North Texas will be without Jorden Duffy on Wednesday night when it hosts Indiana State.
The junior guard suffered a knee injury in the Mean Green's loss to Texas-Arlington on Saturday and under went an MRI on Monday. The results were inconclusive, but Duffy likely won't be back soon, UNT coach Grant McCasland said Tuesday.
Losing Duffy is just the latest blow in what has been a series of issues that have cut into UNT's roster, from injuries to eligibility issues.
UNT lost Umjoa Gibson to a broken ankle he suffered in a loss to Nebraska last month. Duffy missed several weeks of offseason workouts with a broken foot. The Mean Green also have been without Mark Tikhonenko all season.
The 6-10 Russian forward is still awaiting a ruling from the NCAA on his eligibility due to his high school transcripts. Tikhonenko began high school overseas before coming to the U.S and playing for Baltimore Mount Zion Prep.
The NCAA is examining issues related to the early part of Tikhonenko's high school transcript.
McCasland said the school expects a ruling from the NCAA next week.
"It's been tough," McCasland said. "We are excited about the guys who can play."
UNT will need everything it can get from the players it does have to pull out of a two-game slide. The Mean Green fell at Oklahoma before being edged by UTA 65-60.
McCasland had never lost three games in a row in his coaching career until dropping his final three games at Arkansas State last year. He's in danger of suffering his second three-game slide if the Mean Green (4-5) can't knock off Indiana State (3-4).
UNT heads into the game looking for a way to do more with less in terms of its roster and has seen some positive signs along the way.
"We are starting to make it harder on people to score and have been more consistent in our effort," McCasland said. "That has given us a chance to win games."
The Mean Green will need to be at the top of their game to contain Indiana State, which knocked off Indiana 90-69 this season. The Sycamores feature three guards averaging at least 12 points per game. Brenton Scott was a third-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection last year and is averaging 12.4 points. Sophomore Jordan Barnes is averaging a team-high 15.0 points.
"Their ability to make shots is what separates them," McCasland said. "When they get going like they did against Indiana, they can be tough to stop."
McCasland and the Mean Green have tried to keep a positive outlook while making do with the players they have.
"You have to have high expectations and a standard you have to be about," McCasland said. "You also have to provide a positive outlook on where you are going and how you are going to get there."
UNT coach Palileo named regional coach of year
Andrew Palileo has been named the coach of the year on the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Southwest Region team.
UNT senior middle blocker Amanda Chamberlain and junior setter Karley York were named to the all-region team, while senior middle blocker Holly Milam and freshman outside hitter Barbara Teakell received honorable mention.
UNT won the C-USA regular-season title before falling to Western Kentucky in the final of the league tournament. The Mean Green were passed over for a spot in the NCAA tournament but were invited to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship, where they lost to TCU in the second round.
UNT finished 29-4.
"As a coach, when you go back and look at all the accomplishments we've had in one year, you feel good about what the team has done and everything they've put in," Palileo said in a statement. "It's really awesome to see the individual players get recognized, but I know these four would be the first to tell you how much of a team effort it was."
Chamberlain led UNT with 348 kills and 122 blocks. York finished fourth in Division I with 1,441 assists, while Milam posted 327 kills. Teakell recorded 262 kills.
Palileo guided UNT to a dramatic turnaround after a 13-19 finish last year and had a school-record five players named to the All-C-USA team.
FEATURED PHOTO: North Texas men's basketball coach Grant McCasland walks off the court for halftime during a game against Grembling State on Nov. 27 at the Super Pit. (Jake King/DRC)