UCLA Iowa State Baylor K State Navy.
Yes, Texas won a game. 83-52. FEELS NIIIICE.
Gary Johnson and Jordan Hamilton both finished with double doubles, going 26-10 and 17-10. Hamilton switched numbers from 23 to 3 in a salute to his preferred stroke and promptly drained his first shot of the season. Then he missed the next five.
The first half was a lowlight reel from last season, featuring some more spontaneous bombs from Hamilton three seconds into the shot clock, poor spacing and entry passes, bad finishing from two feet out, and a negative assist-turnover ratio (3-8). We went 1-9 from behind the arc and barely hit 50% from the line. Fortunately, Navy was worse and we limped into halftime with a 29-20 lead.
Texas started the game with the Turkish Chris Paul at PG and Cory Joseph at the two. Apparently Barnes was honoring an Eastern European holiday by giving Balbay the start at Joseph's natural position. That holiday celebrates stagnant offense and supernatural body odor. But the latter is something we can build from as part of the Stifling D package. More on that later.
Cory Joseph is really well built in the lower body and has good stop/start moves to throw off his defender ala Augustin but was a little out of synch with his teammates. He was pressing but took Barnes' courtside lashings like a man (or even better during a game -- a kid with a short memory) and stayed active in all phases, finishing with 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers despite sitting for most of the second half after picking up some cheap fouls because he's Canadian or something.
Matt Hill, Gary Johnson, and Hamilton rounded out the starting lineup. Hill played most of the game like he was in a deer blind in Lincoln trying not to disturb the predatorial Navy big men but Barnes said in the postgame presser that Hill does all the little things, he's a leader, and will continue to log heavy minutes. Apparently we're redshirting Clint Chapman.
Tristan Thompson showed up well, leading the team in scoring in the first half with ten points and should have had another six from missed short range putbacks that were shot down by an F-18 through the clouds in the Erwin Center. He runs the court well, hits the glass on D and contests shots well but he's still adjusting to the speed of the college game. He lost the ball too many times on light handchecks and got caught jumping on simple pump fakes, a tendency picked up simply by watching Jai Lucas in practice. Barnes said he's earned the right to start but had been picking up too many cheap fouls. Punishment served. Look for Thompson to start Wednesday night against Louisiana Tech.
J'Covan Brown and Jordan Hamilton share the Todd Wright Body Makeover award, barely beating out Balbay and Scipio's write-in vote by one chiseled oblique. Hamilton has added some upper body bulk and got dirty above the rim on two alley oops from J'Covan in the second half. On the second one, he dropped his nuts on a midshipmen and I'll have to watch the replay but it looks like the dude's mouth may have been open. Disserviced, imo. In the second half, Jordan took his game inside hitting a wide array of teardrop floaters, one handed runners in the line and baseline jumpers, sprinkled in with the occasional trey lest scouts worry he's becoming too multi-dimensional. There are going to be some games where we need 30 points out of Hamilton to win 65-60.
J'Covan dropped 12 pounds of fat and added five pounds of j'muscle and it's visibly apparent in the way he runs the court and finishes fast breaks. J'Covan 2.0 can dunk! Ignore the high amount of turnovers in his final stat line -- 7 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 turnovers -- three of those were passes that ricocheted off Gary Johnson and Wangmene before rolling out of bounds. He's still a step ahead of every big except Hamilton in the way he sees the court.
Texas put up 29 in the first half and 53 in the second. Right when Navy slowed the tempo, credit Texas for pushing it right back and taking advantage of easy fast break opportunities. Jai Lucas, our very own garden gnome, got too many minutes for my liking but his dad was in the audience and he put out max effort chasing down his own lost balls, blocked shots and deflected passes. He'll get sodomized by Big 12 guards and HenryJames will be jealous. Lucas did hit a few floaters in the lane and actually elevated above five feet with a nice layup off the glass in traffic. What he lacks in vertical prowess he makes for with effort and a Lionel Richie mustache. It is Movember after all and yes, I'm rocking a mean stache.
All second half accolades aside, Navy is a bad basketball team that jacked up too many 3's, turned the ball over in traffic and seemed allergic to defending in the paint. And they still had some easy looks off putbacks and exposed something this Texas team clearly lacks -- guys willing to do dirty work inside. Or at least one true center.
The guys seems to like eachother better than last year and huddle up far more often, even for routine stuff like inbound plays. This was a tip Barnes picked up from Coach K in the offseason. Rick has also taken a new approach, experimenting in positive encouragement:
“We’ve worked hard on screening, passing and cutting,” Barnes said. “We dribbled more tonight than we have in the two scrimmages. Some of that was probably jitters and wanting to play perfect. I told them they have nothing to fear.
“They kept us off balance by mixing defenses. They ran some zone. But our guys played together and played hard. I feel like every one of our guys have improved. We had 15 turnovers, but only three after halftime. So there were a lot of good things.”
Is that the same guy? Nothing to fear? And some positive attributions as well. Let's hope that same approach can weather a few tough losses without reverting to long staredowns, close range lectures, and playing time mindgames.
The highlight of the night had to be Wangmene draining a 20 foot jumper. He probably thought he was in the Spurs gym showing off for Tim Duncan in a game of HORSE but it went in and we're better for it. Lexi played a solid game finishing with 8 points on 3-3 FG with 2 reb and 2 steals
Highlight #2 was srr50 draining a shot from halfcourt while reclining in a new 2011 Louis Shanks barcalounger. I assume that was he since he left the court with a walker, concho belt sparkling under the big lights. Nice work, Steve. Doing BC proud since 1923!
Our best lineup moving forward needs to consist of Joseph, Brown, Hamilton, Johnson, and Thompson with Balbay and WangHill coming off the bench. Balbay simply needs to stop bathing for three days before each game ala Vlade Divac and throw a pit up in the opposing team's shooting guard. It's the only way to offset the 5 on 4 advantage other team's enjoy when defending Texas. Sag on Hamilton and we'll give you The Stench!
Actually, Doge moved around great for having just come off a major knee surgery. His knee brace looked like something out of Iron Man 2 but it didn't seem to phase him. His stat line recalls Huckleberry on a Friday night in the engineering library, sexting in binary.
So after one game into the season, I am now ready to make some highly accurate projections as to how the year unfolds:
4th place in the Big 12.
7 seed in the tourney.
2nd round exit.
Anything past that would be a hell of an accomplishment.
Trips watched some highlights last night after getting off a plane in Wisconsin and asked me to add this:
1-4 high low pick and pop motion dribble drive screen f garden gnome Hamilton beast mode this team has potential.
Can anyone interpret?