Before I get back to it, I need to get a disclaimer out. I just started a new career at the end of January that will require extensive training both during work ours and after. I will still attempt to crank out a weekly synopsis, but can't guarantee anything.
That said, wow, what a tough couple of weeks for the UT Arlington men's basketball team. They lost a game at Western Kentucky after having a large second half lead. Then at Georgia State, same story. GSU hit a wide-open three just before the buzzer to send it to OT. There the Panthers just put UTA to the wood chipper.
Then, back at College Park Center, you'd think UTA, which was so close to beating the top two teams of the conference on the road, would put up a better performance against a middle of the pack team in Louisiana-Lafayette. Nope. UL-L turned a 13-13 game into a 40-15 affair. UTA would get it close at nine in the second half, before the Cajuns put two three's and a layup on the board. Don't be fooled by the 92-89 score. It was a furious rally late, helped in large part by many missed free throws from UL-L, UTA was blown out.
This has been the most confusing of seasons. How can UTA come up just short against numerous types of teams. Single digit losses to Oklahoma and Texas, both recently ranked, Robert Morris, Eastern Michigan, Arkansas-Little Rock, WKU, GSU and now UL-L. The only common factor is what I have mentioned before. The Mavs will play solid for 30 minutes, but the missing ten are so poor that it leaves them just out of range of a comeback. The last minute three that Reger Dowell hit was in a tie game and one where they never trailed by a large margin.
Meanwhile UTA's opponent has trailed by large margins many times this year and completed a comeback. I think part of the issue is that UTA doesn't have a large presence underneath. 7'0" Stuart Lagerson is no longer on the team. Even when he was, he was ineffective. Junior Anthony Walker (6'9", 210) and Brandon Williams (6'10", 200) don't have the mass to effectively battle underneath consistently. Each has shown flashes of talent, but not enough to sustain it over the course of a full game. Brandon Edwards is effective, but at 6'6" he has to hustle for everything. Without help, I believe his potential is lessened.
UTA is talent heavy at the guard positions. However, I see a lot of individuality at times, especially when the other team makes a run. Instead of staying in team mode, they try to shoulder the load themselves.
Bottom line, this is a group full of good to great talent, but this is not a good team.
Up next is the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in Monroe on Thursday. Saturday is the getting warmer rivalry between the Mavs and the Texas State Bobcats. With Danny Kaspar, already a favorite target of the UTA students, moving to Texas State, it seems that both geography and history will keep this one going.
These are needed wins for UTA. The Mavs are sitting at 4-6, ties with Monroe at 4-6. They played at CPC earlier and UTA won it in OT. However, UTA is only 2-9 on the road this year. A game back in the standings is Texas State at 3-7. UTA won in San Marcos, and have had the 'Cats number in recent years. Kaspar has the team playing much better of late, but he is still lacking players to fit his system and depth.
A loss to these two will not only hurt UTA in the standings, it will give a win to teams beside them and at their heels. Losses could put a berth in the conference tournament in danger.