 boards per game during his senior campaign.
There may be a few more questions heading into this season than last, but when Johnson went down all those questions came up again and North Texas had answers. They should have answers again this season with the newcomers and the development of some of the younger players. Once again the issue will be finding players who can contribute off of the bench and that looks like it could remain a problem all year long.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Josh White, Senior, Guard, 14.5 ppg
Shannon Shorter, Senior, Guard, 6.3 ppg
Tristan Thompson, Senior, Guard, 14.5 ppg
Jacob Holmen, Sophomore, Forward, 4.8 ppg
George Odufuwa, Senior, Forward, 11.5 ppg
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