The seesaw nature of Kerwin Roach’s senior season has been anything but predictable. The highs for the Texas guard have been tremendous, but the lows have been cringe-worthy.
Against Arkansas, he buried a 3-pointer with 1 second remaining in regulation to force overtime. Those 18 points on Nov. 9 were a good way to start.
Then against North Carolina, he looked like the best player in America, going off for a career-high 32 points on Thanksgiving night.
But against lower competition like Radford, Roach was 2-for-12 shooting. Against Virginia Commonwealth, he went 1-for-11.
To Roach’s real credit, he owned it. He faced reporters after the VCU loss, a sure sign of maturity. “Eventually it will click. But right now, it’s just not clicking,” Roach said that night.
Poll the locker room, and the Longhorns will tell you the athlete nicknamed “Snoop” is probably the team’s best offensive threat, likely even their best player. His focus right now is consistency. Friday’s game against Providence is another chance to take the right step.
“Come my senior year, I wanted it to be all bread and butter, all beauty with no ups and downs,” Roach said. “Anybody would. But you know how life is. You’re going to have ups and downs. North Carolina was an up with an up. VCU was the bottom of the bottom.”
Roach said acknowledging his offensive slump was like “facing your demons.”
“You have to at the end of the day, sooner or later,” he said. “You have to own up to it and grow from it.”
Roach has earned his place in the locker room. He was recruited by former coach Rick Barnes but stayed with UT during the changeover to Shaka Smart. He averaged 7.9 points as a freshman, 9.9 as a sophomore and 12.3 last season.
Already this year, Roach became the 37th player in UT history to score 1,000 career points. He’s got 1,088 points and counting with at least 2 1/2 months remaining.
So what happens from here on out? Roach’s lasting legacy at Texas will likely be determined what happens in January, February and March.
Here’s a player capable of taking over games all by himself. Last season against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, Roach had a game-high 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Look at Arkansas and North Carolina as more examples.
Roach said he was late to a film session and did not start against Grand Canyon. But he came off the bench and scored on a baseline drive. His game looked like the fever broke. Roach had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and generally looked like himself.
“Snoop did a great job of attacking closeouts,” Smart said. “He’s extremely good at using his athleticism to go by guys. I don’t think he realizes sometimes how quick he is.”
Roach knows he’s expected to be a key playmaker. But guards Matt Coleman and Jase Febres along with big men Jericho Sims, Jaxson Hayes and Dylan Osetkowski can all help.
Asked if he felt any pressure to carry the offense, Roach said, “Honestly, no.”
“I have trust in my teammates that somebody else is going to make the play,” he said. “I feel like if you want to be a good leader on any team, you have to have trust in your teammates, enough for them to make plays, make winning plays and allow them to set you up sometimes.”
Roach referenced Kobe Bryant’s famous four air ball game against the Utah Jazz in the 1997 playoffs. Years later, Bryant spoke about how that game hardened his mindset. “He learned from that and grew from that and became one of the best players ever,” Roach said.
Roach hopes to follow a similar path.
“I want to get the ball in the basket,” he said. “The past three games, before the Purdue game, things weren’t going for me, but you just have to adjust. That’s what I did.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.