Our little baby's all grows up.
We're doing the little things. We're playing honest to goodness fundamental basketball on BOTH ends now.
In the last game against Tech, I saw an entry pass to Tristan Thompson, a quick pass out of the double team, and then a repost by TT for an easy bucket. Who are these guys?
Last night we ran a double screen for Cory Joseph using Hill and Hamilton as screeners, with Hamilton slipping the screen for an easy backdoor layup leaving Cade Davis slack-jawed with a fist full of hair gel. Holy shit, is Rick Barnes channeling Pete Carril? I swear if we take a charge this season we'll win the national championship. It's like, in the stars, man.
As for the macro-level, we did what we do to bad basketball teams. Smother them with defense and run our stuff on offense on the way to a 20 point first half lead with a little star-power from Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton sprinkled in. Then we coast to a comfortable victory and pray to Al Mcguire that J'Covan Brown doesn’t tweet anything. That's our recipe for winning and victory tastes good.
On to the Grades.
Jordan Hamilton. A+. He's finally filled Shawn Williams' size 14's. A tremendous shooting night (8-16 for 20) could have been ridiculous if Jordan didn't leave 3 of his second half 3-balls a little short. Tired legs perhaps? Still, it's incredible to think about the difference a year makes for Hamilton. All but one of his attempts tonight were within the confines of an offense. He's playing the number 1 option role with a minimum number of heat checks. Love the maturity. And as a result of this maturity he's doing things that a seasoned player does.
He's coming off of screens and moving without the ball like Steve Alford. He's driving to the goal looking to create fouls and opportunities for teammates. To put a bow on it, he's doing everything you can ask out of your first option offensively--and it's unselfish.
Jordan also gives the Longhorns a difference making element in an often overlooked aspect of the game—weakside rebounding. Being perhaps the best rebounder at the 3 spot is a tremendous advantage for a team, especially when you have a shot blocker like Thompson who's coming off to help on a lot of possessions which usually leaves the weakside glass vulnerable to easy putbacks.
This is where Hamilton's underrated ability as a glass eater comes in.
Hamilton flat owns the weakside glass when Thompson comes over to help to penetration and there aren't many teams that have small forwards with Hamilton's size and athleticism that can do that, at least not as affectively as Hamilton. In fact, if you can find me a top ten team that has a wing that boards like Hamilton, I'll eat my tote bag. Chalk up nine man-sized boards for Jordan in this game, allowing Thompson to roam without fear of being punished on the boards. The fact Hamilton is not getting more POY run is stupid.
Tristan Thompson. B+ Foul trouble was a little concerning, but when he was on the floor he dominated. He's added a little face-up offense to go along with his post moves over both shoulders. That's the holy trinity of post play and I fear we're going to lose him to the League because of it. We need to sell Thompson on Myck Kabongo diming him a free 12 points per night and dangle a POY award and a Natty in his face to get him to stay. I don't know if that's enough to keep him though. As for the game, I was encouraged to see that the arc on his foul shots was much better last night. So the improvement is coming. Thompson's too good of a player to not be a good foul shooter.
Cory Joseph. A It's pretty cool when your glue guy is also one of your three best offensive players and a solid shooter. Cory Joseph has been stuffing statsheets all season and playing tremendous defense to boot and last night was no exception. He's one of those players that affects the game in a big way even if he doesn't score but a handful of points.
The interesting thing is that he's probably playing a little out of position or at least at a disadvantage when he shares the backcourt with Dogus Balbay. It ensures Cory is getting the other team's best on-ball defender and it chokes off some of the driving lanes and screen/roll scenarios he could thrive in.
Not to take anything away from Dogus who's a solid player, but next season it will get a whole lot easier for Cory playing alongside an elite offensive point guard. Joseph is going to flat wreck shop when he slides out of his combo-guard role and plays a true 2. That's got to be a pretty scary thought for the Big 12.
Gary Johnson. A Put him up against an undersized frontcourt and Gary is going eat as his 5-9 4-4 for 14 will attest. He also pulled 6 boards and had 4 assists in what was probably his most complete game of the season. Come tournament time, Johnson is going to be a tremendous weapon against some of the mid-major or high-majors with smallish frontcourts we may face.
Dogus Balbay. A If he's allowed to get to the rim he's going to flat out kill you and that's exactly what happened last night. I still wonder about coaches that try to hug up on Doge's dribble in the halfcourt and especially in transition but hey I'm a lowly Barker. Defensively, Doge was a glove.
Matt Hill. A Again, Matt's job is to come in and root out the opposing team's best post player and play helpside defense on ball penetration—leaving the erasing to Tristan. That's what he does and that's what Matt Hill did last night. If he grabs a few offensive caroms or scores that's gravy. No much gravy for Matt last night but the meat and potatoes were there.
J'Covan Brown. F J'Shoot me. Obviously not his type of game because it wasn't a big stage, but my Lord, stay off of twitter young man. It doesn't matter if you go 0-5, as long as you're winning why rock the boat with some venting about coach pulling you or punishing you. I'm not saying he's going to derail the train, I'm just saying it's a distraction.
Coaching. A+ This was a game Texas could have gone into sleep walking and dropped because a rival was laying in wait. Instead, Texas showed up from the opening tip and ripped out OU's still beating heart and showed it to them Inca style-or is it Aztec style? Credit Coach Barnes for having the kids ready to play and ready to execute their stuff. Good teams don't f' around with bad opponents and get beat at the wire. See 'Nova vs. Rutgers.
On to Baylor.