Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. That’s all Rick Barnes wants heading into tournament play.
However, his team is riddled with inconsistency.
Senior forward Jonathan Holmes, who was the most consistent Longhorn, just turned in a disaster of a month. Junior center Cam Ridley seems to pick and choose when he shows up to play.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor goes from 40 minutes one night to 15 minutes three games later because of his poor defensive effort. Freshman forward Myles Turner plays like the Big 12 Freshman of the Year some nights and then like a true freshman the others. Sophomore guard Kendal Yancy transformed from passive role player to slick-shooter overnight.
And Barnes has no idea which one of his players will show up on any night, leaving him frustrated.
“We need Jon Holmes. We need Cam Ridley. We need Javan [Felix],” said Barnes, frustrated after the Iowa State game at home.
Only junior guard Demarcus Holland “has been as steady as a rock all year.”
Holland locks down defensively each and every night; he hustles after loose balls, and his shots result in a 49 percent clip from deep to lead the team.
“I embrace my role,” Holland said before the season. “If it takes me guarding the best player, I’ll do it. If I have to rebound, I’ll do it.”
Now, Barnes just needs to get the rest of his players to embrace their roles.
“All we are simply trying to do is to get each guy to do what he does best,” Barnes said Monday morning in a teleconference. “If we can get the consistency of that, we feel good about where we are at.”
Texas has as much talent in the Big 12 as anyone, yet, because of its inconsistency, the team enters Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Wednesday as the No. 7 seed and on the bubble of the NCAA tournament.
Just look at the top of the Big 12 standings to see what consistency can do. Junior forward Perry Ellis has been leading No. 1 seed Kansas, and junior point forward Georges Niang heads No. 2 Iowa State. Junior guard Buddy Hield guides No. 3 Oklahoma. Junior forward Rico Gathers leads No. 4 Baylor, and senior guard Juwan Staten is a veteran for No. 5 West Virginia.
Those players — who also make up the All-Big 12 First Team — have been as consistent as any in the nation all season. Game in and game out, those teams know what they are going to get out of their stars.
With its NCAA tournament hopes on the line, Texas is going to need everyone to make a difference. The Longhorns start off against No. 10 Texas Tech in Kansas City, Missouri at 8 p.m. Wednesday. A loss could end their tournament dream. A win would help them avoid disaster and keep their tournament résumé void of that bad loss.
“We’ve got another game right now with Texas Tech,” Barnes said. “We got to go play. This is as big a game as we’ve played all year.”
A win against Tech would pit them against No. 2 Iowa State in a quarterfinal matchup Thursday night.
“We’re never going to feel like we’ve done enough,” Holland said. “We got to take care of our next couple games.”