To start the season two blow out wins are great but keep in mind they came against Navy and Louisiana Tech. Neither one of these teams are worth a flip athletically and each were more than accommodating in their willingness to run with us.
I was shocked that both teams agreed to play in our tempo wheelhouse and was thankful for the season preview validation both the Bullldog and Midshipmen coaches provided.
As Scipio and Vasherized already pointed out, we're showing flashes of basketball nuances that have been absent these last two seasons. We're getting great ball movement, playing unselfishly, and actually screening people. But again, we've played a service academy and a Louisiana directional school so don't crown these guys just yet. In fact, I'd caution you to reserve judgment until we play Illinois next Thursday because they're a really talented, experienced basketball team that's going to compete in the toughest conference in America--the Big 10. Beat those cats and we may be in for an exciting year.
Regardless of next week's outcome however, this team is markedly better than I'd thought they'd be and it has little to do with their covering the point spread each night and more about the eye ball test. Each player that suited up for the Longhorns this week is a better athlete than he was a year ago. Amazingly better. So much so that I think we can be a better man-to-man team than I posited in my preview, and we owe it all to plyometrics, hard work, and busting ass in the gym. But most of that credit goes to Todd Wright.
The best strength and conditioning guru in the nation has essentially given Rick Barnes a new roster to work with, while not a single frequent flyer mile was added to Rodney Terry or Russ Springmann’s account. Wright’s prized recruits? Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown.
Jordan Hamilton has essentially replaced a tentative shooter who was willing to settle for deep jumpers in lieu of physical drives to the goal that were available any time he wanted them due to shot credibility. Thanks to Wright, Hamilton has morphed his skinny upper body average quickness into a chiseled athlete that now explodes to the goal and posterizes defenders. New athletic confidence has seemingly helped Jordan's shot selection turning him from shot taker to playmaker simply because Wright is the best in the business when it comes to engaging fast twitch muscles and providing players with tickets to their very own gun show.
Defensively, Jordan is moving his feet much better which should help him stay in front of ball handlers this season. That’s good news for team that has to protect a smallish frontcourt from ball penetration and resulting foul trouble.
J’Covan Brown’s body transformation has been even more impressive. He’s gone from an overweight two guard who looked like he swallowed Khalid El Amin to an athletic lead guard who suddenly looks the part. Brown simply looks lighter on his feet and this newfound ability to effortlessly get to spots on the floor with the dribble has translated into a point guard making good decisions because he’s playing under control. Dropping 20 pounds will help your quickness, but JB went and got yoked for good measure.
I’m interested to see how Brown performs against Illinois’ terrific backcourt. If he can stay in front of Demetri McCamey, then we might be able to present a formidable man-to-man team this season which means we can get our most explosive offensive lineup on the floor. Take the more athletic versions of Hamilton and Brown, then add Joseph, Thompson, and any other frontcourt player, and you have the makings of dangerous squad.
Because Todd Wright is a dangerous man.