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Texas Basketball vs. Minnesota Post Mortem

I'm going to give this a tournament feel with a quick synopsis of what went down vs. the Gophers. Hell, boys, we have a full practice tomorrow morning and then a Saturday morning walk through before facing Duke. And for those of you that don't think we need to pack a lunch, the Devils have currently drawn 7 fouls, five minutes into their game vs. Binghamton. Dexter Pittman better brush his teeth.

This'n is an easy one to write up. The game turned on one thing defensively and one thing offensively. On offense, AJ Abrams just went off. Now Dex Pittman and Damion James kept us within striking range until AJ found his stroke, but AJ's 4 threes in a two minute span was the difference. The kid just has to be ecstatic to get out of conference. Hopefully the rims stay big when we play the Devils.

On defense, Texas was making the game far too easy on the Gophers because we extended our defense 30 feet from the bucket in the first half. This led to easy penetration looks for the Gophers when they really didn't deserve any respect shooting the basketball. In the second half, Texas went to a softer M2M that enticed jumpshots from the Gophers. Since Texas is more athletic, they were able to get into Minnesota's jumpers and bother the Gophers deep attempts. This allowed the Horns to pull away.

On the glass, it wasn't close. Dex Pittman just dominated the boards like a one man wrecking crew.

AJ Abrams
He's the Alan Parsons Project of Texas Basketball. Sometimes he irritates the hell out of you, and other times he adds the unexpectedly good ambiance to the perfect situation. I'll sum up my feelings aobut his play with a couple of lyrics from APP's Eye in the Sky, "Don't say words you're going to regret, don't let fire rush to your head, I've heard the accusation before, and I ain't gonna take anymore believe me, the sun in your eyes, make some of your lies worth believing."

Unbelievable 8-15 from deep for 26 points and 3 steals. He can be a difference maker out of conference when scouting reports are more guidelines than hard and fast rules.

Damion James
His two 3's were fool's gold that led to too many deep jumpers. Make no mistake, when Damion went to the rack he was unstoppable. But fool's gold ain't bad when it happens early in the ball game and you can head it off before you get under your season average shooting percentage. Damion was the most athletic player on the floor and his 9 big boards were proof positive.

Connor Atchley
Connor had some very productive minutes with a flush, a couple nice defensive plays, and 4 big boards in ten minutes. He can be a viable weapon on this team. What does he have to lose at this point?

Justin Mason
His assignment tonight was to defend and rebound, and he did a nice job. We're going to need this kid against Smith and company for Duke.

Gary Johnson
Really tough night for Gary. It seems like he's feeling his way back into the flow of the game. We'll need him against Henderson and Singler on Saturday.

Dogus Balbay
For a kid that had his best shooting night this year, Dogus had a rough game. His 4 turnovers really hurt the ball club, but not more than his unwillingness to shoot. Teams continue to go under ballscreens for Dogus, even when they're made 15 ft. from the bucket. Balbay needs to attack the basket or shoot the ball, otherwise he's hurting his teammates, specifically Dexter Pittman. Balbay can't continue to be a source of help. He needs to be aggressive.

Varez Ward
Ward is your unheralded MVP. He came in and was a steadying influence at the point guard position. Not only did Varez spread the floor by garnering respect as shooter from the Gophers, but he also attacked the rim frequently, drawing fouls and getting easy buckets. Tough kid who had 4 assists and just 1 turnover.

Clint Chapman
Gonna need you Saturday Clint. With all those high ball screens and North Carolinian Duke whistles. Gonna need all 5 of your big fouls. Keep battling partner.

Dexter Pittman
My man. Best player on this team on a night to night basis. He's swimming up stream and still dropping double doubles on all comers. Again, if he played on a team with 3 legit perimeter players, he'd average at least 3 dunks, 25 points, and 12 boards a night. We'd all be singing songs about him. Even making lemonade out of lemons, Dex was 7-12, had 11 boards, and 17 points. He's sick.

Tip your hat to Rick for making a huge defensive adjustment in the second half. Instead of pressuring the Gophers, Barnes gave Minnesota enough halfcourt offensive rope to hang themselves. Texas went on their run when they just focussed on staying in front of Nolen, Westbrook, and Johnson, and made Minny shoot the basketball into the contesting arms of the Longhorn athletes. When Barnes made this tweak, Tubby didn't have a prayer.

Great game for the Horns. Now let's go rock those pretentious pricks from Durham.