Bohls: Baylor crushes Texas, but disparity won't last forever
- Baylor inflicted a lot of punishment but has a national championship-caliber basketball team.
- Texas coach Vic Schaefer liked his team's defense, but the offense was sorely lacking.
- Charli Collier's two points and five fouls were totally unacceptable for a player of her stature.
There’s no medical report available yet following the Texas-Baylor women’s basketball game Sunday night, but we have to presume that every one of Vic Schaefer’s Longhorns has to be treated for hurt feelings.
Make that third-degree hurt feelings.
Break out the bandages.
Same goes for Schaefer, the first-year Longhorn coach, who may have to undergo medical help for severe internal angst. That’s how bad he wants to win. Yesterday, not tomorrow.
I fully expected him to blow his top after sitting through one of his tougher games and getting blown off the court. He had to be biting his tongue in his post-game remarks. Maybe clear through.
But he remained calm and even credited his outmatched team with competing hard and playing well defensively. Before getting crushed, that is. And even then, he said he wouldn’t “sugar-coat” his team’s deficiencies and made mention that some players were “loafing down the court” on fast breaks or failed to block out free throw shooters. He doesn’t suffer laziness or lack of effort.
He has now endured his first beatdown in what has come to be the natural order of things in the Big 12 circa 2000s as we now know it. Join the club, Vic.
Let’s face it. Kim Mulkey owns the Big 12. I mean, her league record since 2011 is 180-9, and I can’t remember the nine for the life of me.
She’s running things and has been for a decade, and her latest team is well on its way to an 11th straight conference championship.
That much was obvious Sunday when Mulkey’s Lady Bears lambasted Schaefer’s young, raw crew 60-35 at a mostly empty Ferrell Center in Waco. Believe me, it wasn’t that close.
And that’s not likely to change any time soon.
But it will.
The gap between Baylor and Texas that began long ago and was extended during Karen Aston’s time in Austin remains. Mulkey’s teams have won nine straight in the series and 23 of the last 24 meetings between the two programs, and that won’t change overnight.
This is good emotional scar tissue that could serve Texas well because it learned some hard lessons and knows how far it must go to compete on the same level as Baylor. Schaefer’s got a decent 14-6 team that generally plays hard and is projected as a seventh seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bears will come to the Erwin Center on March 1, and Schaefer will be hard-pressed to find answers quickly enough for a Lady Bears team that is capable of winning another national championship in time to reverse Sunday’s gap.
Schaefer understands the disparity between the two franchises, and that’s exactly why the former Mississippi State head coach is getting his paychecks in Austin now, and Aston isn’t.
Did Sunday’s margin reflect that?
“I don't know what the definition or the answer to that is,” said Schaefer, who doesn’t wish to denigrate his team and understandably so. “As I told the team, championship teams play harder, defend tougher and execute better. And if you want to beat a team like that, you got to play harder, execute better and defend tougher.”
And Texas didn’t have a prayer of doing that Sunday although it did force 20 turnovers.
The Longhorns do have a national Player of the Year candidate, but junior Charli Collier had a dreadful performance with two points and five fouls that will surely cost her any chance of that award. Schaefer said he “ran stuff through her,” but praised Baylor’s defense for denying her the ball, guarding her at the catch, contesting every move the gifted Texas center made.
That said, Collier has to be better than one field goal in three shots. When you average 22 points, two points in the biggest game of the year is totally unacceptable. She’s a great player but isn’t physical enough to overpower opponents and get her points any way any how. She didn’t take a single shot in the second half. How is that possible?
And none of her teammates were there to pick up the slack.
“Certain defenses play certain ways, and today they were sagging in a lot on Charli,” said Lauren Ebo, who played decently in the big lineup that Schaefer used a lot. “That's when other people have to step up.”
She’s right about that.
Oh, Audrey Warren did her usual thing before fouling out, and she’s tougher than a truck-stop steak. And she and her teammates played clamp-down defense well enough to hold Baylor to eight points and a season-low 60 total.
But the way the Longhorns were playing offense, shooting just 24.6% and missing their first 11 long-range shots, Schaefer would have had to put eight players on the floor to slow down these Bears.
They’re so deep, I’m not sure Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith, last year’s national defensive player of the year, is the MVP of the Big 12 or if it’s first-time point guard Didi Richards, who had 10 dimes and terrific defense, or maybe even Dijonai Carrington, the Stanford transfer who comes off the bench to do, well, pretty much whatever she wants. They had four in double figures.
That’s how deep Baylor is.
And how deep Texas will be at some point.
Trust me, Schaefer is seething Sunday night in his Waco hotel room where the team is stranded because of Central Texas’ Arctic conditions, but he’ll get the Longhorns to where they and the Bears are equals. Schaefer knows it. And I think Mulkey does, too, and totally respects Schaefer, which is why this rivalry should be so intriguing the rest of the decade.
I believe that. It may not happen next year, but it will or Schaefer will be so hard to live with, he might have to coach in a straitjacket.
But for now, the gap between the two is, well, gaping.
“That's it in a real big equation now,” Schaefer said. “Certainly we've got some skill-set issues that we're addressing, and we've addressed with our recruiting class. But, you know, that's a team over there that's got, you know, first-team all conference players.”
Texas has one.
That, too, will change. Just not overnight.