I watched most of the Western Carolina game the other night and it reminded me of how hard guys play when they are trying to prove themselves. Everybody was playing so fast that they never seemed to get into any kind of rhythm.
This is to be expected at the beginning of the season and against an opponent that was clearly outmatched physically and athletically but played with a lot of heart.
To add to the chaotic pace, Barnes played 5 man rotations and never really let guys get through that adrenaline rush and calm down. I am sure this was planned as it is an opportunity for guys to earn their playing time in real game situations. A lot was made of chemistry in the preseason and you can see that chemistry is something that develops with trust. The fact that 4 guys scored in double figures, Dex had 9, and Jordan Hamilton had 5 with four missed 3’s confirms these guys understand that sharing the ball makes them hard to stop.
I like the way Brown handles the rock and he has a nice presence on the court. He is the Baby Face Assassin.
Dex looked athletic even when he was dunking after the whistle I was thinking that he and Melo had hit Jenny Craig and the gym hard this summer.
Hamilton is a physical specimen but needs to get to the rim and not settle for pull up 3’s. I want some Minwax your ass finishes from this guy.
For the Minwax your ass finish of the night see Sportcenter’s number 4 play of the night, Avery Bradley. That was Wade-Verrajaoesque nasty!
Gary Johnson plays hard and he can score even without the ball. He is our Junkyard Dog.
Damion James is a freakish athlete who shot the ball well and will be needed on the inside more as this season goes on to help Dex and Johnson. His leadership is what will make this team a national championship contender. He is averaging almost 20 a game but his rebounding and defense are what set the tempo for this team.
As the season goes on we are going to see minutes dry up for some of these guys. Mason, Balbay and Wangmene will lose minutes as Texas moves to an 8 or 9 man rotation. There are too many guys who play hard defense and can score that Barnes will be forced to play these guys against the better competition as they will need the offensive firepower to soften up defenses.
Barnes may have to get the ball into Bradley’s hands more if he wants him to score. Some guys aren’t good standing in the corner catching and shooting or coming off screens like Abrams. This may be something to watch for as Bradley was invisible except for the dunk which was one of the few times he had the ball in his hands that I could recall.
Overall, after two sub par opponents I think this Texas team is strong and I think it might take a while for them to really gel but the fact that they share the ball and have loads of athletic talent and good leadership still make me think we will be making a title run in March.