Going into the Empire Classic, I expected a 1-1 result. This pretty clearly wasn’t the 1-1 combination I was thinking of, but it’s better than 0-2. More importantly, last night’s bad second half didn’t snowball into a bad first half today. Texas was much better defensively against Cal, taking away post touches from a team who relies on them and making the post touches they did get difficult shots. Most of the guards stayed in front of their men, fought through screens well, and generally limited what California wanted to do. That was enough to keep any attempted comebacks at bay and it helped lift an offense that was up & down most of the game.
I might have to rename this section the Matt Coleman Memorial ‘The Good’ section at this rate. Coleman has been on another level all season and tonight was no exception; 14 points, 6 assists, zero turnovers, a steal, and some really solid defense. He was in command throughout the night. Despite reverting to the mean going 1-6 from three, every damn shot looked good leaving his hand. Coleman is eating.
Sims put up a very efficient 12/9, dished three assists, and was a great interior defender against Cal bigs who wanted to bury him under the basket. His screens were timely, he denied a number of potential post touches, and just did everything I want to see out of him. The exclamation mark was a Dwight Howard throw-dunk in the first half:
The struggles of Gerald Liddell and Courtney Ramey have forced the coaches to get creative with their rotations and one of the knock-on effects is Kai Jones seeing significant minutes. He’s responding pretty well considering he’s as raw as an oyster in Scipio Tex’s
sex dungeon love cellar (and about as old as the average age of the oysters in Scipio Tex’s pain cave consensual bungalow). He grabbed some rebounds, volleyball spiked a layup attempt, and provided some good energy. He gets lost in the defensive scrum and he’s going to pick up some cheap fouls along the way, but it’s good to see him flash a bit.
A night after giving up a shade over 1.2 PPP, Texas held California to 0.75 PPP. Texas’ defensive efficiency numbers have whipsawed something fierce in the last 24 hours, but hopefully Georgetown turns out to be the aberration.
The Mute Button
Dan Dakich has never sounded better.
Liddell is probably going to run hot & cold this year; you see his athleticism and length & watch his desire to grab rebounds and defend, but then you also see him get caught in bad defensive spots & pick up quick fouls and hesitate to put up the three when he thinks a contest is coming. I get the optimism from the coaching staff and he’s clearly better than the guy who barely played last season, but he’s still figuring some things out. Figuring it out against Cal is one thing, but these issues will present real problems against the Big 12.
Free Throw Attempts
It’s worth keeping an eye on the number of free throws Texas takes this year because they’re getting incredibly few shots from the line thus far this season. I expect a team as reliant on shooting threes to have a tick or two down in this metric, but this is significantly less. As much as Coleman and Ramey have been in the paint, I anticipated more free throws than this. Maybe it’s just an early-season lull, maybe not. Not getting to the line means Texas has to generate even more offense in the half-court, so it could end up being a limiter on the season’s ceiling.
Ramey has been terrible more often than not this year, and some of it is in surprising areas. Being cold behind the arc happens even to good shooters - though he took some stupidly deep threes today - but his defense has been considerably worse than I expected. He locked dudes up multiple times last year, but this year he’s been barely better than air. He gave up a baseline drive to an opposing guard by turning his shoulders, which is one of those mortal sins coaches hammer into players in high school. What should’ve been a guard getting stuck in no man’s land turned into a layup. I don’t know what’s going on with him but Texas needs better.
Everyone Other Than Jase Febres Shooting Threes
Texas was 6-24 from three and Jase Febres was 4-6, so....yea. Not great, Bob!
Texas is off for 8 days, their next game is Saturday November 30th against noted basketball powerhouse McNeese State. Tip time is 1 PM CT on LHN.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Metalheadz.