Just a few days after I dubbed Andy Katz a "smug, dismissive boo" because of his `tude in his online chats, he wrote one of the better reviews of the Texas hoops teams that I've seen. To be fair to Katz: despite my annoyance with his online chats, he does do an excellent job of covering college hoops, he's knowledgeable and well-connected, and he rarely, if ever, snubs Texas.
Anyway, in including Texas in ESPN's Top Four teams of the season so far, Katz wrote a fantastic article highlighting our favorite Longhorn hoops player, the (literally) incomparable P.J. Tucker.
I remember when Tucker was a freshman and I was just -amazed- by how he was able to work so effectively around the basket, despite giving up three, four, even five inches to defenders. I remember gushing to Andrew about how he had the best hands I'd ever seen since Larry Bird, and a knack for scoring around the basket that reminded me of another not-so-tall forward who dominated in college, Corliss Williamson.
Well, in reading Katz's article, I learned something that I was shocked that I didn't know before. Tucker has ginormous hands. I had always praised him for how great his hands were, but I didn't realize that they are, quite literally, his biggest asset. Along with the monster hands, Tucker has an astounding 7'1" wingspan, which also explains how he's so effective against nominally `taller' players. As anyone who's played hoops knows, wingspan is as or more important as where the top of your head measures.
Katz is correct in much of what he says about Tucker, though he doesn't quite pinpoint how everything has fit together for the Horns during their nine game winning streak. To be sure, a good part of the recent run has had to do with the comfort level the Horns are establishing mixing in all their stars, but a bigger part of it has been how the team has come together on the -defensive- end of the court. And how Tucker's length and versatility help anchor what has become one of college basketball's most ferocious zones.
I encourage you to read Katz's entire article, as well as Andrew's excellent preview of Saturday's upcoming showdown with Oklahoma.