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 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 November 22nd, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball

ESPN goes behind the scenes with Rick Barnes at a Texas basketball practice:

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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 August 3rd, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature, Recruiting

Check out a great, personal video interview with Texas basketball signee [tag]Jordan Hamilton[/tag] as he packs his bags on his last day in Los Angeles before heading to Austin for summer school:

Thanks to mgrads for the link.

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Posted April 10th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature, Recruiting

Avery Bradley is ESPN's new #1 ranked player.

Avery Bradley is ESPN's new #1 ranked player.

Future Longhorn [tag]Avery Bradley[/tag] has been all over the country and all over your television the last few weeks during the McDonald’s All-American Game, slam dunk contest and leading his team to the NHSI tourney victory. He didn’t fail to impress, playing very well in practice and the Mickey D’s game and taking home the NHSI tournament MVP. The experts at ESPNU/Scouts Inc. certainly noticed, they’ve made Bradley their number one overall player.

ESPNU’s analysis of Bradley’s ascension to the top of the rankings is below:

In our eyes, explosive athlete Avery Bradley has emerged as the No. 1 player in the land. He was named the MVP of the National High School Invitational in Washington, D.C. He guided Findlay to victories over Mountain State Academy, No. 8 Montrose Christian and No. 1 Oak Hill Academy. In each of those games, it was evident that Bradley was the difference.

Bradley is the most complete player in the class and is a difference-maker both offensively and defensively, which is rare. This young man has steadily risen up the rankings since last season. Initially it was his defensive play that propelled him. Bradley plays with great intensity each and every possession, and from a defensive standpoint he is an absolute lockup on-the-ball defender, the best in his class. He uses his length with superior quickness and intelligence to force the offensive player into bad situations. He is committed to keeping his man out of the lane, chasing him off screens and contesting jump shots.

While Bradley built his reputation as a defender, the strides he made on offense are what enabled him to ascend to the top of our rankings. He excels in the open floor, often grabbing a rebound, running with it and finishing with a dunk. In the half court, he works hard to get open and takes what is given without hunting down shots. His midrange game is outstanding, both off the dribble and off the catch. Of late, he has hit the 3-point shot with regularity, which would make him hard to guard with an already strong dribble drive and pull-up jumper. This young man scores, defends and makes everyone around him better. He leads his team to wins and, more importantly, championships.

Bradley may already be one of my favorite Longhorns and he’s not even on campus yet. He’s an incredible athlete who loves the game and it shows in his effort on both ends of the court. Having a star player who is also a leader and an excellent defender instantly will make the Horns a 2009-2010 title contender.

The three Texas 2009 signees are listed below:

Name Pos. Stars Rank Ht Wt Hometown
Avery Bradley SG 1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star 1 6-3 175 Henderson, NV
Jordan Hamilton SF 1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star 8 6-7 210 Los Angeles, CA
Shawn Williams SF 1 star1 star1 star1 star 53 6-7 215 Duncanville, TX

Update

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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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