Coach Scott Monarch, North Texas' transition guru, on what the new NABC hand-check rules mean for NT.
|COACHES VS CANCER CLASSIC
vs. Columbia Lions (1-2) Nov. 21, 2013 (4 p.m. Central)
vs. Idaho Vandals (2-1) Nov. 22, 2013 (6:30 p.m. Central)
at Portland Pilots (1-2) Nov. 23, 2013 (9 p.m. Central)
Portland, Ore. Chiles Center (4,852)
Radio: MGRN - 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM
TV: None Webcast: None
Game 4,5,6 - Coaches v Cancer
DENTON, Texas - Getting to the free throw line has never really been a problem for the North Texas basketball team. In fact, the Josh White and Tristan Thompson led teams of 2008-09 and 2009-10 actually led the nation in free throws made per game at 20.3 and 20.1 per contest, respectively.
This year's attacking version of the Mean Green is even ahead of those torrid numbers. Thanks to Alzee Williams, Vertrail Vaughns and the new National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) hand-check rules, North Texas ranks 16th in the country with 24.0 free throws per game.
Clearly, the new rules have changed the game, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing for the Mean Green. The game is now rewarding teams that can run in transition and drive the lane, which is the blueprint for the North Texas offense.
Take the Nicholls State game last Thursday for example. NT was struggling with 35 percent shooting and 12 turnovers at the half, but was still leading by two points. How?
Head coach Tony Benford and his staff recognized early that their squad was a little off, and made the adjustments that would help North Texas attack the lane and get to the free throw stripe. The result was a 39-of-46 performance from the free throw line (the fourth most makes in NT history) that allowed NT to hang around long enough until the offense woke up.
And the offense certainly woke up in the second half. North Texas ended up shooting 49 percent for the game, and pulled out a 92-78 victory. Alzee Williams, a magician off the dribble, was 2-of-7 from the floor, but 12-of-14 from the line.
North Texas knows that future opponents will modify their defensive approach to keep the Mean Green off balance, but Benford feels that his team's versatility can help them stay a step ahead. The emergence of Keith Coleman in the paint, along with the wing presence of players like Alzee Williams, Jordan Williams and Vaughns can make NT a nightmare to scheme against.