That was one of the most physical basketball games I have seen in a long time.
It made the Michigan State game look like a Swedish massage. I am glad Texas decided to join the party in the second half.
Let's get straight to the breakdown.
Dogus Balbay - Unfortunately for Texas, there are some games where Dogus is a liability. A&M did not guard him. He caused a de facto double team on Pittman anytime he was in the game. We were only effective with him in the game when Pittman was out of the game late. He has to shoot the ball. Shooting is not haram, Dogus! Even if he misses, teams will guard him a little closer if they think he will pull the trigger. His defense on Donald Sloan late was a key to the win though.
Justin Mason - Starting the game with Mason and Dogus wastes our ability to establish Dexter Pittman early. For whatever reason, Mason is no longer an elite defender. He is rarely aggressive on offense. There is no logical explanation for starting him or playing him with Dogus ever. Sweet drive and dunk though.
Avery Bradley - Avery couldn't get his shot to fall early and lost his aggressiveness against the Aggie physicality. He came back late in the game to play some good defense. We need AB to start hunting his offense more. If I were Barnes, I would give him some time at the point just to get the ball in his hands more often. He needs to dunk the ball with two hands on the final possession of the second half.
Dexter Pittman - Dex probably played his worst game in two years. The officiating has taken a toll on his physical aggressivicality (Publisher's Note: That is not a word!) (Author's Note: Go fuck yourself) in the post, and he didn't get the memo that he could bang until late in the game. I haven't gotten the memo that I could bang in about 347 days, but that is a completely different story. Of course, when you are getting double and triple teamed more than Jenna Haze before you get the basketball it is hard to be very productive.
Damion James - After a first half where nothing fell for Damian, he throws up 23 points in the second half and overtime. The rest of the team had 22 after the half. There was a poll on the espn.com home page this week asking who was the player of the year to this point in the season. There were four options. None of these was Damion James. One of them was Luke Effing Harangody. Jon "Varez Ward Owns My Ass Like People in Prison Own Ass" Scheyer made the cut. This is a fucking crime. I know the Texas athletic department doesn't go in for the campaigning for players bit because We're Texas and fuck you, but we should be launching a nationwide campaign to all the voters right now. This kid deserves it. We are fucking 17-0 and #1 in the land and the best player and heart and soul of this basketball team isn't even getting a sniff at the award right now. Nobody in the country is playing better basketball right now than Damian James.
I think the biggest change in Damian's game this year has been his ability to finish at the rim with both hands. Before now, it was a dunk or nothing. Now he is killing people with the dribble drive with his left and right hand and killing his bunnies. In fact, the whole team is killing the bunnies better than they have in the last few years.
The other change in his game is that he is letting the game come to him. In years past he looked like he was putting long division type mental effort into everything. I think this kid has been trying to play for a check for three years to take care of his family. This year though he looks like he is relaxed and just playing basketball. He knows the pros are going to happen after this final year of basketball no matter what, so he is just playing. Damion has been a joy to watch for his entire time at Texas, but he has been particularly delightful this year. He is one of my favorite Longhorns ever.
J'Covan Brown - Texas needed someone that wasn't going to back down, and J'Covan is always going to be that guy to a fault. His 5 point outburst to end the half and his runner in the lane to tie it late were enormous plays in this game. He did a hell of a job keeping Dash Harris in front for most of the game.
Gary Johnson - The other player that did not back down was Gary Johnson. He kept us in contact in the first half and his intensity eventually bled over to the other guys on the defensive end. Gary is back to the form from before his injury last year when he was our most effective player. Another note on Gary, I watched him shoot a couple dozen three pointer in warm ups. He looked really good. He has changed his release on free throws and long jumpers to help him get more arc on his jump shot. I predict we see GJ have a similar senior year to Damian where he really develops his outside game in mismatches against traditional fours and at the three when Barnes wants to go big.
Jai Lucas - In some defense of Lucas in the late game possession, he was trying to get the ball to one of our wings, but A&M had them covered up, and then they all decided to stand still and watch him dribble. I don't know why he panicked and took that shot, but he did have to try to make something happen there because he was getting zero help. The main problem with Jai is that he is an easy guard because of his size and he gives the other team a rest defensively. Even though he does a good job staying in front of his man, he does not pressure people well and our other players tend to lose their aggressiveness at both ends when we aren't pressuring the basketball well.
Lexi Wangmene - Lexi had a tough assignment today against Brian Davis. He is just not a very good post defender. He did do an excellent job pressuring the ball on the screen roll. Lexi's biggest problem is catching the basketball. I don't know how you fix that. We need to send him and Malcolm Williams to a doctor or something
Jordan Hamilton - Jordan still has not figured out where to drive in the Barnes offense. I am getting annoyed watching him call for the ball constantly from the opposite side of the court. Hamilton desperately needs a pull up jumper in his game, because his weak one handed runners are ineffective and effeminate. I don't see this being easy for him to develop because of his long, slow, and relatively low release. If he were a white, deified, jorts wearing, virgin football player, he would be Tim Tebow.
A few other tidbits
At one point towards the end of the first half, Gary Johnson took a rebound and started dribbling up the court for no apparent reason. A good reason would be something like, "They were denying all the guards," or "I had a shot at a breakaway," or "I hate Rick Barnes and want to give him apoplexy." None of these appeared to be true. Both Jai Lucas and J'Covan Brown were verbally and demonstratively calling for the ball on either side of Gary. Gary turned to yell something very much like, "shut the fuck, up" to Jai and threw the ball to J'Covan without breaking stride. I don't know what this means, but it was odd.
I love scalping tickets. I got mid court eleventh row for forty bucks. I am awesome.
Donald Sloan was a fucking man tonight.
Dogus started talking Ataturk smack to Donald Sloan late in the game. It seemed to really bother Sloan. We need more of this. We need it on tape. Sailor dispatched Henry James to stealthily attach a hidden voice recorder inside the stitching of Balbays jersey with the words, "Pretend you are going to rufie a chick, but instead use your considerable skill and trickeration to mike up Balbay."
Henry James' response: "[blank stare fades into a glimmer of glee] Uhh, but I can, uhh, rufie the Doge for afters, right?"
Sailor Ripley: "DO NOT RUFIE THE DOGE! DO NOT RUFIE THE DOGE!"
Henry James: [hang dog mumbling]
Sailor: "If you are a good monkey, you may rufie Trips. Anal soreness aside, I think he rather likes it."
Henry James skips away gleefully.
Dexter Pittman and Lexi Wangmene give way too much ground in post defense.
I like the big lineup with three of the four bigs playing and Damian or Gary Johnson at the three. It was Barnes only adjustment tonight, and it was our most effective lineup.
Matt Hill can't give up and ones and expect to stay in the game.
I want to see Avery Bradley run the point. He is excellent running the break.
Foul shooting will cost us a game at some point. Hopefully it won't be in the tournament.
Towards the end of the game, Dash Harris ordered an assistant coach to grab Turgeon and pull him off the court because Turgeon was melting down over a call.
One of the A&M assistants went bat shit crazy over one of our cheerleading duos being to close to their huddle during a second half timeout. He berated the young lady and gentleman and then went over to the referree across the court to register his complaint. The ref looked at him like he had just grabbed his balls and said whoop.
The PA guy went stripper DJ again while introducing Pom.
J'Covan Brown was manning the Harrison Smith Memorial Chest Bumper and High Fiving Position during the introductions. Evidently, the pressure of the position got to be too much for Jai Lucas.
All of our pregame video montages are excellent for basketball. Why must they suck saran wraped donkey cock for football?
This is the second game this year where someone has won free Chik Fil A for a year. The impressive bit was that this guy took five or so attempts at the layup and the free throw each, then sunk the three on the first go and nailed the half court shot on the third attempt. It was inspiring.
I think the shot from the chair is 100 times more difficult than a half court shot.
I desperately want to be chosen for one of the in game contests.
We had a sideline inbounds coming out of a timeout in the first half where J'Covan was standing right next to Turgeon waiting for TV to come back live. They had what appeared to be a very pleasant conversation where Turgeon laughed at the end, and then got a J'Covan slap ass for his effort.
J'Covan is the Michael Jordan of ass slapping. He had occasion to slap all the referee ass available, most of his teammates, the opposing coach, many of the opposing players, and Bevo. That is a strong night. Does anyone else yearn for the first Erin Andrews/J'Covan Brown interview?
Damion and Gary have a 17 step ritual handshake hug pregame. I always think this is a good sign for a team. If you can choreograph a handshake hug like that, then you should be able to execute man help rotations easily.
I have always wanted to know how the 17 step ritual handshake hugs happen. Is there a choreographer? Does it develop organically over time? When does an athlete say to another athlete that we need a specialized handshake hug to take our game to the next level? When will this bleed over into the work place?
Can someone tell me what happened with the Gary Johnson/Brian Davis double technical?