Maybe it's because I kind of expected it, you know the trap road game. Maybe it's the fact that I had to watch this game in a waiting room at Texas Children's Hospital. Or, perhaps it's because the purist in me knows that sometimes the game of basketball comes down to ringing the bell. When you're not ringing it and the other guy is, more often than not you lose. I suspect it's a combination of all the above reasons that this loss in Lubbock didn't bother me near as much as the loss at TAMU or the loss in Columbia. Hell, losing on a buzzer beater at home in a game you controlled for 39 minutes vs. Wisconsin was much tougher to swallow.
So what to do now? First, I hope everyone has read Scipio's Lubbock Lobotomy thoughts because it sums up nicely and is funny as shit. And for a different perspective, these cats have a really good recap of the contest. For this piece, I propose we talk briefly about why we lost and then move on to the next game, which thankfully in college basketball usually comes a few short days later. On to the grades.
DJ Augustin. B.I won't pretend that DJ wasn't an integral part to the comeback and we certainly get rolled by twenty if he has an "off" night. Hell, overlooking a 13-24 game from a guard is just plain idiocy. But good grief man, take care of the basketball and distribute and maybe we wouldn't need a two minute double digit comeback. I thought DJ shot exceptionally well but the 3 assists to 6 turnovers not only gave Tech some easy buckets, but it also indicates DJ's utter failure to get other players involved. Which, in case you hadn't noticed, is one of the more important jobs of a lead guard.
Damion James. B-. Hey, it happens, especially on the road. Tough shooting nights are part of the territory when you go into a hostile environment. Duke loosens the rims at Cameron, Georgetown tightens theirs. But it was dissapointing to watch James play passive on both ends of the floor. There were opportunities to get to the rim against slower Tech defenders, and defensive rebounds that Damion didn't fight for leading to a couple key offensive rebounds in the second half. The fact that Trevor Cook attempted 3 times as many foul shots as James is borderline pathetic.
Connor Atchley. C. After his performance in Manhattan you had to expect Connor Atchley to come back to Earth. And boy did he, getting into early foul trouble which limited him to just 24 minutes. Still, getting 2 points on just 3 shot attempts vs. an outmanned Tech frontcourt is horrid. Connor's rebounding gets him the gentleman C.
AJ Abrams. C. I thought AJ took a step back in his shot selection that had been consistently good for the bulk of the win streak. AJ had some hurried 3's, but even worse were the midrange floaters and runners he forced when Tech had a large lead. The seasoned veteran panicked in some offensive situations when he didn't need to. His defense on the ball was good, but his soft perimeter rotation enable Tech to get some easy looks from deep.
Justin Mason. A.Mason had a decent game defending Martin Zeno, holding Tech's star to under 50% shooting and a below average 15 points for the game. Zeno did find teammates for 6 assists but that had more to do with sluggish Longhorn help side defense and rotation. On offense, Mason might have had his most efficient game of the year going 5-8 including 2-3 from deep. His corner 3 to cut the game to 1 point could have been the difference had the Horns handled the game situation better on the next possession. All and all, a great performance for Mason.
Gary Johnson. D.Gary competed like he does every minute he's on the floor, but his inefficiency offensively and brutal time/score gaffe give him a D. First off, Gary needs to shoot at a higher percentage then he's shown so far, or he needs to adjust to what constitutes a good shot for him. I get the fact that sometimes you'll have an off shooting night, but a player has to adjust to that and either get to the goal or get to the foul line. The foul he committed when Texas had decided to play defense down only 1 point is inexcusable. Barnes repeatedly yelled not to foul during the stoppage in play and Gary wasn't listening. You hate to say it, but that probably cost us the game. Tough break that should be a lesson learned for the young freshman.
Wangmene. B+. Four boards in four minutes is pretty damn hard to accomplish. You have to wonder what Alexis did to not merit more than a few possessions of floor time. He was a physical mismatch for any Tech frontcourt player, and I think Wangmane could have made a much bigger difference in the game had he gotten more minutes.
Clint Chapman. B+. Clint looked very comfortable in his 7 minutes, getting to the foul line and then finding teammates for 2 assists. If you're counting at home that's 1 less than the team leader. Like Alexis, you have to wonder why he didn't merit minutes over some other front court players that didn't really show up for the game.
Pittman. Incomplete. When it looked like Texas was playing sluggish ball on both ends, this would have been a great time to try to establish Dex down low. Obviously Knight hadn't prepared for Dex, but it would have also benefited Texas by sending a message to a lackadaisical front court. Hide Pittman in a zone if you have to and give our guys a break chasing motion cutters all day.
Coaching. B-. Games like this happen. Duke survived a one point win on the road at NC State. UNC escaped with a 1 point victory at Virginia. Memphis was down 7 or 8 late in the game at Southern Mississippi. Sometimes you can't throw it in the ocean. Sometimes your kids have heavy legs and don't defend. Sometimes the guy you're playing comes out with a bad case of redass. And, as it turns out, sometimes all of those bad things are against you, the opponent shoots 30 more foul shots, and you still get a good last second look at a 3 to tie the thing up. That is basketball.
The only gripes I have with Barnes are the lack of playing time for the young guys like Chapman and Wangmene. And the inability to get Charlie Burgess a 67% foul shooter or John Roberson, a true freshman, on the foul line. Hell, anybody but Voskuil. It's as easy as playing a forward deep, doubling Voskuil on the inbounds pass, and allowing the other two to catch with a foul given quickly. I bet it's something we'll work on this week. As for the Johnson foul, Barnes can't really do anything else. GJ just needs pay attention to time and score.
In any event, it's a game in which the Longhorns should have been run out of the gym. And they weren't. Despite doing virtually nothing right for 35 minutes of the game, they were able to get the game down to one possession, and nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It's a loss that should serve them well come tourney time. It's a loss that certainly hurts, but still has a bright side.