Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Win, is a Win, is a Win

It will be interesting to see if Texas can recapture that early season play of good defense, with an explosive transition game, and balanced offensive scoring and hot shooting. If they can't, then you should get used to this kind of result and this kind of game. The Longhorns won on the road at hostile Gallagher-Iba Arena Monday night by two over an Oklahoma State team experiencing a down year.

Texas played well in the first half with DJ Augustin, Damion James, and Connor Atchley sharing the scoring load as Justin Mason again played well on the defensive end. Oklahoma State, to their credit, made adjustments and erased the 10 point Longhorn lead early in the second half. From there, it became a hard fought slugfest that was typical conference Big XII basketball. It wasn't so much pretty as it was physical.

In a close game, Texas went into what might very well be their late game offense for much of the Big XII season. They set up plays for DJ Augustin, whether he was at the point, or curling off of screens while Mason ran the point, Texas got the ball to DJ and gave him space. From there it was up to DJ to run the shot clock, create his shot, or get fouled. This is why DJ should be a front runner for Player of the Year, because no player does more for his team. There were a few times where Augustin used poor judgement, but considering the ball was in his hands every possession the final 7 minutes of the game, he was unbelievable.

Texas made it clear that they will be turning things over to DJ Augustin late in games, and we will attempt to sit on leads, eek out close games, and that we don't trust anyone else with the basketball. This may work against a majority of the conference, but it won't work against Kansas, and it won't work in the NCAA Tournament. Texas killed their momentum by slowing down the game and made their offense predictable and stagnant.

Texas needs to continue to search for the offense that was winning games early in the year. An offense with Damion James and Connor Atchley getting involved and AJ Abrams attacking inside the three point arc and outside. There's nothing wrong with having the ball in DJ's hands at the end of games, but he needs to be doing it to get the team involved.

It's nice to know that we have a weapon in DJ Augustin that we can give the ball to and he can deliver the win, but with 7 minutes left in the Oklahoma State game, we made the decision that we were going to try and win 63-61, as opposed to trying to win 85-70. With a player like DJ Augustin, that is a strategy that will win you a majority of your games. But in the NCAA Tournament, winning a majority of games isn't a luxury that you have. It's a game like the USC loss last year, where down the stretch, they moved the basketball, attacked from all sides and kept scoring, while feeding the ball to Kevin Durant and letting him score didn't work. Because if you let inferior basketball teams hang around for too long, it will come back to haunt you.

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