Do you like sound, disciplined half court defense? Do you like crisply executed half court offense with every player touching the ball inside and out before it's jacked? How about classic post play that plagues the other team with foul trouble and finds open looks for jump shooters? Do you like teams that play with competitive fire against a hated rival, with a dash of composure and poise thrown in for good measure? Then by golly this game was for you. Atleast if you're an aggie fan. If you're a Texas backer, I've got very little for you.
And frankly, I'm a bit embarrassed for the fact that I explicitly stated in the preview that Texas' defense could match up with TAMU's frontcourt. Hell, why wouldn't I? Baylor's undersized frontcourt did. So did OSU's. I really felt like the Aggies provided personnel that Texas' 3-guard look could handle without having to zone. Evidently Barnes felt the same way since he didn't zone at all, but that's an entirely different matter. Texas played the worst team defense I've seen them play since, well, Missouri. Hell, Missouri just shot the lights out and you tip your cap, but TAMU was getting all kinds open looks inside and out.
Runnin' the picket fence at a gym near you.
And, to make matters worse I predicted Texas' frontcourt quickness and perimeter game could force Turgeon to zone much more than he had all year. And I think Turgeon was prepared to go away from a traditional man defense based on the fact he showed some triangle and two in the first half. But it turns out that against our "roll the ball out on the court and play a Clark Field pickup game" offense Turgeon didn't need to do anything fancy. It's easy when the opposing team's offense is comprised of a high screen and roll or staggered screen set to AJ Abrams. No high post action against a slower front court. No cutters or quick ball reversal to take advantage of TAMU's overplaying of ball screens. If we're going to trot out 4 legit perimeter shooters in Abrams, Atchley, James, and Abrams, along with a slasher in Mason, we need to run some semblance on an offense designed to get those guys good looks in rhythm. I'd pattern it after Tennessee's. Otherwise, we need to reinvent ourselves and look longer term by getting these young post guys some game opportunities and minutes. Not 5-10 minutes where they're getting one or two opportunities in our "And 1 Mix Tape" Offense. Hell, Pittman looked like a future lottery pick last night. Where the hell has he been? Anyway, I'll get to that later. On to the grades.
DJ Augustin. C-.Look, if you're going to dominate the basketball and dribble around for 15 seconds every possession I'm going to need something a little better than 6-18. Oh and 2-9 from 3 and zero foul shots tells me you're spending way too much time on the perimeter. If he looks off another open post, especially when said post man is already 4-7 from the floor, I think my remote is toast. It's a shame DJ isn't allowed to have an off night, but it is what it is.
Damion James. D. Wow. James has 1 personal foul and plays 25 minutes and finishes with 4 points? On 1-6 shooting and 2-for-f*cking-7 from the foul line? That is absolutely horrendous especially considering Joe Jones and Brian Davis were guarding him. James either was hurt or he played scared. There is no other explanation. The only reason he doesn't get an F is he finished with a team high 7 rebounds. It's pathetic when a team leader disappears in a game of this magnitude, especially when he's beeing guarded by a guy with no cartilage in his knees.
Connor Atchley. D. I think it's time to come to the realization that Connor Atchley should be nothing more than a zone specialist. He gives you zero interior offense, he can't take slower big men off the dribble, and is a virtual non factor rebounding the basketball. Oh, and on defense he gets pushed under the basket like a true freshman. He's a player that needs to give up some minutes to the younger post players.
AJ Abrams. F. Let's face it. There are probably 100 AJ Abrams coming off the bench for Division 1 teams all across the country. Spot up shooting specialists or zone busters that do nothing but shoot, shoot, and shoot some more are a dime a dozen. Hell Texas has an extra one sitting on the bench. His name is JD Lewis. I think Lewis has played 1/10th of the minutes that Abrams has played, and has probably passed the ball twice as much. It's not that AJ Abrams is a bad player, he's just a bad defender, and bad ball handler with horrible shot selection. But he can shoot the ball really really well, when he's shooting it really really well. It's time Wangmene, Chapman, and especially Pittman got some of his 35 minutes per game if we're really serious about being a national power.
Justin Mason. D.Our defensive stopper couldn't guard Josh Carter and ends up fouling out. Not good. I thought Mason played hard and it was good to see him knock down a 3. But when your main responsibility is to lock someone down and he ends up dropping 19 on you on the way to fouling you out, it's tough to grade out well.
Gary Johnson. F.He looked absolutely outclassed. Again, I sound like a broken record, but any minutes he steals from Chapman, Wangmene, and Pittman is atrocious.
Wangmene. C+. Alex played hard and was active on both ends of the floor. He looked like one of the few guys that was interested in mixing it up with the big Aggie frontcourt. He's got to keep his composure after the whistle, but I don't blame him for retaliating. He thought Jordan intentionally bowed him and he was caught in the heat of the moment. Atleast the kid showed he came to play and that's more than a couple starters showed.
Clint Chapman. C. The kid needs more touches but he also needs to get stronger and that's fine. He was kind of outclassed physically in the game, but he didn't back down. Going forward, he's certainly a piece to the puzzle.
Dexter made himself some money vs. the ags.
Pittman. A+. My first A+ of the year and it's well deserved. Dexter played like a future first rounder and did it head up against a great frountcourt without being the focal point or beneficiary of any designed offense. As for numbers, big Dex went 4-7 from the field, 6-8 from the line, 7 boards, 5 f'n offensive rebounds, in only 14 minutes of action. Hell take away the candy ass flop by Jordan, and you can add two more via a drop-step dunk. And consider this, in his last 24 minutes of play, Dexter's been good for 21 points, 12 boards, and 11-13 on the foul line. Where's this guy been, folks? He needs minutes and he needs them now.
Lewis. A.Garbage 3, but good for him, trying to earn that scholarship.
Coaching. D- subject to regrade. Well, getting his ass kicked in College Station has become an annual event for Rick. The cute little jokes about Aggie are colorful, witty, and outside the box, especially when compared to the demeanor of other coaches on the 40 acres, but when you're getting rolled by 20 every year it loses its allure. Barnes got a lot of credit for getting his kids ready against Tech, but it shouldn't be hard to get up for the Aggies year in and year out. The kids, instead, came out flat especially on the defensive end and were physically beaten up by an Aggie team that wanted it more. There's no excuse for that. I can understand having a cold shooting night, but there is simply no excuse for being bludgeoned to death on the defensive end without any pushback. It's piss poor when the University of Texas fields a team of athletes that come out flat in this game.
The only reason the grade isn't an F is because Barnes seemed to pick up on the starters lack of emotion and played the young pups a hell of alot more than usual. Perhaps being down by 25 points clued in Rick. Still, making major personnel changes takes some stones when you're down 20 in the first half to your arch rival. Good for Rick. I hope he saw what a lot of us saw in that there are some kids on this team that deserve minutes at the expense of a couple starters. They deserve it because of their production on the floor. They deserve it because they're the future of Texas basketball and give the Horns their only legitimate chance of being a national power now and in the future. Hopefully we're talking about Pittman's first double double next week instead of how Abrams went 4-16 and Atchley went 3-8 in a loss to Baylor.