Doğuş Balbay of Turkey| Player Profile & Bio

Dogus Balbay of Texas Doğuş Balbay (pronounced Doh-oosh Ball-ba) is a Turkish national and starting point guard for the University of Texas Longhorns.

Born and raised in Istanbul, Balbay (discuss) is a 6-0 point guard with great athletic ability, speed, defensive intensity, and a Manu-Ginobili-esque way of getting into the lane.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Balbay as he has struggled since coming to the United States.

Starting with language barriers (failing a language-aptitude test required for U.S. Colleges), he then suffered an ACL injury during his Freshman season, a 10-game suspension from the NCAA followed (for playing with his pro club in Turkey), and finally having to significantly adjusting his style of play to bring him where he is today, an integral cog on both sides of the court for the Texas Longhorns.

Still an Incomplete Player
Even though things are looking up, Balbay is still an incomplete player.

Any discussion involving Balbay’s game eventually turns to his jumpshot, or the lack thereof.

Usually seeing a defensive player sag all the way down to the foul line when the offensive player has the ball at the three point line is reserved for players short on range and tall in height (see centers).

So it’s unusual to see a guard at such a high level of basketball being treated in this manner.  And what’s even more odd, that the guard doesn’t even attempt to shoot the ball from further than 15 feet despite given the space on play after play.

It’s either great discipline, or a terrible, terrible outside shot.

For Balbay, I think it’s both; with the latter influencing the former, but how does a experienced perimeter player develop without much “perimeter” to his game?

According to the Daily Texan, Dogus Balbay never needed an outside jumpshot, he “was always the fastest, the most agile, the toughest defender and the best scorer.”

“Nobody could stop me when I was 14,” Balbay said of his early years in basketball back in Turkey. “Attacking the
paint and finishing at the rim was the easiest thing to do, so that became the only thing I did.  I wasn’t used to shooting the ball, so that’s why I’m kind of struggling with it.”

At that point, I guess it’s like it was asking the dominant Shaq to shoot 18 footers instead of camping down in the lane, dunking the ball or getting fouled on every possession.  Why?

But now, playing at a higher level where weaknesses are magnified and defenses sagging takes away the interior presence of Dexter Pittman, Balbay’s lack of a jumpshot makes him an incomplete player.

And this glaring weakness will further be exposed in the NCAA tournament as the #7 Longhorns take on Minnesota in the first round.  Balbay understands that, and he is working on hitting the jumpshot enough to keep things honest.  “I’m working on it every day, and I can really feel the ball now. There’s a difference in making shots in practice and in games, but I’m making a lot of shots [in practice] if I compare it to the old days.” said Balbay.

“He’s gotta at least make people think he’s going to shoot the ball,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said…

Speed Kills
Even with Balbay’s perimeter problems, the 20-year old Balbay remains, arguably, after NBA prospects AJ Abrams and Dexter Pittman, the next most important player on the Texas squad, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Beginning on January 31st, 2009, Texas lost three-straight games to Kansas State, Missouri, and Nebraska, and coach Barnes shuffled his lineup; Dogus Balbay brought Balbay off the bench and inserted into the starting lineup.

Immediately, the move paid dividends as Balbay played well in the next game, a blowout win over Oklahoma State.  And Balbay was critical in Texas’s 73-68 upset of the #2 Oklahoma Sooners; Balbay nearly had a triple-double with 10 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds. With his speed, atheleticism and savvy,  Balbay jumps tarted Texas’ offense.

dogus-balbay-texas-layup“Dogus is pushing the ball more and we’re getting more easy baskets in transition,” said AJ Abrams after Balbay was inserted into the starting lineup. “And that’s kind of freeing me up, because they have to collapse down and try and stop his penetration.”

But early on, Balbay’s strengths in Istanbul was his achilles heel in Austin.  He didn’t know how to control his speed and had problems adjusting being the player that dominated, to being surrounded by other just-as-talented players.

I was having trouble slowing down,” Balbay said. “I was going too fast, sometimes out of control, trying to do too many things at the same time.”

“Early in the year he was terrible,” Barnes said. “All he did was dribble, dribble, dribble. He was a ball-stopper. That’s where he’s gotten better. He’s learned to pass and move without the ball and get it back rather than monopolize it. Guys figured out that he wasn’t going to shoot and that took away from his passing.

“But now, if they don’t guard him, Dogus will pick them apart. It’s like letting Joe Montana stand back there with no pressure — sooner or later, he’s going to find somebody.”

Hopes for Senior National Team, NBA
Balbay is an experienced national player, having spent the last two years playing on the Under 18 Turkish National Team, as well as two years on the Under 16 Turkish National Team and led that team to the 2005 European Championship.

While he’s currently focused on his first March Madness, Balbay has the 2010 World Basketball Championships, held in his hometown Istanbu,l in the back of his mind.  There, Balbay may join fellow countrymen Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur on the national team.

“I hope I can make that team and play in front of my people,” he said. “They’re always making news about me. ‘Dogus is doing this, Dogus is doing that.’ This is a great feeling, having people over there talking about you.”

If Dogus Balbay continues his improvement, and Texas is successful, people just may be talking about him for a long time to come.

Links and Resources: Dogus Balbay’s impact has sparked Abrams, Longhorns (Star Telegram), Dogus directs Texas offense (The Daily Texan), Dogus Balbay shaping into well-rounded player for Texas (Star Telegram), Watch Texas vs. Minnesota during March Madness – Iphone (, Dogus Balbay Turkish Prospects (Interbasket)

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