No. 6 Texas’ greatest assets were supposed to be its depth and 11-man rotation.
Head coach Rick Barnes has plenty to choose from in the front court with four rotation players who are at least 6 feet 9 inches. He has a plethora of shooting guards and a handful of small forwards. But the one position at which he doesn’t have many options is the one he needs most right now — point guard.
After a flagrant foul left sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor in a cast with a broken left wrist, Texas was left without a true floor general, which, in many people’s eyes, is the most important player.
Taylor can dictate the play of the game. He has improved his jump shot. He can drive. He can lead. He can defend.
But all that is wrapped in a cast on the Longhorn bench. Taylor will remain sidelined indefinitely. He’s going to be out until at least conference play, if not longer. Until then, the Longhorns must find an alternative.
Unfortunately for them, there aren’t options, just junior point guard Javan Felix.
In his two games since taking the starting point guard position, Felix hasn’t really left the floor. He played 35 minutes against Cal and 37 minutes at UConn on Sunday.
“He got pushed in that role as a freshman,” Barnes said. “He went through three-fourths of a season. We knew he’d run the team.”
Felix, in his freshman year, took over during Myck Kabongo’s suspension, leading Texas to a first-round exit in the CBI Tournament. He was the only point guard option on that team, just like this year. The other possible point guards on the team now are junior Demarcus Holland and sophomore Kendal Yancy.
Felix has done an admirable job since filling in, averaging 9.5 points, four assists and 3.5 turnovers. With him at the helm, however, the offense has a noticeable stagnancy. There’s a lot more passing around the perimeter and lot less penetration.
“We’re a good driving team, and that’s something we do is penetrate to the basket,” Taylor said.
Texas is not without the lightning quick sophomore on the floor. It was evident Sunday at UConn. With the game on the line in the final seconds, Felix tried to take his man off the dribble. He got a step in front of the elbow before being stopped in no man’s land, slipping and throwing the ball away.
That’s just not his position. Felix is a shooter. He likes to find his spot behind the arc and let it loose.
“He’s a point guard,” Holland joked before the season. “All he does is shoot.”
Felix knew he’d have to handle the point at times before the season started, but he didn’t know he’d be the main guy. When UT-Arlington (3-3) strolls into Austin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Felix will be at the helm, running Texas’ (6-0) offense just as he did Sunday.
“Sometimes I have to be a point guard,” Felix said earlier in the season.
Well, that “sometimes” is now the foreseeable future.