One step forward. Two steps back. That's a pretty good description of Texas basketball over the last month. We knew the Horns would go through some growing pains with the addition of Gary Johnson and the transition from a 3 guard lineup to a more traditional group, but my Lord, there isn't really an excuse for getting shot out of the gym by an above average Mizzu club.
So without spending too much time on a game that makes me want to vomit up my spleen, I'll stick to some quick bullets.
• This team goes as far as Augustin and James take it. Period. If one has an off night, then one of the supporting members has to play out of his mind for Texas to get a win vs. good teams. Especially on the road. Well when Augustin goes 6-16 with 5 turnovers, then somebody other than Damion James has to go off. Nobody did. Abrams had his typical 8-17, Atchley had his Bill Wennington-esque 4-7, while Mason and Johnson played like walk-ons.
• Texas, at times, plays defense like it's being coached by Paul Westhead. Yes, the Loyola Marymount coach that would gladly trade a quick two so his team could go down and jack a quick 3. On Saturday, especially in the second half, the team demonstrated that it has no real sense of team concept, help and recover, sound man-to-man defense. Perhaps it's the addition of an inexperienced freshman starter, but whatever the case, Texas looked lost defending a good perimeter shooting team. I mean, wasn't that the scouting report. Get out on shooters like Lawrence, Lawrence, Hannah, and Horton. Close out aggresively and make them put it on the floor, funneling them to your superior frontcourt athletes and making them show a midrange game. Nope. Instead, we go under ball screens and scissor screes, don't hedge aggressively, and generally show a lack of attention in getting to and contesting shots. Perhaps Barnes should say f' it, throw up his hands and play zone.
• DJ Augustin can't be relied upon to carry this team every ballgame. Sooner or later Mason or Abrams needs to pick him up and play at a higher level than they've shown the last 3 or 4 games. Otherwise, DJ's going to hit a wall much like he did last year, regardless of how conditioned he is physically. He'll atleast be mentally exhausted come tourney time if his burden continues at this rate.
• Inside presence. We have to start getting something more substantial from 5 feet in. Either Texas fails to find open post players, or on that off chance the ball is entered to the post our big men are blowing bunnies. This needs to be addressed in practice because Texas can't continue to rely on winning ballgames from the perimeter. Sooner or later that catches up with you unless you're a great defensive or rebounding team. We're neither.
• It's a long season. Unlike football, you can afford to have a subpar night and still get an opportunity to right the ship. That oppurtunity comes to Texas in the form of a 3 game stretch against decent but not overly tough competition: vs. CU, at OK State, and home to Texas Tech. All very winnable games, but against competition that is capable of making Texas a better team. And, with the aggies coming up right after that 3 game stretch, it's a good time for Texas to make the necessary adjustments and improvements before a stiff challenge at TAMU.