Texas wilts yet again in the face of a team able to impose its will


The Associated Press

Javon Felix looks to pass the ball.  He went one-for-nine in field goals and caused five of Texas’ 22 turnovers.

Wes Maulsby

Killer instinct. It is necessary to play any sport at its highest level. It’s what gets a pitcher a strike out in the bottom of the ninth. It’s what a quarterback uses to convert a third and long on a game-winning drive. And it’s what a two guard has when he nails a corner three in the final minute of the game.

Some athletes are lucky and they are born with a knack for it. For everyone else, it has to be cultivated. It has to be developed. It comes from experience, work, determination and effort. And it is what Texas has none of.

The Longhorns are listless on offense and undisciplined on defense. When Texas actually did manage to get into a scoring position, Georgetown was at times surgical on offense and aggressive on defense.

When Georgetown controls the ball, either it or the players are constantly on the move. When Texas played man-to-man, it used backdoor cuts, screens and shot fakes to get lay-ups. When Texas was in zone, it used ball movement and ball reversals until a shot opened up or a lane cleared.

That is not the case for the Texas offense. The Longhorns stand around with the ball. They’ll run one off-ball screen and if it’s not open, nothing happens. There is no ball movement except for when a guard wears a hole in the court with it.

Even when Texas began to show some semblance of an offense, it was shut down. The Hoyas took control of the game. Their length on the perimeter was too much, and when they shut down the initial pass into the post, the offense became stagnant.

This is a team in search of everything right now. The Longhorns are not assertive on defense and they don’t have an identity on offense. They don’t have anyone that is “the guy.” There is no one on the court who doesn’t just want the ball, but needs the ball. No one who takes control of the game is the leader of the team on the court.

All eyes have been looking toward Myck Kabongo to provide that missing element for the team. But there is no guarantee that he will provide it even when he is eligible.

Texas has no mean streak in it. It doesn’t play with an edge. It doesn’t have any nasty and doesn’t know how to go for the throat. These are all essentials that the championship-level athletes and teams have. Indiana has it. Duke has it. Georgetown has shown a bit of a knack for it. Texas has none. Until it is able to play with an assertiveness and an attitude, it will be the same story after every game: Texas got muscled around on offense, dissected on defense and treated the ball like a plague. This team needs someone who can slap them all in the face and command effort from them. If they can’t get that, then it will be another long season for the Longhorns.

Printed on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 as: Longhorns lacking edge, need discipline on defense