Monday, February 28
Texas vs Oklahoma Preview
Texas will play its final home game of the season tonight as it hosts No. 22 Oklahoma on ESPN’s “Big Monday.” The Horns are 9-1 in Big Monday home games, including six victories over Top 25 opponents. While the victory over Missouri makes this less of a “must win” game for Texas, a win would solidify the Horns postseason resume and guarantee a seventh straight trip to the NCAA tourney. Oklahoma is a good team, but they aren’t great, and if we play like we’re capable of playing at home, I think we’re a good bet to win.
It’s senior night, as Texas fans will bid adieu to Kenny Taylor, Jason Klotz, Sydmill Harris, and walkon Adam Gracely. Here’s to hoping the Drum is full for their sendoff. I haven’t predicted a Texas loss yet, and I’m not going to now… Horns in a solid win, 74-66.
*I was about to write about how there's no clear-cut favorite to cut down the nets this year, but how can you ignore what Illinois has accomplished? Their 28 victories have included wins over at least seven potential tournament teams, including Wake Forest (by 18 points), Georgetown (15), Cincinnati (22), Michigan State (13), Ohio State (19), Minnesota (23), and Wisconsin (twice, by 10 and 11 points). We all know how difficult it is to roll through the tournament and win, but Illinois has to be considered the favorite. What a season...
*Speaking of Georgetown, the Hoyas are trying to give away the berth they earned by winning eight of their first eleven conference games. The Hoyas have since lost three straight and need to either beat UCONN on the road or make some kind of run in the Big East tourney if they want to go dancing.
*Texas is flirting with the #9-#11 range for seeding, and at this point, you almost hope the Horns squeak in at #10 or #11, which would create an easier second round matchup. The #11 seed, though it has a slightly tougher first round matchup, draws the #3 seed in the second round, while the #10 seed would draw a matchup against a #2. Texas is capable of beating teams in the #6-#8 range, but a second round matchup against a #1 seed looks, at this point, like a death sentence.
*Iowa State started its conference season horribly, then rallied for seven straight conference wins and appeared poised to squeak into the NCAA tournament. Not anymore. The Cyclones have lost back to back games to Texas A&M and Nebraska and seen their RPI dip down to No. 79. That won't cut it.
*Don't look now, but former Texas coach Tom Penders and his Runnin' Cougars of Houston have played their way into NCAA tournament consideration with an 18-10 record and No. 60 RPI. If Houston takes care of Marquette and UAB to finish the season, and wins two or three games in the Conference USA tournament, Penders and his fast-breaking style may find themselves dancing once again.
*Congratulations to the Penn Quakers for yet another NCAA berth. Penn wrapped up the Ivy League regular season title to become the first team officially in the Dance.
Andrew's Top Four Seeds
No. 1: Illinois, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Kentucky
No. 2: Duke, Kansas, Washington, Boston College
No. 3: Oklahoma State, Arizona, Louisville, UConn
No. 4: Syracuse, Michigan St., Oklahoma, Utah
Close: Gonzaga, Pacific, Wisconsin, Charlotte, Alabama, Pitt
Texas would be a No. 10 seed.
Baseball team improves to 15-0
Texas 63 Missouri 51
The Horns ran away with another home victory, 63-51, in gloomy, wet Austin on Saturday afternoon. Texas didn’t show up until the second half. The fans didn’t show up at all. Texas almost suffered what would have been a devastating, possibly tourney berth ending loss. But Barnes and the Horns got it together in the second half and dominated the overmatched Missouri Tigers.
The last few games, win or lose, we have been playing the same tune: Gibson and Buckman. In front of a regional ABC audience, Texas played basically the same song, only this time with frontman Jason Klotz. Klotz came to the rescue, and just in time. The Horns shot just 6-32 FGs in the first half and trailed for most of it. A better team would have led by double digits at least, but the Tigers were ahead by just one. Texas had come out slow, lethargic, and ice cold. Missouri looked like the team itching to snag a NCAA tournament bid for the seventh straight year. The second half was a totally different story. Texas shot a scorching 70% in the second half, took care of the basketball (turnovers 14-19), and controlled the glass (rebounds 35-32) as they seem to just about every game.
Klotz finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in thirty-seven hard fought minutes. While Buckman was limited to just nineteen minutes by early foul trouble, Klotz provided the much needed inside part of our offensive attack. This was not the passive Klotz. The one who is afraid to dunk the ball. The one who seems to get pushed around by smaller players on the low block. The one who has been inconsistent the last four years. Klotz looked ready. Klotz used his assassin-like hook shot to score easy baskets, used his body to secure rebounds on both ends, and used his hands to catch everything thrown his way. Gibson countered on the outside with one of his most complete performances of the year: 14 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, and just a single turnover. Gibson should be the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Gibson should be the National Freshman of the Year. Gibson is TJ Ford with a jump shot. I don’t know if I have ever seen a college player with a better off the dribble 3-point jump shot. It is a thing of beauty.
I was very impressed with the Horns on Saturday. I was less than impressed by Austin. Fans—we need you. I realize it has been a tough season in which expectations have not been achieved. But that is even more reason to get behind them. We have one more game against OU on Monday night on ESPN at 8 pm. It will be Senior Night for Klotz, Harris, Taylor, and walk on Adam Gracely. Come out, show your orange, and root on the Horns for the last time this year. OU is tough and playing well. But if we get quality performances from Gibson, Klotz, and Buckman on the same night, we will win. Hook Em.
The victory over Missouri likely clinches an NCAA berth for the Horns, barring a wacky conference tournament season in which a significant number of at-large berths are won by teams that otherwise wouldn't be dancing. Texas still realistically needs to either beat OU, Oklahoma State, or win its first round game in the Big 12 tournament to feel completely comfortable.
Friday, February 25
Life is good...
Friday Open Thread
If you comment, please identify yourself for the group.
Big 12 recruiting roundup
Wednesday, February 23
Texas Tech 69 Texas 65
Daniel Gibson and Brad Buckman played well, but Texas coughed up too many turnovers throughout the game, allowing Tech to hang around and eventually take a lead they would not relinquish. The loss is not devastating to the Horns' season, but it’s an especially disappointing loss considering how close they were to stealing a coveted road win.
The bottom line is that the current crop of Texas players sometimes struggles to score, as was painfully evident at times in the second half last night. Gibson is having a remarkable freshman season, but he still shows his youth at times and the offense loses its way. As I said, this isn’t a crushing defeat, but the pressure is on for Texas to finish strong and take care of business at home.
Tuesday, February 22
ESPN's Bilas supports Horns
For those of you who are not subscribers to ESPN's Insider content, you really ought to shell out the $30 that they charge. The premium content is essential for the sports junkie and well worth the small investment.
Texas vs Texas Tech Preview
Texas needs this game far more than Tech does, but the Raiders are coming off an 85-56 blowout loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday and are sure to be sharper tonight against Texas. While Tech’s big wins, including eight in the conference, have them sitting comfortably as a lock for the tournament, Texas still needs to win two of its remaining four games to secure its own bid to the Dance. As important as road wins have become in the RPI, a victory at Tech would pretty much secure Texas’ own spot come Selection Sunday. As good as Texas is at home, they're bound to beat either Missouri or Oklahoma, so a road win against either Tech or Oklahoma State would be huge. If Texas can’t win at Tech or OSU, they're going to need to win both the home games to feel comfortable about their spot.
Tech fans love to hate Texas, so you can be sure that it’s going to be a rowdy environment in Lubbock tonight, making it tough for Texas to win. But I think we’re the better team and I believe tonight we’ll put together our first good road win of the year, 78-76.
Texas baseball sweeps Stanford
Peter Bean’s Top Four Seeds
No. 1 seeds: Illinois, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Wake Forest
No. 2 seeds: Boston College, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas
No. 3 seeds: Duke, Louisville, Michigan State, Alabama
No. 4 seeds: Oklahoma, Gonzaga, Pittsburgh, Washington
Andrew Wiggins Top Four Seeds
No. 1: Illinois, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Boston College
No. 2: Arizona, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kentucky
No. 3: Duke, Washington, Louisville, Michigan St.
No. 4: Utah, Alabama, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
As with all bracketology, there’s some disagreement over who will wind up where. I think Oklahoma State is going to win out, including the Big 12 tournament, and grab a #1 seed, while I see Boston College slipping up and dropping to a #2 seed. While our #1 and #2 seeds are almost identical, there’s plenty to debate about who will wind up a #3 or #4. Wiggins and I both agree that as of today Texas probably sits as a #9 seed.
Please share your own seeding comments and identify yourself for the group.
Texas 75 Baylor 60
Barnes got complete games from Taylor, Buckman, and Gibson. Taylor was awesome, finishing with 14 points and a career high seven assists. Buckman just missed yet another double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds and Gibson controlled the game from the point. He had 13 points, six boards, and two assists. Texas dominated the glass 30-22, which led to easy put backs and a 56% shooting night from the floor. This was not an easy game but our second in a row where the outcome was almost never in doubt.
Texas has now taken care of business against lesser opponents and must now prepare for the final four game stretch run against three NCAA tourney teams. We travel to Lubbock on Tuesday for our second game of the year with Texas Tech. If you thought the students went nuts after their double OT victory over #2 Kansas last week, you will see pure pandemonium if the beat their “arch rival.” The Red Raiders will be ready after losing 80-73 in late January to the Horns in Austin. Our second game of the week will be back at the Drum on Saturday against an underachieving Missouri squad. Why is Quin Snyder still employed? I expect a split next week with a road loss and a home win. Our final two games are at home against Oklahoma and a trip to Oklahoma State. I predict another split with a close home victory and likely a blowout loss in Stillwater. Oklahoma State once again seems to be coming together at the right time, and they hold the nation’s longest home winning streak. Winning there has become virtually impossible.
There is reason to be excited in Austin. March is only a week away and Selection Sunday less than three weeks away. If the season ended today, we would certainly be in the tournament as would five other Big 12 teams. Iowa State would be in today as well with yet another road victory in Lawrence on Saturday. Let’s hope the Big 12 gets six teams and does some damage come March. Hook Em.
Friday, February 18
Friday Open Thread
Again, please identify yourself for the group.
Ms. Osterman has started three games for the Horns this year, has pitched two complete game shutouts, and (here’s where it gets bonkers), of the 57 batters she’s retired, 45 have been on strikeouts. She’s making 79% of her outs via the strikeout. To put that in perspective, Randy Johnson recorded only 39% of his outs via the strikeout last year. It’s a totally different game, of course, but still…
Not impressed by her performance against collegiate athletes? Check out her line in the 2004 Olympic Games: 8.2 innings pitched, 1 hit allowed, 1 walk, 0 earned runs allowed, and 13 strikeouts. Ridiculous. I could care less about softball, but Wiggins, you’re right—that’s pure dominance.
Thursday, February 17
Texas 75 Texas A&M 40
Apologies for the lack of posts this week, everyone. The flu is an awful, awful thing.
Texas dominated the Aggies on Wednesday night, 75-40. The game was a stark contrast to the Aggies upset win in College Station over then tenth ranked Texas in early January. Tonight’s game was never in doubt. Texas raced to an early lead with stellar outside shooting from Harris and Taylor. The Horns led 37-16 at halftime and never looked back.
The first half was particularly impressive, definitely our best in weeks. Avid reader and UT superfan Jim Person agreed with this astute observation at halftime. Texas looked like the team we expected this year. For the first time in many games, the Horns opened in aggressive man to man defense and it made all the difference. The Aggies struggled to get open looks all game and finished shooting just 26% from the floor. Poor Aggies. We also dominated the glass on both ends finishing with an unbelievable 40-20 rebound margin while contributing only nine turnovers.
This was a complete game on both ends, by all players, and another huge step in the right direction. We could not afford another loss to the Aggies and expect to make the NCAA tournament. Barnes was extremely pleased after the game noting that for the first time in weeks we were able to conduct three solid practices with basically healthy players this week. Paulino is still struggling with his injured toe and Harris still has his nagging hamstring pull, but we are getting healthier and growing stronger. I still hold extreme optimism for this season. Yes, this was just an A&M team that has now lost six of their last nine and is beginning to look like more like the Aggies of last year than the ones who started 11-0. But we are beginning to gel with our seven available players. I still think we will finish at least .500 in conference play with an outside shot at 9-7. Texas now looks to steal a Big 12 road victory at Baylor on Saturday.
The Aggies lost their 20th consecutive Big 12 road game and did not have a single player in double figures. Poor Aggies.
Syd Harris threw in an off balance runner with just seconds left to reach the 75 point mark and allow fans still in the stands to receive coupons for five free Pluckers wings.
Calling all UT season ticket holders. The paid attendance was 14,018 but the actual attendance was just over 11,000. I attended the game with a mezzanine ticket and had no trouble at all finding a bottom level seat. Pathetic.
Buckman’s last three games: 27 points and 21 boards, 17 and 10, & 18 and 13. It's no surprise he was named Big 12 player of the week.
Two new bracket projections College RPI and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi both have Texas projected as 11 seeds but the halftime ESPN crew of Rece Davis, Mike Jarvis, and Digger Phelps placed Texas for the first time all year out of the tournament.
Texas fell out of the top 25 rankings for the first time in three years this week.
If the season ended today, Texas would definitely be in the tourney. If the Horns can manage to win three of their five remaining games (at Baylor, at Tech, vs Missouri, vs OU, at Ok State), they'll be a lock for the tourney. If they only win two of the remaining five, they'll be a bubble team.
Sunday, February 13
Texas 75 Kansas St 72
This game should have been a blowout. Texas started fast this time and was quickly up double digits for much of the first half and threatened to run away with the game. A quick second half spurt by the Wildcats cut an eleven point halftime lead to just five after only two minutes. Kansas State played much better in the second half than they did in the first, but they were additionally aided by pour ball handling by the Horns. Texas finished with thirteen turnovers - compared with only 5 Wildcat ones. Kansas State tied the game with two free throws with just seconds left. Daniel Gibson had a chance to ice the game with two free throws of his own just seconds earlier, but the 76% free throw shooter missed both, keeping the Wildcats in the game. Gibson more than redeemed himself in overtime, with fourteen points, including six straight free throws.
Texas did not let this one slip throw their fingers as they did just a week ago in the home overtime loss to Iowa St. A loss on Saturday would have been devastating. Texas still has a tough road ahead, and is nowhere near a guaranteed trip back to the NCAA tournament, but the victory, and the baby step forward, prove this is a team that isn't willing to give up. Barnes changed his game plan slightly on Saturday, playing more man-to-man and operating with even fewer than the available seven players. Mike Williams and Dion Dowell played limited minutes, leaving Klotz, Buckman, Harris, Taylor, and Gibson to essentially play the entire game. Barnes added after the game that, "Mike (Williams) is not looking to score," Barnes said. "We can't play with four offensive players." It is disappointing that Wiilliams, a McDonald’s All American from Alabama, hasn't shown the offensive abilities we need. Hopefully Texas can get Paulino back soon to add a solid backcourt sub and an additional scorer. But without a dressed Paulino, Texas will again attempt to win at home with seven scholarship players on Wednesday against A&M.
I predict Texas will be in the NCAAs come March. Texas really needs to protect home floor and secure must-win games against A&M and Missouri, and secure a victory at Baylor, as well. We currently sit at 5-5 in conference play, and those three games would cement at least a .500 conference record. With our RPI still in the 25-30 range, I see a bid for the Horns. We have tough road games at Tech and at Oklahoma St. and I don’t see victories at either place. The toss up game will be an ESPN Big Monday showdown in Austin against the Sooners. A win over OU would surely secure a trip to March Madness. Anything less than a 3-3 finish and we will need victories during the Big 12 tourney and probably some luck.
Friday, February 11
Friday open thread
If this doesn't take and people are just interested in reading, we'll drop the open thread idea.
Aldridge to have surgery
Wednesday, February 9
Two starters to miss Spring practice
Perhaps Dibbles and Young were too busy hanging out with P.J. Tucker to go to class...
Colorado 88 Texas 79
Texas has now lost four of five since the loss of Tucker and Aldridge and will now have to play its way in to the tournament by winning two of its final three games against quality opponents (at Tech, vs Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State). The losses are mounting, Texas’ confidence is clearly slipping, and there’s little reason for optimism at this point.
Rick Barnes won’t let this team pack it in, but Texas is clearly struggling right now and will need a pretty drastic turnaround to avoid a wasted season. I don’t believe this team is incapable of taking a step forward and finishing strong, but the signs are not there right now.
Tuesday, February 8
I'm glad that Sydmill has found a way to make his teammates laugh. His defense has been cracking up opponents since he arrived in Austin.
Top ranked baseball team sweeps SDSU
Texas vs Colorado Preview
Texas is trying to rebound from a blowout loss at Kansas and a disappointing giveaway at home against Iowa State. Another loss would be crushing for the Horns and severely dampen their tournament outlook. Just a few weeks ago, Texas was a top ten team looking to earn a 3 or 4 seed. Following the home loss to Iowa State, Texas has dropped down to a 7 or 8 seed and could play itself right out of the tournament if it can’t take care of business against non-tournament teams.
I haven’t seen Colorado play much this year, but I have seen Texas struggle on the road, so I don’t expect this to be an easy game. But something tells me that we’re going to play like a team playing for its life and win the game. I’ll predict an ugly affair, with Texas coming out on top, 70-68.
Monday, February 7
BCS ban resolution proposed in Texas House
Buckman assuming greater role
Former Texas coach publishes book
Iowa State 92 Texas 80
Texas started the game as flat as a map of West Texas, quickly falling behind by double digits. Iowa State played an active 2-3 trapping zone that forced Texas to rely on the three ball which wasn’t falling. Texas fans should be use to seeing this zone because since we lost Tucker and Aldridge, Barnes has employed it almost exclusively. But Iowa State’s zone looked better than ours. We looked lost, struggled to get the ball inside or even get an open look on the wings which are normally open. But to our credit, Texas came back. We cut the lead to just five at halftime and took the lead five minutes into the second half. This is a game we should have closed out. I should be writing how we got off to a slow start but managed a win even with cold shooting and without two stars. I am instead writing that our lack of depth and experience were magnified over the final five minutes. Gibson and Taylor each had costly turnovers and Buckman missed a free throw that would have put us up three with under a minute left. We didn’t convert, let Iowa State get an easy basket to tie, and then couldn’t even get a shot off with our last possession.
High points: Brad Buckman played one of the best games of his career finishing with 20 points and 15 boards. He appears to have heard the challenge from Barnes. If we are to win any games from here on, we must establish a solid inside presence. Gibson was once again spectacular finishing with 23 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6 steals. Yes, he did suffer 5 turnovers, but he also played 45 minutes. The whole game. Gibson was the fastest player on the court and obviously the one with the most upside. And surprisingly, Dion Dowell played quality minutes scoring nine points with a dunk and a three ball only a minute after entering the game in the first half. Dowell also played tough defense—especially on Curtis Stinson. Stinson is definitely the Cyclone’s best player and probably the only player on their whole squad who could start at Texas. The talent differential is yet another reason why this loss is so tough.
Low points: We lost. There is not much getting past the final score. We may have lost both Paulino and Harris, but I doubt it. I expect both of them to play on Tuesday at Colorado and we will need them. I don’t know how many fast breaks points we gave up but the numbers were substantial. Iowa State had countless 2 on 1 and 3 on 1 breakaways. The explanation is two fold. First, Texas played with basically six players and fatigue was a definite factor. Second, Gibson is the one creating the offense. Gibson took 16 shots, more than anyone else. At times it appears our offense cannot function without Gibson trying to create. But as he creates and shoots jumpers from the wing, no one is left at the top of the key to get back on defense. We want Dowell to help on the offensive boards, so that leaves only Taylor even close to getting back on defense. I expect Barnes to correct this breakdown by Tuesday.
This is a tough loss: our first in 16 home games; Iowa State’s first conference road win in 28 games spanning nearly three years; and our first home loss in 34 games vs unranked opponents. Barnes must find solutions quickly. We play at Colorado on Tuesday.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but Texas is quickly racing towards the dreaded "bubble." We have two quality wins (home versus Texas Tech and Oklahoma State), two suspect losses (A&M and Iowa State) and a weak non-conference schedule. If the season ended today, we'd be in the tournament, but Texas can't afford to lose to any more non-tournament teams. If we do, it'll be important that we win one or two of our remaining tough games--at Tech, at Oklahoma State, or home against Oklahoma.
The Horns have now dropped three of four since losing Tucker and Aldridge and the prospects for the rest of the year are getting dimmer by the day. I really thought we'd come out strong against Iowa State and put them away. Instead, we struggled early, rebounded to take the lead, then choked and failed to put them away. It cost us dearly in overtime and we're now in serious trouble. I hate to start looking to next year, but this year's team appears to be a couple players short. God I'm mad at P.J. Tucker...
Friday, February 4
Texas vs Iowa State Preview
Nevertheless, Texas gets this game at home, where they haven’t lost this year, and won’t on Saturday. The Horns have had a week to rest and practice following the blowout loss to KU, so I expect a strong performance and a double-digit victory over Iowa State. The game is at the Erwin Center at 3:00 p.m. If you’re reading this and not dying on Saturday, I hope you’re there. Look for Texas to win this one convincingly, 82-69.
Aldridge practices briefly
Thursday, February 3
2005 Recruiting Class
He successfully kept the focus on the "kids we brought in," not on the ones who slipped away. Mack Brown is Mr. Positive. We have always known that. Love him or hate him, he is Mr. Positive. He claps after turnovers, slaps butts after blocked punts, and talks about a positive end to the season after our perennial disappointment in Dallas. Brown did not disappoint this afternoon. He had a rambling opening statement, followed by video clips with commentaries like, "He can really run for a big guy," and ended by taking questions. I don’t know if Mack Brown has been taking lessons from President Bush or not. But they sounded eerily similar. Brown puts the positives front and center and doesn’t acknowledge mistakes. He loves his class or at least appears to. I hope he is right.
Even with a passive interest in this year’s recruiting battles, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about any of these guys. But I read the message boards and followed the media reports. This year’s class will be written about today as the class that could have been. Perrilloux, the nation’s top quarterback, chooses LSU at the last minute after verbally committing to Texas months ago. A&M steals Martellus Bennett, the state’s top player and cements a top 5 class nationally. OU inks three of the top eight players in the state including the state’s top defensive player, DeMarcus Granger. Even Miami lands the top offensive tackle and second best tight end available from Texas. And last, Fred Rouse, the second best receiver and sixth best player nationally spurns Texas and chooses Florida St. The dream scenario for Texas involved landing Bennett, Perrilloux, and Rouse. We went o for three. I hope Mack is right. I hope he got the best guys and saved room for another top class next year. I hope some of the guys who signed on the dotted line today hold a national championship trophy in the next four years. Mack has been doing this for years. I wish I could take his overwhelming positive attitude seriously. But I get the feeling we connected for a ten yard out, when we had a chance to hit a deep ball for a touchdown.
Baseball team picked to win Big 12
Wednesday, February 2
Midseason report card
Daniel Gibson (14 pts, 3 rebs, 4.1 asst, 2.8 TO, 1.9 stl) Expectations were pretty high for Gibson, but even by the highest standards, Gibson has not been a disappointment. He’s still a little raw, but the changes he made after the A&M loss have improved his all-around game. The unquestioned leader of this team with Tucker out. Grade: A
P.J. Tucker (13.7 pts, 8 rebs, 1.2 stls) The Horns best player struggled to adjust to his new position, but by January was beginning to dominate games again... just in time to fail out and become ineligible for the rest of the year. He should be familiar with this evaluation: Grade: F
Kenny Taylor (10.3 pts, 4 rebs, 2.5 ast, 35% 3FG) Taylor is a useful player—he has good range, he’s quick, and he plays solid defense. Though I would prefer him coming off the bench, we don’t have a better option at the 2, so he’s started all 20 games for the Horns and provides good minutes at the wing. Would be better if he had more penetration ability. Grade: B+
Jason Klotz (10.4 pts, 4.9 rebs, 1.2 blks) Klotz has been a key part of several big victories this year, but he’s not been able to establish any consistency, disappearing at times while taking too many shots. He’d be a lot better if he were able to draw fouls (he’s managed only 36 free throw attempts). Defensively, he struggles to stop stronger forwards from getting to the rim. Grade: B-
Brad Buckman (10.5 pts, 7.1 rebs, 1.7 blks, 13-28 3FG!) The Wes Fuller wannabe has had a solid year, though after his freshman campaign many expected more from him by now. Still, he’s been more aggressive than he was last year and is learning to play like a bruiser. His 42 turnovers are a huge disappointment and need to be limited down the stretch. Would benefit most from an Aldridge return. Grade: B+
Lamarcus Aldridge (10 pts, 6 rebs, 1 blk) The workhorse freshman also had high expectations, and after early struggles, really began to hit his stride in Big 12 play until he tore cartilage in his hip and has been sidelined the past four games. Barnes says no player works harder than Aldridge, which explains his dramatic improvements and bodes well for his future (both at Texas and in the NBA). A full return is the key to Texas’ hopes for the postseason. I’m not going to punish him for an injury. Grade: A
Sydmill Harris (6.8 pts, 2.1 rebs, 40% 3FG) The poor man’s Reggie Miller: in-the-gym range, but without the ability to penetrate, create his own shot, or draw fouls. He’s improved defensively, but his feet are still too slow to stop quick guards. When he gets hot, he’s a terrific shooter, though he occasionally looks for his threes when Texas needs to work it inside. I really think he can be a better scorer, a la Reggie Freeman, if he’d take it to the rim more often. Could really boost the Texas offense if he can develop that ability down the stretch. Grade: C+
Kenton Paulino (8 pts, 1.6 rebs, 33-61, 54% 3FG!!) Brandy Perriman, anyone? Paulino is starting to remind me of the sharp-shooting Perriman, though less awkward (and white). Paulino doesn’t pass well, he’s not very quick, his defense is suspect, and he can’t create his own shot. Still, he’s been ridiculous from behind the arc, hitting an astounding 54% of his three point attempts. Unfortunately, he’s also the back-up point guard, a task he’s not particularly good at. Nonetheless, it’s nice to have someone around who shoots that well. Barnes will need to use him carefully—when teams are not letting us shoot the three, Paulino needs to be on the bench. His 35 assists against 30 turnovers is miserable. Grade: B-
Mike Williams (3.6 pts, 3.4 rebs) I’ve said before that Williams needs to assert himself more offensively as the season progresses. I understand he’s a freshman and he had that difficult eligibility issue when the season began, but he needs to take a cue from Aldridge and Gibson and step up. Without Aldridge and Tucker, the Horns are too thin to give minutes to someone who is an offensive liability. Grade: C-
Fans (9,907 per game) For comparison, the average road attendance of Texas games is 12, 336. People are showing up to watch their teams play Texas, but once again, Texas fans are only showing up to the Drum for the big games, while too many seats remain empty for most other games. Texas has become an elite program, but the fans are lagging behind. If you’re in Austin and reading this, I hope you’re going to the games. Grade: D
Perilloux signs with LSU
Texas did land wide receiver Quan Cosby, who signed with the Horns in 2001 but wound up playing pro baseball for a while instead. Now he’s back and the Texas coaches are excited about him, saying they will use him much like USC uses Reggie Bush.
Tuesday, February 1
Tomorrow is national signing day, when most recruits will sign their letters of intent.
Coaches Poll: 18
AP Poll: 20
Sagarin Computer Rating: 15
CollegeRPI.com Bracket Projection: #6 seed
ESPN Bracket Projection: #6 seed
Not a lot of variation here. Both the voters and the computers rank Texas in the 15-20 range. Throw in the fact that we lost our best player, played a relatively light non-conference schedule, and don't have a signature road win and that translates to about a #6 seed.
The danger for Texas is if they lose a game to a team like Nebraska or Colorado. Texas can afford to lose to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but if the Horns also falter against some of the mid-level Big 12 teams, they could easily slip down to a #7 or #8 seed.
I hope that Texas can avoid that because being a #6 seed really isn't bad at all. You get a first round matchup against one of the better champions of a small conference and then a matchup against the #3 seed (someone like Arizona or Syracuse). A fourth straight trip to the Sweet 16 isn't out of the question, but Texas really can't afford to slip down to the 7-8 range if they hope to do so. A second round matchup against a #1 or #2 seed would be awfully tough for the Horns.
Aldridge could be back soon