I was relieved to see Texas at least protect home court on Wednesday night while continuing to show developing play since the Kansas debacle. Again, until we see this teem demonstrate the same ball-movement and defense on the road the improvement is inconclusive. I had a feeling of dread before the game thinking, "if they blow this...I'm out. I'll watch but only through interest in the outcome, not out of hope for fulfillment as a fan."
That said, it was a fairly impressive victory. Let's begin with the Box Score:
5-13 (38%), 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist. The normal averages for this player, James Anderson, are 47%, 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2.5 assists. Texas, without the assistance of Dogus Balbay, locked down Trips' favorite and the rest of the OSU 4 guard lineup to 40% shooting with 16 turnovers while out-rebounding them 31-26.
Dexter Pittman was particularly dominant, and though you would expect this given the height and level of interior competition, Texas has utterly failed to take advantage of Pittman's power inside against this same opponent and countless others who are unable to match up.
His only decent free-throw shooting notwithstanding the big guy was 5-5 from the field with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 impressive blocks. His 2 fouls are probably the most important stat since they allowed him to stay on the field. The team's overall commitment and success in feeding Dexter in the low post was also inspiring.
Obviously, as Trips or Peter Bean have already detailed, the defense was huge. quickly. in this victory. I'm reasonably confident that Barnes was pleased with Hamilton's effort there while Gary Johnson and Justin Mason were outstanding. Remember at the beginning of the year when Geoff Ketchum claimed the basketball defense would be better than the football's defense? You don't? Well that happened, and it was far closer to being true last night than it's been since December.
Hamilton's overall play has been particularly encouraging and he has basically served in a Manu Ginobili 6th man position as a point forward. When he comes in there is less pressure on the guards to lead the offense and he can be the primary creator during his minutes. There is little not to like about his 3 point shooting, passing, and ability to attack the rim other than the misses at the line that always seem to follow. His stroke is good though so I'm thinking it's only a matter of becoming comfortable that prevents him from being someone you don't want to foul. I think he's become the best freshman on the team.
HenryJames "pulled some strings" to make the spring roster available and provides his thoughts here. Additionally, Mack Brown had his spring press conference. To me the most interesting items are as follows:
Dustin Earnest is down to 229 pounds while Allen and Norton are 245 and 248. Also, Norton is out for the spring. Any guesses who wins the MLB spot?
There are no obvious answers here to the question Kheeston Randall and __ at defensive tackle. Johnson is weighing 320 pounds but Howell has worked his way up to 290. The question is, do we want to create one-on-one match-ups for either and count on them for interior pressure? HenryJames projects a need for a breakout season from Randall. I thought he was excellent last year and he's up to 295 pounds now so I'm optimistic about his potential continuing to anchor the line from nose-tackle.
Okafor is up to 250 pounds while Sacho and EJones are 260 apiece. This is probably where most of the talent is on the line which further pushes me to believe a 3-4 will be more common with Okafor Eddie Jones apparently at the Buck position. Granted, that's a small group but Randall's growth as a nose-guard and the abundance of strong linebacker play might make this feasible. Also, Christian Scott is now checking in at 215 while Aaron Williams is up to 192 now so the hits and tackling coming up from the defensive backfield will be better suited to handling the running game. Vaccaro is at 201 now as well while big hit Ben Wells is still hanging around at 197.
Overall at offensive line the trends are mixed. David Snow checked in at 295, which is an encouraging thing to see from our OL if the outside-zone is hanging around as the base play. It's a remarkably tall group with Paden Kelly, Walters, Hix, Ashcraft, Buchanan, Huey, Poehlman, and Porter all 6'5" or better. Most everyone has filled out to at least Big 12 acceptable weight save for Poehlmann who may simply not have the right frame to pack on weight.
None of them are more than 320 (Hix) so that's an encouraging sign for their reach-blocking potential, at least. However most of these guys are huge maulers who will probably continue to be uncomfortable in that scheme. At least it should be hard to get through this forest unless someone doesn't step up as an option at Left Tackle. It's also good to not that Gilbert and Wood are so tall (6'4") because Chase Daniel would have to escape the pocket to even seen down the field with this group.