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Thoughts on the loss (Texas Longhorns @ Arkansas Razorbacks)

I don't know that I want to go in depth on this thing right now because I'm sick to my stomach. The first half played out exactly as expected. When Texas made the extra pass and got Arkansas a couple of help rotations deep into a shot clock, Texas got dunks and layups. When Texas took quick jumpers Arkansas got run outs and easy points. Defensively, Texas did a terrific job of keeping the Hogs out of the lane and limited point blank looks by Sanchez and Washington. Their defense stifled the Razorbacks for about the first 30 minutes of the game, and then Texas' sloppiness and lack of leadership on offense lead to some easy buckets on the Razorback end. But defensively, Texas did what they do.

The real problem is with lead guard play, in that Texas still doesn't have a player that can manufacture points when sets and motion are mucked up by a decent defense. And Arkansas was able to muck up Texas half court sets later in the game for a number of reasons which all stem from lack of a lead guard or creator. To further compound the problem, Texas' bigs picked inopportune times to miss easy bunnies and short arm 10 footers, but still, the fact that the Hogs were able to turn the game into an ugly one goes back to guard play or lack thereof.

Balbay, Ward, Abrams, and Mason are not the answer at PG. They're just not. I'm beginning to wonder if Balbay ever gets there. Not only does he shoot like Doug Gottlieb, but he can't finish at the rim when he's not out of control going to the hole to begin with. Watching Fortson play a one man zone against Balbay would have been high comedy if it wasn't so fucking tragic. It's mind boggling that some folks with solid basketball knowledge think he's the answer now or will be in the near future. Not only did he kill AJ Abrams getting any open looks tonight, but he single handedly killed our 4 out 1 in look that had worked well to get Pittman and Johnson deep pins down low. And defensively, Balbay struggled staying in front of Fortson. I'm just not seeing it for Balbay at this point in his career. On to the grades.

AJ Abrams
I thought he forced way too many shots down the stretch, but I can't blame him too much. Someone in the backcourt has to make plays in winning time and no one else is getting it done. AJ still needs to be more patient but a true point guard would be tonic to his problems.

Damion James
He played a terrific game up until the short armed floater and two horrible defensive efforts against Washington with under a minute. I'd like him to begin games slashing to the goal and not taking early 3's, but he was one of the few players that brought it tonight.

Justin Mason
I'll say it again, Mason is a stop gap at lead guard and God bless him for giving it his all. In crunch time he simply doesn't have the skill set to manufacture points unless he's able to make athletic moves to get to the rim. He's not going to force opposing guards to respect him from distance. He's not going be able to consistently get in the paint off the dribble. When he's attacking opposing wings and 2's he's fine. When good on ball defenders check him, he'll struggle. And it's not about his stat line, for chrissake. The question is, is he making plays and making other players better when shit gets bogged down. The answer is no.

Gary Johnson
Currently the best player on the team on both ends of the floor. I'm tempted to type about some of his forced shots but I can't. He needs to be aggressive in every thing he does. Tremendous effort by the young guy. He'll flourish when he's surrounded by two or three creators. And he has the basketball IQ to understand these creators will get him the ball if he continues to work for it.

Clint Chapman
Clint's lost, pure and simple. Barnes runs a survival of the fittest outfit. Draw your own conclusions.

The guy is thriving off the 4 out sets we're running. He's doing a tremendous job of pinning his man early and understanding post entry angles. That has always been the key to his game, understanding position. He already has plus hands, plus size, and plus athleticism. The understanding has always been what is missing. That and competent post entry passers. Dex is going to continue to get better, and the sky is the limit if and when we get creators on campus.

Dogus Balbay
My comments are posted above. Perhaps I'm being to harsh on Dogus, but to not have the confidence to raise up and hit an open 15 footer as a major college point guard is pathetic. Barnes cannot afford to have him on the floor if he continues to be a liability and source of help for defensive teams. His man was literally playing a one man zone guarding post players and cutters alike. Seriously, I haven't seen a defending pg play a one man zone in the paint on an opposing point guard outside of high school ball.

Varez Ward
He shows much more offense going to the rim than Balbay and his on ball defense isn't that big a drop off. Ward needs to find his stroke, but at least he's not afraid to pull when he's ridiculously unguarded.

I can't pin this on Barnes. It looked like he had the blueprint going until Arkansas turned the game into a scrum and forced Texas to win the game with creative guard play. He also can't make point blank layups for 6-8 jumping jacks and 6-11 bulls. His inability to have a bona fide PG on the roster isn't really his fault either. Augustin is in the NBA, and there's help on the way.

One team had a legit point guard and the other didn't. It didn't matter that Texas had more talent at the other 4 positions, when it came to winning time, one guy found shots for his team, while Texas settled for horrible shots in the second half.

Very disappointing loss.