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Morning Coffee Says Turnovers Are A Red Herring

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As was mentioned several times yesterday, Longhorn freshman hoops recruit Gary Johnson has been cleared to practice with the team. However, it's important to note that Johnson has yet to be cleared to play in games. The team is proceeding with extreme caution, moving at a step-by-step pace to ensure they don't put Johnson's health at risk. As serious as these conditions can be, it's the right thing to do.

Big 12 basketball media week continues, with coaches voting the Longhorns #2 in the conference, behind Kansas. Texas A&M and Kansas State round out the coaches' top four teams.

The Texas staff may not pay attention to what we say at BON, but it's hard to imagine they can avoid the Dallas Morning News, where Chip Brown officially takes off the nice gloves and rips Brown for not playing his top talent. Chip goes so far as to say the program is "headed in the wrong direction."

But why did it take an archrival game with Oklahoma and the whole world saying Texas was going to get blown out for the Longhorns to finally put in an effort that the coaches were satisfied with?

And when did moral victories become acceptable at a school less than two years removed from a national title?

The cold, hard facts are that all the momentum from the confetti dropping at the Rose Bowl is gone.

Texas has lost four straight Big 12 games. With the talent on UT's roster, this should never happen. Texas should never be a double-digit underdog to Oklahoma ... or anyone else for that matter.

Here, here.

Unfortunately, there's ample evidence that the staff is hiding from the big picture truth. Mack Brown's Wednesday press transcript suggests the coaches think things are pretty much on track.

We have to go back and do a better job forcing turnovers and taking care of the football, which is one of the things we haven't done over the last few weeks that we've discussed. And the other thing we need to work on is we've got to finish in the fourth quarter. We've had opportunities to win the last two games in the fourth quarter and we haven't finished.

[...]

We've had a chance in fourth quarter for the last two weeks to win and that's what you want to do and now we've got to finish. We've got to make sure that we make the plays in the fourth quarter that we've been making in the first three (quarters).

Translation? We're right there, but just haven't quite been good enough in the fourth quarter, and we've not done well enough with turnovers.

Those are half-truths. Texas was technically still alive in the fourth quarter against Kansas State, but it's disingenuous to characterize the loss as a fourth quarter slip up. Texas was outplayed from start to finish. It's true that Texas was right there with Oklahoma, but I find it discomforting that the coaches seem to think Texas' biggest problem is turnovers.

Good teams usually do well with turnovers, but there's an element of luck involved with takeaways and giveaways, too. Given that, I never want to see a coach obsessing about turnovers in characterizing why a team is losing. If we go down that road, we should probably also note that the stars have been poorly aligned this season, and Limas Sweed's lucky rabbit foot got lost in the Orlando airport.

A great coach should be prepared for a game, stretch of games, or season of bad luck with turnovers, and win anyway. Mack doesn't seem to get that.

--PB--