I’ve talked about the last five minutes of the game, the second half at length, and my random thoughts as whole so please consider that an addendum to the post mortem. As always I’ll grade the players and coaches here, but use those other pieces to fill in the blanks of the overall picture. It was a historic win even if our Jayhawk brethren have blown it off as an indictment of their own poor play and a much needed wake up call. And can we get a janitor to fix those oblong rims?
I guess when you win five Natties and are a final four contender every year you’re entitled to blow these types of things off as anomalies. Texas fan does it in football all the time. Take 2010, for example.
On to the players.
J’Covan Brown. A
J’Covan gets top billing in the post mortem and for good reason. The kid once again proved that no stage is too big outshining the entire Jayhawk backcourt by his lonesome. Two big 3’s in second half overtook the Jayhawks and gave the Horns the lead they would never relinquish. One thing that gets lost in the boxscore is J’Covan made a mockery of KU’s press down the stretch serving as a one man press breaker. Then he played the point guard closer role of draining 8-10 from the charity stripe to seal the deal. Right now Brown is the combo guard KU needs to be a complete team. The kid has certainly come a long way from tossing his shirt in stands while at Port Arthur.
Jordan Hamilton. B+
Hamilton didn’t have a particularly good shooting game going 5-13 from the field, but his floor game continues to improve. Hamilton helped close out the Jayhawks with a 4 play sequence that may be the best pure basketball we’ve seen out of the young man his entire college career. In the last 4 minutes, Hamilton twice blew by Tyshawn Taylor for layups in iso situations as the shot clock wound down. On another iso, his drive and kick to Gary Johnson for an open jumper sealed the deal with a minute to go. He then validated the performance with a nice block of a driving attempt from Taylor that ended all of KU’s hopes.
On the backboards, Hamilton was key in helping Texas win the battle on the glass. I posited in the pre-game that what Texas gave up at the 4 spot in terms of rebounding could be made up by the mismatch Hamilton provided at the 3. Hamilton's 9 boards ended up being huge in this effort.
Imagine if the talented wingman brought his shooting stroke to the game?
Tristan Thompson. B+
Once again Tristan owned the paint on both ends of the floor. His five blocked shots show big in the boxscore, but I thought his presence alone made the Morris twins play a little more on the perimeter than Coach Self would have liked. Thompson’s foul shooting was the best it’s been all season and welcome change for a kid that gets to the line so often. I’d like to see Tristan be a bit more involved in the offense, but KU was sending quick doubles at him and even went to some triangle and two with Matt Hill and Dogus Balbay in the game together so it’s not surprising Thompson failed to get double digit attempts. All around, a great game for the young Longhorn post.
Matt Hill. A
Matt Hill is peanut butter to Tristan Thompson’s defensive jelly. Sure Matt makes the offensive sledding a bit more difficult for Thompson because of spacing and double team issues, but on the other end, Thompson is free to be the fly swatter he needs to be when Hill is in to handle the heavy lifting of post defense. With Hill guarding the opposition’s best post, Thompson is free to roam the paint erasing dribble penetration and cleaning the glass. Without Matt Hill, Thompson would be put in the meat grinder for thirty minutes a night and that makes Texas a much weaker defensive club.
Cory Joseph. A
Talk about a floor game out of two guard, wow. Not only did Joseph shoot it well, but he also defended Taylor while giving the Horns a huge life on the glass with 9 huge rebounds out of one guard position. Joseph needs a plus ballhandler in the game to take some pressure off, but what he does for the Horns across the boxscore and on the defensive end make him the ultimate glue guy for Texas. A glue guy that can shoot? From Canada? Is that possible?
Gary Johnson. B-
I thought Gary rushed some shots early on and flat out played poorly on the offensive end in the first half. In the second half, he did a better job of letting the game come to him and hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game for Texas with a minute to play. Still, I expect more out of Johnson on the offensive end, thus the B minus. Gary needs to be a decided mismatch at the 4 spot if the Horns are going to be truly dynamic on the offensive end. I suspect he’ll get it going on Wednesday against the Pokes.
Dogus Balbay. B+
Dogus is the specialist du jour for the Horns. If KU had an explosive guard Balbay would have gotten more than the 17 minutes he logged in this contest. When he’s in the game he has to be used a certain way in halfcourt to limit his liability. Things like putting him in the short corner against the zone or using him as a screener to force defenders to play him are key. I thought Doge did some nice things in transition and the lone turnover is a good number for Balbay. Again, he’s limited offensively, so the emergence of Brown will certainly cut into Balbay’s minutes.
Coach Barnes could see we were getting good looks compared to what the Jayhawks were getting so it makes sense that he didn’t use his timeouts during the early KU run. In the second half I thought his substitution patterns, iso-sets, and time outs down the stretch kept Texas from blowing their lead. Right now Rick is in a coaching zone, and for this Texas fan that’s fun to watch.
Your thoughts on the big win?