“If the team hits less than 30% from three, I call it Clanking from the Corner instead of Shooting from the Corner.”
That was effectively the sum total of guidance I was given when handed the reigns to this high-powered Ferrari of IP (that’s intellectual property, for those not in the biz). It feels odd to focus on the negative right in the first word of the title when this was— not to give away the goods below—pretty damn solid.
A few days after pummeling the NCAA equivalent of the Washington Generals by nearly 50, the Texas Longhorns faced a New Hampshire Wildcats team that could end up being a decent mid-major win. Shoot, look what happened to Kentucky when they slept on the mighty American East conference.
And Shaka Smart was talking this opponent up BEFORE it was announced that sensational
four-year starter one-and-done dynamo Mo Bamba was ruled out with a concussion from an “allegedly” “inadvertent” elbow from Osetkowski in Sunday’s practice. (I mean I’m not SAYING...I’m just saying...wouldn’t Big O benefit from the extra pub against an opponent they would probably beat anyway?)
With Bamba out, Osetkowski and the rest of the Texas team was allowed to shine, which they did for most of the game. However, it was a 4-point game around the 8-minute mark when another Texas big man, Jericho Sims, changed the trajectory of the game. With the Wildcats trying to cut the lead to two, Sims had a two-block possession before tapping out the rebound, then running the court for dunk, followed on the next possession with a transition alley-op that saw the Longhorns kick the game into an unimpeachable gear and never really feel troubled again.
Better Know a Roster
If you are mainly reading this as a Texas Hoops fan who skips the other content on this site, then you probably think “who the hell is the guy, and does he realize he’s only 80% as clever as he thinks he is.” Well that just so happens to be the suggested tagline for the Texas Pregamer, which you should read. And in said Pregamer, I like to take some time to break down the opposing roster in the most serious manner I can muster.
Keon Burns (Gr., G) - Always would’ve pegged Ken as more of a baseball guy, based on previous offerings. The problem with this guard is that he kind of locks in on a player and slowly zooms in on him for 10 seconds at a time. Causes many turnovers.
Kijana Love (So., G) - College Kijana Carter was one of the best players I had ever seen as a kid. College Kevin Love’s outlet passes redefined the way I played pick up games. When their powers combined...
Iba Camara (Sr., F) - I can’t see this last name and not think of 30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney, and ultimately how underrated that show is.
Joe Silvani (Fr.,) - When I first saw this photo on the UNH roster website, I assumed some chicanery of some sort, possibly the Nick Saban recruiting loophole variety.
Nope. Joe is on the roster. He lives in the area and has neuroblastoma on his spine and hip. He is partnered with the Friends of Jaclyn program who aims to improve the quality of life for children battling pediatric brain tumors and other childhood cancers by pairing them with local high school and college sports teams...damn dusty A/C vents in here...
Whew. Ok...on to the regularly scheduled programming.
I like calling him the “Big O” because this kid can really do a little bit of everything. His second double-double to start the season, Dylan finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He complemented that with two steals and two attempts at running point-forward. He was denied a coast-to-coast fast break with a foul, so on his second takeaway, he pressed LB+Y to throw the lofted through ball to hit Eric Davis Jr. in stride (shouts to my FIFAheads).
After the foiled coast-to-coast, he mouthed to the bench “I wanted that,” with a Cheshire grin that will become a trademark throughout this season.
The Old Dogs
Andrew Jones started the second half with a “Kawhi-special” pick 6 to dunk play. For the second consecutive week, he has been second on the team in scoring, with 16 points (to go with 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and some locked-in defensive play).
Jacob Young looks somehow just more ready this season. Not only is he shooting as good as we’ve seen (3-for-5 from deep, only Longhorn with multiple makes), but is getting to the paint this year. All of his 11 came in the second half, a big part of why Texas put this game away so soundly.
Eric Davis Jr. was an efficient 5-9 shooting and looked ready to be a leader on this team.
Kerwin Roach shot 50% from the field en route to 12 points, and looked good but with room to continue growing. Could turn himself into an NBA player if he can keep his offense going efficiently to go with the defense.
Those 4, plus Big O, all scored in double figures...no freshman broke that threshold.
Let me take this time to get something off my chest, I never called Coach Smart’s press “Havoc.” To me it was always “Shaka-nd-Awe.” That said, the pressure and rotation looked good, to the tune of 7 steals and 14 turnovers caused by the Longhorns.
The Longhorns actually held UNH to an even lower field goal percentage than the Demons on Friday (31.7%, down from 37.5). After starting 3-for-3 from behind the arc, the Wildcats finished the game making 5 of their next 26 (19% down the home stretch).
I know Mo Bamba is the bigger recruit and Jericho Simms has the more fun name to say (Jericho Simms is a top-10 basketball name in general), but Matt Coleman may just be the crucial factor in how far this Longhorn team goes this season. His drive-and-kicks will single-handedly result in this Texas team being a better shooting team.
Through two games he has 10 assists to only 1 turnover, a stat that could easily be 15-to-1 with a few more open makes. He’s also averaging 13.8 teammate hyping celebrations per game, which is a strong start to the season (really, really like this kid).
Small sample size, but it looks like Texas could be really good at rim protection (5 blocks) and rebounding this year. With no Bamba, Sims looked good in 1st half, and James Banks III even looked good as the 4th big, getting two blocks.
And the 40-36 rebounding edge came against a unit that prides itself on that. UNH defensive rebounding percentage under Bill Herrion the past three seasons: led the nation, led the nation, second in the country.
The Mixed Bag
Mo was crushing it in the style department, wearing his “draft suit.” The negatives are not from a strictly sartorial sense; he had Mo than enough swag...it was more the sads of knowing that he was sitting out one of the finite number (35-40) of games that he will play on the 40 acres.
Clanking—Behind the Arc
When I write about basketball, it’s typically about the NBA (@poundingtherock). I mainly watch the San Antonio Spurs and in my spare time the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors. I have simply become accustomed to teams being good at three pointers. I realize this has not been the case in Austin for some time, but it is still sad nonetheless. May the open shots created from dribble penetration be enough to keep this from being a recurring feature. Texas actually improved to finish 29% on the night, after 21% in the first half.
From a 46 point win, down to 18 points! That’s unacceptable. At this rate, Shaka will be losing by 30 in a few weeks. Or may Mo Bamba is worth a +28 (duh, at least). Or maybe Texas did a good job scheduling progressively more difficult opponents like leveling up through the Pokemon Gyms.
2-0 Texas will get the rest of the week to practice the three pointer and next face Lipscomb at 4 p.m. Saturday, with game-time moved up to early afternoon. After that, the Horns head to Oregon for the Thanksgiving weekend PK80 tournament, with Butler and possibly Duke on the horizon.
Note: I will be handing over the reigns to JC_Hoops for the next one. Go easy on him. I believe our fearless whiteguy will be back from boats and brews in time for Butler.