Bohls: Ever the perfectionist, Texas' Vic Schaefer wisely nitpicks Wednesday's runaway win
- Texas crushed overmatched Southeast Missouri State by 41 but no one's satisfied.
- Would they beat Stanford with that effort? "I don't believe so," Schaefer said.
- The Longhorns have plenty of offensive weapons , but defense must matter the most.
Shay Holle mentioned the team’s shortcomings on the defensive end Wednesday. Lauren Ebo brought up the missed layups, 10 of them in the first half.
The Texas women’s basketball coach, who would be wired to go if the game began at midnight, said his team looked “a little sleepy” for the 11 a.m. tip.
So, you say, just how bad did the Longhorns lose?
Oh, they won by 41.
This, of course, was a wire-to-wire 88-47 victory over Southeast Missouri State in front of 4,854 fans at the Erwin Center, at least 3,500 of them under the age of 14.
The outmanned Redhawks weren’t so lucky. They never got the score under 14.
At least, not once No. 12 Texas raced to an 18-4 lead in the first quarter to delight the huge throng of elementary kids and middle-schoolers from 34 area schools who were approved to play hooky and catch this lopsided women’s game in this traditional pre-lunch game and then get autographs and pictures.
The Texas football team isn’t the only one that's America’s Brunch Bunch. It’s just that the women’s hoopsters are so much better at it.
This was another tune-up game for bigger fish to fry, grill or broil. Or, if you’re not a pescatarian, the real meat, if you will, comes in Big 12 play as well as against more challenging nonconference contests like this Sunday’s matchup against No. 16 Tennessee on the road and last Sunday’s against Stanford.
So, Vic, would y’all have beaten No. 3 Stanford today as you did Sunday?
“I don’t believe so,” he said. “No, we would not have. The kids know that.”
The second-year Longhorns coach makes sure of that. He talks all the time about playing to a standard, same as Steve Sarkisian does. Unfortunately, Texas' footballers are playing to a new, very low standard in a droopy program that has had double-digit wins in a season only once since 2009.
Schaefer’s standard is more like, say, that of a Dave Aranda, who took Baylor from 2-7 to 8-2 in one year. Vic did the same in Austin in his first season, transforming a sleeping giant into an amazingly clutch club that went to the Elite Eight and now shows every sign of developing into a Final Four contender this season. Make no mistake. Texas is now a basketball school, pure and simple.
That’s why Schaefer and his trusting players, who have bought in, can afford to nitpick about another rout in which the Longhorns scored 50 points in the paint and got five players in double figures with Holle adding another eight along with her strong presence on the floor.
Schaefer wasn’t looking for a win Wednesday so much as he was better habits like the four charges they took on the floor.
“There’s a standard that you live by, and that’s not our standard,” he said of the day’s performance. “We’ve got to be better. We didn’t quite have the energy level we played with on Sunday. That’s typical of a young, inexperienced team. But I thought Joanne (Allen-Taylor) was the juice for us today.”
That she was.
The irrepressible Allen-Taylor got her shot any time she wanted off Texas’ trademark dribble drives and weaves and scored a team-high 13 points along with 11 each from Ebo in the post, point guard Rori Harmon and Aliyah Matharu, one of the stars of the Stanford game.
Harmon and Matharu combined for 38 points in the upset of the Cardinal — was it even an upset? — and Texas won’t have much trouble scoring on most nights. Schaefer’s just got so many weapons on a team that can also get production from a Holle or a DeYona Gaston as well as his main stars.
Defense is where it has to happen for this team to be special, however, and that’s why Schaefer was nitpicking following the runaway win over a team that lost by 24 to Stephen F. Austin and whose only win came over something called the University of Health Sciences & Pharmacy in St. Louis. Hey, it’s tough to play wearing lab coats.
“I think Coach definitely was not satisfied on the defensive end,” Holle said. “And little things like finishing layups and free throws should be a gimme. He wasn’t pleased with those. We don’t have room for error, no matter who we’re playing.”
Which is exactly why Schaefer stresses the defensive end so emphatically.
It begins in practice, which can be even more grueling than games.
“Always,” said Ebo, who had a solid game with a double-double including 10 rebounds. “Practices are definitely harder than the games.”
Heck, Matharu — a rising star transfer from Schaefer’s former post, Mississippi State — and four freshmen beat a more veteran Longhorns bunch two consecutive days in a four-minute drill Vic calls the “Longhorn” to reveal not only this team’s depth but its want-to.
Now comes Tennessee, the next challenge on Sunday.
The Lady Vols are 3-0 but may not be a vintage Tennessee team perhaps without top scorer Rae Burrell, but don’t tell that to Schaefer.
“I expect the old Tennessee,” he said. “Rebounding and defense is something they preach and take great pride in. I expect a tough, physical basketball team. Coach (Kellie) Harper does a great job.”
The Lady Vols are also a work in some sort of progress. They have a star in Jordan Horston and 6-foot-6 center Tamari Key, but they’re also a poor free-throw shooting team and missed all 18 of their 3-point tries against South Florida in a game they won by only three.
Schaefer’s colleagues have razzed him about all these tough weekend matchups he has with Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M on Dec. 5 and Arizona on Dec. 19.
“I’ve been asked what’s your deal with Sunday? You’ve got some miserable Sundays coming up,” he repeated. “I say those Sundays are going to get us ready for conference games.”
And last Sunday against Stanford? Really wasn’t at all miserable.
“No,” Schaefer said, “it was pretty good.”
But he never settles for pretty good.