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Shooting From the Corner: Syracuse 95, Texas 84

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Selection Sunday is cancelled, people are supposed to stay home, and as such I find myself with more time on my hands than is probably healthy. This leads me down some rabbit holes, and last night I ended up on Youtube looking for old Texas Longhorns games to watch. The first one that came up with the 2003 Final Four match-up against Syracuse, so I watched the whole thing because...well, idle hands. So, here we go.

[Box score]

The Good

Brandon Mouton

I honestly forgot just how good Mouton was in this game; he scored the first 10 Texas points and repeatedly took advantage of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone to get off threes. Mouton is one of those guys I forget about over the years, then happen upon his college stats and I’m reminded of his importance to the fabric of arguably Texas’ best 4-year run in program history. This is the guy we need Jase Febres to be, a 3 & D player with a more consistent outside shot. (Febres can get hotter than Mouton ever could, but I don’t recall Mouton being as streaky.)

TJ Ford

Watching the game again, I felt like the zone gave Ford and the Texas offense fits. Then I go look up the stats and realize Ford had 13(!) assists; there was a smoothness to Ford’s game which can keep him from popping out at you. His scoring was a bit sketchy because of the offensive issues, but that was less his fault than the schematic choices Texas made in the first half.

Brad Buckman

Buckman came into a Final Four game as a true freshman and left with a 14/7 line on 6/6 shooting from the field. Of course Kansas wanted him, he was exactly that Perry Ellis guy who shows up on campus, plays four years, and everybody feels like they’ve been dealing with him for 15.

It’s Complicated

Hindsight

It’s an interesting experiment watching games which are in my memory one way but looking through the eyes of the modern-day understanding of the game. There were so many contested mid-range jumpers, so many passed-up open threes, so many players jammed into the paint. The tactics have some similarities to today, but the specific goal of the tactics has changed over time.

James Thomas

Thomas was the leading rebounder for Texas and played parts of his role well, but going 5-11 from the free throw line in a game which was 85-81 in the last minute is rough. Games like these, every area where you’re a bit off your game gets magnified.

Royal Ivey

Ivey was a great defender in college and he did his best in this situation, but Carmelo Anthony was a matchup nightmare for him. Anthony put up 33 & 14 on Texas and a pretty fair amount of it was on Ivey.

The Bad

Zone Offense

I don’t think I saw a single screen for Ford against the zone until the second half. They did try to plant a guy at the free throw line here and there, but generally it seemed like Barnes was of the mindset that he’s going to play his system regardless and if it weren’t for Mouton going off, this game might have been out of reach early.

Using Zone Against Carmelo Anthony

WHY U DO DIS

Random Notes

  • The fill music for highlights was Chemical Brothers, which was a nice call back.
  • I forgot Frank Haith was on Texas’ staff.
  • There was a promo for CSI, that show has been around forever.
  • When did cornrows go out of style? So many guys in this game are running with that style.

Texas’ next game is some time in 2020, assuming the zombie horde has been dealt with. The Drum will still be empty, so 2021 National Champions via everyone else forfeiting?