Roach, Longhorns elevating their play
AUSTIN, Texas — Capable of creating for himself or any of the other ‘Horns on the floor at any time, senior Kerwin Roach II is embracing his role as this Texas team evolves.
A contrast for the high-scoring Roach, he took just six shots against Purdue last week, with his previous low on the season being 11 field goal attempts. It wasn’t necessarily intentional, yet Roach was intent to make things happen within the game flow and game plan as the rest of the Longhorns — especially freshmen Jaxon Hayes and Kamaka Hepa down the stretch.
“I have to say it’s just about adjusting,” Roach said. “The whole defensive game plan for other teams is just to stop me from getting into the paint, that’s when you gotta rely on your teammates and trust them to step up … It was just part of the game flow to be honest.”
Following a three-game losing streak, Texas took it to Purdue and came away with a complete team win, and the adjustments within that game were the product of several things, according to Roach.
“Definitely when you let the ball stick the defense gets their time to adjust and set up for whatever we’re about to throw at them,” Roach said. “It’s ball movement, we always preach that — more passes, less dribble.”
As defenses slant the floor to stop Roach from penetrating and reach the hoop, the senior is turning his attention to empower his teammates. Both Hayes and Hepa played down the stretch to help close out the win against Purdue, and depth from all over the roster will be vital if Texas is to turn into a contender once more.
“I have extreme confidence in them especially after the long preseason we had,” he said. “It just reminds me when I was a freshman I was out there on the court during the last closing minutes. Guys stepped up we needed them to be on the court.”
The lack of energy and intensity during the losing streak didn’t sit well with the team, Roach said, and the ‘Horns focused on creating their own internal spark this time out.
“From a players standpoint we always gotta generate our own energy regardless of circumstances. We can’t be circumstantial in that area and when we do it leads to a loss like Radford. We definitely learned from it.”
With another game against a team Texas could take for granted — hosting Grand Canyon at the Erwin Center 5 p.m. Saturday — that will be crucial once again.
Even as youngsters find their footing as the team meshes during December with the Big 12 Conference slate stating in the New Year, the team isn’t losing sight of their connectivity built through a long and rigorous preseason.
“The character of this team is very much uplifting, spiritual, we all want to see each other succeed, we all are unselfish regardless of what the circumstance is,” Roach said. “(The win over Purdue) was a big one off our shoulders, you could see it in our faces especially after the game. We needed that win to get back on track get our rhythm back as a team.”