Sorry this is so late. Someone mentioned that they were afraid I was passed out in a Mexican prison in Juarez. If you've met my wife, you know how ironic that assertion could be. In any event, I was able to finally watch the game late last night and here are some random thoughts on the tragedy.
The way Nebraska attacked the Horns coupled with how Texas countered, epitomized what is wrong with Barnes' squad. It's been talked about all year long, but never was the problem more apparent than this past Saturday afternoon. Thanks to the Huskers for making it crystal clear. No matter what the Longhorns do from one end of the personnel spectrum to the other, there's always huge downside. There's always a weakness that's easily exploitable. Always outs for the opposing team if that team has any sort of talent. If Texas goes big to take advantage of interior offensive superiority with Dexter Pittman inside, teams simply isolate the Big kid by taking him away from the bucket. If Texas tries to hide him with zone, the opponent exploits the lack of length on the perimeter and general misunderstanding of zone principles from a novice zone team. Put in shooters to shoot the opposing team out of the zone? The opponent just applies pressure because our shooters can't handle and our handlers can't shoot. It's frustrating but it's reality.
Another thing that stuck out was the lack of communication this Texas team displays. They don't seem to talk on defense. They don't huddle during dead balls. I counted one time I saw a non-bench dead ball huddle. Texas doesn't look like a team that likes each other. It might be a function of losing, but their lack of interaction with one another was striking.
Aside from general musings, the game itself was again an excercise in frustration. Texas did terrific work offensively when they attacked the basket and the glass. When they settled for jumpers they became a piss poor offensive basketball team. Rewatch the game from about the 8 minute mark on in the second half. Texas took two shots inside of 10 feet. One was a follow up dunk off of, shockingly, a deep jumper, and the other was a missed running floater by Abrams. Other than Gary Johnson, this was a tired team down the stretch. Texas didn't move well without the ball, they didn't cut hard, they didn't pass crisply. They did what tired players do which is take bail out jumpshots because it's the easy way out.
I'm not sure what we're doing in our press offense. You have what amounts to a one man press breaker in Dogus Balbay, the only player that can back dribble out of a trap or split a trap with any success, and you have him inbound the basketball? Why wouldn't you have Mason inbound it and have JM play the runner's role in the middle of the press since he becomes a significantly better ball handler when he catches the ball on the move heading to the basket. It's a gross misallocation of scarce ballhandling resources.
Speaking of gross. High ballscreens with players that can't shoot or turn the corner with elite quickness are an exercise in futility. At best they bleed precious shot clock seconds, and at worst they court turnovers if the defense decides to trap the ball screen. This is one of the reasons our offense in the final 5 minutes of the ballgame utilized the high ballscreen for AJ Abrams. He can shoot. Others can't.
Now, if you can tell me why the high ball screen for AJ Abrams was the entirety of our offense down the stretch, you'll receive a singned Connor Atchley "Go Big or Go Home" slumpbuster T-shirt. Connor hit his second 3 in conference play. Welcome back Connor.
Damion James once again settled for way too many jumpers eventhough Nebraska was guarding him with a 6-3 forward named Sek. In fairness to DJ, 5-7 guard Cookie Miller and 5-11 guard Steve Harley cast a pretty big shadow helpside.
Doge Balbay played well when he played aggressively. Daganduro played a one man zone when Texas took the ball out of Doge's hands down the stretch. Texas needs to start using Balbay as a screener when opposing defenders are playing him in the paint. This will open up some drive opportunities for the kid when his player comes out to hedge screens.
Mason needs to get more than 2 rebounds in a game like this. Nebraska is shooting jumpers which lead to long rebounds and on the other end, Mason is being blocked out by a shrimp. Justin's play was indicative of the entire team's performance. Texas lost the majority of loose balls and hustle plays. That's not a good sign for an ostensibly proud team that had lost two straight going into Saturday.
I think Barnes is making a huge mistake hammering Varez Ward for taking open jumpshots against a zone. Varez has a nice stroke and can certainly shoot it better than the team average of 26% from 3. Who else besides AJ Abrams do you want shooting the ball this year? Ward should have some chits left, don't you think?
Dexter Pittman once again played like a man amongst boys, and the game will get even easier for him next year with all the creative talent coming to the 40. The 4 fouls he was saddled with were about the cheapest 4 fouls I've ever seen called on a player. Officials are starting to anticipate fouls on Dex. They're reputation fouls and they're total bullshit. The Commissioner's office needs a copy of the tape. It didn't matter in the outcome of the game, but it might down the road.
Overall, an uninspired performance from a team that isn't talented enough to play uninspired and still win. We've hit rock bottom. But I'm out of jail