Feb 6, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Texas Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry watches play against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been an interesting road for Texas Men’s Basketball Head Coach Rodney Terry to be in the spot he is now. A month or two ago, I wrote an article on Coach Terry regarding his background, former schools he coached at etc. and now aim to discuss the keys to his and the team's success this season.
Coach Terry took over as, at the time, Acting Head Coach on December 12th, just hours before the Longhorns played against Rice. The game, at least to me, felt awkward and almost like something was off. It seemed that everyone in the Moody Center was affected by the Chris Beard situation that took place earlier that morning, and even among this eerie feeling, Coach Terry led the 'Horns to an 87-81 victory: his first of many more to come this season. Since that game, the Longhorns are 11-4 overall and 8-3 in Big 12 Conference play. As it stands currently, the Big 12 has 6 teams ranked in the Associated press Top-25: Texas at 5, Kansas at 9, Iowa State at 11, Kansas State at 12, Baylor at 14, and TCU at 17.
The key to success, from my perspective, for Coach Terry and the staff is that they all seem to understand their roles. Last season, the team relied on forward Timmy Allen and guard Marcus Carr night-in and-night out to be the primary scorers and offensive leaders. While these two players are playing at a high-caliber level this season, the team overall has a bit of a different identity to it. With every new game comes a new player who steps up and performs when the team needs it most or when other players are struggling. Against Oklahoma State a few weeks ago, forward Brock Cunningham put up a career-high 15 points in the Longhorns' 89-75 victory. Against Baylor on January 30th, guard Sir’Jabari Rice had 21 points off the bench in the Longhorns 76-71 victory, while going 4-5 on 3 PT attempts and 7-8 on FT attempts. Against Kansas State, forward Christian Bishop played 26 minutes off the bench and had 14 points along with 6 rebounds (5 offensive) and 2 steals. All season long Rodney Terry has emphasized teamwork and relying on each other… and it’s been evident in the play of his team. Back in January, at a media availability, Terry said that “there are things that you are going to go through all the time that you are not going to be prepared for and you’re not ready for, and you have to move forward and you have to try to stay the course.” This motto appears to reign true as the Longhorns have had multiple double-digit comeback wins this year, with the biggest being the 14-point first-half deficit they erased against Kansas State
Even after their loss to 9th-ranked Kansas on Monday night (February 6th), the Longhorns still hold first place in the Big 12 standings. The immensely tough stretch of the schedule has now come to an end for the Longhorns as well, with their next 3 games coming against (currently) unranked teams West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. It will be interesting to see how Coach Terry goes about these games and potentially giving some of his starters, such as Marcus Carr with around 32 minutes per game and Tyrese Hunter with roughly 30, some rest if they grab a big enough lead in any of the upcoming matchups.
Overall, Rodney Terry has stepped into a role full of pressure and expectations and has appeared to deliver. There are still many games to be played and goals to be hit, but if the Longhorns keep playing the way they do, this team has a chance to make a serious run come March.
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