There really wasn’t any other way for this season to end than in overtime. Texas endured its eighth overtime contest of the year, losing to the Nevada Wolfpack 87-83. In addition to setting a single-season record for overtime games, it means Texas had nearly 1⁄4 of their games go at least 45 minutes. This team didn’t really know how to blow other teams out or get blown out; I would imagine at least 80% of their minutes were spent within 9 points of their opponent. Unfortunately for us, instead of evening their OT record at 4-4 they finished at 3-5. Texas is still searching for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2014.
I should go ahead and say this upfront: I’m not going to be going in depth on this team moving forward, whether it’s the players or the coaches. I’m going to take some time to marinate on things before talking about subjects like next year’s roster, attrition, the coaching staff, program trajectory, etc. We have literally eight months until the next game, there’s time to let the feelings of the moment cool off and look at things more analytically. Y’all are welcome to discuss it, that’s just not what this recap is going to be about.
I said I wouldn’t go in depth, but I will say that I feel like the point guard question for next season is definitively answered. Coleman has really grown into his role the last few weeks, as evidenced by his clutch free throws, his control of the offense, and how he takes over in overtime. In the last two OT periods (Nevada and West Virginia) Coleman has scored 12 points on 6-7 shooting and generally exhibited the sort of poise you would expect from a junior. Anyone who isn’t sold on Coleman isn’t watching the same games I am, he’s legit.
Kerwin Roach II
Speaking of guys rounding into form, Roach has really showed out as of late, Snoop has been balling. His three looks better than ever when he sets his feet (which he is doing more than ever) and he’s driving to the rim more intelligently than in years past. There’s still room for improvement on that front, but it’s an incremental thing rather than in need of wholesale change. He’s become a solid secondary ballhandler, which was vital once Andrew Jones was out for the season. This was one of Roach’s better games this year.
The Zone Defense
As a rule, I’m generally against deploying a 2-3 zone against teams with good to great outside shooting. However, that’s based upon teams showing a relatively normal amount of athleticism & recovery. Texas deploying this with defenders like Roach & Coleman and being backed by the likes of Bamba and Sims displays an ability to cover more ground and close gaps more quickly, plus their combined length narrows the windows for teams to exploit said gaps. A lot of the threes Nevada hit tonight were heavily contested, and sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a 40% shooter going off. The defense was great for vast portions of regulation.
The Mixed Bag
The Announcers’ Obsession with Feeding the Post
I mostly liked their work, and they were pretty insightful in the times they weren’t talking about Bamba’s wingspan. The reason I have them in this category is them harping on how Texas needed to get Bamba the ball in the paint, which, yea...but it’s not that simple. Nevada’s gameplan was obvious from the jump; sag into the paint, have three guys within 1.5 steps of Bamba at all times, and dare Texas to shoot from deep. I’m all for feeding the post, but Bamba flat wasn’t open for most of the game. They were either fronting him really well or bracketing him, and the entry passes aren’t good in that situation. There were a handful of times when Texas could have tried to throw over the defender fronting Bamba, but almost every time there was a weakside defender eye-fucking the guard trying to feed Bamba. If it’s not there, it’s not there.
Mohamed Bamba is Gone
The big man in the middle is definitely headed off to make millions, as he should. His one season was an interesting one, with a ton of ridiculous highlights and some frustrating moments. There were some bittersweet moments in the postgame today as well.
VIDEO: An emotional Mo Bamba interrupts Shaka Smart's availability to share a moment with his coach. "This is forever." pic.twitter.com/rgFOMQTLz7— Jeff Barker (@JeffBarker_) March 17, 2018
It’s not good that he’s gone, but him being here meant that Texas didn’t have to throw Jericho Sims into the fire for his entire freshman season. As a result, Sims got to play a more limited and focused role on the team and spend the year learning from Horn and practicing against a lottery pick. Sims’ emergence in the past 3-4 weeks didn’t happen in a vacuum, he took advantage of the situation and his future looks pretty bright as a result.
I am not a gambler, but it feels like he’s been put on this earth to screw with gambling lines. His play is so hard to categorize because it seems like he does 98% of what it takes to score on every play but somehow he misses on that two percent more than any college player I’ve ever watched. How many guys have the footwork he has to get open shots from 5 feet away and throw up a shot that should go in but rims out? How many guys go 1-6 from the line then hit two clutch free throws to help send the game to OT? It’s like a degenerate gambler has a Being John Malkovich situation with Osetkowski and is cleaning up at Vegas on Texas games. I bet it’s Biff Tannen. It’s probably Biff Tannen.
Texas needed good Jacob, and while his defense was solid his offensive contribution was nearly nothing. 1-6 from three and 1-2 from the line isn’t enough for a team in desperate need of offensive playmakers.
Texas’ next game is in November; tip time TBD, roster TBD, coaching staff TBD. The season is over, and the post-mortems will be plentiful. Take all of them (including mine) with the appropriate amount of salt as there are a lot of TAEKS of various sizes running amok right now. At least we have
baseball spring football swimming and diving.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Andy C.