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Thoughts on Texas basketball heading into post season

  • I haven't done the weekly thoughts on Texas basketball in a while, but with the regular season having ended, it's time to take a look at the Longhorns headed into the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

    1.Much deserved credit to the Texas players and coaching staff for a regular season that exceeded expectations from those at the beginning of the season. If the number was 25-6 and 13-3, second in the conference, not sure how many takers there would have been on that bet when looking at the schedule before a game was played.

    When looking at the 25-6 mark, it's even more impressive when one considers that four of the losses were by a single basket. Lost by two to Pitt at Madison Square Garden, one in overtime to Connecticut in Austin, three at Nebraska and two at Colorado.

    While each game was different, the Longhorns never quit and fought back to have a chance to win when it looked unlikely in two road games late in the season. In the overtime loss to Connecticut, an over the shoulder 35-footer by Kemba Walker and a missed breakaway by Jordan Hamilton were two difference making plays of note.

    Texas also lost by 17 early in the season at USC and five in Austin to Kansas State.

    That means out of 31 games, Texas had the opportunity to win 30 of them realistically. That is a very good performance all things considered.

    While Texas had a very good regular season, the end to the season wasn't pretty. Texas has struggled mightily on the offensive end and has limped to the finish line, even with the win at Baylor yesterday.

    In the last eight games, Texas has averaged 71.5 points per game and scored over 75 only twice, against Iowa State and Colorado. That is not pretty to look at when one considers the likelihood of Texas having to score the ball much better in the NCAA Tournament.

    2.Reasons for the offensive struggles are many, and not just one. When Texas is at their best, they run their offense, re-set and run again at times during the same possession and force teams to guard for 35-seconds. Those are the possessions in which the ball stays moving, switches are forced and the result is normally good looks.

    In some of the recent losses, Texas has become a jump shooting team and averaged around 20 three's per game. That will not allow for NCAA Tournament success, even though the number of three's attempted is altered by late game situations at times.

    This team has to execute in the half court, play inside out and really run their half court offense. While that can be said for many teams, with the Longhorns talent level and group of offensive players, they become very tough to beat if they defend well (not great).

    3.Next up is the Big 12 Tournament. The first round bye is huge for this team as they need all the rest they can get.

    The Longhorns will play the winner of Wednesday's #7 seed Baylor vs. #10 seed Oklahoma game. If you are Texas, you want to see Oklahoma win for two reasons. One, not ideal to see Baylor again that quick after beating them and that would mean Baylor would again be playing for their NCAA Tournament hopes. Two, Oklahoma is a game in which Texas is clearly the better team and could play their backup bigs more minutes and still feel good about winning the game.

    Should Texas win their first game in the Big 12 Tournament, this is where it gets interesting. One never wants to lose a game on purpose, but this Texas team doesn't really need to play three games in three days before the NCAA Tournament. The last thing Texas needs is for Hamilton, Thompson and Joseph to log 90+ minutes in three days at this point in the season.

    The issue with going out in the semi-finals is two fold. One, if it's Texas A&M, it's tough to go with the "if we lose, it's okay" thought by a coaching staff. Just not the team to have that mindset against. Two, depending on what is happening in other conference tourney's, seeding could still be on the line.

    4.Where will Texas be seeded in the NCAA Tournament? With the big win on Saturday, and it was big for seeding purposes, Texas is still very much in the hunt for a #2 seed. While the win was huge for confidence, it was also huge because the team had enjoyed too much success throughout the regular season to let it slip away and end up on the #3 or #4 seed conversation.

    At this point, it's likely Texas is rewarded with a #2 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament unless they lose in the second round (Texas' first game) of the Big 12 Tournament and a couple of teams that are likely #3 seeds make runs to conference tournament finals.

    Should Texas be a #2 seed, there is history. The Horns have been a #2 seed twice under Rick Barnes at Texas. Both times they have advanced to the Elite Eight (2005-06, 2007-08).

    Since the 2000 season, 26 of 44 #2 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 or better.

    Since that same time, 18 of 44 teams have advanced to the Elite Eight or better with 10 going to the Final Four. Arizona (2001), Kansas (2003), UCLA (2006) and Michigan State (2009) have advanced to the national championship game as #2 seeds. Connecticut won the national title as the #2 seed in 2004.

    Since 2000, eight #1 seeds, one #2 seed and two #3 seeds have won the national title. The #1 seed has won five of the last six national championships.

    5.What teams does Texas not want to see in their NCAA Tournament bracket if they are a #2 seed?

    There is not a more dangerous team than North Carolina right now, but they have the chance to play their way into a #2 seed if they advance to the ACC Tournament title game or win it. The Tar Heels have improved more than any other team throughout the season and are primed to make an national title run.

    Florida (Donovan's an tremendous offensive coach), Louisville (Pitino is a tough match-up in the tournament) and Georgetown (two strong, experienced senior guards that will not be affected by Texas' on the ball defense).

    There can be an argument made for others, but those stand out to me at this point.

    6.Predicting the seeds. The #1 seeds are likely to be Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Kansas with the final top seed in question. The final seed is likely to come from Notre Dame or Duke. I'll go with Notre Dame if they win two games in the Big East Tourney.

    Sorry, just don't believe BYU or San Diego State should be in conversation for a #1. They may be at the end of the day, but I'm not a believer.

    The #2's:

    North Carolina
    Duke
    Texas
    Mountain West champ (San Diego State because they would have to beat UNLV and likely BYU to win it)

    The #3's:

    BYU
    Purdue
    Florida
    Wisconsin

    The #4's:

    Syracuse
    Arizona
    Louisville
    Georgetown (based on schedule strength) or St. John's

    That's not how it will go more than likely, but just one opinion.

    7.Rick Barnes in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Barnes has a career record of 19-18 in 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 17-12 at Texas.

    He is 9-9 in NCAA Tournament first round games, including 8-4 at Texas.

    As a #4 seed or better, Barnes is 15-6 in the tournament. His teams have advanced to the Sweet 16 in five of those six tournaments, including four of five in his time at Texas.

    He has coached a #1 seed once advancing to the Final Four in 2003.

    He has coached a #2 seed twice, 2006 and 2008, advancing to the Elite Eight both times.

    Texas has advanced to the Sweet 16 five times under Barnes, once as a #1 seed, twice as a #2 seed, once as a #3 seed and once as a #6 seed.

    This post was edited by Gerry Hamilton 3 years ago

    National Director of Scouting & Recruiting Analyst @GerryHam247

  • I think we'll get Baylor again and we'll beat them After that, who knows.

    At this point, I'm happy with a S16. Anything else is gravy for this team.

    It's all going to be about 2012. With Kabongo coming, I think we'll be primed for a big run, assuming TT comes back, which I believe he will.

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  • Gerry Hamilton said... (original post)

    2.Reasons for the offensive struggles are many, and not just one. When Texas is at their best, they run their offense, re-set and run again at times during the same possession and force teams to guard for 35-seconds. Those are the possessions in which the ball stays moving, switches are forced and the result is normally good looks.

    In some of the recent losses, Texas has become a jump shooting team and averaged around 20 three's per game. That will not allow for NCAA Tournament success, even though the number of three's attempted is altered by late game situations at times.

    This team has to execute in the half court, play inside out and really run their half court offense. While that can be said for many teams, with the Longhorns talent level and group of offensive players, they become very tough to beat if they defend well (not great).

    That's the most baffling part of Texas' struggles. It has shown the ability to run an offense, but for one reason or another they are reverting to this jump shooting attack that simply hasn't been working.

  • 2012 is going to be real big... I personally see TT coming back. And im not sure if J-ham is certain to head for the NBA. The fact that there could be a lockout and that he could still use some improvement is what leaves this in question. Remember last year he was for sure coming back. His attitude is all about getting better. Key factor for him will definitely be the lockout. This kid has sat from basketball before and im sure he's not trying to do it again. Plus he isn't hurt by coming back to school another year IMO.

  • Dave Behr said... (original post)

    That's the most baffling part of Texas' struggles. It has shown the ability to run an offense, but for one reason or another they are reverting to this jump shooting attack that simply hasn't been working.

    No point guard to create open looks for Hamilton or anyone else. I'd feel a lot more confident in this team in the tourny if they had one.

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  • Silky Johnson said... (original post)

    No point guard to create open looks for Hamilton or anyone else. I'd feel a lot more confident in this team in the tourny if they had one.

    In truth, the fact that Balbay's minutes have declined due to the team's search for offense has hurt on both ends of the floor. Balbay not only creates turnovers, but he is a good finisher in transition. There were a lot of fast break opportunities that came up dry last night.

    Like it or not, Balbay tends to be the best point guard when directing the offense. The fact that teams have started backing off of him in recent games has really upset the offensive flow. It clogs the lane and makes it difficult to play inside-out.

  • texassborn said... (original post)

    2012 is going to be real big... I personally see TT coming back. And im not sure if J-ham is certain to head for the NBA. The fact that there could be a lockout and that he could still use some improvement is what leaves this in question. Remember last year he was for sure coming back. His attitude is all about getting better. Key factor for him will definitely be the lockout. This kid has sat from basketball before and im sure he's not trying to do it again. Plus he isn't hurt by coming back to school another year IMO.

    This is our curse, it seems. We are always a year away, and the player(s) we need most almost always leave early. What would we have accomplished over the years with one more year from Ford, Aldridge, Gibson, Tucker, Durant and Augustin?

  • texaztom said... (original post)

    In truth, the fact that Balbay's minutes have declined due to the team's search for offense has hurt on both ends of the floor. Balbay not only creates turnovers, but he is a good finisher in transition. There were a lot of fast break opportunities that came up dry last night.

    Like it or not, Balbay tends to be the best point guard when directing the offense. The fact that teams have started backing off of him in recent games has really upset the offensive flow. It clogs the lane and makes it difficult to play inside-out.

    He and Joseph stand around and pick up their dribble at the top of the key way too much. If there has something we have learned from Barnes' teams in the past, it's that he needs a good point guard to go "deep" in the tournament. I put deep in quotes because the two best point guards he ever had resulted in a Final Four and Elite Eight appearance. Balbay is a great defender, but if this team loses in the tournament, it will be because of its offensive struggles we have seen over the past 8 or so games. Texas can't just go out and score 80 points in transition. They need to score from the half-court and no one on the team right now has shown they can effectively run the half-court offense for an entire game.

    This post was edited by Silky Johnson 3 years ago

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  • I would also add that FT shooting probably cost Texas both the nu and cu games, the Big 12 title, and a #1 seed. That's a big reason also why the offense was so bad over the final 8 games. Texas lost multiple possessions in those games when getting fouled on rebounds and missing the front end of FTs.

    I really think Texas is a rhythm FT shooting team, if Hamilton and Brown can get to the line early I think it relaxes the rest of the team. It's a shame that Wangmene's hands are made of bricks because with his ability to shoot FT's he could be a legit offensive option off the bench if he could hold on to the ball.

  • One thing that would immediately improve our offense is more consistent on ball screening of Hamilton's man when he gets the ball on the perimeter. He is being over played even more these days due to lack of threat from our guards. He is good off the dribble. I do not know how many times I yelled at the tv for someone to come set a pick for him last night.

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  • Thanks Gerry

    I think a lot of your info regarding Texas and their seeding shows a history that Barnes teams often go exactly as far as the selection committee projected them to go (the only #1 seed made it to the final 4...the two #2's both made it to the elite 8, etc etc).

  • Gerry Hamilton said... (original post)

    I haven't done the weekly thoughts on Texas basketball in a while, but with the regular season having ended, it's time to take a look at the Longhorns headed into the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

    1.Much deserved credit to the Texas players and coaching staff for a regular season that exceeded expectations from those at the beginning of the season. If the number was 25-6 and 13-3, second in the conference, not sure how many takers there would have been on that bet when looking at the schedule before a game was played.

    When looking at the 25-6 mark, it's even more impressive when one considers that four of the losses were by a single basket. Lost by two to Pitt at Madison Square Garden, one in overtime to Connecticut in Austin, three at Nebraska and two at Colorado.

    While each game was different, the Longhorns never quit and fought back to have a chance to win when it looked unlikely in two road games late in the season. In the overtime loss to Connecticut, an over the shoulder 35-footer by Kemba Walker and a missed breakaway by Jordan Hamilton were two difference making plays of note.

    Texas also lost by 17 early in the season at USC and five in Austin to Kansas State.

    That means out of 31 games, Texas had the opportunity to win 30 of them realistically. That is a very good performance all things considered.

    While Texas had a very good regular season, the end to the season wasn't pretty. Texas has struggled mightily on the offensive end and has limped to the finish line, even with the win at Baylor yesterday.

    In the last eight games, Texas has averaged 71.5 points per game and scored over 75 only twice, against Iowa State and Colorado. That is not pretty to look at when one considers the likelihood of Texas having to score the ball much better in the NCAA Tournament.

    2.Reasons for the offensive struggles are many, and not just one. When Texas is at their best, they run their offense, re-set and run again at times during the same possession and force teams to guard for 35-seconds. Those are the possessions in which the ball stays moving, switches are forced and the result is normally good looks.

    In some of the recent losses, Texas has become a jump shooting team and averaged around 20 three's per game. That will not allow for NCAA Tournament success, even though the number of three's attempted is altered by late game situations at times.

    This team has to execute in the half court, play inside out and really run their half court offense. While that can be said for many teams, with the Longhorns talent level and group of offensive players, they become very tough to beat if they defend well (not great).

    3.Next up is the Big 12 Tournament. The first round bye is huge for this team as they need all the rest they can get.

    The Longhorns will play the winner of Wednesday's #7 seed Baylor vs. #10 seed Oklahoma game. If you are Texas, you want to see Oklahoma win for two reasons. One, not ideal to see Baylor again that quick after beating them and that would mean Baylor would again be playing for their NCAA Tournament hopes. Two, Oklahoma is a game in which Texas is clearly the better team and could play their backup bigs more minutes and still feel good about winning the game.

    Should Texas win their first game in the Big 12 Tournament, this is where it gets interesting. One never wants to lose a game on purpose, but this Texas team doesn't really need to play three games in three days before the NCAA Tournament. The last thing Texas needs is for Hamilton, Thompson and Joseph to log 90+ minutes in three days at this point in the season.

    The issue with going out in the semi-finals is two fold. One, if it's Texas A&M, it's tough to go with the "if we lose, it's okay" thought by a coaching staff. Just not the team to have that mindset against. Two, depending on what is happening in other conference tourney's, seeding could still be on the line.

    4.Where will Texas be seeded in the NCAA Tournament? With the big win on Saturday, and it was big for seeding purposes, Texas is still very much in the hunt for a #2 seed. While the win was huge for confidence, it was also huge because the team had enjoyed too much success throughout the regular season to let it slip away and end up on the #3 or #4 seed conversation.

    At this point, it's likely Texas is rewarded with a #2 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament unless they lose in the second round (Texas' first game) of the Big 12 Tournament and a couple of teams that are likely #3 seeds make runs to conference tournament finals.

    Should Texas be a #2 seed, there is history. The Horns have been a #2 seed twice under Rick Barnes at Texas. Both times they have advanced to the Elite Eight (2005-06, 2007-08).

    Since the 2000 season, 26 of 44 #2 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 or better.

    Since that same time, 18 of 44 teams have advanced to the Elite Eight or better with 10 going to the Final Four. Arizona (2001), Kansas (2003), UCLA (2006) and Michigan State (2009) have advanced to the national championship game as #2 seeds. Connecticut won the national title as the #2 seed in 2004.

    Since 2000, eight #1 seeds, one #2 seed and two #3 seeds have won the national title. The #1 seed has won five of the last six national championships.

    5.What teams does Texas not want to see in their NCAA Tournament bracket if they are a #2 seed?

    There is not a more dangerous team than North Carolina right now, but they have the chance to play their way into a #2 seed if they advance to the ACC Tournament title game or win it. The Tar Heels have improved more than any other team throughout the season and are primed to make an national title run.

    Florida (Donovan's an tremendous offensive coach), Louisville (Pitino is a tough match-up in the tournament) and Georgetown (two strong, experienced senior guards that will not be affected by Texas' on the ball defense).

    There can be an argument made for others, but those stand out to me at this point.

    6.Predicting the seeds. The #1 seeds are likely to be Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Kansas with the final top seed in question. The final seed is likely to come from Notre Dame or Duke. I'll go with Notre Dame if they win two games in the Big East Tourney.

    Sorry, just don't believe BYU or San Diego State should be in conversation for a #1. They may be at the end of the day, but I'm not a believer.

    The #2's:

    North Carolina Duke Texas Mountain West champ (San Diego State because they would have to beat UNLV and likely BYU to win it)

    The #3's:

    BYU Purdue Florida Wisconsin

    The #4's:

    Syracuse Arizona Louisville Georgetown (based on schedule strength) or St. John's

    That's not how it will go more than likely, but just one opinion.

    7.Rick Barnes in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Barnes has a career record of 19-18 in 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 17-12 at Texas.

    He is 9-9 in NCAA Tournament first round games, including 8-4 at Texas.

    As a #4 seed or better, Barnes is 15-6 in the tournament. His teams have advanced to the Sweet 16 in five of those six tournaments, including four of five in his time at Texas.

    He has coached a #1 seed once advancing to the Final Four in 2003.

    He has coached a #2 seed twice, 2006 and 2008, advancing to the Elite Eight both times.

    Texas has advanced to the Sweet 16 five times under Barnes, once as a #1 seed, twice as a #2 seed, once as a #3 seed and once as a #6 seed.

    Texas will not make the Final 4. Would take a miracle. If they can make it out of the 16, it has been a good season. Youth and a lack of depth are the stumbling blocks. Hook em.

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    "Don't know. Never had one" -- D. Royal-Mack Brown how to coach a team after a losing season

  • texaztom said... (original post)

    This is our curse, it seems. We are always a year away, and the player(s) we need most almost always leave early. What would we have accomplished over the years with one more year from Ford, Aldridge, Gibson, Tucker, Durant and Augustin?

    Yes. Coach Garrido figured it out to take some players who are not top ranked, especially pitchers, who don't even go to College.
    Coach Barnes hasn't been able to get a deep and balanced team, then keep his best(top) players.

    signature image signature image signature image

    "Don't know. Never had one" -- D. Royal-Mack Brown how to coach a team after a losing season

  • Bruce7 said... (original post)

    Texas will not make the Final 4. Would take a miracle. If they can make it out of the 16, it has been a good season. Youth and a lack of depth are the stumbling blocks. Hook em.

    That's where I'm at now and have been all season.

    Playing in the second weekend would be big for the program right now.

    National Director of Scouting & Recruiting Analyst @GerryHam247