until Texas vs Kansas

Thursday, December 30


Barnes cuts down rotation

Last year's Longhorn basketball team was an exercise in juggling. Klotz in. Buckman out. Harris in. Mouton out. The Horns went eleven deep last year as Barnes tried to get the most out of a very egalitarian group. If there was a star, it was Brandon Mouton, but that's a stretch. Last year's successes were built on wearing teams down and finding the hot hand in a given game. Texas had a good year, but one never got the impression that last year's group was talented enough to go to the Final Four.

This year, things are different. The rotation has been cut significantly, with eight players averaging between 20 and 28 minutes per game. Basketball is a game in which it helps to have some continuity to your rotation. It's hard to get in a rhythm when you're constantly going in and out of the game.

The results are obvious. Entering last night's game, the Horns had all five starters scoring in double figures per game: Tucker, Buckman, and Taylor at 12 points per game, Gibson at 11, and Aldridge at 10. This is significant for Texas and shows, in my mind, that this team is better than last year's. Barnes isn't giving eleven guys minutes each game because he doesn't have to. He's got eight guys that he can use to get the job done. The 2004 part of the Texas 2004-05 season has to be viewed as a success. And the 2005 part of the season promises to be even better. This team is still young and still improving rapidly. Happy New Year everyone...

Do you think that Barnes will change the starting five during conference play? I'm under the impression that he is starting Gibson and Aldridge now, so that they can get the experience to be future assets, possibly this season. I can't imagine him not starting Klotz over Aldridge when Big 12 games roll around. Unlike guards, the transition from high school to college for big men seems much more difficult...they are still growing and getting used to there bodies, they normally can't dominate solely because of a size advantage, and they seem to have a more difficult time getting used to the faster offensive pace and physical defending. Because of this, I think that Gibson is ready now (like Ford was), but Aldridge would be our weak link, even after very noticeable improvement. It's pretty clear to most, now, that Aldridge needed a few more years before the NBA. Hopefully he will grow to his potential while wearing burnt orange, rather than making the mistake of leaving early.
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