Shaka Smart: Texas Needs Better Chemistry To Win & Make Threes

Texas Basketball head coach Shaka Smart says the young Longhorns team is still working on their chemistry this deep into the season.

In Monday’s weekly press conference, coach Shaka Smart said some Texas players are still getting to know each other.

This especially affects shooting. The ballhandlers are still learning where their teammates want the ball and where their sweet spots are on the court.

Coach Smart’s comments explain why the Horns go long stretches where the offense stagnates and the team loses confidence.

“I think our team’s chemistry is improving,” Smart said before pausing. “I think our team – like a lot of teams – could certainly stand to learn more and more about each other, and about what makes each other tick.

“One of the things you hear about veteran teams is ‘Hey, we’ve played together for a while. We know where this guy likes the ball, or what this guy’s tendencies are.’

“I mean, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen are just starting to get to know each other. Those are two guys playing better than anyone else on our team. That’s just one example. I think those guys certainly have a better chemistry together than they did two, three months ago.”

Shaka Smart Looking For Group Effort

With the Texas Longhorns near the bottom of the Big 12 at 4-8 in the conference, Shaka Smart is looking for more group effort. He said they do not have an individual leader to run the show, like incoming freshman Matt Coleman could be next year.

So, the game strategy is for all five guys on the court to play together as a unit. But, without that strong team chemistry, the Horns have been inconsistent throughout the year. This is especially the case on the road, where Texas has not won all season.

Coach Smart also spent a lot of time on Monday talking about the team’s outside shooting woes, which is the result of the chemistry issue.

Through Saturday’s game, the Texas Longhorns are last in the Big 12 in three-point shooting. Texas is only shooting .296, which is not even close to next-to-last TCU at .340.

Texas is only making 5.7 three-pointers per game, which is nearly one full shot behind next-to-last Oklahoma at 6.5 made threes per game.

Another concerning stat is that Texas is #340 out of all 351 college basketball teams in three-point shooting. Also, Texas’s 5.7 makes per game ranks #320.

Eric Davis

Feb 1, 2017; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns guard Eric Davis Jr (10) shoots for three to take the lead in the final minute against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the second half at the Frank Erwin. The Longhorns won 62-58. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Why Can’t Texas Make Three-Pointers?

Shaka Smart said players have to set up other players, and the shooters need to carry over their technique. But, with an individual mindset, some players lose focus on the task at hand.

The two outside shooters that Smart wants to see become more consistent are Jacob Young and Eric Davis. The freshman Young is a great rhythm shooter in practice, but he’s still learning about a different rhythm in live game situations.

Smart emphasized that all the shooters need to “shoot the right way, with discipline and confidence.” But, for Young, it’s been a “real challenging stretch for him” because he’s an excellent shooter in controlled environments.

But, until the Texas Longhorns develop a strong team mindset on the court, the team will continue to struggle to shoot and win on the road.

Their next “chemistry test” is Tuesday night in Norman when they face last-place Oklahoma in a rivalry game. Will the lessons from past road struggles finally turn into a win away from Austin? Coach Smart hopes to see that, plus a few more three-point shots go down.

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