Texas' Defense - A Thing Of Beauty

Discussion in 'Men’s Basketball' started by DRAG69, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. DRAG69

    DRAG69 1,000+ Posts

    This team's defense during the current stretch of wins has been a thing of beauty to watch. Last night's game was a clinic on how to play help defense. Coach Barnes could sell a copy of that game as a "how to play defense" video.

    And when your offense stalls there is nothing better than a high pressure, in your face defense to keep you in the game. There was one stretch where we missed like 8 shots in a row but the Aggies could not make a run because we smothered them.

    The rotation last night was a thing of beauty to watch. And when we play well on offense to go along with that kind of defense there is not a team in the country that we cannot beat.

    This team is turning into something very special and seems to be jelling at just the right time. I look forward to the tourney and I think this team has as good of a chance as any other team to make it to San Antonio.
  2. p_town_horn

    p_town_horn 1,000+ Posts

    Mason, Dex, and Chapman have helped to make this D smothering over the past few weeks. I think they are really making a difference defensively in their playing time. I was expecting this out of Mason, but Sexy Dexy and Chaps are a nice little bonus that has given some support on the less glorious end of the court. They don't all get big minutes but they keep it close and physical while the other guys get some rest.
  3. bierce

    bierce 1,000+ Posts

    The team in conference is a far cry from the one that was winning on the strength of something like 80% shooting.

    Check out the Big 12 team stats in conference play.

    UT is second in fg % defense and, do my eyes deceive me? Surely not? First in 3 point % defense. Meanwhile, UT is near the bottom in fg %.

    Whoda thunk it?

    Hmm. Maybe Barnes last summer when he said he would be disappointed if this year's team wasn't the best defensive team he's ever had at Texas.
  4. Uncle Rico

    Uncle Rico 1,000+ Posts

    our pressure on the ball last night was incredible and forced them to get the ball inside from 20+ feet out. That gave plenty of time for our bigs to recover. fucknig textbook *** kicking.
  5. Longhorn_Fan68

    Longhorn_Fan68 1,000+ Posts

    I'm convinced it's 100% about hustle. Go back and look at the times we've struggled this season and you will see a team letting the game come to them rather than forcing the tempo of the game. That's the key to success the rest of the season.
  6. hippie

    hippie 25+ Posts

    maybe this is what Barnes had in mind when he "beat down" a really good Nov/Dec team? in RB we trust...
  7. Hu_Fan

    Hu_Fan Guest

    Yes I've grown to love Coach Barnes style of play, focused so strongly on defense and how to continually improve on it.

    Speaking of defense... the one area I am most worried about in a game is when our team is under full court pressure to inbound the ball against the opposing defense.

    It seems in football you get chances to practice a 2-minute drill often even not at the close of a half of the game, but in basketball how can you simulate being pressed on an inbound unless the opposition is in need of doing it?

    Going into the NCAA tournament we need to be prepared for that and not let it cost us a close game.
  8. bierce

    bierce 1,000+ Posts

  9. CadetHorn

    CadetHorn 250+ Posts

    Another big plus of having Chapman, Dex, and even Alex get in there and play well is the fouls they can give up. Sure, it gives Damion, Connor...whoever, a blow so they CAN go 100%, but they have 5 fouls to give. WIth that said, Dex always seems to take full advantage of that.
  10. SL Xpress

    SL Xpress 500+ Posts

    I want to say I agree with everyone regarding UT's defense. It's superb, and the players and Barnes deserve all the kudos coming their way.

    However, opponents are not taking advantage of matchups very well, IMO. I want to give credit to Abrams for his defensive play, but he and DJ are still weak links to some degree being disguised in the last few games.

    For example, Baylor was scoring regularly over DJ Augustin. It's not completely DJ's fault. He's playing defense with intensity. He's not gambling to create turnovers, but instead playing fundamentally sound, keeping himself between his opponent and the basket, forcing the ball handler to shade one way or another so a teammate can provide effective help.

    However, he still doesn't have the lateral quickness of say, Justin Mason, and his height makes him vulnerable to taller shooters who feel comfortable shooting over him.

    With AJ, Barnes is hiding him by putting him against the worst slashing non front court player, and then having him play up on him. That's better than last year, when Barnes was often just having Abrams face guard the other team's best backcourt scorer. By putting him on guys like ISU's Wesley Johnson, KU's Brandon Rush, and A&M's Josh Carter, Abrams is still available for help defense, while he wasn't when he was face guarding last year. That makes the defense more fundamentally sound.

    Texas is getting out and pressuring the perimeter better than I've seen them...well...maybe ever under Barnes. It's funny, because the defensive weaknesses of this team are perimeter penetration and post defense. DJ and AJ are susceptible to be taken off the dribble, but when they play off their opponents, it allows relatively unimpeded access to post entry.

    When they play up tight, they're counting on help defense and strong hedging off of ball screens, which is happening in a way it's been a long time since we've seen in Austin. Maybe the 2000-2001 team? Which was the last great man to man defense Barnes had.

    Did anyone notice how little 2-3 zone Texas employed? Usually Barnes would have gone to it regularly with all the foul trouble, but the bench came through with timely minutes to allow the man to man to continue, and the intensity didn't really fall off at all.

    A couple of things that should be occuring, is that opponents' should be running clearouts and posting up on Abrams, if he's going to be forced to matchup with 6'6/6'7 players. They also need to do a better job with the two man game on whomever Atchely is guarding. Both of those are easier said than done, though, for different reasons, because of how aggresive Texas is being in their ball pressure --- both on the ball and off of screens --- and as has been mentioned, the excellent rotations.

    The thing is, in guys like Gary Johnson, Damion James, and Justin Mason, Texas has guys that can really recover quickly. Wangmene is going to be the same way. When DJ and AJ can count on their teammates for help, without feeling like the defense is going to be burned in some other place, it gives them a ton of confidence in their ball pressure. Also, IMO Atchley is the best off the ball defender Barnes has had. He doesn't have the recovery skills the athletes on the team do, but he's not a Lurch out there, either. He's so smart, he sees defensive weaknesses showing up before anyone else, and does a great job of making up for it. It's a shame his lower body isn't stronger, or else he'd hardly have any defensive weaknesses whatsoever.

    There are very few teams that can take advantage of Texas when they're playing defense this well. It has to be a team with very good dribble penetration, an inside game, and an ability to take advantage of the matchup with Abrams. KU should have been able to do it, but IMO they abandoned their interior game in the second half, with Arthur floating out for stupid perimeter shots, only one post up by Rush on Abrams, and ignoring Darnell Jackson. Hey, I'm okay with that.

    The other thing is that with their top 6 players, Texas is putting 6 guys who can legitimately score in the double digits on any given night, many of whom become complete and utter matchup nightmares because they're all on the floor at the same time. Mason isn't the scorer I thought he'd be entering the season, but he doesn't look like the completely lost soul he appeared to be for about the 10 games after UCLA.

    The thing is, they still have that 2-3 zone they can use as a curveball that can be even more effective when they're being so successful in man to man.

    I'll admit, I had significant doubts about Barnes and how he's handled this team. I didn't post about it a lot, because I really don't enjoy being a nattering nabob of negativism. The past three games are making me eat a lot of crow. He has the team sharing the ball on offense, and on defense they just seem to keep getting better and better.

    I've never had a season under Barnes I didn't enjoy following the team, and never at any point was this year any different. Now to have my various frustrations answered in such a fulfilling fashion over the last three games has been extremely satisfying. I hope they can keep this up, because these guys sure do have a chance to do some special things.
  11. bierce

    bierce 1,000+ Posts

  12. texasblood04

    texasblood04 < 25 Posts


    Great post. I totally agree with your assessment of Atchley as a defender off the ball. But I just wanted to put in my 2 cents that Connor may be one of the best one-on-one post defenders that I have seen in a while. He is no longer allowing his man to get position close to the basket. And it is unreal how he can go up and change and block shots as an on the ball defender. He is becoming quite the shut down post defender that Texas sorely needed this year.
  13. cbs

    cbs 500+ Posts

    One stat I thought was telling last night: at the 2nd half under 8:00 timeout, A&M had 13 field goals and we had 11 blocks. That's pretty good defense all around.
  14. SL Xpress

    SL Xpress 500+ Posts

    I think you're nuts, texasblood04. No disrespect intended.

    He has a tough time keeping his player off the low blocks. They continually get too good of a position against him. He tries real hard, and he is good at affecting shots after he's beaten like a rented mule in the low post positioning game, but as much as I love Atchley --- and I do --- I don't see how anyone can call him even an average low post defender.

    I still want him on the floor a bunch, which says a lot about how highly I think of him, but if teams have two low post players, I want Atchley to defend the poorer scorer of the two.
  15. S197HQQKEM

    S197HQQKEM 500+ Posts

  16. Dirty Martin

    Dirty Martin 500+ Posts

    Great stat in the AAS today. It was not until well into the second half that aggy had baskets on consecutive possessions.
  17. texasblood04

    texasblood04 < 25 Posts

    I do see what your saying, SLX. I guess maybe I am getting a bit to enamored with the progress I feel like he is making. Though there have been times Connor still gives up post position, his improvement from freshman year (even from earlier this year) has been significant.

    If you look at the stat line from last night, no A&M big man scored in double digits. Jordan, Davis and Jones shot a combined 7 of 23 from the field, and based on past post defensive efforts, thats about as surprising a stat as you will see. If Connor is still giving up good post position, he seems to be making up for it once his man gets the ball. There were very few easy, uncontested looks for A&M last night.

    SLX, I always defer to your expertise on the board. And I agree with a lot of what you say about Connor. I just really like his effort and improvement in the post and feel like that has really helped us recently.
  18. SL Xpress

    SL Xpress 500+ Posts

    Well, you and I both are enamored with Atchley. There are plenty of times I get worried when he's not on the floor, and I never expected that to happen. He's been absolutely integral to the success of a legitimate top 5/top 10 type team, when I thought his high side was going to be as a 15 minute per game type of role player.

    I was completely and utterly wrong. He goes down as yet another Barnes evaluation and development success story, with Atchley himself deserving the lion's share of the credit. If you want to brag on his improvement as a low post defender, you certainly have every right to do so as far as I'm concerned.

    However, trying to take a more objective view, what was helping Atchley was the tremendous ball pressure Texas was putting on the guards, and how well Texas was collapsing with another defender if they did get it into the post. Plus, A&M did miss a couple of shots they probably should have hit.

    It's not to take anything away from Atchley, as much as it is to set up expectations for performances in the future. No one should be counting on Atchley to suddenly develop into a shut down low post defender, as much as we should all be excited at the improvements in the defense surrounding him to help him be more effective at what is his one true weakness.
  19. K-Man

    K-Man 250+ Posts

  20. Statalyzer

    Statalyzer 10,000+ Posts

  21. SL Xpress

    SL Xpress 500+ Posts

    Spiro Agnew deserves a little bit of credit for the phrase, K-man.

    Atchley has always surprised me with his shotblocking abilities. He doesn't have a lot of explosiveness off the ground, but even as a redshirt freshman he seemed to average about a block per game while only playing around 10 minutes or so.
  22. Uncle Rico

    Uncle Rico 1,000+ Posts

    One thing I'd like to note...does anyone realize how far we've come in our man defense this year? Against TCU (I think) Barnes said he could have stayed in a 2-3 zone and won by a bigger cushion but made his team stay in man because they needed to work on it.

    That is a mindset that he drilled in those guys heads early in the year and it is paying HUGE dividends. We are usually outstanding in the 2-3 and look at how rarely we are in it.

    Kudos to the team for this improvement.
  23. skymonkeyhorn

    skymonkeyhorn 100+ Posts

    I have to agree with SLX about Conner not being a good low post defender, I was hoping for a 20-25 lbs of muscle this past summer then we would see a better low post defender, conner just needs to bulk up a bit. Conner is a smart BB player like someone said he is able to see 1-2 ball movements before they happen and he responds and anticipates where the man and ball is going to be and get ready to block the ball. That could be "focusness", next year Conner will even be better in his skills and maybe a little heavier to handle the low post better.
  24. TJ=NPOY

    TJ=NPOY 100+ Posts

    We weren't giving perimeter players room to breathe monday night, and our bigs played perimeter screens beautifully. It was no fluke A&M put up only 50. Our D made them take low percentage shots.
  25. DRAG69

    DRAG69 1,000+ Posts

    Help defense is one of the hardest things to coach and learn. You have to be able to have first step quickness and be able to anticipate. I have never seen a better example of that than our game against the Aggies Monday. It also allows you to come out and pressure the ball away from the basket which will cause turnovers. It looks as though we are playing as a "team" better now than at any other time this season. Early on our offense carried us but now that the defense has stepped up we are a dangerous and complete team heading into March. This team has a real chance to do something special and I am looking forward to it.
  26. accuratehorn

    accuratehorn 10,000+ Posts

    That defense was a thing of beauty against A&M Monday night. Inside, there were two or three guys smothering the aggy big men, and Texas used their fouls like scalpels, surgically almost. Had UT been forced to keep this up all game, foul trouble would have been a big problem, but we backed off somewhat in the second half, and it didn't seem to hurt. The fight was gone from aggy by then, apparently.
    There were many open outside shots, but aggy missed them all (wasn't it one for 17?). We took away their strength, and they couldn't capitalize from outside.
    There is just one missing piece of this puzzle, and it is Dexter Pitman-if he could really get some quality minutes underneath, it would free Atchley to play the forward position instead of trying to fill the role of center. That would be great to see. The team is pretty darned effective as it is, though.

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