Welcome to basketball season, people. In this sport, Texas has optimism, a head coach who isn’t dealing with internet rumors & booster skullduggery, and a young roster that will be allowed to work through growing pains without Red McCombs trying to replace Shaka Smart with Jon Gruden. Probably.
Given that we’re all in preseason form here, I’m hitting this review bullet-point style. As the season gets going, I’ll revert to the ‘good/bad/ugly’ format as needed. For now, here are the highlights.
- Andrew Jones is going to be special; it is my opinion that regardless of the available players — Kerwin Roach and Tevin Mack were suspended for relatively minor team violations — Andrew should be the primary ball-handler for Texas. His vision, awareness, and all-around ball-handling skills are already showing up as above-average. He’s not Isaiah Taylor, he still makes freshman mistakes. There was an instance where he went barreling into the paint like a guy that’s used to shooting over 5’8” teenagers only to have his shot rejected, for example. But overall, he’s got a good sense of pace and flow that most true freshmen lack. If I’m Shaka, I’m giving him 60% of the minutes at the point and letting Eric Davis, Kerwin Roach, and Jacob Young battle for the other 40%. Also worth noting, he’s a willing defender that is already starting to use his vision to impact the game on that end of the court. One play, he was at the bottom of the paint facing his man (and the basket) and he managed to spot a guard driving to the rim, turn around, and take the charge. That’s a quality play from any player, much less a freshman.
- Who had Jacob Young as their pick for leading scorer tonight? Not me, that’s for sure. It’s not fair to say Jacob Young has no conscience as a shooter; if anything, he’s got less of a conscience than that. He’s a conscientious debtor, he will shoot the ball if he’s got even a sliver of daylight. That’s going to be a problem some games...but it’s also going to murder some opponents this season. He’s been working on his release, it’s quicker than what I saw from his high school tape. If he can keep shooting this well, he will demand playing time this season.
- Angelo State’s coach is named Cinco Boone. Did I make that up? Maybe, maybe not. It’s up to you to Google whether or not — as our illustrious play-by-play announcer Lowell Galindo may have mentioned — he gave up a calf-roping career to become a basketball coach. I don’t know how to make a more San Angelo story than that even if I tried.
- Jarrett Allen made his Texas debut and showed a lot of interesting abilities, as well as some deficiencies. He has a nose for the ball and tends to find his way towards both putbacks and rebounds (he finished the night with a double-double) but he’s not even remotely a stretch-4 at this point in his career. He hit a three that I will politely describe as an unlikely bank shot, but most of his shots from outside 12 feet were not likely to be encouraged by Shaka in the regular season. I am a little concerned by Shaka’s interest in putting two non-shooting bigs together this season; I realize this was an exhibition without Kerwin, Tevin, and Mareik(injury), but he mentioned in this week’s press conference that if the season started today he’d start Allen and Cleare together. That seems like a suboptimal pairing for offensive spacing, but it’s possible Shaka is just tinkering.
- Shaquille Cleare played well overall, but is still a bit of a black hole on offense; balls come into the paint but they don’t come back out. It’s less of an issue than last year, but he’s still more likely to shoot than not regardless of the matchup. This is fine against Angelo State, but can’t be the case against the Kansases of the world if Texas wants to aspire to a high conference finish.
- James Banks is already better than Prince Ibeh was as a freshman. He has some of the same issues as Prince — mostly attributable to rawness as he’s basically a human block of clay for Darrin Horn to mold — but his free throw shooting is already better than Prince’s ever was. Plus, he did things like this:
(This is as good an angle as you’re going to get from a writer that’s been drinking since sundown.)
That’s great body control and excellent defensive positioning, all things considered. Plus, a hat tip to Kendal Yancy for backing him up on the play. Banks is showing signs of being a solid rim protector with high long-term upside.
Texas was really only threatened in this game as long as they were missing shots; Angelo State is a very good D-II team, but they’re still D-II. A close win or loss would have been cause for alarm given the talent Texas has on their roster, but Texas took care of business when it mattered. Now the preseason is over, the next game counts. Texas plays Incarnate Word on November 11th at 7pm CT on Longhorn Network. If you want to know more about Incarnate Word and the rest of the non-conference schedule, you can pick up a copy of Smart Texas Basketball on Amazon and iTunes for $4.99.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Chase & Status (NSFWish).