The Blazer’s final big non-conference test comes on the road at Texas Wednesday night. Per KenPom.com, UAB (6-5) is ranked 116th and the Longhorns (5-5) 80th.
Read our game preview here: Know Your Enemy: The Texas Longhorns
1. Through 10 games, how would you grade Texas’ play at the point guard position post Isaiah Taylor?
Grading on pure performance, the Texas point guards would have to receive an F. In a more generous sense, there’s not really anyone to grade — the ‘Horns don’t really have a pure point guard on the team, which is on Shaka Smart to a certain extent — but the bottom line is that there isn’t anyone with the pedigree to play the position. As a result, it’s important to moderate expectations a little bit because this is a team with a bunch of combo guards that is trying to scrape together adequate play at the most important position in basketball.
2. In year two of the Shaka Smart regime have you seen his havoc-esque defensive schemes more now that he has some of his hand picked personnel in place?
At times Smart has employed the full-court press more often than he did last season, but the biggest impediment is that this team is so young that Smart doesn’t fully trust them to execute his scheme. Since the Havoc-style pressure comes with a high level of risk, Smart isn’t willing to take that on most of the time. However, there have been flashes this season where it has been effective.
3. Like UAB, the Longhorns can struggle at times from behind the arc. Other than Mack, who has hit 23 3-pointers, who or whom has the ability to step-up and be a consistent perimeter threat moving forward this season?
The guy that needs to emerge for Texas is sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr. Last season Davis shot over 38 percent from deep, but has been mired in a horrific shooting slump this season that has him at only 18 percent. Smart has been publicly frustrated about how Davis has reacted to those issues. The ‘Horns were also going to lean heavily on graduate transfer forward Mo Isom from long range, but he’s been out due to complications from an ankle infection he suffered.
Right now, senior guard Kendal Yancy is the only player on the team other than Mack who has hit more than 30 percent of his 3-point attempts, and he’s only taken 19 so far this season. To say that Texas has been a poor shooting team from distance would be an understatement.
4. Star freshman big man Jarrett Allen appears to be living up to his 5-star recruiting ranking. He leads the team in rebounds and minutes played, but what area do you think he can improve on going into Big 12 play?
Allen just needs to continue to be more assertive and continue his transition to the college game, especially in terms of making decisions with the basketball and expanding the range on his jump shot. There are flashes of greatness from him, but at times he tries to make moves into traffic or doesn’t recognize double teams coming. The potential is there, it’s just difficult for big men to get used to playing against players with size and athleticism.
5. Who or whom has exceeded your expectations nearing the half-way point of this season?
Mack has come on nicely and become the go-to scorer for Texas this season. As much as improvement offensively was expected, Mack had fallen somewhat out of the rotation late last season because Smart couldn’t trust him on the defensive end. This season, Mack is often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player, so he’s really come a long way in his effort level and understanding on that side of the ball.