Mean Green Football Reaction After Big UNT Win

The University of North Texas Mean Green have flipped the script of previous seasons. Heading in to its matchup against the University of Ohio, UNT is coming off one of the biggest victories margins since head coach Dan McCarney took over two years ago.

McCarney has taken on big events and celebrations since joining the Mean Green including the opening of Apogee Stadium, entrance into Conference USA and the 100-year celebration of the UNT football program all in his short stay with the team.

A 40-6 victory over the University of Idaho Vandals this past Saturday is an indication that the team is moving in the right direction, but hopefully the confidence isn’t over flowing because when teams get cocky mistakes are made.

The last couple of years UNT has had a problem with playing down to its opponent. With the Vandals taking refuge at the bottom of the Division I cellar this year, is nice to see a team like the Mean Green defeat a team that is supposed to be easily defeated.

Before the game, I figured that McCarney made a mistake starting quarterback Derek Thompson over the freshman sensation Dajon Williams.

Around the UNT fan base, Thompson is not their favorite quarterback to wear the Mean Green colors. Too many bonehead plays and failed comebacks over the last couple of years didn’t get him in the good graces of the student body and loyal fans.

To be fair, he has had to play second fiddle on the offense to now current Dallas Cowboy Lance Dunbar and the shifty senior receiver Brelan Chancellor since he first win the starting job in 2011.

To my surprise, Thompson shined bright in the victory over Idaho. Chancellor over shined him in this game as well but in all fairness when the ball is in his hands he’s a top tier play maker. You can’t argue with a six catches for 135 yards, a 85 yard touchdown reception and 111 yards on three punt returns. Giving Thompson the credit he deserves, he had one of the better week one performances for a quarterback in the nation.

Thompson ended the game 23 for 27 with 349 yards and two touchdowns. Keep in mind, after the final score of the game with 11:17 left the game in the fourth quarter Thompson came out of the game so Williams could get his first look at college football. The true freshman performed well himself connecting on five passes on six attempts for 55 yards.

Considering the following, there’s a good reason for the Mean Green to have confidence heading into this Saturdays game against the Ohio.

Being around the UNT fan base for a little over three years now, the reactions to hype around its teams is a tad on the pessimistic side. Who would blame them, it seems that last couple of years the football and basketball programs has been sponsored by Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong).

Idaho was beaten badly because it’s a bad team. It was as much as a tune up game that you can get for the Mean Green. They paid the Vandals 410,000 dollars to come visit Denton to lose in week one and a well spent 410,000 dollars it was indeed.

UNT’s schedule still has four teams coming off bowl victories last year, two of them in the next three games.

Because the Mean Green are not going to break into the top 50 anytime soon, the Conference USA games are much more valued than the non-conference match ups. With six bowl game opportunities in C-USA, it is not tough to see the heightened emphasis put on games when Oct. 5 comes around. With that being said they still need six wins to have a chance at a bowl game this year.

Enjoy the feeling right now UNT fans because September is going to be a lonely month for the win column.

It’s not because the Mean Green are going to be a bad team this year because it’s quite the opposite. This is the best team assembled by the Mean Green in since former head coach Todd Dodge allowed the team to implode. The loss column this year is going to be reflective of the level of talent UNT will have to face, not because of the team’s abilities.

The schedule will lighten up my mid-Octctober and wins would likely start piling up, but as for now prepare for a quick slap back to reality.

To end on a good note, the Mean Green has adopted some form of home field advantage. Apogee Stadium and McCarney became a part of UNT history at the same time. Since then the Mean Green are 8-4 at home and there are five more home games left on the schedule.

Tony Mitchell punches his ticket to Motor City

In last week’s NBA draft, a player by the name of Tony Mitchell went off the board at pick 37 to the Detroit Pistons. Almost 25 picks later than where he was predicted to go if he decided to forgo his sophomore season at UNT and enter the 2012 NBA draft.

Within one year, Mitchell went from being a lottery pick talent with elite athleticism to a second round, multiyear project on a team with recent losing tradition.

At least a losing situation is something he got used to with his final year at the University of North Texas.

Because Mitchell is considered a prospect, Detroit could have been the worst team he could have landed.

While the Pistons have talented young players like Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, they were each first round picks and considered as NBA ready players. Mitchell needs maturing and lots of coaching from both players and the Detroit staff.

In his eight years of coaching, Maurice Cheeks has run three playoff teams but in the regular season is 284-286. A percentage of .498 is the ultimate definition of an average record of accomplishment.

Cheeks is not the coach to mold a young player who is I need of a proven coach that can bring a long a player and implement him into a system that will best fit him.

Mitchell may not be the prize of the draft for the Piston’s organization so it wouldn’t surprise me that he doesn’t get too much playing time or attention which is really a shame. Mitchell has a limitless ceiling, but he just needs some scaffolding to reach the top. He can’t do it on his own. Mitchell already proved that with his final season at UNT.

Before the draft, ESPN had Mitchell going 42nd to the San Antonio Spurs. The perfect team and situation for both Mitchell and SA because they have the best coach in the league and one of the greatest big men of all time to help Mitchell’s process of becoming the NBA player that he has the ability to be.

Instead, he’s on a team with striking similarities to the 2012-2013 Mean Green. A team led by one and two year players and in the middle of a coaching change. It ended as a disappointing campaign for Mitchell when he was a star and now, as a NBA prospect, he may never get his professional career moving in the right direction.

Two of the top players on the Detroit roster take the roles of the big men. The Pistons offense revolves around the play of their guards Knight and Rodney Stuckey. With the talent in front of him in the rotation and a system that revolves around the perimeter players, playing time at first will be a valuable commodity for the athletic big man.

I get the feeling Mitchell’s above the rim style will win him some playing time with the coaches and brownie points with fans. He brings a certain type of energy to the Palace that hasn’t been there for years. Even if it is eight minutes per game, he can add a spark by getting the bench and fans out of their seats with his version of a two pointer.

The best bet for Mitchell would be to find himself in a trade to a playoff caliber team within his first couple of seasons. I do not feel he will find what he is looking for in the Motor City.

Then throw in reports that the Pistons are meeting with Atlanta forward Josh Smith it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mitchell in the D-League to start the season if Smith were to join Detroit.

After all of this I can confidently say the Detroit will improve on its 29-53 regardless of landing Smith but not because of Mitchell’s presence. Detroit will be better because its core will be stronger by adding another offseason together with each other.

I’ve met Tony Mitchell, I’ve talked to him and covered a vast majority of his collegiate career and wish him the best of luck when October 29 comes around. I plan to follow this young man’s career to the end but there’s just the sneaking suspicion that it may just not be long enough to have a follow up to this article.

Tony Mitchell brings questions to the draft

(Photo Credit: James Coreas/North Texas Daily)

With the NBA draft closing in, a player worth mentioning is University of North Texas power forward Tony Mitchell.

Mitchell is worth mentioning because he is the lone player from a Texas college with a first round grade, could be a possible pick for the Dallas Mavericks if they were to trade the 13th pick and most important of all he is the definition of a high risk-high reward player.

I had the opportunity to cover Mitchell’s freshmen season in its entirety and spent time on and off the UNT men’s basketball beat during his sophomore season.

While watching Mitchell, I witnessed two different players in his time with the Mean Green.

The first year, Mitchell looked like a player that was determined to be recognized and make a name for himself. If he didn’t miss the first nine games of the season due to academic issues he would have been the unanimous Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and the SBC Player of the Year.

The season ended with a last second loss in the Sun Belt tournament finals and fuelled his decision to return for his second season.

During the offseason, the Mean Green underwent a coaching change has Johnny Jones headed to LSU to coach for his alma mater.

Afterwards, Mitchell could not live up to the expectations he set for himself after his first year as the coaching change highly effected Mitchell’s play and the team’s performance.

Mitchell showed that he is not as a sure thing NBA prospect that everyone makes him out to be.

When I look at Mitchell is see a raw prospect that has the athleticism to take the Sports Center highlight reel away from Blake Griffin. His talent right now is good enough to provide a spark in short time off the bench and would likely stay this way into his third, maybe fourth year as a pro before he gets a spot in a team’s starting lineup.

While I say that drafting Mitchell will be a work in progress and even a potential bust, I understand the serious appeal of this draftee.

A 6’8” forward with a 7’3” wingspan, a near 40-inch vertical and the ability to shoot from beyond the arch equals a future star. A simple formula for finding viable prospects but like baseball there is a “sabermetrics” side of this.

Mitchell saw a dip in his field goal percentage, percentage from three-point range, points per game and even his rebounding production took a hit during his sophomore season.

Not to mention, while watching his games he did not appear to be mentally involved especially during times of turmoil where the team was struggling to get going.

To me, this means that Mitchell will go the way the rest of his team goes, not exactly the way a player with his potential should respond when faced with adversity.

He showed that he’s not someone to put a team on his shoulders and as the team’s star was unable to help dig the team out of its hole.

Four years from now, I could be proven wrong and quite honestly wish I will be, but that is why Mitchell is a high risk-high reward player. His athleticism is beyond many of the players currently in the NBA but after a season where he and his team were shut down by the rest of the Sun Belt Conference I find it hard seeing success for Mitchell in the NBA.

This doesn’t mean SBC players don’t make a name for themselves in the professional world. Jeremy Evans and Courtney Lee are the most recent players to come out of the Sun Belt to impact the league.

Derrick Fisher is the biggest name to come out of the SBC, but since Fisher entered the NBA in 1996, nine players from that conference have made it to the pros with Raja Bell being the only other recognizable player in the league today.

Seeing Mitchell’s name next to those mentioned above would certainly be nice an achievement all on its own.

Mitchell will also be the first UNT basketball player to make it on a professional roster since Joe Hamilton who played in the ABA from 1970-1976 for several teams.

As far as the Mavericks and the possibility of taking Mitchell, I would prefer them not to. A forward is not what Dallas needs. Dallas needs someone who can hit the hardwood running and impact the team from the get go from the point. In addition, the only way Dallas could grab Mitchell is if they were to trade their 13th pick to a team looking to move up in the draft.

What Mark Cuban and the rest of the Mavericks front office plans to do on draft day is always unpredictable making my guess as good as anyone else’s.

Mitchell is a player with swingman athleticism, a post players size and the potential of Greg Oden before his plague of injuries.

He needs to fine tune his entire game outside of standing underneath the basket waiting for the ball and find a position where he can be the most effective.

Regardless, Mitchell is a very appealing prospect that could make even the most agile big men in the league look like Erick Dampier and if he falls as far as people predict then he will make a playoff caliber team very happy.

In the ESPN Experts Mock Draft, they have Mitchell going 28th overall to the San Antonio Spurs, a team that will suit him nicely and allow this young baller to mature under the watchful wings of one of the greatest big men of all time Tim Duncan.

Although Tony Mitchell is not a marquee player in this draft, he is certainly a name to remember regardless of his future becoming a success story or not.