Tonight is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for Texas basketball 09'-10'.
The team and the coach now have backed themselves into the proverbial corner and nobody puts Bevo in a corner. Look, we all know the drill. We've theorized about what plagues this team more times in the last few weeks then Mack Brown claps during an average football game. With Dogus down for the count and Dexter doing his best Cephalopod impression, we are now, more then ever, reliant on three young blue chippers to complement the lunch pail efforts of Damion and Gary to lead us to freedom.
What would you do without Freedom.....to shoot?
As I peruse the Horn blogosphere, particularly this site and its sisters, it's rather apparent that quite a few folks have become entirely fed up with our fearless and pigmentless leader, Rick Barnes. As two distinct factions of the fan base debate whether or not Barnes will have outlived his usefulness if he can't get this squad to make a deep March run, I wonder if we, as fans, have overestimated things? Just what we've overestimated depends on your perspective.
The "burn, Barnes, burn" crew believe we've overestimated his ability to manage and integrate the sometimes difficult personalities that come with great talent into a cohesive, ass-kicking monster. The Barnes Boys, who got his back, believe we've overestimated the ability of our freshman to make profound impacts at key positions (A theory about the success of freshmen backcourts has been bandied about as an example) this year. Pat Forde of ESPN weighed in with his opinion in his weekly column as he contrasts our chemistry issues with another freshman laden team --Kentucky.
Yea, I know, he's an idiot. CTJ craps out smarter guys! He's an SEC shill! Blah, blah, blah.
Don't have to respect the writer, I don't really care. I did think he had some interesting data to share that really drives home the point that while Damion James' may drive the bus, the freshman are the ones that fuel this engine, for better or worse. Here is the article and I highlighted some passages that I thought were salient.
After blowing Calipari awhile for being able to mold his team into a contenda, he starts in on Texas and how the influence of our freshmen impacts our team:
The Minutes doesn't know where or how the Texas chemistry experiment turned into a lab explosion, but it has. Freshman guards Avery Bradley (14), J'Covan Brown (15) and Jordan Hamilton (16) are talented players who have had some great games and great moments, but it seems the more influence they exert on the team, the worse the results.
This or J'Covan's jump shot?
Some interesting stats he spews out. I ain't Trips, but I do know these shooting percentages are uglier than Amy Winehouse on Sunday morning:
In games Texas has won, that trio has taken 42.2 percent of the team's shots. In games Texas has lost, they've taken 48 percent of the shots -- and most of them miss. Bradley has made 39.7 percent of his shots in six Longhorns losses, Hamilton 33.9 percent and Brown 32.1. And if you remove one hot game each for indiscriminate gunner Hamilton (10-of-16 at Missouri) and helter-skelter Brown (9-of-19 against Kansas), the percentages are truly awful -- 22.5 percent for Hamilton and 24.3 percent for Brown.
In Texas' past three losses, the trio of freshmen have jacked up a majority of their shots: 54.4 percent against Oklahoma, 52.5 percent against Kansas and 67.7 percent against Missouri.
Forde then goes on to make fun of the grasping at straws that Barnes has tried:
Along the way, Barnes has been guessing wildly at what might be the right lineup combination. He played everyone but Bevo in the first half against Kansas, hoping something would click. (Nothing did.) He benched senior guard Justin Mason, a starter since the fifth game of his freshman year, playing him a total of 10 minutes in a three-game stretch -- then started him at Texas Tech on Saturday and played him 38 minutes.
He continues along to talk about how Slick Rick has had a tougher job of meshing this team then Calipari, who had the advantage of not giving a shit about what Kentucky was before he got there. He does end with a pointed assessment about our freshman vs. Kentucky's freshman:
His freshmen aren't as good as Kentucky's -- even if they think they are. The hardest guy to coach in college basketball might be a five-star recruit with a three-star understanding of the game and a seven-star opinion of himself. The Minutes cannot say for sure that that's the case with the Texas freshmen, but at times you wonder.
What does this article mean? In the scheme of things--not much. It's simply another guy trying to wrap his head around how badly he misjudged this team prospects. He does have the advantage of dispassionate perspective--emotional detachment from the situation. So, I wonder if he makes any good points? Any relevant insight? Which freshman was Forde referencing? Can we get SkyMonkey and Groundhog Day to find common ground? Ah hell boys, let's fight it out. Winner gets to set the starting lineup vs. OU.....