Let's Email: Hoops Post-Mortem

When enough reader emails come in on topics worth exploring publicly, I'll put a post together for the site. This is one such time. As always, you can email me any time with questions or comments. I'll never use someone's full name in a post unless they explicitly okay it.


My cousin made a great point...if Memphis shot FT's against Tennessee like they did against us, they are 37-0 coming into today's game and getting a lot more respect.

Something I'd like to add...due to their conference schedule, Memphis may be the freshest team in the country.  And with the ease DJ was able to dice up defenses that didn't sag against him, I'm sure our guys thought our offense would work, regardless of how much tape we watched.  The quotes AW posted show the same type of cockiness...to me, here's the key:

I think the fact we had beaten Tennessee/UCLA/Kansas was probably our biggest weakness coming into today's game.  When it mattered, I believe our players thought they could outrun and outgun any team in the country.  The "but they lost to Tennessee" cloud that hung over Memphis probably only added fuel to the fire.

Like my cousin said, if Memphis had beaten Tennessee by 15 points, I think our team takes them a lot more seriously and we see a different game.

--CC--

Lots of excellent points in here. First, I absolutely agree that Memphis' shine wasn't near as bright as it could (should?) have been. And I think it's interesting to wonder whether Texas prepares for this game differently if Memphis enters the Elite Eight undefeated. ESPN was already going bonkers with the undefeated jazz when Memphis played Tennessee; I can only assume the "Can Memphis run the table?" hype would have been off the charts if they'd been 37-0 heading into Sunday.

Perhaps even more interesting is the comment about Texas players apparently thinking that they could - as they had against UCLA, Kansas and Tennessee - "outrun and outgun any team in the country." As recently as Friday night, it was our ability to push the floor that eventually wore Stanford down. To whatever extent that fueled some of our strategic mistakes, it was absolutely relevant on Sunday afternoon.

With all that said, I hesitate to endorse this theory to its fullest extent for one simple reason: Memphis' utter annihilation of Michigan State on Friday night. Whatever ideas I had in my head about Texas' ability to win a track meet were completely and totally vanquished by what I saw the Tigers do on Friday night. And Andrew's live view from Reliant may have had him even more convinced than I that Texas would be in big trouble if it tried to beat Memphis at its own game.

And then think back, too, to Memphis' lone defeat on the season, to Tennessee. The Volunteers played a soft, sagging zone to protect the paint at all costs, essentially daring Memphis to beat them from three point range. Memphis hit just 8 of 27 three pointers, and the Vols survived. Add it all up and all the pregame chatter around here was centered on us not trying to Out-Memphis Memphis.

Which of course we tried to do. We inexplicably opened in man-to-man defense, we crashed the offensive boards, let Derrick Rose work the open floor, and comfortably assisted their dribble drive motion offense. Why?

Maybe you're right... maybe our big wins this season had convinced us we could.

You and PB both said something close to this:

Texas did eventually go to a 2-3 zone, play at a more deliberate pace, and really protected the ball well in the second half, but against a team as good as Memphis, it was too late.

With 18 minutes left it was a 5 point game and the Box and 1 that UT was playing was giving Memphis trouble, it took them 5 minutes to go from 39 to 46 points.  The problem was that we could not make our shots on offense.  

AJ and Connor are both good shooters and support players, but against a team as good as Memphis, they really can't create their own shots.

Both Mason and James have the potential to be able to create their own shots against teams this good, but are still too raw.

The only way we beat Memphis is if DJ starts breaking down the defense and making his fade aways and drives.  If that had happened, it would have opened up the offense for AJ, Connor, James and Mason, because their defenders have to start helping on DJ.  But DJ could not figure out how to beat what Memphis was doing and that was it.

I think that coming out trying to run with Memphis probably hurt us, but I don't think the game was over because of it.

--Wells--

That's actually a comment on the site, not an email, but Wells makes an excellent point that's worth discussing. And, I think, is a perfect follow up to the discussion above.

As backwards as I thought Rick's strategy was to open the game, adjustments did follow. And Memphis still controlled the Longhorns the rest of the way. Though I do think the poor start was fatal in its own way, what we saw from Memphis throughout the game was an ability to handle Texas in a variety of forms.

Even as Texas slowed Memphis from scoring at will, the struggles on offense for Texas continued. Like Kansas State and USC last season, Texas' two most important scorers (DJ and AJ) were severely disrupted by long, super-quick guards. With no real post presence to speak of, our fate rested on Augustin being able to break down Memphis with penetration. And Wells is right - that just never happened.

One more email, again from CC:

Something you missed was the team walking off the court while The Eyes Of Texas was playing.

If the thousands of fans can stay through a thunderous ass-whipping for TEOT, the players can spend an extra 90 seconds to let the fans officially give them a send-off for the season...

--CC--

Yikes. I definitely didn't know the team missed The Eyes, and I'm with you all the way: totally unacceptable. Everyone was bitterly disappointed yesterday, but 25,000 fans came out in burnt orange to support the team on Sunday. This may be more disappointing than the loss itself.

--PB--

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