Gonna watch this two o'clock tip with great interest. This will be the first true test of Texas' guard play because St. Joe's is a guard oriented squad that has the ability to give Texas fits on the perimeter. The problem for the Hawks is they struggle on the glass, yet aren't deep enough to get in a track meet with Texas. Look for St Joe's to try to dominate tempo by mixing and matching man and zone defensively, and running possessions deep into the shot clock offensively. Evidently the oddsmakers like St Joe's to be competitive because the Horns are just 8 point favorites in the game. Here are some random thoughts.
Will Texas press and if so will they press with big personnel? It's tough to press a three guard offense especially if you want to go big in the front court. But with St. Joe's propensity to turn the ball over, Texas should atleast press in spurts. Plus, St Joe's basically goes 8 deep and Texas can really impose its will by pressing in spots to emphasize the depth advantage, which leads to the next thought.
Texas' advantage will be huge along the frontcourt. The Hawks have been outrebounded badly in their first two games against Holy Cross and Rider. I'd love to see a heavy dose of Atchley, Pittman, and James eating glass today. Pound and play volleyball.
Can Texas' guards force tempo? Defensively Texas can pressure and try to get St Joe's to speed up, but offensively it might be difficult because the Horns lack players that can create offense off the dribble. If I'm Barnes I'm telling my guards to break when easy buckets are available, but running offense to get my posts involved should be of paramount importance given the Hawks like of size and depth. The worst thing the Horns can do is artificially speed up the game with poor shot selection and quick shots. Either get a layup or wide open 3 in transition, or slow up and run offense. In between is exactly how St Joe's wants you to play.
Foul shooting. Hopefully it doesn't come into play this game, but Texas runs the risk of poor foul shooting becoming psychological if they continue to struggle at the line this early in the season. Hit 20 out of 25 today, and it's less likely to get in the collective heads of the Longhorn players. Hit 15 out of 25 and the Horns might start to grip. Foul shooting is not only important today, but down the road when Texas needs them vs. the big boys.
I'll be back with a game breakdown this afternoon.