Conference play is underway, and the Chris Beard era is now in full swing at Texas.
What was a 12-man Longhorn rotation at times during non-conference play is solidifying into one eight or nine-deep, as the competition level continues to ramp up for Texas.
With the Longhorns ranking 349th in the nation in tempo, hanging their hat on the defensive end, individual offensive production is down across the board. Plus, playing time and usage has drastically declined for pretty much everyone on the roster.
For those reasons, it can be hard to judge who is exceeding expectations, considering everyone’s numbers have declined this season. To account for this, I’ve compared players’ stats from this season, to last season, on a per 100 possession basis.
Based on these numbers, here are three Texas players exceeding expectations so far this season, and who likely see more minutes in the future as a result:
Disu has been a standout for Texas since returning from injury in early December, and it isn’t a surprise that his name jumps out when considering the stats. On a per 100 possession basis, Disu leads Texas in points, rebounds and blocks. By the same metric, Disu is averaging more points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, while shooting better shooting splits, than he did last year when he led the SEC in rebounds.
Since Disu has only appeared in six games, playing limited minutes in each, this is quite a small sample size. But the Vanderbilt transfer still passes the eye test with flying colors. His length and rim-protecting ability transcend the stat sheet, while he has shown he is an adept low-post scorer, mid-range player and finisher at the rim.
Take this monster dunk for example:
The expectations for Disu were already pretty high, having averaged 15 and nine last year at Vanderbilt, but nobody expected the lengthy forward to have this much of an impact in such a short span of time since returning from a serious injury. Since he has come back from injury, he has outperformed both of Texas’ other bigs, Christian Bishop and Tre Mitchell.
Again, expectations were already high for Allen and his stats are pretty much down across the board, relative to his last season at Utah. However, not many would have expected Allen would become outright Texas’ best player this season — and he has been.
Like many on the roster, Allen is playing the fewest minutes of his career, while adapting to Texas’ newfound snail-like pace. But comparing him amongst his teammates, Allen is Texas’ leading scorer and rebounder, and is second on the team in assists. His all-around significance is why he may just be the Longhorns’ most important player. Plus, he is having the best rebounding season of his four-year career, which has been crucial for this Texas team.
Much like Disu, Bishop’s impact doesn’t necessarily jump out on the stat sheet right away, but his value is truly understood when watching him.
Especially towards the beginning of the season, when Disu was still ailing form injury, Bishop’s size and athleticism has been absolutely crucial for Texas. Bishop is much quicker and more athletic than Tre Mitchell, so he has proved to be a more effective rim protector. Plus, he’s got just about as much length as anyone on the Texas team, which has helped him come up with blocks like this:
While he has played second fiddle to Mitchell, and at times Disu, this season, Bishop is second on the team in rebounds per 100 possessions. He is also a very efficient scorer, leading the team in field goal percentage, shooting 59.3%. The only problem for Bishop, playing time-wise, is the success of Disu, Allen and Mitchell. But when Bishop is on the floor, Texas gets an efficient scorer at the rim, and a very robust player on defense.