On Saturday, Texas Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart sat down with freshman point guard Matt Coleman and had him hit the reset button as the two watched film and prepared for Wednesday’s contest against TCU.
“I’ve told him there’s going to be many, many times over the course of your freshman year where we’re going to have to hit the reset button and say, ‘Hey, remember what we talked about?’” Smart said on Tuesday.
Saturday was such a day.
During the 69-60 defeat in Waco, Coleman struggled to organize the offense or make plays for himself — in 39 minutes, the freshman only scored six points on 3-of-9 shooting. Coleman also turned the ball over three times and missed all three of his three-point attempts.
Going into the season, Smart emphasized two keys areas to Coleman — to be connected to his head coach and to play with a level of joy on the floor.
Coleman’s inability to play with joy on Saturday wasn’t entirely surprising since his teammate, sophomore guard Andrew Jones, missed the game as doctors worked to diagnose what was eventually revealed a leukemia.
In fact, the Baylor game was likely difficult for the entire team. Wednesday won’t be any easier against TCU with the diagnosis becoming public knowledge.
And yet, the season marches forward and Smart knows that Coleman has always been at his best when he plays with that spirit that helped him light up gyms with his creativity and excitement on the way to becoming the nation’s No. 11 point guard.
“Over the years when I’ve watched him play, when he’s playing with a joy and excitement out there, he’s always been really good,” Smart said. “Again, over the years he’s had stretches where he feels pressure or he feels tense or he’s putting pressure on himself or for whatever reason is a little down, he hasn’t been as good.”
In recent games, Coleman has shown flashes of the player that he will eventually become — he hit three three-pointers against Kansas while scoring 17 points and took over the game as a scorer against Iowa State in overtime in addition to handing out nine assists.
So after hitting the reset button, Coleman will attempt to channel that joy once again to lead the Longhorns as the team tries to come together in the face of adversity.