Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jordan Hamilton and Texas Quieting Critics

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
They say the non-conference games are beneficial to the preparation of a team headed into conference play. Obviously, coach Rick Barnes got the memo, and his players have responded well.

After playing the toughest non-conference schedule in the Big 12, the Texas Longhorns (19-3, 7-0) have jumped out to a perfect 7-0 conference record, which is their best start in school history.

Before the season, no coaches thought the Longhorns were going to capture the Big 12 title after losing Damion James, Dexter Pittman, and Avery Bradley to the NBA draft.

Especially, witnessing the Longhorns meltdown mid-season, a year before, after being placed in the National Championship talks.

No question, this year's Texas squad has been more impressive than the 17-0 Longhorns from a year ago.

"We were four games in, and I told the team, we're just getting started," said coach Barnes. "I talked all year long about the rhythm of our team, our routine, and not only what we do in practice, it's everything we do, and I really give my guys credit for that."

The Longhorns have been very impressive on both ends of the floor. Four Longhorns average double figure scoring led by Jordan Hamilton, who scores 19 points per game. As a team, Texas scores 76.5 points per game, while shooting 37 percent from deep.

Things only get better on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Barnes has done a great job of utilizing his team's athletic ability on the defensive end.

The Longhorns have held teams to an average of 60 points per game.

Texas is one of the most disciplined teams on the glass. When a shot goes up, all players are crashing the boards.

Hamilton and freshman Tristian Thompson both average a team high 7.5 rebounds per game.

As a team, the Longhorns are snatching down 41.4 a game, 27.9 coming on the defensive glass. Texas is able to track down so many rebounds, due to its terrific defense.

The Longhorns smother you on defense, not allowing you to get a clean look at the basket. The Longhorns are holding teams to 36 percent from the field and 27 percent from downtown.

Texas has shown flashes of brilliance in many ways this season. Their play has them as the latest contender to make the Final Four and compete for the National Championship.

"I've been doing this 24 years as an assistant coach and head coach, and I haven't seen many teams as good as Texas" said Texas A&M's head coach Mark Turgeon. "Playing at that level they're playing at, I thought they were fantastic."

Texas understands who their stars are and utilizes their abilities. Hamilton, their sophomore leader, has exceeded expectations and has become the Longhorns No. 1 threat on offense.

Hamilton shoots 47 percent from the field, and 42 percent from the three-point line, while taking around 14 shots per game.

His improvement, and continuous progression is one reason Texas can be labeled contenders. Hamilton current stat line looks something like this: 19 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assist per game.

Running mate, and possibly the x-factor for Texas, Thompson has continued to impress and his name dips in-and-out NBA draft conversations.

Thompson has shot an impressive 53 percent from the field during conference play, and is certainly the gas that fueled the Longhorns over previous Big 12 champ Kansas.

Thompson averages 12.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks. His intensity in the frontcourt has helped Texas stay atop of the College Basketball polls. The Longhorns are currently listed as the No. 3 ranked team in the nation after starting the season out No. 25.

Freshman guard Cory Joseph has been a great contributor, as is, senior Gary Johnson, J'Covan Brown, and Dogus Balbay.

The pressure is certainly on Texas now as the conference race starts to speed up, and teams are starting to really take notice. The Longhorns have the chance to finish undefeated in the Big 12 after winning against Mizzou, Texas A&M, and Kansas.

They've proven they can win on the road, and protect their home court. The Longhorns are for real this year, and could pose a huge threat come March.

For more CoHoops news follow us on Twitter (@Collegiate_Hoop) or subscribe via email