Sorry, but I've been tied up in Wisconsin for the last few days. It's fucking cold and Packer fan is walking around with a puffed out chest after the win against Dallas. Miserable.
As for the game against the Anteaters, I wouldn't get too carried away with the lopsided win. First, I'm not sure Irvine has a kid on the squad that can dunk. Seriously. They remind of a six foot and under squad playing in the Greek Intramural League at UT. Secondly, the first 10 minutes or so showed some chinks in the armor worn by pups like Brown and Bradley. They'll take some time to settle in, but they'll need to take better care of the basketball when playing the Big Dogs on the schedule.
On to some player thoughts.
Avery Bradley. If he's not already, he's going to be the most dynamic player on the floor. Quickness for days. Amazing floor speed with the ball in his hands. Midrange game is already All-American quality. Even better news, especially in the context of this team, is that Avery doesn't need to dominate the ball to be good. He can play off the ball and stuff statsheets on both ends. Great debut.
J'Covan Brown. His talent was never in doubt, but his mental state is something to keep an eye on. And if this Sunday's ballgame is an indication of things to come for J'Covan in this department, we probably don't have anything to worry about on this front going forward.
J'Covan's reaction to the game adversity in the following situations vs. Irvine should prove to be very instructive as the season wears on and things heat up. First test was Brown being cheapshotted in the backcourt with an illegal ball screen set by Irvine's center. I fully expected Brown to retaliate with a cheap loose ball foul letting his temper get the better of him. I didn't happen. Not only did he not retaliate, but he switched to the center during the possession, played unbelievable post defense in the mismatch, forced a miss by the center, and then boxed out and pulled the board.
Minutes later, Brown took an inadvertent chicken wing right in the nose. Again, I was looking for some freshman retaliation. Nada.
And finally, at the half, walking to the locker room, Brown was on the receiving end of an ass chewing from Barnes for not getting the team into their set for the final possession of the half. Not a flinch by the frosh guard. He took the chewing and played great the rest of the way. Solid, solid start for the kid, and I'm not talking about numbers.
Damion James. I've mentioned it several times on the site, but Damion James is going to Mike Mamula his way into the first round of the draft because he's going to put up ungodly shooting percentage numbers as a result of the talent around him. He's a great finisher and a great rebounder, so it wasn't surprising to see him go 7-9. The two threes were just icing on the cake.
Dexter Pittman. Who told you he'd average 4-5 dunks per game and shoot 70%? Watching him against Irvine reminded me of Gulliver's Travels.
Justin Mason. I'm from Missouri until I see him against a team with athletes that can keep him in front and make him a perimeter oriented player. I still expect him to play the role of defensive stopper when the competition improves.
Varez Ward. Junk yard dog tough with a nice offensive game to boot. He's a nice answer to have on both ends if and when the younger guards ever wet the bed during the season.
Shawn Williams. Love his length and athleticism. He gives the Horns a nice option in the Boddicker/Atchley pick and pop role if he can continue to guard and rebound effectively as a front court player. Still rail thin and needs to hit the weights, but he's in the perfect program for that.
Jordan Hamilton. He's the sizzle to the Longhorn steak. No pun intended. He's a feathery jumpshooter with plus athleticism, but what impresses me most about his game is that he has the ball on a string when he's handling. He may be the best pure ballhandler on the team outside of Dogus, and that's a great option to have when teams try to pressure the Horns. Teams like Michigan State and Kansas. Quick, name a small forward that can turn this cat over. Hell, name the small forward that can defend him on the perimeter.
Doge Balbay. The kid has to be smiling from ear to ear when he looks at all the finishers he's surrounded with. He can sleep walk to 6 assists per game on this club. Still needs more shooting credibility to get increased minutes, but he certainly has a solid role with solid minutes. On ball defensive wizard that will be huge when we face Collins and Lucas.
Alexis Wangmene. He's your banger and frontcourt defensive specialist to take pressure off Pittman. Love to see his offensive game get back to where it was two years ago.
Team. Loved the waves of players, pressure defense, trapping fullcourt press off of made FT's, and general uptempo style. We need to maximize the number of possessions with pace in most games, and then rely on our superior interior game when playing the elite squads. Tune up tomorrow and then we'll face our first decent competition of the year with a game against Iowa.