Texas Basketball: Rick Barnes Must Give Damarcus Croaker a True Opportunity in 2014-15
Outside of the Texas Longhorns basketball program and those who follow it, the name Damarcus Croaker doesn’t ring a bell to many, although it should. I’m not saying this kid is the next up to become a lottery pick or anything, but he definitely has the potential to fill a void Texas longed for last season. He can help them take the next step in becoming contenders for the Big 12 Championship.
Again, outside of the people who followed Texas basketball last season, only a select few have been able to see the potential in Croaker that I witnessed during his high school career and the few flashes of brilliance last season. As a freshman, he played only 314 minutes for the season, which was good for fourth fewest on the team. Within this time of 9.5 minutes per game, Croaker complied averages of 3.3 PPG although that number doesn’t portray the whole story.
In his first year at Texas, Croaker put up scoring totals of 14, 15 and 12 in three of the games in which he played a considerable amount. But for whatever reason, head coach Rick Barnes was very strict in the freedom he gave Croaker to simply play his game, and that noticeably affected the aggressive scoring attitude, which allowed him to thrive during his high school days.
As for the upcoming season, given Croaker will develop his shot, which at times he appeared to have absolutely no confidence in, as well as become a better facilitator and rebounder, Barnes would be wise to loosen his reigns on Croaker and watch the impact he will have on the team’s success. For example, after studying high school and college tape on Croaker, he undeniably has the potential to put points up in bunches on a nightly basis. He has proven he can be a sniper from deep and make a poster out of nearly anybody in his path of the rim.
But again, Barnes must loosen the leash he gives Croaker offensively and allow him to step up and compete for the starting shooting guard role, which he is more than capable of securing. For Croaker, next season must be his opportunity to take advantage of his court time and prove he deserves to be there. Barnes, on the other hand, needs Croaker as much as Croaker needs him. The Longhorns’ weakness was perimeter shooting and scoring from the wing positions. It makes since for both parties, and now Barnes just needs to give Croaker his opportunity.