Bull Durham style. Regrettably, all of our basketball games are played indoors, although the plumbing in the Ferrell Center is pretty questionable. Perhaps there is hope for Saturday.
We have waded through some excellent analysis of our current slide, thanks to the incomparable Kevin Berger, Bob in Houston and a smart Greek chorus of comments. But one particular thing Trips wrote really struck me:
Cory Joseph. The kid fights himself going to the rack on the dribble when he was supposed to be a screen and roll witch. He fights himself to knock down open 3’s when he bested all comers at the McDonald’s All-American three point contest. Now, to make matters worse, a guy that Fran Frascilla calls Darrel Reavis of college hoops, has trouble staying in front of second option guards on the dribble. I see Avery Bradley.
I do, too. Almost exactly a year to this date, I penned this post on Avery Bradley. Money quote:
He’s spent. "The Freshman Wall" is not a myth. Bradley spectacularly smashed into it about three weeks ago and now it is crumbling on top of him. And Rick Barnes charted this course for him even before injuries robbed the Horns of their perimeter depth.
I actually do not necessarily believe that about Joseph ("necessarily" being the operative word). However, would anyone like to guess who leads the Horns in minutes played this year? I would have guessed--without hesitation--Hamilton. The right answer of course, is Joseph.
Joseph: 32.3 mpg
Hamilton: 31.9 mpg
Thompson and Johnson both average over 30 minutes, as well. How does this compare to Avery Bradley, who so obviously broke down physically over the last half of 2011? Joseph v. Bradley ain't even close:
Bradley: 29.5 mpg
I am astonished that Joseph logs almost three minutes per game more than Bradley. By one argument, he is logging easier minutes. Bradley was the Michael Huff of the 09-10 Longhorns. He spent an incredible amount of energy covering not only his own man, but also dry-walling over wrecking ball-sized holes in the Horn's atrocious man-to-man rotations. He was a better player than most fans ever gave him credit for.
Credit Barnes that this team is far better defensively and, for the most part, has run a credible offense. My guess is that this group of players is expending far more efficient energy than their counterparts from 09-10.
Nevertheless, Barnes demands our most complete guard to log far greater minutes than warranted for a freshman. Part of this problem is J'Covan Brown:
Brown 09-10 mpg = 21.7
Brown 10-11 mpg = 21.3
How for the love of Justin Mason can J'Covan be playing fewer minutes this year than last? On a team with less depth?
Trips has always maintained that Barnes does not determine J'Covan's minutes; J'Covan determines J'Covan's minutes. Largely true, although Trips also notes that Barnes' reluctance to give J'Covan the reins in the second half versus Colorado may have retarded the team's development. And it happened arguably at Cory Joseph's expense.
Joseph could be the key to any post-season success. Yes, Jordan Hamilton's performance has been abysmal over the last four games, but Joseph's average may be just as damaging as Hamilton's abysmal.
Hope endures. We are not watching a re-run of 2009-10. That stretch was marked by lovely moments like Texas A&M 74, Texas 58, losses to a terrible Oklahoma, a home give-up against KU and--who can forget?--the twin Harlem Globetrotter exhibitions delivered by Baylor, where our average loss margin was 17 points in a five-day span.
This team has lost three recent games and all were winnable. Two were squarely on the coaching staff. It would be a shame to waste such a promising season. Although skipping the Baylor game is in our best long-term interests, we don't have that option (Baylor should win by 8 or 10).
But we do have the option of going back to what got us here. Can we right the ship without the benefit of an elite point guard? We never have before. But even with their recent struggles, I like this team. Unlike last season, I don't want this one to end.
I see losing to Baylor, two wins in the Big 12 Tourney, a four-seed and a Sweet Sixteen by the skin of our teeth (and a late J'Covan bomb against some poor bastard who thinks he has him covered).
And I see Cory Joseph playing a huge role. Make it rain, Cory.
What say you, BC?