Well, the long awaited debut of Gary Johnson took place in a weird 4 pm time-slot yesterday vs. the Horned Frogs. And you know what? The team played weird. Lackluster. Lackadaisical. Lethargic. Pick your adjective. Give TCU credit, they came out and shot the eye out of the ball, and would have come away with a shocking victory if it wasn't for the virtuoso performance of Damion James. And James was just about the lone bright spot in yesterday's performance.
What's to like
Damion James. He played like a bonafide Mickey D's all american yesterday, showing a floor game that I've yet to see in his brief career at Texas. I was one of his biggest detractors in terms of him being a true wing player going into the year, but if he can duplicate his effort yesterday, I'm a believer. He showed the midrange game of a seasoned 3 man, putting the ball on the floor as well as catching and shooting.
More surprising, was the ease and comfort he displayed in shooting the 3 ball going 3 for 3 from beyond the arc in the first half with the same form and flow he was taking in all his jumpers. What I mean by that is you'll notice bigs who shoot the 3 as a nuance will "wind up" or slow down their shot through the release when shooting it from deep. Not Damion. He caught the ball and had the same tempo on his 3's as he did with his other shots. If he can stay legit from distance, he'll make this Texas offense much more dynamic in a half court setting.
Gary Johnson Just to see him on the court was a bright spot to my eyes. You can see the effort on both ends of the floor, but understandably, he was just a bit out of synch on offense. Once he gets his timing, though, look out. His jumper looks much better than it looked in high school, and he seems to play with confidence with his back to the basket. Something this team needs desperately.
Game conditioning is certainly not there yet, as we didn't see his trademarked ferocious rebounding, but from the looks of it, it's just a matter of time. And it wasn't Kansas on the floor either. Did I mention this was a 4 pm Wed. game vs. TCU in the morgue? I'm excited to see him ball against good teams that will get after him.
What's not to like
The team as a whole. Hopefully the Horns have just hit a mini-slump what with finals, the Holidays, and coming off back to back emotional games, because they looked listless for most of the contest. Granted TCU shot the ball extremely well, but the Horns weren't contesting these shots as aggressively as elite defensive teams attack shooters. Especially shooters that have proved time and time again to be threats. Perhaps it was the 4 pm start, but I really expected to see a more emotional basketball team after the poor performance this Saturday.
Connor Atchley. More concerning is the play of Connor Atchley who seems to have regressed from being absolutely stellar to begin the season. He doesn't look like he's playing with a whole lot of confidence, and if he's not careful he'll lose minutes to Johnson and perhaps even Pittman if he doesn't come out of his funk. Connor simply needs to give this team something offensively for it to be a threat nationally or even in the Big 12. Whether that something is running the floor for easy layups and open 3's in transition, to some sort of interior game in a half court setting. We can't affort to have senior contributors regress right before conference play. This team isn't deep enough.
Chapman/Wangmene. They seem to have hit a wall. Getting nothing from them against an outmanned TCU interior is just unacceptable. Kudos to Barnes for playing Mooney and Lewis at their expense.
Overall, there wasn't much to get excited about, other than James' play, Johnson's debut, and getting a win. If Texas plays like this against a good St. Mary's team this Saturday they'll get beat plain and simple. Hopefully we'll see a more fired up team this weekend proving that this 3 game stretch is just a lull in the schedule.