I thought this was too good to be buried in the open thread. Good stuff. Enjoy...
OK, how dumb was I? I bought tickets to this thing back in November for a few reasons, one of which was that I might get see some clinching of some championship or whatever.
Instead, I get to watch probably the worst Texas defense since… hmmm… maybe Acie Earl and Iowa gave Penders his only first round loss in the NCAAs?
I’d like to go into more detail about what I’m about to write, but I don’t have the time or much inclination. Whatever we thought was going to happen this season (good things, I mean), it ain’t gonna happen.
I’m honestly puzzled by lineups that force Justin Mason to guard someone 6-9. The only reason you do that is to have an advantage against the guy on the offensive end, but the 6-9 guy doesn’t have to guard him.
Gary Johnson plays like we hoped Dexter Pittman would play this year. And it’s not that I expected Pittman to have the quickness of a guy 50 pounds lighter than him, but Johnson can move without telegraphing his move. Pittman has pretty quick feet, this we always knew, and it works out great for him on defense. He can alter his position against big guys and be effective. But on offense, he just sorta plops into position on the lane, and because the guards are so poor at post entry, he never gets the ball. They occasionally shuffle him across the lane, but the same thing happens over there. And that’s the problem. He’s got nothin’ else. He may screen for the guard, but they never look for him on a roll. I’m down on Dexter as an offensive player, but he gets no help.
Texas needed Dexter to put up 14, 5 and 2 or so, every night. If he did that, they might be still be undefeated today, or at least in the mix for a No. 1, or 2 at worst. But as his good game against Oklahoma State showed, he can’t do this against someone his own size, or quicker. Could he do it if the guards could feed the post? Maybe. Woulda been nice to see.
The freshmen. I’d guesstimate now that they need about 40 points from these guys every night, with about 15 or so from each of two guys, so that they have to be guarded. Hamilton is doing his part — more on him in a bit — but Bradley and Brown are just not getting it done. Bradley looks like a whipped puppy right now. He hit six threes in a game three Saturdays ago, but now can’t shoot, and doesn’t drive. He plays defense, although it took until halftime for Barnes to convince the bigger guys that they had to show on Dunn when Bradley was getting double-screened. I coulda sworn some of those screens were moving, but so it goes.
Brown is no longer a chapter ahead of teammates on some of his passes, but he’s still a page or so ahead. Even if it’s only a paragraph or two, that’s still enough to throw off the play. The memorable one was the goofy flip intended for where he thought Chapman was supposed to go, while Chapman was just happy not to have turned it over when he gave it back to Brown. But I’d still rather see him at the point than Mason. And the shooting, of course, is not what it needs to be.
Hamilton keeps taking steps, but he’s still giving it up on D. I paid close attention a couple of months back, when SLX posted about how severe he thinks JH’s ADD is, and how he thought it was affecting him. Since then, I’ve watched Hamilton a lot, and I think SLX was on target. Between this and Trips’s continuous man-you-ball drill on this page, you can see that Hamilton just hasn’t made the jump defensively. The thing is, I think he really is trying, but he can’t seem to do much about it.
If you watch him before a play, you will see him try to find the ball and his man. But it seems like he’s thinking about the ball (because that’s most likely what he lost in the past, and they got on him about it). And then, his man moves, and Hamilton’s head jerks like he’s surprised. He’s kind of a loper anyway, but he’d be closer to closing out if he hadn’t lost an additional half-step when his man starts to move. Welcome to high D-I ball, son. I’m afraid there is no easy solution until defense gets a little more ingrained.
I understand why they try him at the point, but against the zone, it didn’t seem to matter, because he wasn’t in position to shoot from where he was, and he wasn’t a threat to drive into it.
I don’t know who was forgetting about Acy, but it seemed like everyone was. It’s a bad sign when ESPN makes fun of the D by counting Acy’s dunks on screen in the highlight package. I can only hope that with two more years of experience that Barnes will have ball handlers like Dunn and Carter. I thought one of the reasons they couldn’t get a run of stops on defense was that whenever things broke down, either of those two had the confidence and ability to get to the lane. That’s what we all thought Bradley and Brown could do, but they haven’t. I coulda sworn I saw Bradley do it for Findlay Prep, but I musta been mistaken. Anyway, 18 turnovers to eight. There’s a story in there, too.
Also, am I the only one that can’t figure out what they’re trying to do on offense? I never really know where the ball is going next when it goes from one player to another. IMO, random offense only seems to work well when each player can get own his shot — this is largely how the somewhat misfit but talented ‘06 team made things work. But these guys aren’t that good.
Also, like Trips, I’m ready to scrutinize the recruiting. Chapman still plays like a freshman. Hill doesn’t play at all, and he’s in his fourth year. Wangmene has to be able to catch the ball before he can score. Those guys are going to be eating minutes next year, with Johnson and Thompson? Really?
It seems like years since this team didn’t miss a two-point shot in the second half against Iowa. But the "new" rotation is still in shakedown while other teams — I’m talking about Baylor and A&M and Missouri and even Oklahoma State — are comfortable with what they are and what they do. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that good teams haven’t really played a bad game against Texas since…. I can’t remember.
Now it’s on to Iowa State, which really isn’t a very good team, but still managed to go overtime the last two games with teams that beat Texas (while winning one, and on the road at that). I’d really like to not care right now, but after 30-plus years of caring, it’s hard to stop.