Trips Right's 33 volume Decline and Fall of Texas Basketball has not only been required post-disaster therapy for the Longhorn basketball fan (what is your hourly rate, anyway?) but also merits combat pay from BC's executive management.But there is one organ left in the vivisection of Rick Barnes that keeps bugging me: his arguably atrocious handling of Avery Bradley.
I wrote earlier this season about Barnes' (usually useful) infatuation with psychological achievement drive, arguing that this current group of freshmen couldn't possibly live up to the standards of their coach, which was slowly killing them. I included Bradley among them and some posters noted that Bradley has no such problem with being driven: "he busts his ass every night" to quote one.
All true, but Bradley being a Barnes type of player leaves him as the horse in Animal Farm. "I will work harder," says Bradley. Yes, right up to the point of exhaustion. And we don't even have the benefit of watching practice. Stockholm Syndrome comes to Cooley Pavilion?
While we bemoan the lack of defensive effort on the part of a number of Longhorns (see Hank Dudek's excellent work here), Bradley defends, usually doing more than one man's job. While we are puzzled with the misuse of Jordan Hamilton or the bizarre rotational "strategy" inside Rick's head, Bradley stays on the floor. And stays...and stays...and stays...only Damion James logs more minutes for Texas.
He's spent. "The Freshman Wall" is not a myth. Bradley spectacularly smashed into it about three weeks ago and now it is crumbling on top of him. And Rick Barnes charted this course for him even before injuries robbed the Horns of their perimeter depth. Bradley expends all his energy on defense (and, might I add, thank God) exhibiting zero burst on the offensive end accompanied by an all-too-often short-armed jumper. He won't regain his legs until next season begins.
The question I have is: Will his breakout season for the Horns be next year? Or will next year instead be his transitional season in the NBA?
Crazy thought? Watch the Spurs' George Hill for a few games and tell me anything Hill is capable of that a healthy and rested Avery Bradley is not capable of, especially given the benefits of an NBA coaching staff.
Bradley needs to seriously consider this, because it's pretty damned obvious that he's not having any fun where he is.