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Takeaways from Texas’ 96-84 scrimmage victory over Australia’s Dandenong

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It’s just a scrimmage, but the new-look Longhorns provided plenty to be excited about.

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If you were among the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed few to wake up at 4:00 a.m. local time to watch a Texas basketball scrimmage against Dandenong, the first sighting of the 2017-18 Longhorns made it worth your while. Texas cruised to a 96-84 victory over the Rangers and looked completely dominant at times, even leading by as much as 28 in the second quarter. I’m not going to put too much stock into the new-look Longhorns because it was just a scrimmage, but it’s fairly safe to say that the product on the floor looked much-improved from last season’s squad, which finished with an 11-22 record.

Here’s a few general takeaways:

  • Mohamed Bamba is as good as advertised. The 7-foot freshman played just a shade under 15 minutes, but his limited time on the court certainly revealed a bit of why he’s such a prized prospect. Bamba opened with a three-pointer, and then continued to flash his smooth and effective shooting touch throughout. His length was a clear asset at times, especially around the rim, where he snagged rebounds no normal human being should be able to secure, among doing other things no normal human being — especially one of his stature — should be able to do.

In short, Bamba initially looks like the part of the prospect many projected to significantly change the trajectory of Texas basketball this coming season.

  • Texas does, in fact, have a point guard. His name is Matt Coleman and he’s a sight for sore eyes, especially after the ‘Horns struggled so mightily without a quality floor general last season. Again, I’m not going to put too much stock into a preseason scrimmage, but it was clear fairly early on that Coleman is Texas’ best option at point guard right now and it’s not relatively close.

Although he only tallied three assists in addition to his 11 points, Coleman was evidently able to put his teammates in positions to score, pushed the pace at a rate virtually unseen at all last season and has the kind of quickness and flash that should allow him to find his share of success each night and thus, aid Texas in doing the same.

  • Dylan Osetkowski is a difference maker for the Longhorns. There’s not really any other way to put it. Osetkowski scored 10 of Texas’ first 17 points, flashed his shooting stroke by hitting 3/5 looks from deep and gave the ‘Horns some needed toughness in the paint. He finished with 15 points and five boards, in addition to three steals, but it’s how he fits into the new starting lineup as a floor-stretching big that can go down low and find success when necessary that’s so intriguing.
  • Texas has been one of the nation’s worst from beyond the arc the last two seasons, and it’s obviously way too early to say that’s in the past after just one scrimmage, but there were plenty of reasons for optimism on that front — 14, to be exact. The ‘Horns came out shooting, and then they shot some more. By halftime, Texas had connected on 11 threes — FIBA rules threes, at that — and finished with a 14/29 effort due to a wide variety of Longhorns finding success from deep.

Andrew Jones, who led Texas with 16 points, dropped in three threes, as did Osetkowski. Eric Davis Jr. and Jase Febres each knocked in a pair (Febres looks like he can be a real weapon for Texas).

Bamba, Coleman, Jacob Young and Kerwin Roach Jr. all saw one drop from the perimeter, as well. After the ‘Horns inability to consistently convert from deep last season proved to be the difference in more than a few games, Texas certainly seems to have guys in place that are capable and willing to pull the trigger from deep going forward.

  • Jericho Sims almost killed a guy.
  • All put together, it looks like, at the very least, Texas will feature an exciting brand of basketball in Shaka Smart’s third season. The talent on the floor is clearly at a heightened level thanks in part to guys like Bamba, Coleman and Osetkowski joining the rotation, and the result was a team that overwhelmed Dandenong at times. Texas pushed the pace, was throwing lobs in transition, shooting tons of threes and disrupting the flow of the Rangers’ offense with a press that seemingly never ended. It seems pretty clear that this should be a much better Texas team in 2017-18.

Texas will be back in action at the same time tomorrow (4:00 a.m. CT) for a meeting with Melbourne United.

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