At 2-1, the Texas Longhorns basketball team has a very deceiving record. The two wins to being the season came against over-matched teams in Fresno State and Coppin State.
An 86-73 whipping last night at the hands of the Chaminade SilverSwords in the opening round of the Maui Classic, making the Longhorns only the 7th Chamindade victim in the 29-year history of one of college basketball’s premier pre-conference holiday tournaments.
Texas basically could do nothing right on either side of the floor throughout. The Longhorns shot a horrendous 19% from three point land, and 56.7% from the free-throw line– both issues which were also indicative of an under-achieving 2011 squad.
While Texas ended up shooting 46.4% from the floor on the evening, that tangible statistic is minor when you put it up against the intangibles like heart, toughness, and leadership, of which the Longhorns exhibited none on Monday night.
Obviously, the absence of point guard Myck Kabongo due to the NCAA’s on-going investigation of an agent’s role in his trip to visit his friend Tristan Thompson in Cleveland is not helping matters. Without Kabongo on the floor there is no definable floor leader apart from true freshman Javan Felix, who has looked largely in over his head in the early going against this level of competition turning the ball over more often than handling it with confidence.
When asked in the post-game press conference what happened, the best explanation head coach Rick Barnes could muster was that Texas was scared:
The team that won the game should have won the game. They played better. I thought they played, collectively, I thought they played better. I thought we played very tentative.
I would probably even used the word scared.
We haven’t played anything in the three games that we’ve played like what we’ve practiced.
I don’t even think the score is even indicative of how much better they played than we played.
If an annual Big 12 contender is scared of a tiny Division II island school then there are bigger fish to fry than missing leadership.
This is an exceedingly young Texas team that will depend on consistent contributions from fresh-faced underclassmen throughout the 2012 season in order to stay afloat. There is no time for a “seasoning process”– that luxury isn’t afforded a team whose only seniors are walk-ons.
If Texas is indeed intimidated– or even “scared”–by the competition they are facing, the road ahead will be much longer than the one behind.
In essence, this Texas team, like Texas teams of the past, will be a reflection of the coaching staff and the leadership that emerges– if it does and to be honest, Rick Barnes’ “aw shucks” attitude is starting to wear thin with a fan base that is fickler than most.
Platitudes only go so far.
Tonight’s match up with the USC Trojans will speak volumes about one thing: resiliency.
Is it there?
If not, will Rick Barnes’ seat continue to get warmer as 2012 carries on?
Kris is the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.