Five things to look for at Texas’ intrasquad scrimmage

Akshay Mirchandani

The Longhorns will hold an intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Gregory Gym. Here are five things to look for when Texas takes the court:

1. Excitement to play: Smart talked about the scrimmage during his media session Tuesday. He said he’s excited for fans to get a preview of this year’s lineup. 

“You’ll see enthusiasm, you’ll see our guys playing aggressively,” Smart said. “Hopefully, you’ll see a connected group of guys on each side and guys having fun out there.”

2. HAVOC: Wednesday is the first time fans will see Smart’s “HAVOC” defense, which acts as a trapping defense that combines elements of the press and zone. Under the signature press defense, VCU ranked No. 1 in the nation in turnovers forced in 2011 and 2012, and behind this strategy, Smart took VCU to a Final Four appearance in 2011. It will be interesting to see what Smart’s defense looks like with Texas for the first time. 

3. Carving out an identity: This isn’t the same Texas team fans saw last year. Smart said last week that the team is still establishing its identity. Last year, Texas averaged 67.4 points per game, which ranked No. 125 in the country. Smart wants to play at a higher tempo this season.

“The identity has to come first, before the style of play,” Smart said. “In terms of basketball, we want to play faster than maybe they did in the past.”

4. Roach: Junior Isaiah Taylor, senior Javan Felix and senior Demarcus Holland will split most of the point-guard time this season. But Smart said freshman Kerwin Roach, Jr. should get playing time at point guard in the scrimmage.

“I’d say 90 percent of [Roach’s] reps have been at the point-guard spot,” Smart said Tuesday at Big 12 media day. “Though when he is in there with Isaiah or Javan, he’s very capable of playing off the ball.”

5. Final touches: Smart said the biggest challenge as a first-year coach is getting everyone on the same wavelength. Even though the season opener is 23 days out, Smart’s progress will be evident at Gregory on Wednesday.

“The biggest challenge is getting on the same page — players, coaches, everyone that’s part of our program — and us being connected around one goal, connected around a process for accomplishing that goal.” Smart said.