Posted January 8th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

Without a true point guard, Justin Mason and the Horns have struggled this season.

Without a true point guard, Justin Mason and the Horns have struggled this season.

It is amazing how far the men’s basketball program has come under the guidance of [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag]. Texas basketball used to be an afterthought, something watched to help get over not having anymore football. Now, the Longhorns are perennial conference championship contenders and recruit the kind of talent that brings home national awards. A decade and a half ago would [tag]Kevin Durant[/tag] ever think about attending The University of Texas?

With the success comes expectations, and with the bar that has been set it has to be said that this year’s team has underwhelmed many. The defense while great at times is hard to play for 40 minutes every time out, Damion James has had a harder time adjusting to the wing than expected, and the late minute offense has been inept. But the one thing that is holding this team back over all else is not having a true point guard.

College basketball is a guard dominated sport because of the zone defenses and shorter three-point line. The Longhorns have been spoiled in recent memory with the likes of [tag]TJ Ford[/tag], [tag]Daniel Gibson[/tag], and [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag]. [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] is a solid player, a great defender, and a hell of a young man. What he is not is a true point guard.

All three Longhorn losses ([tag]Notre Dame[/tag], [tag]Michigan State[/tag], [tag]Arkansas[/tag]) have all been decided in the last minute. In all of those losses except maybe Notre Dame, the lack of a fluid play set has denied the team from getting up efficient shots. Too many times when they need it the most the ball is lost out of bounds or a shot is jacked up after too much one-on-one dribbling.

Unfortunately [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] is not the answer. Unfortunately a true answer does not exist on the current roster. It doesn’t mean Texas can’t make some noise in March, but it does mean that Longhorn nation is going to be very frustrated with this team at times during conference play.

Rick Barnes is an excellent coach with a proven record of coaching teams that improve as the season goes on. On top of that guys like Mason and Abrams want to win and want to prove to the world that they can get it done. The mix is there for success, just not the kind of success that the newly spoiled Texas fans are looking for.

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