Providence got its doors blown off by Florida earlier this week, and one of my fears going into this game was that Ed Cooley would reach full “damn the torpedoes” status to rally his underachieving team coming into the Texas game. Providence has a lot of talent, they were expected to contend for the Big East title coming into the season, but they haven’t put it all together thus far in the season. There are some things they do consistently well, namely offensive rebounding and generating turnovers, and those are two areas Texas had shown weakness. I felt like any potential loss - most analytics had this as a coin flip - would feature these two areas pretty heavily.
Providence offensive rebounds: 16 (34.8% of available opportunities)
Providence steals: 10 (14.3% of available opportunities)
Providence finally played 40 minutes of basketball at the level they’re capable. Some of it may not be replicable; Luwane Pipkins being a 29% three-point shooter and going 4-6 from three in the first half OK, that happens, and a tip of the cap to him....but Texas didn’t have to help him and the rest of the Friars out by playing basketball like they had bet their student loans on Providence -20. And boy, did they play some terrible basketball. Let’s get into it.
If there was ever a game where Sims would struggle with foul trouble, this should’ve been it. The Friars have a lot of size, their bigs know how to play back to the basket, and the way they crash the glass means fouling opportunities were aplenty. Sims played 29 minutes of aggressive, fundamentally sound basketball and drew one foul. Outside of the first 4-5 minutes of the game, he did a good job making Friars bigs make really tough shots. Especially in the second half, he was going after rebounds better than anyone else in burnt orange. He contested shots, he made free throws, he did just about everything you could ask of him.
Yep, that’s about it for this section.
I’m going to offer some relatively mild criticism here because Coleman was the only consistent offensive force for a team that didn’t seems to know its ass from a hole in the ground, but he had zero assists on the day. Texas as a team generates a lot of their offense on assists from lane penetration and kick-outs, and it seems as though Coleman (and Ramey) was focused on only the lane penetration part of the offense. I want to commend them on being really aggressive getting into the lane, but it’s only one part of the offense. Coleman is at his best when he’s facilitating the offense, and him being a score-first PG doesn’t maximize this team’s ability. Coleman’s defense was mostly fine; he was tasked with cooling off Pipkins in the first half and failed, but some of those were tough shots that went down.
Where the hell do I begin? Do I talk about Courtney Ramey playing this game like he thought he was Russell Westbrook? Do I discuss Gerald Liddell fouling out in 17 minutes? How about the fact that Royce Hamm wiping the soles of his shoes at the top of the key is turning into the basketball equivalent of tipping pitches? Or maybe that Andrew Jones’ handle is about 60% as good as he thinks it is, and every time he crosses over he’s 50% more likely to turn the ball over? Can we delve into Will Baker shooting like Generic White Guy in Nintendo Double Dribble? Should we discuss the fact that the press defense is easier to break than a Cybertruck window? Where does everybody want to begin? Honestly this game is summed up by Andrew Jones throwing a layup over the backboard. I’ve watched a lot of basketball in my life but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a layup go over the goddamn backboard. It wasn’t just a little bit over, either, he launched that thing.
There were some schematic positives - like bringing Sims to the free throw line as the hub of the wheel to lift Providence’s bigs out of the paint - that were nullified by failures to finish at the rim. There were some inevitable issues - like only having one rim protector going for blocks meant a team that crashes the glass had plenty of chances for putbacks - that made this game harder to win. At the end of the day this team simply didn’t perform. With a weak non-conference schedule, Texas has few opportunities to show it is making progress compared to last year and they flat-out blew this opportunity. I have a number of questions that aren’t going to be answered by a game against fucking High Point, and after today Texas is going to go into conference play with an understandably even more skeptical than usual fanbase. How they respond is on them, and I don’t just mean the players. This coaching staff hasn’t put it all together yet, and they have exactly one game left to figure things out before conference play. There will be no easy game in the Big 12 for a Texas team with significant flaws, so the clock is ticking.
Texas’ next game is against High Point on Monday, December 30th. Tip 7 PM CT on LHN. Prepare yourself for another edition of Jar Jar Blanks and his co-host, Cocaine Chinchilla.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Sketherson.