Writer: Lucas Garza
Shaka Smart’s coaching job became much less secure after the Longhorns’ basketball team had an awful week, losing to a home game to Kansas State and on the road against TCU.
After the Longhorns had a dramatic win last Saturday against Oklahoma, the team did not show up with energy on Wednesday against Kansas State. The horns had a slight lead for the majority of the game, but found themselves down by five late in the game and they could not recover.
Texas then traveled to Fort Worth to have a rematch against TCU, who they beat in double overtime one month earlier. TCU would take the lead early, scoring from the perimeter and making Dylan Osetkowski and Jericho Sims look clueless down low. Mo Bamba had a great game offensively, scoring over 23 points that showcased many different moves. Defense was the problem all game for the Longhorns, giving up 48 points in the first half has been the most under Shaka Smart. Bamba only had one block, and Kerwin Roach lost his man on three different occasions.
The week’s two losses currently take Texas out of the NCAA tournament picture, and they will probably need to win at least four more games to make their way back in. Suddenly, they find themselves on game out of last place in the Big 12. Of the six remaining teams Texas has left on their schedule, they have already suffered losses to five of them, making the road ahead much tougher.
At the beginning of the season, it was widely speculated that if Texas missed the NCAA tournament for a second straight year, and for only the third time this century, Shaka Smart would be fired. Although a few have rescinded this statement due to the illness of Andrew Jones, Shaka should still be held accountable for his team’s performance, energy, and play calling on the court. Shaka’s inability to run an offensive play late in the clock or recognize weaknesses in defenses will end up costing him his job if Texas misses the tournament again.
Chris Del Conte, the new Athletic Coordinator, must already be generating a list of names for the job. While at TCU, he was able to bring former Pittsburgh coach, Jamie Dixon, back to his alma mater, and the Horned Frogs’ basketball program has never been better. Del Conte will most likely look at some big name coaches, and try to bring them to Texas. The best option would be Villanova’s Jay Wright, but it would be very difficult to get him to leave Philadelphia. Some bold coaching candidates for the Longhorns’ to explore would be T.J. Ford and John Lucas II. It is no secret that former Longhorns and 2003 National Player of the Year, T.J. Ford, has been spending more time with the team recently, but he has no head coaching experience with the team recently. John Lucas II has been around the game and young men for all his life, and he is currently thriving as an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets. His son, Jai, played at Texas and is currently an assistant for Smart.
Texas won’t have to grow throughout the job searching process if Shaka can turn this team around heading into the last three weeks before the postseason. Every Longhorn basketball fan would love to see the team win games down the stretch of the season and compete hard at the Big 12 Tournament. The Longhorns’ have never won the Big 12 tournament. They have been to the championship game on four different occasions, but have lost to Kansas each time.