Even before he’s played an official game for the Texas Longhorns basketball program, UT hoops fans are well aware of the pressure and expectations which have been heaped upon freshman point guard Matt Coleman’s shoulders.
When TJ Ford came in to the program in 2001, he was integrating himself into a team that had earned a number five seed in the previous year’s NCAA Tournament.
When DJ Augustin came in to the program in 2006, he was part of a total rebuilding project (though UT had just made the Elite Eight the year prior) that included a player whom would eventually become an NBA MVP.
When Matt Coleman came in to the program…
Well, things are a bit messier now, as an 11-22 season would suggest.
What Matt does well
First of all, he’s really good. A look at some stats does him justice (12.3 points per game on 54% shooting from the floor and 46% shooting from deep; 9.1 assists per game to only 1.4 turnovers per game; lead guard on a team that finished the year 29-2)
Coleman’s tangibles read like a starter’s kit for high level point guard.
Quickness. Handles in traffic. Speed with the ball in the open floor. Ability to break down a defender off the dribble. Ability to create/facilitate as a playmaker.
Coleman has all of those things.
There have even been positive reviews of his skills as a spot up shooter.
What Matt doesn’t do well
Matt’s a talented player, but he’s got his issues.
He has a tendency to play out of control at inopportune moments. He can be overly aggressive as a defender. He will sometimes go through stretches where his decision-making struggles.
Those issues are generally centered around his need to refine his game as pretty much every freshman player (especially at the point guard spot) does.
Where Matt fits
Every moment Matt is on the floor, he’ll be the primary ball handler/facilitator. There will be plays designed for Kerwin and Andrew to attack off the bounce, but Matt’s the point guard and (almost assuredly) will be until he leaves Texas for good – whenever that is.
And it’s because of that defining role as a lead guard that makes Matt’s play this year so instrumental into the ultimate fate of Texas Basketball.
While it can seem like overkill to state all of these ideas in close proximity because of how similar they appear, these are the main reasons that Matt’s fit at point guard is so important:
· His 30+ minutes a game at the point guard which allows Jones and Roach to play their more natural, wing positions
· His comfort in pick and roll situations mean a natural fit for Bamba and Osetkowski (and Sims) who can both play inside or out on the offensive end
· His ability in the open floor consolidates the ability of Texas’ multiple athletes to get out and run
· Minutes at the point guard, and subsequent placement of Roach and Jones on the wing, allows Texas to limit the minutes of Febres/Young on the perimeter (Davis, too, should his issues mirror last year’s)
In other words it becomes a series of “because this, then this” statements.
So, because Coleman is a true point guard, we don’t have to play Roach or Jones there…
Because Roach and Jones can play, predominantly at the two and three, Young, Davis and Febres won’t be forced into major minutes…
Because Coleman’s skillset is so advanced for a point guard, it allows Texas to better utilize their big men in both the full court and half court…
One More for Good Measure
During Shaka’s press conference on Monday, he informed the world that the leading scorer during the first two weeks was…Eric Davis.
To me, there are not many better examples of the benefit of a true point than that.
Davis plays with first team All Big 12 Isaiah Taylor: he’s a 38% shooter from three and a player with legit pro-aspiration that most of Texas fandom believes will lead them in scoring
Davis plays with Roach and Jones at the point: he’s a 26% three point shooter who has to answer transfer rumors in the offseason that most of Texas fandom has given up on
The interesting tale of ripple effects, indeed.
The Texas Basketball Tip Off will be held tonight at Gregory Gym at 7:00 pm. It will air on LHN.