Chris Ogden talks Texas hoops

Balbay's been key (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

The Texas Longhorns improved to 4-1 in Big 12 play on Tuesday night with a 78-72 win over the Baylor Bears. Five games into conference play, the Longhorns have changed quite a bit since the first handful of games as players have stepped up and roles have changed. Recently, Burnt Orange Beat spoke with Texas assistant coach Chris Ogden to get his thoughts on the team and the season looking ahead.

Chris Ogden talks to Burnt Orange Beat about this year's Texas Longhorn basketball team. Ogden is in his first season as a fulltime assistant coach. Ogden also played for Coach Rick Barnes and the Longhorns from 2000-2003 and tallied 85 career games.

Q: Where is the Texas Longhorn team at headed into the bulk of conference play?

A: I think we finally settled in on how we've got to play. Now, hopefully, we can build on that and move forward.

Q: What areas does the team need to improve as the season moves along?

A: We've got to get better on ball screen defense. We've got to continue to get smarter as a team knowing what we can and can't do. Then we've got to get better at taking care of the ball. We have to continue improving there. We have to get better screening. We have to sharpen up the details of the game. Now that we know how we are going to have to play, we can start sharpening up some areas.

Q: What players have made major strides of late?

A: I think there are a lot of guys. Gary Johnson is one that is coming into his own as an offensive threat. I think Damion (James) is continuing to improve. Dogus Balbay, obviously, has been a big difference in what we've done over the last few weeks and is going to continue to be key. Matt Hill too and he's going to keep coming. Those four guys are key guys that have come on.

Q: Against teams such as Oklahoma State and Nebraska, they will put out a very small team on the floor. Does that increase the chances of Gary Johnson and Damion James playing with three guards a little more?

A: I think playing against small lineups, guys like Connor Atchley and Matt Hill can play because they are smart players. The thing that happens if you are able to stay big is the opportunity to pound teams on the glass and go inside more. That's the good thing about Gary Johnson is he can go small, but still gives you a post-up game. Damion and Gary could be used as a smaller lineup at times on the front line.

Q: What are your thoughts on Jai Lucas after getting an close up look for a few practices?

A: Very, very smart player. Good basketball player. He will knock down open shots and really knows the game. He'll fit right in.

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