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St. John's: Individual Performance Review

We have already taken a look at the St. John's game as a whole. Now let's review some individual performances.

Kevin Durant 29 pts (9/17), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 5 turnovers
Except for those five turnovers, KD played another solid game. He has now scored 20 or more in each of the four games this season. Durant was 5/6 from behind the arc and 6/6 from the line. He also attacked the glass on both ends. Six of his ten rebounds were offensive. Durant was especially impressive in the first half of both games in NYC. For this team to be successful, Durant has to be on the floor. Right now, he appears to be in shape to play about 30 minutes. Coach Barnes will need him to improve his stamina to eventually play close to 40 minutes per game.

DJ Augustin 17 pts (5/11), 7 assists, 2 rebounds, 4 steals, 5 turnovers
Like Durant, Augustin played exceptionally except for the turnovers. DJ was on the floor for all but two minutes. I can't overstate how impressed I have been with Augustin. He plays as in control as any freshman point guard I have ever seen. His ball handling skills are very good but his passing has been phenomenal. DJ has 29 assists in just four games. He can find the open man in the half court, off his own drive to the basket, and especially streaking down the floor in transition. College basketball is a guard's game. With DJ running the show, I am very confident.

AJ Abrams 12 pts (4/13), 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, and 0 turnovers
For the first time this season, AJ had an off night shooting. He hit just 3/7 from behind the arc. Texas runs half court sets designed specifically for Abrams to pop open along the baseline. Even when his shot was not falling Abrams continued to work hard running his man through countless baseline screens. His defense in the half court has improved but can be better. Both Augustin and Abrams need to do a better job of rotating quickly to open three point shooters.

Damion James 6 pts (3/8), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 turnover
For whatever reason, NYC did not agree with James. He never found his rhythm on offense and was muscled around some on defense. Basically he was not active on either end of the floor in either contest at the Garden. Hopefully, he can become more important on offense especially against a zone defense. James has the ability to knock down the open jumper from the top of the key against a 2-3 zone. The Horns have also become too perimeter oriented. James has a chance to emerge as the low post presence this team desperately needs.

Connor Atchley 3 pts (1/3), 1 rebound, 1 steal, 2 turnovers
Atchley added muscle in the off-season. His low post presence was supposed to be improved. We simply have not seen it. In fact, he has launched five shots from behind the arc and only six from within. His lateral quickness on defense is a tremendous liability as is inability to grab rebounds over stronger and more athletic big men. Against Michigan State he was called for three firs half fouls. In the St. John's game he picked up three fouls in just 11 minutes of action. Atchley will not and should not be starting for much longer.

Jay Mason 6 pts (3/6), 5 rebounds, 1 steal, and 0 turnovers
Barnes loves Mason. He plays solid defense and even though he is only 6'2" rebounds the basketball well. Through four games, he is fourth on the team in rebounds behind Durant, James, and Hill. Mason also gives Texas another slasher in the half court. He isn't an excellent outside shooter and knows it. Mason attacks the defense with the drive and can pull up for a mid range jumper or get all the way to the rim. I look for Mason's minutes to increase drastically. I wouldn't be shocked to see Mason start with Barnes decides to go with a smaller, quicker lineup.

Matt Hill 4 pts (2/4), 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 turnover
Hill would have had more points if he was able to catch passes from Augustin or finish with more efficiency around the basket. I don't remember him taking any shots other than at point blank range. To play with Durant and Augustin, his hands must become softer. Hill is slow on defense but still not as slow as Atchley and is more active on the glass. As Atchley continues to struggle, Hill's minutes will increase as well.

Dexter Pittman and JD Lewis made only cameo appearances against St. John's and contributed nothing. I am still holding out hope that Pittman can become a valuable bench player this season. If the rebounding and interior defense woes continue, Barnes will likely turn to Pittman regardless of his physical stamina. Lewis and Craig Winder remain unlikely contributors.