Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Commentary: Durant should take it to next level

March 21, 2007


— It was supposed to end with confetti showers and comparisons to Carmelo Anthony - not the Longhorns' worst loss of the season.

We all knew it was going to take a string of superlative performances by Kevin Durant for Texas to make a magical NCAA Tournament run, but the Longhorns couldn't even make it out of the first weekend.

USC 87, Texas 68.

Now, we must confront the reality that Durant's fantastic 35-game career at UT is over. There's no need for him to come back, though selfishly we'd love to see him up close for another season. He's done all he can do in Austin.

Don't waste your time trying to come up with scenarios where he returns for another season because it's not happening. As you would expect, Durant isn't interested in discussing the future.

"I don't think that's an appropriate question right now," Durant said. "I'm just worried about this team and where we could be next year as a team."

When Durant decides to leave in the next month or so, his decision won't have nearly as much to do with money as you might think.

It'll be more about how his game can't improve much more at UT.

Durant scored more points than any other freshman in NCAA history except LSU's Chris Jackson. We all realize fantastic players like Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Pete Maravich weren't allowed to play varsity basketball as freshmen, but Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were.

Rick Barnes is a really good coach, but defense is his specialty. He simply isn't creative enough offensively to advance Durant's game and make him a better player.

When you have college basketball's best player - the topic is not even up for debate - and he can play every position on the court, you make him the epicenter of the offense.

He should touch the ball on every single half-court possession. No exceptions. And if his teammates can't figure that out, then they need to sit on the bench until they do.

When the offense runs through Durant, A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin get open jump shots or more room to drive to the basket because Durant is always going to have two or three defenders around him.

So what happened Sunday? Durant had five shots in UT's first 16 possessions as the Longhorns fell behind 24-13 with 9:38 left in the first half.

A minute into the second half, Texas pulled within 34-30 on Justin Mason's layup. By the time Durant made his first field goal of the second half, UT trailed, 53-37, with 13:08 left.

Game over.

Durant finished with 30 points, making 11 of 24 shots and sis of eight free throws. But you miss the point completely if you think it's about getting Durant shots. It's about getting him quality shots.

His ability to hit three-pointers should make it easier for him to drive to the bucket. And when all else fails, it's Barnes responsibility to call a play that gets Durant the ball in the paint where he either gets fouled or scores.

Durant doesn't need to take nine three-pointers. Barnes, though, couldn't figure out how to get him the ball close to the basket, so Durant didn't have much choice.


Katie Van Blaricum 11 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I liked watching him play, but I hope we never have to play him again! Good luck in the NBA!

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