Look, just so everyone’s prepared, Texas is probably going to get beat tonight.
The book on the Longhorns has become a national best-seller and its chapters include Texas A&M CC with their junked up triangle and 2, Arkansas’ sagging man-to-man, Colorado’s traditional zone, and Texas A&M’s matchup zone.
Make no mistake, we’ll see some form of halfcourt defense from the Wildcats that’s designed to exploit Texas' inability to threaten the arc at expense of their bigs inside.
Unlike the four teams listed above, KSU has the guards to handle Texas' pressure and deny the 'Horns the ability to manufacture easy points with defense. In other words, K State is going to make Longhorn non-shooters shoot, make the paint a no man’s land, and take care of the basketball when they get it.
They have the guards, the bigs, and the home court advantage to pull it off. If Texas is going to win, these are the things Texas must do to have a chance.
The Longhorns have to put guard and wing groups on the floor that can threaten the arc. Point blank. When Juston Mason and Dogus Balbay are playing together, Texas has no shot to generate half court offense. There’s no screen and roll game without a shooting threat. There’s no way to punish interior help without a shooting threat. And there sure as hell is no drive and dish game without a shooting threat. Hello zone, hello sagging man-to-man, hello frustrated Dexter Pittman.
Spacing and Ball Movement
It goes along with personnel, but even with the Longhorns' strong perimeter groups on the floor, the guys have to maintain proper floor spacing and ball movement to really make the defense pay and open up driving lanes and entry passing. If Texas stands around and allows one player to guard two due to poor spacing, the lane will continue to be clogged and they’ll shoot around 40 percent as a result.
Floor spacing and ball movement mean nothing if the Longhorns aren’t patient enough to let possessions play out to create defensive rotations. And this sort of thing will feed on itself negatively unless players on the perimeter are patient.
If I’m a Texas player, and I know Jordan Hamilton or J'Covan Brown is going to jack a shot off one pass, I’m not really going to bust my butt to move without the ball or when I do get a pass, I’m less likely to give it back.
This is the death spiral as far as Dexter Pittman is concerned. This team needs to make it a point to reverse the basketball and find their one true advantage in this game.
If Texas is jacking up shots off one pass then they're screwed, because KSU is too talented inside. There will be no bail-out on the offensive glass for Texas tonight. They must be patient and actively look for good shots.
And speaking of bail outs, if you’re counting on turning over the Kansas State guards to make up for a pure shooting night you’re going to be disappointed.
KSU will not only handle Texas' pressure but they’ll punish their pressure with buckets and fouls unless the Longhorns are committed to a track meet. If they want to turn the game into a war of attrition by going full court for most of the game, so be it. But if they expect to turn them over with simple on-ball, wing denial stuff in a half court, KSU will get to the paint often enough to get Texas' bigs in foul trouble.
If I’m Texas, I soften up the wings like I did against Colorado and play a more sound man-to-man style, making KSU beat me by shooting over the top.
In a nut shell, in order for Texas to win, Pittman must dominate. And the only way he can is if Texas plays with patience, spacing, and ball movement with the proper personnel on offense. Other than that, Texas has a shooter’s chance at winning the game which means shooting over 40 percent from deep. I’m skeptical.
This article was written by Trips Right of Barking Carnival
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