When you are the number one team in the nation, you have a tendency to forget your own weaknesses. Oh sure, the coach keeps mentioning them, but when you’re number one, are you really going to listen as attentively? How can you when everyone around you — your friends, most of your fans, the media — is already anointing you?
Those problems don’t go away, however, until you fix them, and there’s no better time for a team to fix its problems than after a loss. At least that’s what Burnt Orange Nation, SB Nation’s Texas blog, hopes.
So that’s it. We can get all the Number 1 nonsense out of our heads and worry about fixing the actual problems that this team has. Dexter Pittman has crawled into a dark cave and replaced himself with some kind of clumsy facsimile that misses bunnies and can’t stay on the floor because of foul trouble. All of our scorers are struggling with turnovers, and now it’s starting to come at exactly the wrong moments (granted any moment looks like a bad moment for a turnover when you lose). We have been dominated in the paint for two games straight. I still wouldn’t bet that we shoot better than 50% from the line with much confidence. We have yet to find a go-to guy when we need a three at a crucial moment.
All of this is true, and it’s all bad, but let’s take a step back and look at what this team has accomplished to date: 17 straight wins, the first Number 1 ranking in program history, back-to-back wins over top 10 teams, one of which moved up the ballots since then, and a 2-1 start in a stacked Big 12 conference. This team has accomplished more than I expected to this point, but they are puzzlingly playing at a level below what I had hoped for at this stage. Call it growing pains as the freshman learn just how tough it’s going to be to win on the road in the Big 12 from here on out. While it was frustrating watching J’Covan Brown repeatedly throw away our last hopes for a comeback, let me first get a few things out of the way that helped to make this one of the worst experiences of my life, at least so far as those things that are under the control of people who should be trying to avoid such an occurrence.
Longhorn fans therefore are hoping short-term pain (last night’s loss) leads to long-term gain.