Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Texas hoops drops two in a row, losing to the basketballers of Troy.
Inexperience and stubborn coaching gone done this team in again. Up two points with a minute to go, the Texas Longhorns inexplicably run a possession offense. Felix dribbles the ball for 30 seconds, while Texas head coach Rick Barnes graciously declines to call a timeout to set up a play for his stagnant offense.
Felix panics, and hoists up a last-second shot that gets blocked. The remaining Longhorns unsurprisingly miss assignment basketball and transition D, giving up a fast-break slam to J.T. Terrell. Tie game, timeout called.
It makes sense to set up Texas for the last play of the game. It makes no sense to keep the ball in the hands of Felix and not distribute to your best scorer, Sheldon McClellan. Julien Lewis, who shot just 32.4% from 3-point range last year and was 2-12 to-date this year, misses the 3 to win. In a tie ballgame. Overtime.
By that point, I was disgusted enough that I had to pause the DVR before watching the final five minutes in which I was sure the Longhorns would lose.
The USC Trojans aren't nearly as talented as Texas, and that the box score matched up basically even between the two teams is an indictment of how mediocre the Longhorns are right now. Texas had 5 more turnovers than USC, 3 more fouls, and 4 less offensive rebounds. It resulted in USC attempting 10 more field goals (making 2 more), and 6 more free throws (making 2 more). In a game Texas lost by 6, that's a big deal.
- Although the rebounding margin was even, I really see only two plus rebounders at their position. Jonathan Holmes is a beast, and Javan Felix is an elite rebounder for a 5' 10" guy. Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh have little concept of things like "blocking out" and "high point." Sheldon McClellan's 7 boards were an asset; he had 5 in the 3 previous games combined.
- This team misses Jaylen Bond. Connor Lammert isn't ready at all, and Bond would actually be a great junkyard dog next to Ridley. Ibeh is a thoroughly mediocre rebounder and a zero on offense, which makes an Ibeh-Holmes pairing kind of a good idea. I have no idea why Ibeh played virtually the whole overtime over Ridley.
- Not to continually pick on Ibeh, who is a fantastic leaper and has good shot anticipation. He registered 4 blocks, which sounds low, and altered quite a few more attempts. But other than that one elite talent, Ibeh is a negative at virtually every other aspect of the game. He can't defend the post block, he's slow at going after rebounds, he can't seal low post screens on offense, and can't do anything other than dunk. He played 24 minutes, had 2 rebounds, and 0 points.
- Ibeh, Ridley, Felix and Ioannis Papapetrou all look like freshmen that will turn out to be good to great collegiate players. In fact, they remind me of players that teams like Kansas or Syracuse will sign, stash, and see blossom as sophomores and juniors. Naturally, Texas relies on them heavily.
- Javan Felix continues to impress me. Thrust into a difficult situation, he's arguably been the Longhorns' most valuable player this year. He's playing 90% of available minutes and is a good rebounder and passer. He reminds me of a D.J. Augustin who can't shoot and is two quick-twitches slower. I wish he were learning behind Myck Kabongo.
- There's no reason why Texas' only credible scoring threat should start the game on the bench.
- So you're telling me that Rick Barnes recruited 10 guys who can't create their own shot? Of course. Since the Augustin/Kevin Durant class, Texas has had two complete scorers: Jordan Hamilton and J'Covan Brown. McClellan might get there one day, but he's not there yet. This is going to kill Texas in crunch times.
- Fun with small sample sizes: McClellan and Lewis have combined for 28 2-point attempts and 28 3-point attempts. They're hitting 57.1% from inside the arc; 21.4% from outside. Guess which shots they should be taking more of. I know BON's Jeff Haley will disagree.
- The best way I can put it: the game is simply going too fast for the freshmen. They're late on entry passes, on swinging the ball around on the flex cuts and screens, on taking the open jumper, on stepping into the lane as a help defender, on blocking out, on hustling after the ball. On pretty much every aspect of the game, really.
- It'll get better.
- But probably not before it gets worse.