Slow starts and offensive woes have Longhorns struggling

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Sophomore Cokie Reed, who missed all of last season, is currently listed as day-to-day with a right leg injury. The Lady Longhorns are 2-4 in Big 12 play.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

While the women’s struggles have received less attention than their male counterparts, Texas hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so far this year.

Slow starts, poor offensive execution and a couple untimely injuries have the Longhorns failing to live up to all the preseason hype.

Texas, who was third in the Big 12 preseason poll, currently sits at eighth place in the conference standings.

“We talked about the fact that the Big 12 is such a war,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors, who many believe has failed to live up to expectations since arriving in Austin in 2007. “We’re so evenly balanced throughout the conference. Many of the games are going to come down to the wire.”

This year’s Longhorns team has had an unusually tough time in the first half of games.

Texas has outscored its opponent in the second frame of three of its last four losses, but the first-half deficits were just too much to overcome in each case.

The Longhorns‘ game against No. 1 Baylor University on Jan. 15 was a great example of the squad’s early game issues.

Less than seven minutes into the game, Baylor had gotten out to a 19-point lead and was on pace to walk all over the undersized Longhorns. However, from that point on, Texas kept pace with the Bears and outscored the country’s best team, 30-28, in the second half.

“I am disappointed overall in our focus, energy and effort,” Goestenkors said. “There is no excuse for that. If you are going to compete against a great team, you have to have everyone show up and play. You have to be energized, be focused and be confident right from the opening tip.”

Another area of concern for the Longhorns this year has been the team’s inability to convert on the offensive end.

Texas ranks no better than fifth in any of the 14 offensive team statistics measured by the Big 12 and finds itself in the bottom half of the conference in 12 of those categories.

Coach Goestenkors and many of the team’s upperclassmen are looking to the freshmen to step up now that they have had a chance to get some experience.

“Usually when you start second semester and you’ve had a couple of Big 12 games under your belt,” Goestenkors said. “That’s when we tell the freshmen that they’re no longer freshmen, so they need to act like sophomores. I think they have started to turn the corner on the defensive end. Now I’m expecting more from them offensively.”

Although many of the Longhorns early season wounds have been self-inflicted, a couple key injuries have also put the team behind the eight ball throughout the year. Sophomore guard Chelsea Bass, the team’s leading scorer off the bench, missed a few important games early on in the season while sophomore post Cokie Reed has missed the last three games with a lower leg injury.

“Cokie remains day-to-day,” Goestenkors said. “We’re hoping to have her as soon as possible. It would be a big boost to us. Either way, we’re ready to play.”

Printed on Tuesday January 24, 2012 as: Lady Longhorns limping through conference competition