Posted December 2nd, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

What have we learned so far about this UT team?

What have we learned so far about this UT team?

Texas is entering the teeth of their pre-season schedule with [tag]UCLA[/tag], [tag]Villanova[/tag], and [tag]Wisconsin[/tag] coming up on the schedule. Texas has already been tested in the young season at the Maui Invitational. The Longhorns finished third after losing a close one to Notre Dame. Every season presents different questions about a team, but after a handful of games we’re starting to learn some key things about the Longhorn basketball team.

1. [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] is going to be the point guard. I know [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag], and his father, want him to be a point guard but the fact is the senior sharp shooter isn’t one. The former McNeil star wasn’t one in high school and he won’t be in college. Barnes allows Abrams to play point on some occasions but clearly this team is served best with Abrams running the base line working off screens. Mason showed the ability to run the point and beat defenders off the dribble when he had a monster dunk that ended up being the play of the night on SportsCenter after the Notre Dame game. Even if Abrams could run the point consistently it would put the Longhorns at a disadvantage on the offensive end if Mason played the off guard because Mason possesses fewer skills at the “2” than Abrams does at the “1”. Look for Mason to be the point guard going forward.

2. [tag]Damion James[/tag] is the key to the season. The Longhorns looked the best offensively Wednesday against [tag]Oregon[/tag] even with Abrams not being a huge part of the offense. The success was due to the focus on pounding the ball into the paint and the willingness of James to play from the inside out. James struggled the first two games of the tournament in shot selection as he seemed to try too hard in prove he can play on the wing. James is one of only six returning players in the nation to average a double-double last season. Even though this team will rely more on his perimeter skills James can not forget what has made him a star. He must attack the basket and be a factor on the glass for the Longhorns to make a run at a Final Four. James’ work ethic is unquestioned so there should be no doubt he will do whatever it takes to improve in these areas.

3. This team misses [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag]. This is a no brainer. Augustin was the best pure point guard in the nation last year and is already making an impact in the NBA. The Longhorns led the nation in turnovers (9.4) last year with Augustin at the point. Without him Texas is already averaging 15 a game this season with the combination of Mason and Abrams running the ball. As Mason, and [tag]Dogus Balbay[/tag], continue to get more comfortable as the man at point the Longhorns are sure to improve in the area. With the pressure and intensity Texas is able to produce on the defensive end it is imperative that this team value the ball on the offensive end. Nothing is going to come easy this year on the offensive end and Texas can not afford to give away possessions to good teams.

4. Defense, Defense, Defense. [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag] loves defensive teams. He must love this one. The Longhorns are already being called the best defensive team in the nation after only five games. The Longhorns pressure the ball at will and with James playing on the perimeter are able to add length and athleticism that Barnes has not been able to muster at Texas. The Longhorns are going to give opponents fits all year with their effort on the defensive end and they are going to have to keep it up, especially early in the year, as the offense finds an identity. A good defense can keep you in games that the offense is struggling in and with only one proven outside shooter on the team it is likely there will be a few games where Texas is going to have to win ugly.

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Posted November 27th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball

The Texas Longhorn basketball team had a good early season tournament showing going 2-1 in three days taking third place in the Maui Invitational. Add in the fact that it was a free trip to Hawaii and I’m sure Rick Barnes and company would admit it was a great trip.

On Monday the Longhorns physically dominated St. Joseph’s in a way the football fans at Texas would be proud of. From the opening tip Texas showed that this year their emphasis is going to be on the defensive end. With [tag]Damion James[/tag] playing at the “3” position this year Texas finally has the length to compete with the most athletic teams in the nation. St. Joseph’s is not one of the most athletic teams in the nation, so the length and athletic ability of the Longhorn defenders overwhelmed them for much of the game. The Longhorn defense held them to under 30% shooting from the floor including 19% from the three point line on their way to a 68-50 win.

Tuesday Texas took on [tag]Notre Dame[/tag] in an instant classic. The score went back and forth with the game coming down to the last shot. Even though [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] missed the 50 footer at the buzzer, the Longhorns continued to show the skills that will carry them on the season. They out rebounded the Irish and dominated in the paint. For the first time in the season however, the Longhorns showed a few cracks in their armor. Texas struggled to get easy buckets and Damion James showed that he is not quite there as a perimeter player. The Longhorns got down but showed resiliency to get the game back to a one point margin. Notre Dame played about as well as they could on the game as they made contested jumper after contested jumper. Abrams and James played poorly as they both forced too many jumpers after only one or sometimes no passes on the possession. Even with that the Longhorns came close to beating a top 10 team that was clicking on all cylinders which has to be a good sign moving forward.

Wednesday the Longhorns took on the Oregon Ducks in the third place game. Both teams were playing their third game in three days and each team showed tired legs. The Longhorns abandoned the three point shot for most of the game concentrating on getting the ball into the paint. The formula worked as the defensive effort allowed the Longhorns to cruise to a 70-57 game that stayed closer on the scoreboard than it appeared to be on the court. Oregon is a young team and it was clear they were overwhelmed by the defensive pressure and intensity the Longhorns brought to the game.

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After losing to [tag]Notre Dame[/tag], Texas rebounded to take third place in the Maui Invitational with a win over [tag]Oregon[/tag]. Texas forward [tag]Damion James[/tag] stepped up big with his best game of the young season by pouring in 21 points and grabbing 12 boards. He was a very efficient 9 for 11 from the floor. [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] had another solid game both on the stat sheet and running the offense.

Check out the highlights from ESPN below:

Game stats available after the jump.

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Posted October 4th, 2008 by Matt
Filed under: Bowls, Feature, Football, TV

Texas vs. Colorado in the Big 12 Championship

Texas vs. Colorado in the Big 12 Championship

Conference play is in full swing this weekend with many teams getting their first real test of the season. The Big 12 now has 4 teams in the Top 10, with all of them on the road. It will be interesting to see if they can all come out unscathed. If Texas and Oklahoma both win their Big 12 openers, they will face off next week in a possible #1 versus #5 match-up.

Let’s take a look at a game in each of the big conferences. Remember, I did go 3-1 last weekend against the spread.

#13 Auburn at #19 Vanderbilt (+4) – 6:00 PM EST on ESPN. Vanderbilt is definitely one of the surprises of the season. And after last week their win against Ole Miss is looking that much better. Auburn has been anemic on offense and basically riding their defense to wins. With two weeks to prepare and home field, Vanderbilt has the advantage in this one. It will probably be close, but take Vandy to win.

#7 Texas at Colorado (+13) – 7:00 PM EST on FSN. There are a couple of things that worry me about this game. First, it is an almost night game in Boulder. The fans will be crazy (probably drunk) and it is tough to play with that thin air. Second, the last time we played Colorado we beat them 70-3 and knocked out their quarterback. I’m pretty sure Colorado is looking for a little revenge and will keep that previous game in mind. And finally, this game comes a week before the Red River Rivalry, so there is definitely a possibility that the Horns will be looking ahead. Now with all of that said, I still think Texas has too much offense for Colorado to handle. And with the improved defense I don’t see Colorado doing too much. Texas needs to jump out to a quick start to kill the hopes for the Buffaloes. If they do that they should roll.

#23 Oregon at #9 USC (O/U 57) – 8:00 PM EST on ABC. Everyone wants to see how USC will respond after getting smoked by Oregon State last week. I don’t expect to see a blowout or anything against Oregon, but I do expect to see USC’s A game. Both teams can score almost at will and this will probably be the typical Pac-10 shootout. Look for each team to score in the 40s and take the over in this one.

#14 Ohio State at #18 Wisconsin (+2) – 8:00 PM EST on ABC. Hardly anyone comes out of Camp Randall with a victory, with Wisconsin winning their last 16 at home and 27 of the last 28. Ohio State has now turned over the reigns to Terrelle Pryor, and with Beanie Wells back from injury their offense is heating back up. As long as their defense can do a decent job against the Badgers, Ohio State should be able to come out with the victory. Actually on second thought this game probably shouldn’t be on the “what to watch” list since it will probably be pretty boring. Just take Ohio State and cash-in in the morning.

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Posted September 30th, 2008 by Matt
Filed under: Football

Talk about a crazy weekend in college football. Three of the top four teams go down in upsets, with unbeatable #1 of all-time USC losing to an unranked Oregon State team.

  1. [tag]Oklahoma[/tag]
    Oklahoma

    The clear #1 in the nation after other teams in the Top 5 seemed scared to win. The Texas game in two weeks looks bigger than ever.

  2. [tag]Alabama[/tag]
    Alabama

    Maybe even more of a butt-kicking than the USC/Ohio State, Alabama got out to a 31-0 lead at Georgia. I think this was a combination of Alabama having a solid team and Georgia being ridiculously over-hyped.

  3. [tag]Missouri[/tag]
    Missouri

    Good time to have a bye week. Their schedule gets tough now as they open Big 12 play.

  4. [tag]LSU[/tag]
    LSU

    LSU didn’t look all that impressive in their win against Mississippi State. They will need to improve their quarterback play if they want to continue to win in the SEC.

  5. [tag]Texas[/tag]
    Texas

    Talk about slaughtering the pig against Arkansas. The Texas defense finally showed up and held them to only 3 points for most of the game.

  6. [tag]South Florida[/tag]
    South Florida

    The class of the Big East continues to look good. Now they start conference play, so we will see if they can keep it up.

  7. [tag]Auburn[/tag]
    Auburn

    They don’t win pretty, but their defense can keep them in any game. If they actually had a good quarterback they would probably be #2 in the nation.

  8. [tag]BYU[/tag]
    BYU

    BYU in the Top 10? Just doesn’t seem right somehow but they are playing great football right now. Two shutouts in a row will usually give a team some confidence.

  9. [tag]Penn State[/tag]
    Penn State

    I hesitate to put a Big 10 team so far up in the rankings because they will soon get smashed by some other crappy Big 10 team. Will this happen to Penn State? No doubt.

  10. [tag]Texas Tech[/tag]
    Texas Tech

    Not sure what to say about Tech except that they probably won’t last much longer with no losses. In fact, they will probably lose to Kansas State.

  11. [tag]USC[/tag]
    USC

    On cue, USC has their one “bare-minimum” game of the season and somehow loses to Oregon State. Now they can cruise for the rest of the season with their easy Pac-10 schedule.

  12. [tag]Georgia[/tag]
    Georgia

    Not really surprised that they lost to Alabama, more surprised about how they lost. Down 31-0 at the half at home? I knew they were over-rated, just didn’t know it was that bad.

  13. [tag]Florida[/tag]
    Florida

    Rounding out the upsets this weekend is Florida. If Tim Tebow was an actual quarterback and could throw the ball, maybe they wouldn’t lose to a mediocre Ole Miss.

  14. [tag]Kansas[/tag]
    Kansas

    Bye week

  15. [tag]Utah[/tag]
    Utah

    Utah continues to sneak up the polls relatively quietly. Now they have to play the vaunted Oregon State Beavers.

  16. [tag]Vanderbilt[/tag]
    Vanderbilt

    With Georgia and Florida losing, Vanderbilt now leads the SEC East. If they beat Auburn this weekend is it time for them to start thinking national championship? Ha.

  17. [tag]Oklahoma State[/tag]
    Oklahoma State

    The Big 12 is absolutely stacked this year. Oklahoma State’s offense can hang with anyone. Too bad they play @Missouri, @Texas, and @Texas Tech.

  18. [tag]Boise State[/tag]
    Boise State

    Bye week

  19. [tag]Ohio State[/tag]
    Ohio State

    Not sure that a 13 point win over Minnesota is very impressive, but a win is a win. Terrelle Pryor looks like a legit college quarterback. I bet they are wishing he played more against USC.

  20. [tag]Oregon[/tag]
    Oregon

    Hard to get a read on just how good or bad the Pac-10 is. My guess is that Oregon will be dropping soon as they play USC this weekend.

  21. [tag]Virginia Tech[/tag]
    Virginia Tech

    Man, Virginia Tech has an incredibly weak schedule this season. If they didn’t lose to East Carolina they would easily be in the Top 10.

  22. [tag]Wisconsin[/tag]
    Wisconsin

    The Big 10 is just awful and I think Wisconsin proves that. Not sure how a Top 10 team loses to a horrible Michigan team. Oh yeah, it’s the crappy Big 10.

  23. [tag]Maryland[/tag]
    Maryland

    Maryland actually looks like they have a good team this year. The ACC is wide open right now and Maryland should be near the top at the end.

  24. [tag]Fresno State[/tag]
    Fresno State

    Pretty impressive win at UCLA.

  25. [tag]Connecticut[/tag]
    Connecticut

    Impresive win at Louisville. They will be tested in next two games of three straight road games. If they can make it through that, they will be looking good.

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Posted September 16th, 2008 by Matt
Filed under: Feature, Football

My Top 8 remains unchanged this week as a few teams didn’t play and the rest won easily. The story of the weekend was the Cremation in the Coliseum – USC’s dismantling of the over-hyped Ohio State. Ohio State has pretty much become a joke, getting shallacked whenever they play on the big stage. I am starting to think if I should allow any teams in the Big 10 in the Top 25 at all? Hmm….

Agree or disagree? Please let us know in the comments.

  1. [tag]USC[/tag]
    USC
    LW: 1

    Was there really anyone surprised in their thrashing of Ohio State? USC looks unbeatable right now but they usually suck-up one game during the regular season, so we will see.

  2. [tag]Oklahoma[/tag]
    Oklahoma
    LW: 2

    Offense, offense, offense. Oklahoma probably won’t score less than 40 points all season long. Right now Oklahoma and USC are separating themselves from the rest of the teams in college football.

  3. [tag]Florida[/tag]
    Florida
    LW: 3

    Bye week

  4. [tag]Missouri[/tag]
    Missouri
    LW: 4

    Chase Daniel has the offense rolling right now, though it does help when you play a high school team like Nevada. And 6 catches, 172 yards, and 3 touchdowns for Maclin? Ridiculous.

  5. [tag]LSU[/tag]
    LSU
    LW: 5

    LSU finally got to play a game and just toyed with UNT. Not really fair. Let’s see how they do against their first real test, Auburn.

  6. [tag]Texas[/tag]
    Texas
    LW: 6

    Game against Arkansas postponed.

  7. [tag]Georgia[/tag]
    Georgia
    LW: 7

    This team is so overrated it is ridiculous. But since they still haven’t lost, I will wait for them to lose so I can drop them down. That will likely happen in two weeks against Alabama.

  8. [tag]Alabama[/tag]
    Alabama
    LW: 8

    Alabama’s balanced offensive attack looks impressive. Not much to dislike with this team. They have a pretty good shot to do goods things in the SEC West.

  9. [tag]South Florida[/tag]
    South Florida
    LW: 19

    What a game Friday night against Kansas. Big lead changes both ways and South Florida pulls out the crazy victory. Now hopefully they won’t have a letdown after this big win.

  10. [tag]Wisconsin[/tag]
    Wisconsin
    LW: 15

    Wisconsin just continues their boring football that wins games. But hey, whatever works.

  11. [tag]Auburn[/tag]
    Auburn
    LW: 9

    3-2 victory against Mississippi State? Are you serious? Their defense is great, but they will have to actually score touchdowns to beat LSU.

  12. [tag]Texas Tech[/tag]
    Texas Tech
    LW: 13

    Their offense looks good so far, but hard not to against the caliber of opponents they have been playing. I guess we will have to wait until Big 12 play to see how they really are.

  13. [tag]BYU[/tag]
    BYU
    LW: 17

    Absolutely smoked UCLA. 7 passing touchdowns will usually get it done. Might have to start paying attention to this team.

  14. [tag]Wake Forest[/tag]
    Wake Forest
    LW: 18

    Bye week

  15. [tag]East Carolina[/tag]
    East Carolina
    LW: 12

    Barely sneaked by a weak Tulane team. Maybe they aren’t as good as we thought. They will need some more convincing wins if they want to challenge for the Top 10.

  16. [tag]Oregon[/tag]
    Oregon
    LW: 16

    Probably should have lost to Purdue, but their impressive rushing attack led the charge in their comeback win against Purdue. Blount had 132 yards on 12 carries. Not a bad average.

  17. [tag]Penn State[/tag]
    Penn State
    LW: 21

    Penn State racked up 560 total yards and held Syracuse to 159 yards. We will have to see how they face adversity, because so far they have breezed through this season.

  18. [tag]Kansas[/tag]
    Kansas
    LW: 11

    Heartbreaking loss against a good South Florida team. I bet Reesing is wanting that one poor throw back late in the 4th quarter. Kansas is still a good football team that will probably climb back up in the rankings.

  19. [tag]Ohio State[/tag]
    Ohio State
    LW: 10

    Now can we please stop thinking Ohio State is any good? Lately anytime they are the national stage they get blown out. Needless to say they will not be playing for the national championship this year.

  20. [tag]Vanderbilt[/tag]
    Vanderbilt
    LW: 23

    Another solid win against Rice. SEC teams better not overlook this Vanderbilt team. They might be the surprise of the SEC East this year.

  21. [tag]Utah[/tag]
    Utah
    LW: 25

    Utah is starting to play like they did in their 2004 unbeaten season. Though their big win against Michigan isn’t looking as impressive as it did in the beginning of the season.

  22. [tag]Florida State[/tag]
    Florida State
    LW: NR

    Lots of first timers making an appearance in my Top 25, and FSU is the first. They have a real test upcoming against Wake Forest, so we will see how long they stay here.

  23. [tag]TCU[/tag]
    TCU
    LW: NR

    TCU has started their season off with 3 impressive win, including a 31-14 win against Pac-10 Stanford. They virtually have no passing game, but their stable of running backs is impressive.

  24. [tag]Oklahoma State[/tag]
    Oklahoma State
    LW: NR

    Oklahoma State is chugging along basically unnoticed so far this season. Unfortunately for them they have an extremely tough schedule this year. But for now things are looking good.

  25. [tag]West Virginia[/tag]
    West Virginia
    LW: NR

    Even though they didn’t play, I am giving them another shot in the Top 25. They need to win convincingly if they want to stay here.

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Posted September 9th, 2008 by Matt
Filed under: Feature, Football

The Big 12 and SEC dominate my Top 25, holding 8 of the top 10 spots. Ohio State continues their over-hyped season by barely beating Ohio at home. Oklahoma and Missouri are proving they have the offense to keep up with anyone. And East Carolina is probably the surprise of the season, jumping all the way up to #12.

Agree or disagree? Please let me know in the comments.

  1. [tag]USC[/tag]
    USC

    I try not to give too much praise to USC, but they looked really impressive in their blowout win over Virginia. They truly look like the best team in the nation right now.

  2. [tag]Oklahoma[/tag]
    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma’s offense looks unstoppable. They have already scored 109 points in 2 games, and haven’t trailed yet.

  3. [tag]Florida[/tag]
    Florida

    Tim Tebow and the Gators beat Miami for the first time in the last 25 years or so, and did it against a very athletic Miami defense.

  4. [tag]Missouri[/tag]
    Missouri

    Talk about high powered offenses, Missouri looks like they can score at will. But the real question is if their defense can stop the other big-time teams.

  5. [tag]LSU[/tag]
    LSU

    Even with all the weather distractions, this team looked very impressive in its home opener. What will happen when their QB’s actually have to throw a pass longer than 10 yards?

  6. [tag]Texas[/tag]
    Texas

    Colt and the offense are on a serious roll right now. Their young secondary is struggling at times, but they should be able to pick it up.

  7. [tag]Georgia[/tag]
    Georgia

    I feel this is one of the more over-hyped teams in the nation. But if they can make it through some of their tougher games I will have to move them up.

  8. [tag]Alabama[/tag]
    Alabama

    Coach Nick Saban has things going well down in Alabama. They absolutely destroyed Clemson on national tv. I would not want to play against this defense.

  9. [tag]Auburn[/tag]
    Auburn

    Auburn’s defense always seems to keep them in games. If they can just get someone who can play quarterback they might be able to do something this year.

  10. [tag]Ohio State[/tag]
    Ohio State

    Ohio State is probably the second most over-hyped team in the nation. Lucky for them, they play in the weak Big 10. Unlucky for them, they are about to get smoked by USC.

  11. [tag]Kansas[/tag]
    Kansas

    Kansas is another tough team from the Big 12 North. Todd Reesing is one of the top quarterbacks in the Big 12 and has their offense off to a hot start.

  12. [tag]East Carolina[/tag]
    East Carolina

    ECU has been one of the big surprises so far this season beating Virginia Tech and destroying #8 West Viriginia. I don’t think anyone will overlook this team anymore.

  13. [tag]Texas Tech[/tag]
    Texas Tech

    If Texas Tech actually played anyone in their non-conference schedule they might actually be ranked a little bit higher.

  14. [tag]Arizona State[/tag]
    Arizona State

    ASU always seems to be that overlooked team in the Pac-10. Coach Dennis Erickson has a solid football team here.

  15. [tag]Wisconsin[/tag]
    Wisconsin

    Wisconsin is one of those boring teams that always has a solid season. If they weren’t in the weak Big 10 they would probably barely crack the top 25.

  16. [tag]Oregon[/tag]
    Oregon

    Another high powered offense from the Pac-10. Their dual quarterback play seems to be working well. And Jeremiah Johnson has a ridiculous 10.1 yards per carry.

  17. [tag]BYU[/tag]
    BYU

    BYU squeaked by Washington thanks to the refs ruining the game. UCLA should be a tougher match-up.

  18. [tag]Wake Forest[/tag]
    Wake Forest

    Wake Forest needed a last second field goal to beat an average Ole Miss team. Now they open their ACC season against Florida State.

  19. [tag]South Florida[/tag]
    South Florida

    I was not happy with team since they delayed the coverage of the Texas/UTEP game. They are probably the best team in the Big East right now.

  20. [tag]California[/tag]
    California

    Cal is averaging 7.8 yards per carry as a team, including two touchdowns of over 80 yards. Their defense also held Washington State to only 3 points.

  21. [tag]Penn State[/tag]
    Penn State

    Penn State has started off strong with an impressive running attack. I’m curious to see how they play on the road.

  22. [tag]Fresno State[/tag]
    Fresno State

    Fresno State has another solid team that dismantled Rutgers on their own field. Their real test of the season comes this weekend when they play Wisconsin.

  23. [tag]Vanderbilt[/tag]
    Vanderbilt

    Vanderbilt is slowing building their program into a tough match-up in the SEC. Georgia and Florida better not overlook this team.

  24. [tag]UCLA[/tag]
    UCLA

    UCLA had an impressive second half comeback in week 1 against Tennessee. Who knew you could throw 4 interceptions and still be a hero. Their tough schedule probably won’t keep them here long.

  25. [tag]Utah[/tag]
    Utah

    Utah is a tough team to put a handle on. Their offense is usually stellar, but they really don’t play anyone. Their win against Michigan might look impressive if Michigan wasn’t so awful.

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