Texas women’s basketball mid-season review: the ups and downs of a young team

Amsal Madhani, Sports Reporter

Following last year’s Elite Eight run in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, the question loomed as to whether the Longhorns could get this far once again next year.

Last year, Texas was led by Charli Collier, who went on to become the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft. Without Collier, Texas would have to rely on a group of freshmen and sophomores to lead the team back to the tournament.

With the signings of freshman guards Rori Harmon and Kyndall Hunter and freshman forward Latasha Lattimore, the Longhorns were prepared for another deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Now comfortably into the season, Texas’ hopes for a tournament run stay alive as the Longhorns sit at No. 15 in the nation and No. 4 in the Big 12 conference with a 13-3 record.

Harmon has proved vital for Texas this season, averaging 10.7 points each game along with five rebounds and just under five assists. She has become the facilitator for the team, finding her teammates for open baskets under the rim.

The 5-foot-6-inch guard has also been one of the Longhorns’ top defenders of the season. The constant pressure Harmon applies against opposing guards causes teams to make many miscues on offense.

Junior guard Aliyah Matharu has also proved herself throughout the first half of the season. She leads the team in scoring with just under 16 points a game and averages close to two steals per game.

The Longhorns started the season off hot, winning 10 of their first 11 games, including a big win over No. 2 Stanford. However, they have recently run into trouble as the team went 2-2 in their last four games.

COVID-19 game cancellations were an issue for Texas, along with injuries shuffling players in and out of the lineup. But recent struggles can also be attributed to issues on the offense.

Texas’ defense has been the driving force for its success all season, but when it needed its offense to step up in big situations, the team hasn’t always been successful.

This was evident in the Longhorns’ overtime loss to Kansas on Jan. 12. The team trailed for most of the game because the offense could not keep up with the Jayhawks.

With 13 games left on the schedule after Wednesday’s matchup against Iowa State, there’s more than enough time to make adjustments and boost the offense during the latter stretch of the season. Head coach Vic Schaefer will have his hands full as he tries to get his young team ready to go for a big run in this year’s NCAA tournament.

In a Jan. 4th media availability, Schaefer gave a little glimpse into what this team can be once they’re in their final form.

“We’ve got 13 players right now, and yesterday as I was watching practice and watching us get up and down and compete, we could be pretty good,” Schaefer said.