Five Thoughts on Texas Basketball

Here are five quick hits on the Texas basketball season to-date.

1) As Rick Barnes said Saturday night, this team doesn't know how to play offense. That, above all else, was apparent when the Longhorns failed to pull away from a poor, and walking-wounded, Sam Houston State team. Texas took poor shots, and didn't screen or move the ball well. How well the Longhorns do this season will depend largely on their ability to soak it in.

2) At the same time, the Longhorns have some nice offensive pieces J'Covan Brown is the top offensive player in the Big 12. Period. He had a poor shooting day against Sam Houston State, but that shouldn't detract from what he has accomplished to this point. Jonathan Holmes is going to be a mismatch against most opponents the Longhorns play this year because of his length and his ability to shoot and put the ball on the floor. And Julien Lewis and Sheldon McCellan give Texas two high-octane wings to contend with.

3) Whether the offense can reach its potential depends largely on Myck Kabongo. The talented point guard was the most highly regarded player in the Longhorns' stellar 2011 class. But teams have already learned that they can keep him out of the paint by playing off him. He can still be devastating in transition with his quickness, but he needs to either hit some jump shots or find a way to cut and get moving toward the basket without the ball to force teams to guard him.

4) Defensively, the Longhorns also have potential. Kabongo, Holmes, Lewis and McClellan all have the tools to be plus defenders at this level. The issue is that the Longhorns don't have an eraser as they did in last year's class with Tristan Thompson. If Kabongo is beaten off the dribble, there's nobody on the back line that terrifies opponents by blocking and altering shots. And when the Longhorns do make a play for a block, they're often beaten on the boards.

5) Which brings us to the biggest problem on the Texas roster: rebounding. Simply put, the Longhorns don't have the beasts on the boards that they've had in previous seasons. In fact, they out-rebounded Sam Houston State by just six boards, a small number when one considers that the Bearkats were without three of their tallest players. Jaylen Bond might be the team's best rebounder, and Holmes and Wangmene have shown potential. But the Texas posts can't do it by themselves. They need help from the guards, and specifically players like McClellan and Lewis, if they're going to board up with some of the lengthier teams they'll face down the road.

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