Watching this game was like doing taxes; I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I did it and now I can stop thinking about it. Texas put together an offensive performance worthy of an IRS audit but their defense was good enough that nobody is getting thrown in jail. They should all thank their young lawyer Donovan Williams for finding the loophole that allowed them to skate on some very questionable deductions, because some of the partners in the firm threw up offshore threes that I’m not even sure Grand Cayman would allow into their banks. This was less Narcos offensive money laundering than the guys in Office Space buying our silence by purchasing 40 subscriptions to Vibe magazine.
Welcome to the rotation, young fella. Williams was the wind beneath Texas’ wings, a spark on both ends of the floor that helped keep Prairie View A&M - henceforth known as PVAM because I’m lazy - from really making Texas sweat. The personal highlight for me was with 10 minutes left in the first half when he stole the ball, fed the shooter, grabbed the offensive rebound, and scored. You can’t really ask for more energy/effort than that in a single play. The basketball gods gifted him a couple extremely friendly bank shots and bounces as a thank you for the effort; I don’t know the last time I saw a ball hit the back of the rim on a three and die like that. It’s like the rim was doing an impersonation of Royce Hamm’s screens. Williams is starting to make a case to be in the rotation somewhere, though his defensive recognition is still pretty uneven. Tonight he was active and using his length well, which is a step in the right direction. I have high hopes for him long-term.
Matt Coleman is leading the team in made free throws, but did you know Sims is second? More to the point, he’s hitting 78% (7-9) from the line thus far. Did any of us expect Sims to top 70% in free throws back in his freshman year? I didn’t, and I’m happy to be wrong about this. His form isn’t great, but it’s the exact same every time and repeatability is a major step for a big. If you don’t believe me, watch Udoka Azubuike’s free throws. Those things are the basketball equivalent of Charles Barkley’s golf swing. Sims is doing what the team needs from him in most every area. He could stand to be a bit more consistent in certain aspects, but an 8 point, 10 rebound night with a pair of assists, no turnovers and only two fouls is exactly what the Longhorns want to see from the junior.
Lance Blanks’ Opinion of Everybody
I think we all need a Lance Blanks in our personal life; imagine the emotional lift of having a guy who effusively praises even your most mundane accomplishments. When you barely get out of bed this morning, Lance thought that showed toughness. When you finally mowed the lawn at 7 PM on a Sunday, Lance thought you overcame adversity. When you let the dog eat an entire bag of shredded cheese you dropped while drunkenly making nachos after a night at the club, Lance thought that showed real ingenuity. Lance Blanks is a life coach who happens to talk on TV during basketball games and he’s going to motivate all of us to be slightly better versions of ourselves. Then he’ll ask for a hug, and we’ll give it to him because nobody else made us feel as good about replacing the empty roll of toilet paper three days after it ran out instead of a week after it ran out.
The Mixed Bag
Febres has yet to really get hot from deep this season - it’s coming eventually, I assure you - so his offensive effectiveness is limited. Having said that, he’s contributing in other ways; tonight he was second on the team in rebounds, he had an assist and a steal, & he played respectable defense. The shot selection has been okay (not great, not bad) and he has the greenest of green lights from this staff so he’s going to keep bombing away, and it’s important he continues to contribute in other areas.
Courtney Ramey has taken thirteen more threes than I have this year, and he’s made one more three than I have this year. He’s in an Osetkowski-sized offensive rut from deep and he’s pressing to make up for it which is leading to turnovers. At some point he will start hitting threes and the sky will open up like a Monty Python animation, but I don’t know if it will until he relaxes and plays in the flow of the offense like he did in the second half against California Baptist. His struggles are dragging the rest of the offense down right now.
Every non-Sims Big (again)
It’s good that Sims is producing because it doesn’t appear that any of the other bigs are ready to put in a ton of work. Hamm, Will Baker, and Kamaka Hepa combined for 11 minutes in a game where the backups should’ve gotten more run, and this may be the way it is for awhile. Hepa was in for such a brief stint that I honestly forgot he was ever on the floor. This isn’t a case of Sims being so damn good that he usurped everyone’s minutes - he’s been good, but he’s not the second incarnation of LaMarcus Aldridge - so I have to think the other bigs aren’t picking up the slack. If Texas ends up facing Duke next week, hold onto your butts because those three might have to get their asses in gear or they’ll get worked.
The offensive production has been up and down early this season, and I get that this is college basketball so sometimes guys just aren’t going to hit shots. Tonight the movement was poor; the ball stuck in guards’ hands for too long, there was more dribbling than passing, and the screen actions were sloppier than usual. If there was an area where the team felt like it was sleepwalking, this was it.
Texas heads to New York City to face Georgetown on Thursday. The Hoyas are a decent team but not world-beaters; the crowd will likely be heavily tilted towards Texas’ opponent but the last time the Longhorns were in the arena they cut down the nets at the NIT so they might be pretty comfortable in that setting. Tip time is 6 PM CT on ESPN2.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Gai Barone.