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20 | TEXAS

Nov. 09, 2015
Nov. 09, 2015

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Nov. 9, 2015

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  • FOR THREE DECADES THE ROYALS WANDERED IN THE BASEBALL DESERT, LOSING MORE GAMES THAN ANY OTHER CLUB. THE DROUGHT IS OVER, THE RESULT OF A NEW MODEL FOR HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED, THOUGH ONE THAT IS NOT EASILY REPLICATED

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THE SECOND TIER: Players of the Year
FRED VANVLEET
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20 | TEXAS

A NEW MIND-SET

This is an article from the Nov. 9, 2015 issue

At VCU, Shaka Smart built his Havoc defense around quickness. In Isaiah Taylor, the Longhorns' new coach has one of the fastest players in college basketball. Yet Smart wants the 6'3" junior point guard to cool his jets occasionally—at least on offense. "Sometimes what's needed is to shift down from fifth gear to third," Smart says. "He's learning that." Taylor averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists last season, but made only 40.1% of his field goal attempts because he tried too hard to break down defenses and wound up forcing shots. Taylor's focus this year will be creating high-quality looks for teammates. He'll get help on the perimeter from Demarcus Holland, a hard-nosed senior, and freshman Eric Davis Jr., an opportunistic scorer with range.

Smart expects the Longhorns to play like his 2011 Final Four squad at VCU, which relied more on zone D and hit an NCAA tournament record 61 three-pointers. Last season under Rick Barnes, who's now at Tennessee, the Longhorns ranked seventh in the Big 12 (and 212th nationally) in threes. "We're not going to press every single possession, we're not going to trap as much," says Smart. "But we're still going to play with a level of energy and togetherness. That's really what Havoc was about. It's a mind-set more so than X's and O's."

PROJECTED TEAM STATS

OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY 113.0 (23rd)

DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY 94.9 (38th)

BIG 12 RECORD 11--7 (4th)

X-FACTOR

Connor Lammert was the Longhorns' glue guy last year, and now the 6'10" stretch forward will be counted on to hit clutch threes. Coach Shaka Smart expects Lammert's rate to rise dramatically from the 29.5% he hit in 2014--15.

STAT SHEET

With 2015--16 projections for the top six scorers

Coach Shaka Smart (1st season)

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

PPG RPG APG OFF. RATING USAGE
PG Isaiah Taylor* 6'3" Jr. 14.3 3.9 4.5 106.1 25.9%
C Cameron Ridley* 6'10" Sr. 11.4 8.0 0.5 110.7 22.5%
PG Javan Felix 5'11" Sr. 9.3 1.9 2.2 109.6 21.7%
SG Eric Davis Jr. 6'2" Fr. 7.6 3.1 1.5 103.0 19.5%
PF Connor Lammert* 6'10" Sr. 7.0 6.8 1.4 113.8 15.4%
SG Demarcus Holland* 6'3" Sr. 6.4 3.1 2.0 106.1 16.7%

*Starter

TOURNAMENT TRACKER

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

TITLE GAME

FINAL FOUR

ELITE EIGHT

SWEET 16

ROUND OF 32

ROUND OF 64

'11--12

'12--13

'13--14

'14--15

'15--16

PHOTOGREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TAYLOR)PHOTOCHRIS COVATTA/GETTY IMAGES (LAMMERT)CHART