It’s a put on.
Those were the words floating through my mind yesterday after Texas trailed at halftime for the fifth time in the last six games. That, and the conclusion that Eli Manning looks eerily like Pete Townsend circa 1982 with less cocaine.
But what better to way to describe Texas basketball’s freefall from grace than some nostalgic Townsend lyrics from the best song on The Who’s worst album, It’s Hard?
Yes, basketball is hard. But over the past month we made it a hell of a lot harder than it needs to be. No style, no substance. Basically, HenryJames in his 40's.
The freshmen saviors? Names on a jersey. Offensive sets? FEMA on a basketball court. Man to man defense? Watching the traffic fly by, then fouling as an afterthought out of road rage. Free throws? NOTHING IN THIS LIFE IS FREE, SON. Coaching? I guess some things are just better learned on your own.
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Those reservations for Houston in March and Indy in early April weren’t only looking premature but downright insane.
That was until Jordan Hamilton came to the party, dressed to kill with afro comb, Jordache jeans, silk shirt, and fresh-out-of-the-box Air Jordan’s. The eminence front dissolved with #23’s array of runners in the lane, long range bombs, baseline dunks, and off-balance fade-aways. It was the first display of Star Power -- calling for the ball and nailing the shot -- that we'd been expecting for months from Jordan Hamilton.
After James Anderson put on his own Kevin Durant impersonation in the first half, Hamilton decided "No, that’s MY boy. Calls me J.hammy." And it wasn’t long before Durant was on his feet doing shit we did as fans watching him as a freshman at Texas. "Aw naw he di’int!! Sheeeeeia.t. Daaaamn. Dawg is feelin it. Y’boy. Tessass Fight!"This was all precisely before and after the Holly Rowe interview, which was painful to watch but great for recruiting. Durant comes back to Austin like it's mama's home cookin and the families of elite prospects notice that stuff. Don't you, Ms. Kabongo?
With each Hamilton bucket, you could feel a month’s worth of pressure lift off our guys as the lead grew from 6 to 9 to 12. The look on Travis Ford’s face recalled similar expressions from Izzo and Williams just six weeks ago. Execution on offense translated to better focus and discipline on defense – exactly what UConn did to Texas the second half in Storrs -- except this was a road game at Gallagher-Iba.
It never reached Mario Boggan levels of Okie froth & fury but credit our defense for shutting down their best player and the crowd in the second half. Balbay liberally swabbed Anderson in his trademark Turkish Ambergris scent, "Prison Musk". Apparently that shit causes your eyes to water, forces bad shots, and makes you think about giving up basketball altogether. Bottle that shit, Doge.
Eau Du Balbay
We also found out someone on this team other than Damion James is capable of taking over a game. We saw glimpses of this from Pittman early in the season and Bradley in December. But it’s been a painful drought of turnovers, clanked bunnies, bricked free throws, and eroded confidence ever since we boatraced Pitt, Michigan State, and North Carolina.
That former lottery pick, Sexy Dexy, went Kirstie Alley on us in January, racking up as many fouls as points in three of the last four games. Could a 2 a.m. run to Player's be far away? His regression to the mean -- and a good size 16 shoe below it -- can only be rivaled by Modesto, CA real estate values and Dave Bliss’ career ladder. If we have any hopes of going deep into March and early April, Dex has to figure his shit out. And the refs aren’t going anywhere -- it's all on him.
But all those mistakes can disappear just as quickly with a few gritty wins.
So thank you, Jordan Hamilton, for pulling the team's head out of it's ass even if it was for only one half of basketball.
Now let’s see it again on Saturday against OU and Monday against Kansas.
More of Pete Townshend's bloody windmill chops and less of Roger Daltrey's lipstick and glitter. Because we won't get fooled again.
Baba O'Reilly encore, imo.