I have seen the enemy and the enemy is...UT Pan American? No, not really, especially when viewed in the context of a 104 to 42 drubbing versus the juggernaut from The Valley.
Sorry if you were getting the 61.5, what a bad beat. But seriously, it's tough to find fault in this type of game, but I wouldn't feel I was doing my job if I wasn't finding fault and in my opinion there was only one and it's going to be exposed when we play good clubs.
For the millionth time, you cannot have Dogus Balbay and Justin Mason on the floor at the same time unless you're a) willing to pressure the entire floor and turn the game into a track meet and b) willing to give up possessions when you're forced into running your halfcourt offense. Look, I know Pan Am was severely outmatched in this little University of Texas System tilt, but when we had Mase and Balbay on the floor they were able to compete to an extent. And they were able to compete against this very personnel group because they did what any smart ball club is going to do with a five that includes Mason and Balbay. They turned us into a perimeter team. In Jim Valvano fashion Pan Am came out with a triangle and two that marked James and Bradley and then packed the paint to take away Pittman. The result? In the opening five and half minutes of play, Texas gets six points.
Sub in Hamilton for Mason, and the devastation ensues.
Again, we won by 62 points, but good teams like Carolina and Michigan State are going to punish this personnel group, but they won't punish it with being competitive, they'll punish it with 8-0 runs. And they probably won't need to take drastic measures like triangle and 2 or box and 1, they'll simply soften up their perimeter man looks, and identify the only 2 shooters, Bradley and James. Everything else is about dissuading entry passes and cutting off driving angles. You know, YMCA type stuff. Then we'll put in Hamilton or Brown and look like a final four team again.
Sorry for beating the dead horse, but watch for how inept we'll look for stretches this Saturday and next Tuesday against the Tar Heels and Spartans.
On to the players in a game that amounted to an orgy of scoring and confidence building that saw Andrew Dick get into the boxscore for the first time in his college career.
Just a man among boys on the glass when he was in the game. I imagine this is what Fort Worth Dunbar feels like when they're playing El Paso Hanks.
Smart move by Rick to rest Big Dex with two titans on the scheduling horizon. Plus Pitt's presence on the floor was damn near unfair evidenced by his 5-7 in twelve minutes. I'd rather he have fresh legs for Davis and Thompson than a 20 and 10 stat line.
Just a stat sheet stuffing ho hummer for Doge that included a confidence building 3 ball to go along with 9 assists and 3 steals. He's the true glue guy on this team and if he finds his range at some point in the season look out.
The guy is so smooth on the offensive end that to the untrained eye he comes off as lazy or lackadaisical. He's not. He's got a control and confidence about his offensive game that reminds me of Chauncey Billups or Rip Hamilton. But Jordan's 6-7. Two real good signs tonight for Hamilton were his willingness to distribute the ball on offense and dive for loose balls on defense. It tells me he feels like he belongs and not in the sense of just being on the floor, hell he belongs on any floor. But in the sense that he feels like he belongs on the team as a core component to winning ball games. When superstars start doing little things like rotating the ball on the perimeter and diving into benches for loose balls, it shows buy-in to the team concept. Tips of the cap to both Rick and Jordan for that.
I've been preaching all season that Avery is at his best and by default Texas is at its best, when Bradley hunts his offense. He's too good a shooter and too good an athlete not to take 15 shots per game. The more he shoots the better because unselfishness is already in his DNA as a ballplayer. He's never going to be a black hole. When he and Hamilton are running on all cylinders offensively, Dogus Balbay sleep walks to double digit assists. For Bradley, this statline is a benchmark for the rest of the season. 8-15 shooting, 2-6 from 3, 5 assists. Next step is to get to the cup to draw some fouls. And that comes with shooting credibility.
Great game for Gary on a 5-8 night. Problem is UT Pan Am is wheelhouse for GJ in that they're tiny. If GJ goes 5-8 in the next few games it's news. But we'll need Johnson's A game considering the frontcourts coming up.
If you're looking for an early X factor in the UNC and MSU tilts, Alexis is your guy. Texas is going to need a third rebounder and big defender to go along with Pittman and James against the Heels and certain personnel groups vs. Michigan State. If Alexis' game continues the trend it's on, Texas fans should be smiling ear-to-ear. The junior power forward has found a little mean streak to go along with his strength and athleticism.
He'll be counted on to give the Horns a perimeter defensive presence in the coming weeks. Offensively, he can still get to the rack and pull a big board if he's playing with the right personnel. I bet Justin's hoping for a speedy recovery out of J'Covan Brown for that very reason.
Hill is going to get significant minutes against UNC and for good reason. He's playing with tons of confidence on both ends and his aptitude for providing helpside as a big is simply better than Dex at this point.
I need to see this type of confident performance against a quality squad, but I wouldn't count Chapman out just yet. He's too talented. His problem is between his ears.
Based on the opponent, I hardly call this a watershed moment, but there were certainly a bunch of individual positives to take away from last night's ballgame. It was a tune up game in every sense of the word, and a good one at that. On to Arlington to face the Heels.