Posted January 13th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

Texas coach is looking for answers beyond AJ Abrams at guard.

Texas coach Rick Barnes is looking for answers beyond AJ Abrams at guard for the Horns.

If you think you’re frustrated, imagine being [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag]. Two games into the conference season and this team still has no idea who it is. Let’s be clear, if Texas would have won Monday night’s game in Oklahoma the team would have won a game against the best team and player in the conference on the road in a primetime game. They didn’t, and that fact shouldn’t make anyone lose sleep. But the problems that were exhibited in the first half may require at least a week’s supply of Lunesta.

Texas simply does not have a reliable guard to run the offense. [tag]Oklahoma[/tag] does, and despite the presence of the best player in basketball, sorry Tyler Hansbrough, this game simply came down to one team having the ability to create by getting in the lane, and one that could not. Guard play rules college basketball, and Texas has none.

Oklahoma guards constantly got into the lane and made plays for themselves and their teammates. All three starting guards for the Sooners scored in double figures. The only player not named [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] to score in double figures was [tag]Damion James[/tag], who had been shutout and benched for most of the first half.

Rick Barnes was unhappy heading into the locker room. He stated that if guys didn’t want to do their job he’d find someone who would. Bench players like [tag]Harrison Smith[/tag] and [tag]Dogus Balbay[/tag] got extended time in the first half because of James and Justin Mason’s struggles. James was able to bounce back in the second half, but Mason continues to struggle. Basketball is a game of confidence and Mason has none right now on the offensive end.

Texas played better in the second half, even cutting the lead to four points midway through the second half. The low post defenders did a decent job keeping Blake Griffin in check. When on the court [tag]Dexter Pittman[/tag] was able to out muscle the future top three pick in the lane. But the attention Griffin forced the Texas defense to pay to him allowed Sooner guards to live in the lane.

Texas plays Oklahoma again on February 21st in Austin, and before that game happens the Longhorns have to figure out their perimeter play on offense.


Posted November 19th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

Dogus Balbay could soon be the team's starting PG

Dogus Balbay could soon be the team's starting PG

One of the major strengths for Texas this year will be their bench. The amount of depth the Longhorns possess, especially in the front court, allows Rick Barnes’ team to play the up tempo, physical style that he feels they need to play with in order to be successful. Here is a look at the main bench contributors headed into the season.


Texas will rely heavily on the trio of [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag], [tag]Justin Mason[/tag], and even [tag]Damion James[/tag] in the back court. The main contributor off the bench will be Turkey product Dogus Balbay. The other guys will have to show some major qualities to earn playing time later in the season.

[tag]Dogus Balbay[/tag] – The speedy Turk missed all of last season with an injury before getting to play this summer for his home country’s under 20 squad. Balbay likes to penetrate from the point. His jump shot is not where it needs to be yet. Teams will look to play underneath Balbay until he proves he can knock down the mid range jumper. Balbay plays with intensity and isn’t afraid to mix it up on the defensive end. With Texas lacking a true point in A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason don’t be surprised for Balbay to start receiving more and more minutes.

[tag]Varez Ward[/tag] – Not much was expected of Ward coming into the fall as the freshman came in under the national radar. Since practice has begun however Barnes has grown to love Ward’s ferociousness on the defensive end. Barnes likens him to a young Justin Mason, and in Barnes’ book that is a major compliment. Ward is not polished on the offensive end, but he can come in and help on the boards and in defense. He has a decent jumper and an above average first step. Ward could be the surprise player of the year.

[tag]Harrison Smith[/tag] – Smith is now a junior and it’d be hard to think he is going to receive any more than clean up duty. Smith has shown some ability, but has not been consistent enough on defense for Barnes to rely on him. Maybe early in the season Smith can make an impact and force Barnes to play him. Without that or an injury Smith’s chances will likely be limited.


This is where Texas’ depth will be an advantage. While the back court will remain the same for much of the game, Barnes will look to wear out opposing big men by sending waves of player’s their way. [tag]Connor Atchley[/tag] will get the majority of minutes at center, so look for most substitutions to come at the four position.

[tag]Gary Johnson[/tag] – Johnson will be the team’s six man, and will most likely earn the most minutes at the position even if he isn’t technically the starter. He gives Texas toughness on the inside. The Longhorn staff is hoping for a come out year from Johnson in the likeness of Damion James’ sophomore season. There is no doubt Johnson can play defense and rebound, but his ability to score is what could make him key for this team. Texas is going to need to get points from Johnson off the bench, and his ability to consistently produce will be a major factor this season.

[tag]Alexis Wangmene[/tag] – The sophomore from Cameroon had a tough off season. He suffered a major family tragedy and has had a hard time, understandably, refocusing completely on basketball. Having Matt Hill back will help UT as Wangmene gets back on track. He has unbelievable upside, and hopefully will get his mental state back in order to show it off.

[tag]Matt Hill[/tag] – Everybody’s favorite afro is back after missing last year’s season with an injury. The hair might not be the same, but his play should be. Hill did very well when he was healthy enough to play. He possesses some good low post moves, and his length makes him a playmaker on the defense side of the board. He hustles very hard, but needs to improve his rebounding skills. A lot of times a year off’s exactly what a player needs, and it is certain that Hill is eager to get back out there and play basketball.

[tag]Dexter Pittman[/tag] – I’m going to admit off the bat that I’m a huge fan of Pittman’s. He has come into the program and busted his tail to get his weight under control enough to get on the floor. Pittman is never going to be thin, but he has gotten in better shape each year and is posed to be the number one guy at center off the bench. Pittman’s goal is to be able to play over 20 minutes a game. His ability to do that without getting into foul trouble would allow Texas to play Mason at point, Abrams at two, James at three, slide Atchley to four, and play Pittman in the middle. Texas has been killed late in tournament by not being able to match up with the length of teams like Syracuse in the Final Four, and Memphis last year. Pittman gives them a chance to do that as long as he plays smart and stays in shape.


Posted February 11th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball

We’ll be posting live thoughts on tonight’s Big Monday game versus [tag]Kansas[/tag] on ESPN. The Villanova-Georgetown game is running long. No idea if the Texas game’s start will be delayed or if we’ll just miss some of the game, maybe both.

  • Vince Young at the game. Hopefully he was around this weekend to say hello to a few recruits. Should be perfectly legal since he’s in classes this semester.
  • They’ve delayed the start of the game. As long as Nova-Georgetown doesn’t go to overtime it looks like we’ll see our game in it’s entirety.
  • I like that they showed us Rutgers versus Tennessee women’s highlights as if anyone watching either of these two games cared.
  • Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds is a former Sooner commit. They’d be pretty tough with him [tag]Damion James[/tag]. Kelvin Sampson really screwed OU over, but I guess they deserved it.
  • That’s a BS call with less than a second on the clock. Awful. I don’t think any of the players or refs knew how much time was left. I like it though because it means Texas-Kansas can get started.
First Half
  • Well they obviously didn’t delay the start of the game too much. ESPN just switched over and we missed three and a half minutes of the game. First three shots they show are two made threes by the Horns and one by Kansas. Based on the score there wasn’t much defense before we were watching either.
Kansas 12, Texas 15
  • Erwin Center sounds nice and loud. Some of my best sports-related college experiences were Monday nights at the Drum.
  • If [tag]Gary Johnson[/tag]’s offensive game can keep developing he’ll be huge for us down the stretch and in March.
  • After a play that looked like offensive goaltending by KU on the other end, rough call against Johnson for the offensive foul.
  • If [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] can continue to play great defense and now handle the ball handing on offense he’s suddenly a big asset for the Horns.
  • Ugh. How do you call that foul on Mason? If anything the Kansas guard initiated the contact and Mason kept his hands to himself.
  • Better ball movement on offense for the Horns. With [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag] playing off the ball, he and [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] are all over the place trying to create offensive chances. Everybody looks more active.
Kansas 18, Texas 20
  • Mason out, let’s see how much standing around there is on offense. No reason we can’t keep up the good off the ball movement.
  • That’s the second time tonight Abrams has had a great steal. Kid has quick hands to go with his quick shot.
  • Looks like the refs are allowing tons of contact against Augustin when he initiates it. Now that he’s back at the point he seems to be more out of control than earlier.
Kansas 28, Texas 29
  • Kansas scores but ESPN still hasn’t given them the points. Or maybe they had 26 and not 28, I’m old and blind.
  • Aaron Ross at the game as well sitting with Mack Brown. I think Ross is in school this semester as well.
Kansas 35, Texas 33
  • [tag]Connor Atchley[/tag] is nails from three again. He’s four of four on the night. After he and Abrams were nailing everything we suddenly went away from both of them in our offense.
  • Damion James picked up two quick fouls. I was wondering why he hadn’t played at all since we picked up the game.
  • Kansas seems to have five guys on the court at all times that can score and create for themselves.
  • Ouch. Johnson looks like he’s in serious pain. Is he bleeding? I don’t care how uncomfortable those masks are the kid needs to wear one to protect the nose.
Kansas 41, Texas 38
  • I don’t know how [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag] doesn’t give himself a heart attack and a hernia every nigh yelling at the officials. I know it’s a tough job but hell it’s one of the most frustrating things to watch when refs are seemingly making things up as they go along.
  • Sigh. [tag]Clint Chapman[/tag] looks like he has my hands. Kid doesn’t look like he could catch a cold sometimes. He has to expect the ball at anytime.
Halftime: Kansas 42, Texas 38

(more …)

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