The Horns just gave us a taste of the team we saw against UNC in December, and I like what they are cookin'. Let's jump right in.
The Crowd and The Pregame
At the 10:00 minute mark before game time, The Drum was empty. But, Texas fans ended up filling the place to a reasonable level for a Saturday afternoon game against Nebraska. It was dead quiet and I was sitting in the geriatric section 48 where I was out of place standing to applause for Avery Bradley's monstrous ally oop one handed jam. I was expecting Texas fans to quit on this team and they didn't. That is a good sign. The masses always know, even when they don't know shit.
There was both addition and subtraction to the player introductions. With J'Covan Brown in the starting lineup, nobody was manning the Harrison Smith Memorial Chest Bumper role. I'm glad that the players did not just throw someone out there willy nilly. This shows they have the proper respect and focus for this integral contribution to the team.
Adding to the drama was a new rehearsed handshake hug between Doge Balbay and Gary Johnson. It wasn't a well choreographed seventeen stepper like Gary and Damion pull off with aplomb, but they definitely rehearsed it in front of a mirror for 27-30 minutes before adding it. I hope that this is just the beginning and that there are new steps to be added that weren't pregame ready. Maybe a nod to Doge's Turkish heritage with a scimitar slashing motion would be nice, or they could reenact the Crusader's sacking of Constantinople. Even if they went all They Might Be Giants with four part harmony and feeling, that would be cool.
Also, in the dark and smoke that the University provides us, Damion James gave a heartfelt hug to a player in street clothes with a boot on his foot. It was a, "We are going to beat this cancer" type hug. I couldn't see who it was until the light came on. It was Justin Mason.
If another octogenarian asks me what undershirt everyone is wearing that shows through the jersey, I might have to kick a bitch. We also had new all white warm up suits that look like something you would see on a fat white rapper from Jersey. Also, why the hell do they call them jerseys anyway?
There was a guest appearance from Royal Ivey. He was announced during a TV timeout and received a standing ovation. At least it was as close to a standing ovation as the crowd could muster since they only stand to cheer the team into timeouts. Royal with Cheese was decked out in a Burnt Orange Nike Dri-Fit and threw the Hook 'Em up to acknowledge the crowd. I wept.
The Scalping Chronicles
The game was lightly attended by Austin's scalpers. I thought I was going to get all the way to the box office and have to pay face for a bleeder (something sizzlechest would not condone). But, I was saved by Melvin Matthews. He offered 21 rows up in 48 for $60 and I beat him down to $40. He also gave me his card which was printed in gold on frosted plastic. Melvin Matthews, world ticket agent, phone number no area code, which I think means he can get you tickets to the donkey show in Boy's Town.
Sadly, I lost his card during post game shenanigans.
As was well said by Trips Right here, it is amazing how hard it is to guard five guys that move and pass. If this is how we play on offense night in and night out, all of our preseason goals are in front us.
Nickel Rover also had some good thoughts on his daily opus. Seriously, if you aren't printing his pieces out to read on the can at work, then I don't want to know you.
J'Covan Brown - It is nice to see JCB settle in to his role. While substitution patterns were a little erratic, they weren't indicative of the crack addled monkey at the controls that we have seen the past few months, and I think that has a lot to do with the improved play of J'Covan and Jordan Hamilton in this ball game.
Jordan Hamilton - Passing ability, handles, a sweet jump shot, and a couple of strong in traffic defensive rebounds is what we expected to see at the beginning of the season.
Damion James - Damion gave us 13-9-5 in a game where he basically let J'Covan run the show. There will be games where we need our hybrid 3/4 to be the bell cow, but this was not one of them. Discretion and maturity is what he brought tonight, and I like it.
Avery Bradley - Avery got all his 25 in the flow of the offense, which is awesome cause Texas had a flow and an offense. We still need him to attack the rim a little more. I thought we were going to see that tonight, but an early rejection on a dribble drive and opportunities elsewhere mean it did not materialize this game. That's fine.
Dexter Pittman - Foul trouble again limited the big man, but this time I don't think there is a lot he could have done about it. Dexter only got sixteen minutes tonight, but his six boards and 3-4 from the line kept them from being empty minutes. I wish there was a stat for Dexter clearing the lane and Gary Johnson or Damion James reaping the rebounding windfall.
Gary Johnson - Outside of Damion, Gary may be our most consistent performer this year. In truth, we never have our best 5 out there when he is not in the game, but in the context of this team he has to be a reserve. The energy, offense, and rebounding he brings off the bench are vital to the Final Four team that Texas wants to be. He really showed some ups in wiping the glass that may be the beginning of Gary being the out of area rebounder that we need him to be.
Jai Lucas - Unfortunately, I think the Jai Lucas experiment is going to be a failed one for Texas and Rick Barnes. I am not second guessing Barnes. Jai was a take all the way. But, in this game he absolutely killed our ball movement when he came in the game, and initiating the offense from 35 feet is hard to do for anyone. He really needs to hit his shots also, because that is all he can really bring to the table at this point.
At Mizzou on
Big Monday Huge Hump Day will be a test. Let's see if we can build on this.