Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oakland-Texas: Q&A With Burnt Orange Nation

As a part of the Gameplan's coverage of the upcoming Oakland-Texas match-up, I reached out to Peter Bean of's Burnt Orange Nation to get the scoop on the Longhorns. Though we'll both be cheering hard for our respective sides come Friday afternoon, a little blogging cooperation can go a long way toward becoming more familiar with an opponent. With that said, here's the full question and answer session with Peter. Many thanks to him for taking the time to answer.
For those who haven't seen much Texas this year, how would you broadly characterize the regular season the team put together in 2010-11? What were the high points, low points? And how do fans feel about the team heading into the tournament?

Burnt Orange Nation: Relative to expectations heading in, the season was an unqualified success. After losing three players to the NBA Draft, most of us thought this Texas squad looked like a 20-22 win team, with 9 or 10 conference wins. Instead, the Horns went 27-7 overall, finishing second in the Big 12 with a 13-3 ledger, then made the conference tournament finals before losing the rematch with Kansas.

Speaking of the Jayhawks, the high point of the season was Texas' incredible comeback win in Lawrence in which they outscored Kansas 51-28 in the second half, breaking the Jayhawks' 69-game home winning streak. The low point came in late February when the team lost three out of four to Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas State, but consecutive wins over Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M appeared to right the ship heading into the tournament. Most Texas fans feel like this is a team that at its best can play its way to Houston, but we’re young and have hit some bumps down the stretch, making it hard to say for sure whether this team is ready to play consistently good basketball in March.

For the first half or so of Big 12 play, a lot of the advanced metrics writers were collectively freaking out about the incredible defensive efficiency figures Texas was putting up. Then the Nebraska game happened, and the Longhorns started to look more "normal" on the defensive end in subsequent games. What happened to bring the Texas "D" back down to earth? How do they get back to that earlier approach?

BON: Part of it is that the other teams just started hitting more shots. Simple regression. But part of it was that Jordan Hamilton went through a terrible offensive slump, and our defense suffered with our struggling offense. It's easier to get in your set defense and play great D when you're filling it up on offense. If Texas is scoring against Oakland, the defense will be there, too.

Senior Gary Johnson (11.5pts/6.8rebs), sophomore Jordan Hamilton (18.6pts/7.7rebs), and freshman Tristan Thompson (13.3pts/7.6rebs) appear to give Texas a very strong and athletic frontcourt with very balanced scoring and rebounding. What kind of teams have given them trouble on the boards this season, if at all? If they are all playing to their strengths, just how far can Texas go?

BON: Teams with real muscle inside have given Texas some trouble on the boards, but for the most part Texas has done terrific work on the boards. The Longhorns are most vulnerable when a team has more than one tall banger inside, because at 6-6 Johnson doesn’t have the length to deal with a true big.

Senior Dogus Balbay is a noted perimeter defender, but freshman Cory Joseph has also developed into a strong defender over the course of the season. Where is Joseph at in his development on both sides of the ball? Can he "change a game" with a certain aspect of his skillset? Is he further along than where Avery Bradley was last year?

BON: Joseph is one of the most polished freshman I've ever seen, and though he's had his ups and downs he's largely been one of the most consistent players on the team. He's certainly further along than Avery Bradley was offensively, and while he's a good defender, he's at this point shy of elite. He struggles at times with guards who have the size and length to take him to the post.

Which two or three guys on the Texas roster should opposing teams be aware of that do not grab the headlines as much as some of the key starters? What kind of impact can each of them have on the game?

BON: The name for Oakland to know is J'Covan Brown. He's the best "pure" basketball player on the team (it comes so naturally to him), but his head isn't always in the game and he can make some devastatingly bad plays that take him out of the game, either figuratively or literally. At his best, though? He can drop 15 in the blink of an eye and make everyone else around him better.

We know the Burnt Orange Nation is huge and very passionate. Will the BOK Center be a heavy Longhorn lean on Friday afternoon in Tulsa?

BON: If this were a football game? Sure. As is, there won't be too many fans who travel to this one. Should we make it, I’d bet we’ll have a stronger presence in Anaheim than Tulsa. Expect most of the Oklahomans to pull for your Golden Grizzlies.

1 comment:

  1. It was wondering if I could use this write-up on my other website, I will link it back to your website though.Great Thanks.