Posted January 13th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

Texas coach is looking for answers beyond AJ Abrams at guard.

Texas coach Rick Barnes is looking for answers beyond AJ Abrams at guard for the Horns.

If you think you’re frustrated, imagine being [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag]. Two games into the conference season and this team still has no idea who it is. Let’s be clear, if Texas would have won Monday night’s game in Oklahoma the team would have won a game against the best team and player in the conference on the road in a primetime game. They didn’t, and that fact shouldn’t make anyone lose sleep. But the problems that were exhibited in the first half may require at least a week’s supply of Lunesta.

Texas simply does not have a reliable guard to run the offense. [tag]Oklahoma[/tag] does, and despite the presence of the best player in basketball, sorry Tyler Hansbrough, this game simply came down to one team having the ability to create by getting in the lane, and one that could not. Guard play rules college basketball, and Texas has none.

Oklahoma guards constantly got into the lane and made plays for themselves and their teammates. All three starting guards for the Sooners scored in double figures. The only player not named [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] to score in double figures was [tag]Damion James[/tag], who had been shutout and benched for most of the first half.

Rick Barnes was unhappy heading into the locker room. He stated that if guys didn’t want to do their job he’d find someone who would. Bench players like [tag]Harrison Smith[/tag] and [tag]Dogus Balbay[/tag] got extended time in the first half because of James and Justin Mason’s struggles. James was able to bounce back in the second half, but Mason continues to struggle. Basketball is a game of confidence and Mason has none right now on the offensive end.

Texas played better in the second half, even cutting the lead to four points midway through the second half. The low post defenders did a decent job keeping Blake Griffin in check. When on the court [tag]Dexter Pittman[/tag] was able to out muscle the future top three pick in the lane. But the attention Griffin forced the Texas defense to pay to him allowed Sooner guards to live in the lane.

Texas plays Oklahoma again on February 21st in Austin, and before that game happens the Longhorns have to figure out their perimeter play on offense.


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  1. reply to  #1

    Bryan Bennet

    I actually heard an interesting stat the other day when Texas was losing to Arkansas. The announcers said that in each of the last 5 or so seasons, the eventual NCAA champion was led in scoring by the front court rather than backcourt. I know that’s 3 vs 2, but that would suggest that guard play is not where the games are won and lost. Just look at how Memphis manhandled Texas last year when we relied on our small guards for scoring. I’m confident Barnes will right the ship, but we’re probably looking at a 4 or 5 seed in the tourney.

  2. reply to  #2


    @Bryan: Scoring is one thing, but one of the biggest failings of the Texas backcourt so far has been their inability to create scoring opportunities for others. The frontcourt guys aren’t going to be very productive if we don’t have a player capable of getting them the ball.

  3. reply to  #3

    Mike Craven

    Exactly Brian. The one thing Longhorn guards do well is score, it is the inability to make plays for other people. Texas does not get as many easy buckets as other good teams, and they suffer because of it in tight games.

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