Following the departure of his entire debut season’s starting five, Shaka Smart was well aware that finding success in 2016-17 with a tremendously young and inexperienced roster would be a process. If you ask Smart, there’s plenty of necessary substance to that word – process.
“There are short term processes and then there are long term processes,” Smart said during his Tuesday media availability. “For us, there’s a process of what goes into winning and then there’s a process of what goes into the components of winning. For instance, winning teams are often or always great defensive teams. There’s a process of what goes into getting stops.”
As a key component to his hopes for Texas’ success, Smart’s defensive process includes the simplicities of the game that are often overlooked, such as defensive stances, communication, defending screens, boxing out and rebounding and seeing the man and the ball, among numerous other things. With such a young group under Smart and his coaching staff’s guidance, Smart is Texas’ potter molding a surplus of basketball clay. An area of emphasis for Smart is assuring his batch of high-level recruits don’t overlook their control of the process for the desired results, which wasn’t often required at the high school level.
“What we love about the process is it’s largely under your control,” Smart said. “If we’re just a slave to results and we don’t focus on what goes into the results, we’re really relinquishing our control over what creates that.”
Considering his emphasis on the process and how critical it will be for the success of a team that’s essentially never experienced success at the highest level, Smart raved about a pair of former McDonald’s All-Americans currently headlining his freshman class.
Great sequence here led by Texas two McDonald's All-Americans #HookEm pic.twitter.com/akjBexBvWL— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) November 15, 2016
“He’s a great kid from a great family who wants to be highly successful,” Smart said of Andrew Jones. He has very, very big goals in basketball and they’re attainable goals.” In addition to Jones aspiring to follow the footsteps of those who have found success at Texas before him, such as T.J. Ford and Isaiah Taylor, Jones buying into the process is what’s impressed Smart the most.
“What I’ve seen in him that I’m really excited about is he’s getting more and more comfortable at getting really up close and personal with the process,” Smart said.
“For Andrew and all of our freshmen; our sophomores for that matter, it’s a matter of them buying into that stuff and understanding what’s going to go into their success and the faster they can do that, the faster they’re going to be successful.”
Smart won’t hesitate to tell you Jarrett Allen, the cornerstone of his 2016 class, didn’t waste anytime adjusting to the process and the transition to college basketball. To that end, Smart noted that Allen has been “phenomenal” at trying to understand the process, both on and off the court.
“I want Jarrett to be the best version of Jarrett and the thing that I think has been tremendous about his transition is that unlike most other freshman, he had next to no time to wrap his mind around the transition he was about to make,” Smart said.
By no time, Smart was referring to Allen’s delaying college decision, in which he signed with Texas on a Friday and immediately moved onto campus the next day.
As far as Allen’s on-court contributions, it was the former five-star prospect’s maturity in understanding how to consistently play hard that’s impacting Texas the most.
“He’s a guy that can be multidimensional,” Smart said of Allen. “He has a lot of things that he can do really well. I think he’s learning how to play harder and harder in different situations.”
During the crucial moments of Texas’ season-opening victory over Incarnate Word, Smart deemed Allen saving the ball and calling a timeout as the play of the game.
“That was a max effort play,” Smart said. “He gave maximum effort because he knew we had to have that ball. Jarrett is one of those guys because he’s such a natural with the game, as he learns more and more to give max effort on different plays, that’s going to make him more and more effective on the floor.”
Smart credited Allen’s competitiveness as the reason his 6’10 freshman has come a long way since arriving on the 40 Acres. If you ask Smart, he’ll tell you it’s that same competitiveness that will ultimately define the 2016-17 Longhorns.
- Smart said Mariek Isom got is stitches taken out and he’s hopeful the graduate transfer power forward will get his PICC line taken out today.
- Texas has only three active scholarship big men available now, but Smart said he hopes to play two at a time once Isom returns. Smart said Texas may even play three at a time in the future given the ‘Horns ability to recruit talented big men.
- According to Smart, Texas tracks everything, such as success with various lineups, plus-minus in situations, efficiency and how fast certain lineups play together.