January 20, 2007

Room for improvement after loss to 'Nova

The Texas Longhorns looked like a tired, slow and defenseless team Saturday in Philadelphia losing to Villanova, 76-69. Making the loss worse for the Longhorns was the fact that the Wildcats' (13-5) best player, Curtis Sumpter, sat out the game with a deep bone bruise.

The Longhorns (13-5) played few meaningful defensive possessions showing slow or no defensive rotation, slow closeouts that applied zero defensive pressure and only a couple of second jump rebounds in a game of long rebounds.

In a contest of swarming negatives, freshman point guard D.J. Augustin was solid in keeping the Longhorns within reach while playing in foul trouble. Augistin led the Longhorns with 25 points.

Contrast in defending the screen/roll

The game was a contrast in scheme and ability to defend the screen/roll Saturday. Villanova did a masterful job of taking away the screen/roll. First, the Wildcat big men did a very good job of pushing the screener three feet outside where the Longhorns want to run the set. The result is a much easier rotation if the Texas (13-5) screener were to roll to the free throw line area.

Villanova also used their big men to jump Augustin before he could turn the corner, creating trapping opportunities. The traps continuously pushed Augustin out to 24 or 25 feet resulting in a pass to the opposite wing and forcing a Texas reset.

By contrast, the Texas big men did a poor job of hedging and slowing the Villanova guards from turning the corner. After the corner is turned, the Texas defense is left in an uncertain rotating situation and that is not the strength of the Longhorn team. On the rare occasion when Texas did defend the screen/roll, the close out by the Texas guards on the kick was slow and without defensive pressure. Abrams was really poor in close outs allowing Mike Nardi and other Wildcat players to shoot right over the top without having to make even as much as a ball fake.

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