As disappointed as I am in the UT Arlington men's basketball team, you'd think I'd be done with the women's squad, who is 1-14 on the year and 0-4 in Sun belt play. Yet I think it is the women's team that has given me some sense of competitiveness.
It also helps that the expectations were low. In the underwhelming Maverick Rambler pre-conference poll, I picked the team to finish last. Yes, that is where they are in the standings, but look closer at the results gives me some hope that new coach Krista Gerlich is on the right course.
In the 14 losses the Mavericks have on their ledger, the average margin of defeat is just under 16 points. While that is a high number, if you exclude the Power 5 Conference schools, a 39-point loss to Oklahoma State and the 53-point loss to Oklahoma, the average margin of defeat is not quite 11. Anytime you can be within 3-4 possessions, the game was close.
It is apparent that depth on the team is an issue. UTA has held second-half leads in eight of the 14 losses. Think about that for a minute. Only six of the losses came when they never had a second half lead. Once again, exclude the two P5 schools, which even in good times are hard to keep pace with, and UTA has held second-half in 8 of 12 peer-school losses. An extra player or two would mean many more losses.
I'm not going to say that I am okay with losses to North Texas, UT Pan American or two DI transitional schools at home, but look what they have done recently against SBC play: Arkansas State (4-0) 66-62, Arkansas-Little Rock (3-1) 64-57, Louisiana-Monroe (2-1) 84-67 and Louisiana-Lafayette (2-1) 66-64. All but the ULM game were close ones at the end and these four team occupy four of the top five spots in standings.
In a season like this, were it is obviously a rebuilding year, you take moral victories, and these are. I'd like to see wins and in a rebuilding year like this, if wins are going to be hard to find, do it against the rivals. UTA dropped the first rivalry game to North Texas, the ladies have two other true rivalry games against...
Texas State is up next this Saturday at 7 in San Marcos. The teams have split the series the last three years, with the last two years each team winning on the others home court.
As far as all-time series is concerned, I have conflicting information. UTA's media guide lists series in Texas State's favor 33-25, but only shows 44 games, with no games between 79-93 and lists UTA having the lead 23-21. The Texas State media guide has them in the lead 33-28. I'm inclined to believe the Bobcats guide, but they don't break down records into home, away and neutral like UTA's does. According to UTA's guide, they have won six of the last seven in San Marcos. Here's hoping that streak continues.