Posted March 27th, 2011 by Ross
Filed under: Basketball

As we conclude another Longhorn basketball season, we are left again unfilled. The men’s basketball team was a crucial moment away from a visit to the Sweet Sixteen which is seen by many fans as a benchmark for success. I am not going to lament the fact that we have only reached this plateau 5 times under Rick Barnes. We need to realize what we have in Austin. There is an NBA team playing on the 40 acres. Let’s take a look at the NBA players that have been drafted while playing for Rick Barnes:

Player (*active) NBA Draft Pick
Chris Clack 1999 55th
Chris Mihm 2000 24th
Chris Owens 2002 48th
T.J. Ford* 2003 8th
Royal Ivey* 2004 37th
LaMarcus Aldridge* 2006 2nd
P.J. Tucker 2006 35th
Daniel Gibson* 2006 42nd
Kevin Durant* 2007 2nd
D.J. Augustin* 2008 9th
Avery Bradley* 2010 19th
Damion James* 2010 24th
Dexter Pittman 2010 32nd

This is a very impressive list of NBA players especially if you compare it to other schools. Currently there are only 6 other colleges that have more players that are active in the NBA (bet you could name the schools without looking at the next sentence). Those 6 teams are the true blue bloods of college basketball: UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and Connecticut. We are tied for 7th with the team we just lost to which is Arizona. Oh yeah, everyone of these schools has won a NCAA championship in the past 15 years while Coach Barnes has been at the helm for 13 of those years. I know that Barnes was quoted by ESPN saying “We would love to win a national championship, but we’re not obsessed with it because we’re obsessed with these guys trying to live their NBA dreams”. I share the same feelings of Jay Bilas who was quoted that “Coaches will down play the importance of winning the title, until they actually win it”. But you can understand the frustrations of Longhorn fans when so many players are at the elite level with no NCAA championships to validate your program.

The Horns program is very similar to many NBA franchise. Go to a men’s home basketball game with the suites, the lack of attendance and the lack of electricity unless the scoreboard calls for noise or a highly ranked team has to make a visit. The brand of basketball played here is entertaining like you would see at any NBA game. The problem is that this team looks like the team you would travel north on I-35 to see which are the Mavericks. The team is fun to watch, entertaining, great in the regular season but nothing substantial to speak of in regards to conference or league titles. I wish the Horns were more like the NBA team that is located just south of us that brings home the championships.

Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at 40AcresSports or follow me at Horns1991. HOOK EM!!

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Posted March 11th, 2010 by Ross
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

WTH?! (What the Heck?) Moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from the Texas’ Men’s Basketball Season.

Rick Barnes' Texas basketball team collapsed midseason.

Rick Barnes' Texas basketball team collapsed midseason.

Pre-Season WTH Mr. April?! April is the month when most high school basketball players sign their letters of intent. Coach Rick Barnes, Mr. April, has out did himself by coming up with an incredible freshman class that includes McDonald All-American Avery Bradley (6-2, 180), Jordan Hamilton (6-7, 226) and J’Covan Brown (6-1, 185) to go along with highly touted transfer Jai Lucas(5-10, 150). These additions with three seniors Damion James (6-7, 225), Justin Mason (6-2, 195) and Dexter Pittman (6-10, 290) had this team starting the preseason ranked #3. An ESPN article reported that Barnes would rather develop players for the NBA than win an NCAA championship. I believe this is a misinterpretation because Mack Brown finally shed his stigma as Mr. February with his national championship, let’s hope that Coach Barnes does the same soon.

Nov. 25th WTH Practice?! The season was starting fast with a win over highly ranked Pittsburgh 78-62, but during pregame warm-ups Varez Ward right knee gave out ending his season. “We not talkin’ bout a game – we talkin’ bout practice” nod to AI. Who knew his backcourt experience (only as sophomore) would be sorely needed throughout the year?

Dec. 22nd WTH DJ?! Damion James was making claims early in the season for player of the year honors with back to back 20+ points and 13+ rebound in wins over #10 North Carolina (103-90) & #9 Michigan State (79-68). DJ also established himself as UT’s all time leading rebounder by surpassing James Thomas. The problems of poor foul shooting and any lack of a half court game was covered up by the Horns posting 17 straight wins through mid-January.

(more …)

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Posted February 22nd, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball

It wasn’t pretty (especially late) but with the way the Longhorns have been playing they’ll take a win any way they can. The team blew a 15 point lead and [tag]Texas Tech[/tag] had a chance to tie the game with less than 10 seconds to go, but a clutch rebound and 2 made free throws (!) by [tag]JCovan Brown[/tag] gave the Horns a 71 – 67 win in Lubbock. Watch brief video highlights from ESPN below…

Video courtesy of ESPN.
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Posted February 18th, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

Despite strong performances from freshmen Avery Bradley and the newly patient Jordan Hamilton, the Longhorns continued their freefall Wednesday night at Missouri. The team fell to the Tigers 82-77 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. Video “highlights” of the Horns falling to 6-5 in conference play are below…

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Posted January 30th, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature, Live

Follow along live with 40 Acres Sports on Twitter and below for our thoughts and analysis during today’s Texas game versus [tag]Baylor[/tag] on the Big 12 Network. We’ll be live right around tip so join us to discuss the game at 3:00pm Saturday.

Feel free to leave comments and questions using the live tool, but not all comments will be published. Read below for more notes on comments and how the live blog will work. Hook ‘em!

(continue to read full live blog …)

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Posted January 27th, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature, Live

Follow along live with 40 Acres Sports on Twitter and below for our thoughts and analysis during tonight’s conference basketball match-up on ESPNU. We’ll be live right around tipoff for Texas versus [tag]Texas Tech[/tag] so join us to discuss the game at 8:00pm Wednesday night.

Things might be a little less wordy than normal, but please feel free to leave comments and questions using the live tool, but not all comments will be published. Read below for more notes on comments and how the live blog will work. Hook ‘em!

(continue to read full live blog …)

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Posted January 23rd, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature, Live

Follow along live with 40 Acres Sports on Twitter and below for our thoughts and analysis during today’s big hoops match-up on CBS. We’ll be live right around tipoff for Texas versus [tag]Connecticut[/tag] so join us to discuss the game at 3:00pm Saturday afternoon.

Things might be a little less wordy than normal, but please feel free to leave comments and questions using the live tool, but not all comments will be published. Read below for more notes on comments and how the live blog will work. Hook ‘em!

(continue to read full live blog …)

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Posted December 22nd, 2009 by Ross
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from the Texas basketball game against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Cowboys Stadium was a less than optimal game watching experience. (Image: TexasSports.com)

Cowboys Stadium was a less than optimal game watching experience. (Image: TexasSports.com)

Pregame WTH Jerry’s World?! Re-issuing this WTH tagline again. Walking into the Death Star you were immediately attacked by beer vendors. Where were you guys at the Big XII championship football game?! Make sure you are a fan of Miller products because Bud Light and Coors cannot be found.

1st Half (15:47) WTH Baby Video?! The Big Daddy video board was not enough so the Cowboys set up a smaller four sided video underneath for fans to see player names, fouls and points. Unfortunately, the baby video was often wrong or did not change with the substitutions that were happening on the floor. It was cool to see the time elapsed photos of converting the facility into a basketball arena. Shout out to the video producer who showed the UT Pom Squad often. So often that we noticed that one of the girls took out her belly button ring!

1st Half (9:12) WTH FREE throws?! UT is awful at the free throw line. On successive trips to the charity stripe [tag]Dogus Balbay[/tag] and [tag]Damion James[/tag] missed both free throw attempts. The team was 50% for the first half and clawed their way back to finish at 70% for the game. This will be a glaring weakness for the team this season unless head coach [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag] starts passing out $20’s for every made free throw at practice.

Half Time WTH Wholly Guacamole?! Never heard of the product and probably will never eat it. The sponsor for the halftime did provide us a funny moment when two youngsters played a very terrible game of pong on the giant video board. The best part was when the little brother started shoving the sister while she was playing.

2nd Half (13:11) WTH Balbay?! As UNC was trying to stage a comeback, Dogus Balbay was awaiting the inbound pass after a Tar Heel basket. The ball was rolling around the court so Balbay dropped kick the ball right into Alexis Wangmene’s grill.

2nd Half (4:39) WTH PB&J?! With a shout out to the teams of the past (BMW – Blanks, Mays, Wright), the new group of Pittman, Bradley and James put together a string of blocks, shots and dunks to get the 38,052 in attendance (3/4 Longhorn fans) up off their feet. Damion was the leader with 25 points and 15 rebounds followed by Dexter who had 23 points and 15 rebounds. A career day for a freshman was put in by Avery Bradley who finished with 20 points. The freshmen team that Barnes has put together will have many more career days on the 40 acres.

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Posted August 10th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Tourney

Rick Barnes has been tearing up the recruiting trail and the people placing bets in Las Vegas have taken noticed. Sportsbook.com has Barnes’ Longhorns at 10-1 odds to take home the 2009-10 college basketball national championship next March.

The Horns are right behind the two big favorites [tag]Kansas[/tag] and [tag]Kentucky[/tag] and will have as much experience and talent as any team in the country. Joining Damion James and big man Dexter Pittman are two of the most talented freshmen in the entire country in Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton. If Pittman continues to improve and the young guys hit the ground running this team could certainly be one of the last teams standing at the end of the season.

(via The Dagger)

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Posted March 22nd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball, Feature, NCAA Tourney

Dogus Balbay loses the ball to a Duke defender. (TexasSports.com)

Dogus Balbay loses the ball to a Duke defender. (TexasSports.com)

A few missed free throws, a couple of missed rebounds, at least two awful foul calls and Texas’ 2009 basketball season came to an end.

After a good showing and victory over [tag]Minnesota[/tag], Texas faced [tag]Duke[/tag] in the second round. Duke has owned Texas since [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag] has been on campus winning games by over 20 points three times. On Saturday night in the second round of March Madness Texas at least made a game of it.

[tag]Dexter Pittman[/tag] continued to be unstoppable in the paint. In tournament play (Big 12 and NCAA) Big Dex has taken his game to another level. Big guys that demand the paint are a dying breed in basketball, especially at the college level, and with one year left in college the Texas staff and fans should be excited about the return of what could be the most dominate low post presence in the nation next year.

Another bright spot in the first two rounds of the tournament was the play of freshman point guard [tag]Varez Ward[/tag]. Texas has struggled at the point guard position all year, mostly because all of their players who have the ball handling skills to play the 1 do not possess the scoring skills to make opposing defense’s respect them on the perimeter. Ward does not have a great shot, but unlike [tag]Dogus Balbay[/tag], Ward isn’t afraid to shoot it on occasion. Ward may have replaced [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] as the best on ball perimeter defender on the team, and he attacks the basket and makes good decisions. With the loss of [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] to eligibility Ward will be huge even with the talented freshman class coming in.

Speaking of Abrams, the Texas fan base will have no idea how much he meant to this team until he is no longer on campus. There have been message board rumblings that Texas would be better off without the sharp shooter from McNeil high school. All Abrams was for Texas was the best perimeter shooter in school history. It is amazing that on a team that struggled to score so much for most of the season that the one guy who could score at will was taken for granted so much. When AJ was making shots this team could beat anyone in the nation, when the other Longhorns on the floor were so inept that opposing defenses could shadow Abrams every time down the floor and he was taken out of games, Texas would go long stretches with no points. Thank you AJ. I needed to say that.

It was an on and off season for [tag]Damion James[/tag] and [tag]Gary Johnson[/tag] and the two rounds of the NCAA tournament was a perfect microcosm of their season. James was Jekyll and Hyde, sometimes in the same possession, so much so that there is talk around campus that he may come back for his senior season. It was expected all year that James was a sure fire lottery pick because of the lack of top flight talent in this draft class. However, James hasn’t adjusted the perimeter game as easy as some thought, and he may need another year to prove he can be a small forward.

Johnson on the other hand struggled down the stretch. In the mid part of the season it looked like the former Mr. Texas would emerge as the number three scoring option for this team. Instead, the sophomore fell in love with his mid range jump shot. It will be important for this team to get Johnson’s aggressiveness up in the offseason. A front court of Pittman, Johnson, and prep star [tag]Jordan Hamilton[/tag] could be the best in the nation if Johnson can demand attention at the power forward position. He isn’t as good of a rebounder as he should be, and that should be a number one priority in the off season.

In the end the game was lost because of free throw shooting. Texas had every opportunity to win the game against Duke, and while some will blame the referees and some will blame the coaches, it really came down to wasting points at the charity stripe. Coming into the season many felt it would be this team’s Achilles heel, and in the end it was.

The Longhorns performed well though, in a game most gave them no chance of winning. Most fans will look at this season as a disappointment, but the 2009 team went further than Kevin Durant’s squad did. People must remember that this team and offense was built for a scoring point guard to dominate the ball and set up the other talent on the floor. That plan went out the window when [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag] went to the NBA after his sophomore season. This is the same team, minus Augustin, that went to the Elite 8 and was given a two seed in the tournament.

College basketball is a guard dominated game. A point guard dominated game. Texas came up short on that all year, and they weren’t good enough at three point shooting and/or rebounding and defense to make up for their personnel deficiencies.

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