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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He didn’t get voted in like he should have, but Kevin Durant has been named as a reserve for the NBA All-Star game. The first of many I’m sure.

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Yes, [tag]Kevin Durant[/tag] is still just a big kid. What does he do when he’s bored at home? (Which living in Oklahoma City is probably pretty often.) He gets in a slap fight with his brother Tony. And video tapes it and throws it up on Twitter.

The friend taping it giggles like a school girl. Awesome.

(via Deadspin)

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Posted October 20th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball

Kevin Durant was only at Texas for one season but he’s still one of my all-time favorite Longhorns. He’s also a rarity in a one-and-done player who is completely in love with his alma mater. He’s a true Longhorn and this article from The Oklahoman is a fantastic read.

Link: Thunder Insider – Kevin Durant true to his school

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Texas coach Rick Barnes has brought in some of the best players in the entire nation over the last decade and The Sporting News noticed. He has been named recruiter of the decade for bringing guys like TJ Ford, Kevin Durant, and Avery Bradley to Austin.

Link: Barnes is decade’s No. 1 recruiter

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Posted August 21st, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

Velvet Hoop, aka [tag]Kevin Durant[/tag], and his friends Chief Blocka, Fog Raw, and the stylin’ Ice-O preach to the faithful to hyperize, not to criticize. Of course it’s actually a Nike commercial, but it’s still pretty funny stuff. KD is still so soft spoken even in a rap video. Watch it:

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ESPN The Magazine scours the depths of YouTube and ranks the top Kevin Durant clips on the Internet, they chose a good one for number one. Check out “Kevin Durant Evolution”:

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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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If you missed the halftime retirement ceremony of Kevin Durant’s jersey from earlier this week the Statesman has a brief video that’s definitely worth watching:

I got chills even watching that short bit, Kevin wasn’t at Texas long but he’s a great kid and really loves the University of Texas. Anyone who doubted whether Kevin’s #35 jersey should be retired simply had to watch his heartfelt emotion at the honor to know he was more than deserving.

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In what will probably be his last season for a while that he’s not in the NBA All-Star Game, Texas Ex [tag]Kevin Durant[/tag] absolutely dominated last night’s NBA Rookie Challenge. Durant led the Sophomores from behind late with a record 46 points on 17-for-25 shooting and was named the game’s MVP. He put on quite a show and scored from all over the court including 4-8 from three-point land and multiple highlight reel dunks.

Durant’s MVP award gives the Longhorns back-to-back winners after [tag]Daniel Gibson[/tag], now of the Cleveland Cavaliers, won it by scoring 33 points last year.

Highlights from the game are posted below:

Durant has improved every month this season and he is on an absolutely torrid pace during the month of February, averaging 30.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Durant’s regular season PPG average of 25.5 are good enough to be in the top 5 in the NBA, but somehow he’s not in Sunday’s All-Star Game. His performance last night should service to anybody who has somehow missed the kid become one of the league’s best.

If you’re a Texas fan or just a basketball fan and you’re not paying attention to what KD’s been doing this year you’re missing a show.

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