until Texas vs Kansas

Wednesday, February 2


Midseason report card

As the University of Texas men's basketball team enters the homestretch of the season, I feel like it’s a good time to take a closer look at the Longhorns individually and grade their performance thus far, as well as suggest what is needed from them down the stretch if Texas is to make any kind of postseason splash. I’ll go in the order of most minutes played per game.

Daniel Gibson (14 pts, 3 rebs, 4.1 asst, 2.8 TO, 1.9 stl) Expectations were pretty high for Gibson, but even by the highest standards, Gibson has not been a disappointment. He’s still a little raw, but the changes he made after the A&M loss have improved his all-around game. The unquestioned leader of this team with Tucker out. Grade: A

P.J. Tucker (13.7 pts, 8 rebs, 1.2 stls) The Horns best player struggled to adjust to his new position, but by January was beginning to dominate games again... just in time to fail out and become ineligible for the rest of the year. He should be familiar with this evaluation: Grade: F

Kenny Taylor (10.3 pts, 4 rebs, 2.5 ast, 35% 3FG) Taylor is a useful player—he has good range, he’s quick, and he plays solid defense. Though I would prefer him coming off the bench, we don’t have a better option at the 2, so he’s started all 20 games for the Horns and provides good minutes at the wing. Would be better if he had more penetration ability. Grade: B+

Jason Klotz (10.4 pts, 4.9 rebs, 1.2 blks) Klotz has been a key part of several big victories this year, but he’s not been able to establish any consistency, disappearing at times while taking too many shots. He’d be a lot better if he were able to draw fouls (he’s managed only 36 free throw attempts). Defensively, he struggles to stop stronger forwards from getting to the rim. Grade: B-

Brad Buckman (10.5 pts, 7.1 rebs, 1.7 blks, 13-28 3FG!) The Wes Fuller wannabe has had a solid year, though after his freshman campaign many expected more from him by now. Still, he’s been more aggressive than he was last year and is learning to play like a bruiser. His 42 turnovers are a huge disappointment and need to be limited down the stretch. Would benefit most from an Aldridge return. Grade: B+

Lamarcus Aldridge (10 pts, 6 rebs, 1 blk) The workhorse freshman also had high expectations, and after early struggles, really began to hit his stride in Big 12 play until he tore cartilage in his hip and has been sidelined the past four games. Barnes says no player works harder than Aldridge, which explains his dramatic improvements and bodes well for his future (both at Texas and in the NBA). A full return is the key to Texas’ hopes for the postseason. I’m not going to punish him for an injury. Grade: A

Sydmill Harris (6.8 pts, 2.1 rebs, 40% 3FG) The poor man’s Reggie Miller: in-the-gym range, but without the ability to penetrate, create his own shot, or draw fouls. He’s improved defensively, but his feet are still too slow to stop quick guards. When he gets hot, he’s a terrific shooter, though he occasionally looks for his threes when Texas needs to work it inside. I really think he can be a better scorer, a la Reggie Freeman, if he’d take it to the rim more often. Could really boost the Texas offense if he can develop that ability down the stretch. Grade: C+

Kenton Paulino (8 pts, 1.6 rebs, 33-61, 54% 3FG!!) Brandy Perriman, anyone? Paulino is starting to remind me of the sharp-shooting Perriman, though less awkward (and white). Paulino doesn’t pass well, he’s not very quick, his defense is suspect, and he can’t create his own shot. Still, he’s been ridiculous from behind the arc, hitting an astounding 54% of his three point attempts. Unfortunately, he’s also the back-up point guard, a task he’s not particularly good at. Nonetheless, it’s nice to have someone around who shoots that well. Barnes will need to use him carefully—when teams are not letting us shoot the three, Paulino needs to be on the bench. His 35 assists against 30 turnovers is miserable. Grade: B-

Mike Williams (3.6 pts, 3.4 rebs)
I’ve said before that Williams needs to assert himself more offensively as the season progresses. I understand he’s a freshman and he had that difficult eligibility issue when the season began, but he needs to take a cue from Aldridge and Gibson and step up. Without Aldridge and Tucker, the Horns are too thin to give minutes to someone who is an offensive liability. Grade: C-

Fans (9,907 per game) For comparison, the average road attendance of Texas games is 12, 336. People are showing up to watch their teams play Texas, but once again, Texas fans are only showing up to the Drum for the big games, while too many seats remain empty for most other games. Texas has become an elite program, but the fans are lagging behind. If you’re in Austin and reading this, I hope you’re going to the games. Grade: D

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