The North Texas men’s basketball team arrives into their conference stretch with one of the slowest-paced offenses in the country. They average 70.6 points per game, which ranks them No. 212 in Division I basketball. Despite that, the team is ranked No. 31 nationally with a field goal percentage of 47.0. This can be accredited to the team’s disbursement of minutes through their roster.
Rewind to last year, North Texas’ roster had six players receiving more than 25 minutes per game. But when it comes to this season, the Mean Green has two players who currently average more than 25 minutes per game. Those two players are redshirt sophomore guard Umoja Gibson and junior guard Javion Hamlet. With the majority of the minutes being doled out to Gibson and Hamlet, the Mean Green has shown that its offense can remain balanced while still leaning on the guard duo. Head coach Grant McCasland said that it’s been a focus since day one to have everybody know their roles that they can expand on through different types of concepts.
“Well it’s been a work in progress,” McCasland said. “When we took over the program, there was a definite need for putting guys in particular positions because we felt like they did certain things great, and unfortunately, they would hold on for too much where guys would normally just start doing one thing really well and it didn’t allow us to maybe step outside of that role when we needed it to happen.”
But with playing fewer minutes, it would seem that certain players would have a harder time getting their shots to go down and being in rhythm. However, several players have seen their field goal numbers increase due to lesser minutes. Last year, only six players shot at least 40 percent from the field. This year, however, those numbers have doubled with 12 players shooting at least 40 percent from the field. Gibson believes that with lesser minutes, comes better efficiency.
“Playing almost 40 minutes is a long time,” Gibson said. “So without us having to play all our players too much, we can get our rest and get back in the game feeling more fresh. That leads to better field goal percentages and everything else.”
“I think that takes time and now you’re seeing that they’re used to the rhythm of doing it, and early in those games, it was hard for us to win them like we wanted to,” McCasland said. “Not only were they learning their roles of what to do and how hard to play but also being out there and then off the floor and then back out there, and now they’re more comfortable with being subbed a little quicker for the purpose of having energy compared to the past where we’ve let guys play longer minutes.”
One characteristic that remains noticeable about the Mean Green in recent games is their next-man-up mentality. It seems when other players come off the bench, the team doesn’t miss a beat.
“It just shows you the depth we have on our team and what we can do without our main players on the court at all times,” Gibson said. “It just shows that we’re really a dangerous team.”
Featured Image: Redshirt sophomore Umoja Gibson dribbles past a teammate on Jan. 14, 2020 in the Super Pit. Image by Paige Bruneman