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I apologize in advance for anything below that comes across as positive.
Discipline – That word set off a firestorm among the fans this week. It’s as if people thought Barnes was talking about putting the team in “timeout” or sending them to bed without their supper. It’s pretty clear he was talking about a more disciplined style of play on the court. For instance, when Kabongo carelessly stepped into the lane on a missed free throw by a UH player, he allowed UH to score an extra point, which turned out to be the margin of victory. Other examples of things that can be cleaned up: inbound passes to players with their backs turned, circus shots when a simple one would do, failing to set good picks, trying to make passes into tight spots that have a low chance of success. The list goes on. Correcting these things can impact number of wins.
Defense- Texas was among the leaders in defensive FG% all year, in spite of having a young team. If they can maintain that type of defense, and say, cut down on fouls, the scoring defense will be more effective.
Offense – Texas shot the ball poorly from the field, from BTA, and from the FT line. If Texas were to improve by 5 percentage points in each category, the results could be dramatic. That increase (which only means one more make per 20 attempts) would have increased this year’s scoring avg. by 7.5/gm, or from 65.6 ppg to 73.1 ppg. Texas lost 8 games this year either in OT or by 7 points or less in regulation. Had those games been victories, the team’s record would have been 24-10. I realize that you can’t guarantee that outcome, but points do win games.
The Kabongo Ambivalence – Texas fans don’t want Kabongo to return because he has been so good, but because they fear we have no one better. Time will tell, and I have stopped trying to guess what freshmen will bring to the table. However, we are adding 2 guards, with one additional possibility. The law of averages says there is a chance to find a decent floor leader.
Improvement – Ibeh, Holland, Papapetrou, and Lammert need to get stronger. Ridley and Felix need to lose weight and get into better shape. Fortunately, we have just the guy to help them get that done. Our 3 highest (per game) scorers were all high volume shooters. Kabongo, Lewis, and McClellan had shooting percentages ranging from .382 to .418, which is beyond poor. These stats (remember Jordan Hamilton) suggest ability coupled with poor shot selection. Taking better shots would allow all three to be more efficient scorers.
Interesting facts – Among returning players, Lammert was the second worst 3 pt shooter, but the best 2 pt shooter, at .609. Ridley shot .462, but should be at .600. Ibeh was already close, at .588, far and away the best overall shooting percentage on the team.
Clearly, there is room for growth, and slight improvement in many areas that have nothing to do with skill could lead to much better results.
I don't mind the positivity at all, and I agree that Texas will be better next year. The question is how much.
When asked this question a year ago, I was of the opinion the 2012-13 team would be pretty good, but not great, but that the 2013-14 team would be great, without assuming any huge addition in the 2013 class, but assuming a couple of good adds to the 10 guys on scholarship after Kabongo left. I don't feel that way anymore.
We don't have a class coming in of the even average quality that I was assuming, even with Croaker being a damn good player, but we might have Kabongo returning. However, there is nothing new being added in the frontcourt.
The teams ahead of Texas in the conference this year will lose a lot of talent
KU--Withey, Taylor, Releford, Young, McLemore
KSU--McGruder, Henriquez, Irving
ISU--Lucious, Babb, Clyburn, McGee, Booker
OU--Osby, Pledger, Grooms, Fitzgerald
Baylor--Austin, Jackson, Jefferson, Walton
I don't think your comparison of the three volume shooters on the 2012-13 team to Jordan Hamilton is accurate. That guy could light it up like very few but tended to get completely out of control in forcing crap on the move as a freshman instead of passing out, getting position, getting the return pass and hitting the open shot. He was world's better as a sophomore in not forcing his shots and had more than a little talent in creating his own shot. Lewis improved somewhat as a sophomore and is pretty good, in my opinion, at catch and shoot, but is pretty bad at hitting anything on the move. McClellan is still pretty good at trying to move to the basket for a shot, but took a big step back in the aspect of actually making any shots other than free throws.
What needed to happen to increase the shooting percentage, and I've harped on this for years, is some kind of attack that takes the ball inside and passes out to shooters, giving them the advantage of 1) being relatively open 2) against defenders who have had to turn 180 degrees to follow ball and man and 3) getting to shoot with the vectors being reduced. Because Texas had 1) no one in the post who could receive a pass, pull in the defense, and pass back out and 2) no one on the perimeter who was adept at getting by his defender and passing back out, this kind of offense just never appeared until we saw some glimpses of it when Kabongo finally took the floor and started feeding Felix and Lewis on the arc after getting in the paint.
If, if, if
1) Ridley practices a jillion times catching a pass, faking one way, turning the other to shoot or passing out if the defense collapses
2) Ibeh learns a half hook with the dominant hand and to pass out if that is closed off
3) Lammert gets strong enough to hold position
there could be three legitimate options inside that will demand attention, leaving the possibility of open perimeter shooters.
1) Texas doesn't have an athletic 4 with size,
2) Texas doesn't have a three with quickness and size, and
3) Texas doesn't have any proven deep threats.
In the first two, we can't even hope for improvement, unless there is some recruit being released from his LOI or a hardship/graduate transfer of which I am not aware on the way. The third area is one in which we simply have to hope we will see improvement.
And the biggest question of all has come to be:
Can Rick Barnes make these guys get better? Holmes was a little better before he got hurt, or so I thought. Lewis was a slightly more accurate deep shooter this year, but his defensive talents seemed to slide. McClellan was bad, and there's really no other way to put that. The entire 2011 class had next to no improvement in individual play. I'm not talking about play as a team, since that was so profoundly affected by the absence of Kabongo. I'm talking about individual ability to shoot, rebound, dribble, and guard a man.
On a shorter term view, Houston had an rpi of 197. That was the worst RPI of any team Texas lost to this year, since Chaminade wasn't rated. So Texas ended the year looking worse than it did at any point in the season after the debacle on Maui.
So, yeah, with all the talent leaving the conference, Texas should rise. With all the youth Texas has, it should improve significantly. However, we didn't see that improvement this year, and let's not forget the simulator someone ran predicting Texas would be the most improved team this year due to rise in quality of play of the sophomores. I can't find it right now, but I'll keep looking.
However, we have grave questions at present about whether the coaching staff can and will get those improvements. Until we see them do that, it's hard to have a lot of optimism. I think we have mere hopes or wishes for better, rather than expectations for a vast improvement.
In the 2 games immediately before getting hurt, Holmes went for 12 and 9, and 15 and 9. It's a small sample, but it did seem like he was getting on a roll. Clearly, he was never the same after that.
I agree about playing inside out, but that starts with the post players getting good position and the guards making good entry passes. Both were deficiencies, but improvement can come without being better athletically.
I didn't mean to suggest that any of the 3 amigos were as skilled as Jordan Hamilton. I only meant that, if you have the ability to make shots, taking the right shot will usually maximize your production.
If nothing else, having 9 or 10 guys who have played together for at least one season should lead to more cohesive play.
BTW, I have seen mock drafts that have Kabongo every where from the second round to undrafted. Most have him in the top half of the second round. What that usually means is that the decision will come down to whether he prefers being a pro, no matter the circumstances, over being a college player.
Thanks, texastom and bierce, for your reasoned discourse. It is a pleasant respite compared to the verbal bludgeoning of player and coach alike, that we have had to endure of late. I do not mind it when posters express opinions about the abilities or the lack thereof of our players and coaches, but I very much appreciate it when those opinions are backed up by more than just epithets. To crib the name of one of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently novels, the last couple of seasons has been A Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul for Longhorn basketball fans. Here is to hoping that things take a turn for the better soonest! We are due.
This post was edited by BudreauReye 16 months ago
My thoughts on next year go back to when Texas was good. The last Elite Eight year, they started out playing very good team offense basketball in beating a top ten Tennessee and UCLA teams. At the winter break, Barnes changed it up to have Augustin dominate the ball. Texas did well in conference, and played two great games against KU. Texas made it to the EE where they got blown out by Memphis. That tells me that Barnes valued the ball more than having a balanced offense.
The other significant point on Barnes is the Thompson-Joseph year when the defense was playing at historical levels and it wasn't good enough for him. So he continued to grind on them in the limited practice time during the season.
Looking at next year, which players demonstrate the value of possession by limiting turnovers or getting offensive rebounds? Considering Barnes emphases on ball possession and outstanding defense, I think it will be up to the individual players to work outside the coaches purview on shooting and posting up. One thing is a given that the returning players will be physically better due to Wright's efforts. Texas has a great strength and conditioning coach and a great academic support head. Can basketball IQ be taught? I certainly think it can be guided.
Season Stats since EE related to ball possession.
Year Assists-Turnovers Offensive Rebounds
12-13 12-15 418
11-12 12-13 453
10-11 13-12 494
09-10 14-14 503
08-09 13-13 496
07-08 13-9 496
I think your point that the players have to individually work on shooting and post up play is is very important if we are to be better next year..
The teams winning in the tournament are good on defense but also on offense - in my opinion, Barnes needs to concentrate on offense, especially if he does not secure additional recruits - something has to change before next season in order for the Horns to compete
If that is truly the case, shouldn't the entire coaching staff be sacked yesterday? While I can see a coach wanting to use most team practice time for working on team defense and offense, making the players practice shooting on individual time, I can't think of an excuse for a coaching staff to not work players on necessary offensive skills when those skills are lacking, no matter how much the staff might place an emphasis on team defense. If players are doing something wrong in the way they shoot or the way they set up in the post, they won't fix their mistakes by repeating them endlessly on their own.
Over the years, there have been stories about the coaching staff working with players to change their shooting form, both from the field and the FT line. Although I can't remember who it was, there was at least one player who said they completely scrapped his shooting motion and had him learn a new technique. At any rate, I think it is something of a myth that the coaches don't understand offensive principles and don't teach them. However, they probably do spend more time, especially early in team practices, on team defense. At least, that has been the report on several occaisions from Barnes himself.
Yeah, I can't imagine no one on the Texas staff works with guys on shooting form or how to set up in the post and receive a pass. I can believe they haven't had much success at teaching those things, but I can't believe they aren't trying.
#1 thing Texas needs to do next year? Put the ball in the hole.
A) Texas took plenty of WIDE OPEN 3's, and missed A TON of them. Texas shot 29.7% as a team...that sucks terribly...ranked 9th in the Big 12.
B) Texas has had poor inside post scoring production the past 2 years. That needs to change. The posts need to put the ball in the hole.
C) FT's...the posts need to make more FT's.
If Texas can do A, B, & C better, then they will score more points which will lead to more W's.
Ridley and Ibeh need the Aldridge chair drill.
Ridley needs to lose 50 pounds, no reason he can't do what McCary did against VCU on Saturday. This team has so much potential but needs to find a leader among the returning players.
Once again the Texas guards need to spend 1-2 hours a day practicing post entry passes. It's ridiculous that there isn't one player on the entire team, besides Lammert, that can feed a post player consistently.
Thanks guys for a very good conversation without all the needless negativity. Team with a losing record is going to have plenty of negatives but so many, especially on TOS, don't even try to see some positive down the road with these guys.
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