Tag Archives: basketball

Texas Men’s Basketball Hits The Hardwood

Believe it or not, while Longhorn nation has been dwelling on the end of a miserable 5-7 losing football season and the departure of several top assistant coaches, the Texas men’s basketball team has hit the court inside the Frank Erwin Center once again, beginning the season in the top 25 along with several other Big 12 teams, including (as of this posting), #3 Kansas, #6 Kansas State, #9 Baylor, #13 Missouri, #22 Texas, and #25 Texas A&M.

New 'Horns on the Hardwood: Tristan Thompson (left) and Corey Jospeth (right)

With some key, youthful additions (see also: Corey Joseph and Tristan Thompson), and some key departures (see also: Shawn Williams), head coach Rick Barnes has the ‘Horns off to a strong start, and one that hopefully won’t implode like last season. With shooting guard Jordan Hamilton back to launch three-pointers (averaging 20.0 ppg), work horse Gary Johnson continuing to lead the team in rebounding (7.6 rpg), Thompson adding his big-body presence both offensively and defensively (11.6 ppg, 2.3 bpg), and Joseph chipping in with court presence and ball handling (less than 1.0 on assists-to-turnover ratio), you have to like the game Texas brings to the court each night.

Let’s have a look at the results to-date, as well as what’s coming as we turn the calendar to 2011. The full listing of Big 12 conference schools schedules and their results can be found at Big 12 Sports.

2010-2011 Men’s Basketball Schedule/Results
Monday, Nov. 8 (ESPNU)
Texas (0-0) 83, Navy 52

Wednesday, Nov. 10 (ESPNU)
Texas (1-0) 89, Louisiana Tech 58

Thursday, Nov. 18 (ESPN2)
Texas (2-0) 90, #16 Illinois 84

Friday, Nov. 19 (ESPN2)
Texas (3-0) 66, #4 Pittsburgh 68

Tuesday, Nov. 23 (LSN)
Texas (3-1) 84, Sam Houston State 50

Saturday, Nov. 27 (LSN)
Texas (4-1) 62, Rice 59

Wednesday, Dec. 1 (LSN)
Texas (5-1) 76, Lamar 55

Sunday, Dec. 5 (FSN)
Texas (6-1) 56, USC 73

Saturday, Dec. 11 (LSN)
Texas (6-2) 101, Texas State 65

Tuesday, Dec. 14 (7:00 p.m. CT, LSN)
Texas (7-1) 70 v. North Florida 48

Saturday, Dec. 18 (3:00 p.m., CBS)
Texas (8-2) v. North Carolina

Wednesday, Dec. 22 (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. #15 Michigan State

Friday, Dec. 31 (1:00 p.m. CT, LSN)
Texas v. Coppin State

Tuesday, Jan. 4 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Texas v. Arkansas

Saturday, Jan. 8 (2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #4 Connecticut

Tuesday, Jan. 11 (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. Texas Tech

Saturday, Jan. 15 (3:00 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. oklahoma

Wednesday, Jan. 19 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. #25 Texas A&M

Saturday, Jan. 22 (3:00 p.m. CT, CBS)
Texas v. #3 Kansas

Wednesday, Jan. 26 (6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN or ESPN2)
Texas v. Oklahoma State

Saturday, Jan. 28 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Texas v. #12 Missouri

Monday, Jan. 31 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #25 Texas A&M

Saturday, Feb. 5 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Texas v. Texas Tech

Wednesday, Feb. 9 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. oklahoma

Saturday, Feb. 12 (3:00 p.m. CT, ESPN/ESPN2)
Texas v. #9 Baylor

Wednesday, Feb. 16 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. Oklahoma State

Saturday, Feb. 19 (12:30 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. Nebraska

Tuesday, Feb. 22 (7:00 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. Iowa State

Saturday, Feb. 26 (2:00 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. Colorado

Monday, Feb. 28 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #6 Kansas State

Saturday, Mar. 5 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #9 Baylor

Keep an eye out for more basketball coverage in the coming weeks, especially as Texas heads in to the meat of their non-conference and conference play.

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Longhorns in the 2010 NBA Draft

After an exciting season, followed by a huge post-season letdown, the graduates and early departures from the Texas Longhorn men’s basketball team made a stellar showing in the 2010 NBA Draft on Thursday night. In total, 10 Big 12 basketball stars were selected in the first two rounds, with Texas leading the way with three picks.

Both Damion James and Dexter Pittman, who had reached their eligibility with the program, as well as freshman Avery Bradley, made the jump to the NBA, with each of three going in the first 32 picks of the lottery draft and two in the first round. Let’s take a look at where they ended up:

1st/#19 pick – Avery Bradley (Boston Celtics)
Fresh off a disappointing loss to the L.A. Lakers in the 2010 NBA Championship, the Celtics were in need of an infusion of youth, especially with the impending retirement of Rasheed Wallace. With Bradley, head coach Doc Rivers gets a shooting guard who believes in Rivers’ approach to defense, and with some additional time to develop his shooting game, could be a threat on both ends of the floor. Let’s face it, Bradley’s a “coach’s player” – he’ll exceed at whatever his coaches ask of him. He’ll be a nice compliment to Rajon Rondo at the point, and with his speed, can run the floor with the best of them. A nice pick for the Celts, we’ll see how early he gets playing time. ESPN’s Bill Simmons should be stoked.

1st/#24 – Damion James (Atlanta Hawks)
The ‘Hawks finally made an appearance in the playoffs last year. Most of America probably forgot Atlanta even had a basketball team, or they reminisced about the Mogsey Bogues days in the Southeast. What Atlanta gets is another strong personality and work horse in James. He’ll continue to build on a young roster with a lot of depth. With James on board, Atlanta’s defense and rebounding will improve, and let’s not forget James’ scoring prowess. This is a really nice addition for the Hawks.

2nd/#32 – Dexter Pittman (Miami Heat)
Miami had an interesting draft, and they need a lot of help. With Pittman, they’ll get a player who hasn’t even reached his full potential on the basketball court. Under head coach Pat Riley (assuming he’s back at the helm), Pittman will learn how to play as a true center and hone his game to be a defensive presence and add timely rebounding and scoring to a team lacking an identity. He’s another “coach’s player,” and Miami is in need of some roster changes to help take the pressure off of Dwayne Wade. If “Big Baby” Davis is any indication in Boston, Pittman has a chance to make an impact in the starting line-up, or coming off the bench.

Other relevant Big 12 players drafted in the first two rounds of the 2010 NBA Draft:

1st/#6 – Epke Udoh, Baylor (Golden State Warriors)
1st/#11 – Cole Aldrich, Kansas (New Orleans Hornets, traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder)
1st/#12 – Xavier Henry, Kansas (Memphis Grizzlies)
1st/#20 – James Anderson, Oklahoma State (San Antonio Spurs)
1st/#21 – Craig Brackins, Iowa State (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2nd/#47 – Keith Gallon, oklahoma (Milwaukee Bucks)
2nd/#54 – Willie Warren, oklahoma (Los Angeles Lakers)

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NCAA Conference Re-Alignment Begins…

There’s been a lot of talk about conference realignment in the college ranks – even more so in the last week, given the Big 12’s deadline to Nebraska and Missouri to make a commitment to stay or go in the conference by this Friday.

Yesterday, all eyes were squarely on the Cornhuskers, as athletic director Tom Osbourne was deflecting questions like only a former politician-hopeful can, was he referred to leaving the Big 12 and joining the Big 10. In public relations terms, he confirmed nothing. Of course, the kicker was that the Big 10 claimed they hadn’t even extended invitations, but nonetheless Nebraska was chomping at the bit, akin to inviting themselves to the party in high school. Would Nebraska be the surprise team to make the first move? If so, who would follow the Big Red Machine?

Well, hold your horses. The PAC-10, meanwhile, had swung the doors wide open earlier this week when they approved expansion, even going so far to say the group didn’t need to reconvene before extending invites to prospective teams – in other words, they already had a good sense for who they wanted on board. Rumors flew – just Colorado? What about adding six teams, or nearly the entire Big 12 South division? Would Texas, and thus A&M, go? Who would be the odd teams out if the Big 12 disintegrated only 15 years after its inception?

Today, the dominoes started to fall, but not with the universities initially thought to make the first move. The PAC-10 offered, and Colorado accepted. With it, Colorado brings to the Premier Athletic Conference (yes, that’s really what “PAC” stands for) a football program in shambles, an athletic budget in more need of an economic stimulus package than the government’s, and a typical 6-year graduation rate (at least that’s what they told EyesOfTX at a campus visit 10+ years ago). In fact, earlier this week, the NCAA released their academic progress reports (APRs), and Colorado was one of the schools that made the “naughty” list. It’s not a good start to help the PAC-10 keep up their academic standards. Where are Stanford and Cal to stand up and complain about that? Will this academic debacle lead to another Dan Hawkins lecture YouTube sensation?

All told, this the beginning of the end for the Big 12. With Colorado out, and Nebraska apparently on the brink, the bricks are crumbling. Even TMZ is now reporting from a source that Oklahoma State is heading to the PAC-10, and are just waiting to make the official announcement. What we know from football coach Mike Gundy is that we should talk to him, because “…he’s 40 and he’s a man…” Who else is in line? Will Texas and Texas A&M hold out as long as possible, to see if other bidders (like the SEC, perhaps?) come calling or get something locked up sooner than later?

Who’s “out” in all of this? The biggest loser from the Big 12 might very well be Kansas, followed by Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State – maybe even Missouri, as the Big 10 sounds like it’s gone cold it’s thinking for the Columbia crew. Let’s take a look at some specifics:

Kansas
Are Kansas and Kansas State a joint deal, similar to Texas and Texas A&M? Could the Jayhawks end up in Conference USA, or even the Big East (as that conference potentially try to fill gaps from Big 10 thieves as well)? Kansas will likely look for a conference that has strong basketball ties, so that probably rules out the Mountain West. If KU ends up anywhere other than a top 4 conference, it will be sad day for the history of their basketball program akin to North Carolina being part of the Southern Conference and playing Appalachian State and Citadel every year. Sad. It’d also be a tough day for football coach Turner Gill, who in EyesOfTX’s opinion, deserved a chance to make a name for himself in a big-name conference after building a great program at Buffalo. Gill might be bringing his new team right back to a mid-major conference.

Baylor
Baylor’s another big loser in this discussion, especially given they’re on the brink of reviving their athletics program from a years-long fallout from incidents from the men’s basketball program. With their football team on the rise, and both men’s and women’s basketball making significant impacts in recent years, a move to a new, lesser-known conference could be both good and bad. Wait, why aren’t they in the “Big 12 South” package that PAC-10’s exploring? Quite honestly, rumors have been circulating that Cal-Berkeley has major issues with the religious affiliation of the university, and secondly, Baylor lacks the political prowess in the Texas state legislature to drive a deal these days (like they did when the Big 12 was formed).

For a new conference affiliation, however, Baylor’s got to see the good: they might finally be able to compete in football. Let’s face it, although they had a lot of hype this last season, Baylor football is a bottom-dweller of the Big 12 (and South division specifically) every year since the league’s inception. In a new, less-“loaded” conference, they have a chance to put themselves on the map and go bowling for the first time in many, many years. The bad: they lose the clout of being in a major conference for the first time since pre-Southwest Conference days, not to mention they still aren’t allowed to dance on campus.

Iowa State
Quite honestly, EyesOfTX will miss the opportunity to get the Cyclones on the field so long as Paul Rhodes is coach – he seems like a good guy who’s passionate about where he’s at and brings the best to that program. It’s an exciting time for football in Ames. But, what’s the best move for ISU? Get the Big 10 to come calling…especially if the conference is now cold on Missouri. Plus, it makes sense given their in-state and Big 10-affiliated Hawkeyes are causing trouble in Ann Arbor and Columbus these days.

Missouri
They talked a big game early, and now it looks like it just all might backfire. All signs pointed to the Big 10 initially having some interest in Missouri, but now that well seems to have dried up – something BP could only wish for in the Gulf of Mexico. With Nebraska on the horizon for the Big 10, and as that conference continues to mull over Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh, the Tigers all of the sudden appear in the rear-view mirror. Now’s the time for M-I-Z-Z-O-U to start a nice courting relationship with the SEC.

What about the conference affiliations with bowl games? Well, the Big 12 will definitely give up some nice deals for post-season play if it indeed goes away, but a new conference affiliation also might benefit from a majority of Big 12 schools bringing those bowl games to the negotiating table with the new conference(s). Right now, the Big 12 has a total of eight bowl game affiliations, including: Fiesta/BCS, Holiday, Cotton, Alamo, Texas, Yankees Stadium (new), Insight, and Independence. Compare that to the PAC-10’s six-game (and weaker) bowl pull: Rose/BCS, Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, and Emerald. Both conferences are nearing bowl game negotiations – supposedly with the Big 12 in 2012, and PAC-10 in 2013. Perfect timing for conference re-alignment news.

Lots of moving parts…it will be interesting to see what plays out through the weekend. Expect more blockbuster news later today or Friday, as more conferences and teams get antsy so as not to get left in the dust. Texas, where you headed?

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Texas H.S. Basketball Player…NOT!

In an interesting turn of events, a “sophomore” basketball player for Permian (Odessa, TX) High School has been charged with failing to identify himself to a police officer and arrested.

But, the craziness doesn’t end there. Turns out, the player was none other than Guerdwich (GURD-which) Montimere, a 22 year-old U.S. naturalized citizen from Haiti. Wait, what?

Apparently, he arrived at Permian H.S. and told the athletic director, coaches and school that he was Jerry Joseph, a 16 year-old Haitian refugee. But, after leading Permian to the Division 2-5A playoffs and earning “newcomer of the year” accolades, he was busted after Florida coaches recognized him at an amatuer tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Will the real Guerdwich Montimere please stand up?

First of all, this guy looks like the second-coming of Greg Oden, in the sense that there is NO WAY he looks like 16-year-old. Do you remember what you looked like at 16? It wasn’t this.

Is this guy crazy in the head? Was he trying to spark interest from a college to recruit him (perhaps he didn’t get offers the first time around)? Was he looking for a prom date a la Lawrence Taylor? Who does this? And, coming from Florida, who picks Odessa, Texas, as their destination to play high school basketball (again!)? He must be a “Friday Night Lights” fan, although then we’re talking football and the idiot would have picked the wrong sport.

Where do these people come from? And, how ignorant is the athletic department and school in Odessa? Could it be true they were more focused on winning than looking in to this guy’s background?

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Conference Re-Alignment, Part II: The Stretch To The Bible Belt

Now that we’ve covered some perspectives on why Texas should stay apart of the Big 12 Conference, Eyes Of TX contributor and former Blue & Gold staffer, John Haynsworth, will take his perspective on why Texas should leave the Big 12 behind, and follow the road signs north to the Big 10 Conference.

View from the Big 10 Conference
By: John Haynsworth
To be honest, I was a little disappointed when Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds told the Associated Press the university did not intend to explore a move to the Big 10. Of course there would have been several hurdles – political and geographic among them – to clear in order to pull of such a move, but I believe it really could have worked out for the best for Texas, not only for the football program, but for all sports within the department. Here’s why:

The rivalries.
I want to quickly debunk the myth that Texas’ long-standing football rivalries would suffer with a move to another conference. Let’s remember that Texas v. oklahoma was a rivalry long before the Longhorns and sooners settled into the Big 12’s South division in the fall of 1996. If Texas and oklahoma could be bitter rivals as members of the Southwest Conference and Big 8, respectively, then why would it be so hard to resume a non-conference rivalry in the future? Further, I honestly believe oklahoma would welcome a shakeup within the Big 12 that might allow for a renewal of its once-annual rivalry with Nebraska while still maintaining the Red River Rivalry.

As far as the A&M series is concerned, is that even a rivalry anymore? Sure, there are more than 100 games of history within the series, but Texas has won more than twice as many games in the series (75-36), and the Longhorns are 10-4 against the Aggies since the inception of the Big 12. If anything, the series has digressed from a rivalry game to a trap-game for the ‘Horns. As such, is it really necessary to maintain on an annual basis?

Specifically addressing a possible move to the Big 10, Texas football would trade ho-hum regional match-ups for intriguing national games that would include trips to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. I think those three powers, with their 100,000-seat stadiums more than make up for the loss of Tech and A&M on an annual basis and Big 12 North teams such as Nebraska or Colorado twice every four years.

The return games would be huge as well. I don’t know about many of you, but for me, Texas’ home schedule has left a lot to be desired in recent years. Aside from Ohio State, I can’t think of one intriguing non-conference matchup at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium since 1998.

Imagine a schedule that includes: Oklahoma annually, rotating home and homes with Texas Tech and A&M every four years, and then a home and home with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every four years. Granted, Texas would have less room on its schedule for the likes of Wyoming and Louisiana-Lafayette, but I could live with that.

National exposure.
Texas doesn’t really need the exposure boost that a move to a more national conference would provide. After all, the football program has risen to the top of Forbes’ list of college football’s most valuable programs, dethroning perennial revenue king Notre Dame in the 2009 rankings.

What Texas has done with a predominantly state-centric consumer base is nothing short of impressive. But the next frontier is growing the brand outside of the state’s borders.

And while that wouldn’t do much for football, I believe it would help immensely with a basketball team that is fighting to earn a place in the national spotlight. Consider this: according to Forbes, the Big 12 and the Big 10 are currently tied with five teams among the top 20 most valuable. However, according to Forbes’ basketball research, the Big 12 is hardly to be found. There are five Big 10 teams on a list dominated by the ACC, and just one Big 12 team – Kansas.

Oh, by the way, other populous state universities such as Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin made both of Forbes’ football and basketball lists.

Stability of the Big 12?
Texas isn’t the only program considering its options with other conferences. Several media reports over the past few weeks indicate that Big 12 North members Colorado and Missouri would both be receptive to overtures from the Pac-10 and the Big 10, respectively.

For the sake of argument, if those teams leave, what options does that leave the Big 12? Out west, the conference might look to replace Colorado with perhaps Boise State, BYU or Utah, but those are lateral moves at best from the Buffaloes, despite some of their recent successes on the gridiron. Besides, such programs would face some of the geographic hurdles that Texas would face moving to the Big 10, though those programs are far less equipped, financially, to endure such a move.

Regardless, there are very few, if any, moves that the Big 12 could make to enhance its conference from a competitive standpoint in any sport across the board, either men’s or women’s, if any of its members leave for another conference. Granted that doesn’t have much effect on Texas or the Big 12 South, but I think that Texas has to consider its place in a league that might have nowhere to go but down, especially if other conference start raiding the Big 12’s cupboard.

Good academic company.
Texas’ revenue sports – football, basketball and baseball (which breaks even) – have little room to turn up their noses at any other program’s academics. None of those programs graduate even 50 percent of their student-athletes.

Having said that, the athletics department should have an obligation to do what it can to enhance the university’s academic reputation, which is notable nationally. A move to the Big 10 would put Texas in good company with other reputable public institutions.

According to the latest release from the US News & World Report, the University of Texas (tied 15th) ranks highest among the Big 12’s schools among the nation’s best public colleges. They would be fourth in the Big 10 behind Michigan (4), Illinois (tied 9th) and Wisconsin (tied 9th). In all, seven Big 10 members rank in the top 25 of the nation’s best colleges, while just two Big 12 schools (Texas and A&M) earned that distinction.

Additionally, as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) – a common thread among all current Big 10 members as well as a primary criteria for any future considerations – the University of Texas’ commitment to research would certainly mesh well with the academic mission of the conference’s current schools.

The money.
Let’s be honest, the money will ultimately determine whether Texas stays or leaves the Big 12. As reported by the Associated Press, Dodds is looking all the way to 2015 for the Big 12’s TV payday. Why wait, especially considering the money that would be on the table today?

“Big 10 schools clear $9 to $10 million more annually in TV revenue than Big 12 schools,” Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News recently reported. “Every SEC and Big 10 school receives a larger annual conference payout than Texas gets from the Big 12. Yes, that includes Vanderbilt and Northwestern. As Texas took home $10.2 million from the Big 12 in 2007-08, every Big 10 school was enjoying around $18.8 million.”

You do the math on a difference of roughly $8.6 million dollars over the next four seasons until the 2015 renewal year. Could $8 million a year make up for the difference in a bus trip to Waco, TX vs. a charter plane to State College, PA?

I’m not convinced that the Big 12 will ever be financially competitive with the likes of the SEC and the Big 10. I don’t know what that ultimately means for wins and losses on the playing field, but Texas has an immediate opportunity to strengthen its financial grip of the rest of college athletics. In the current landscape of college athletics, money does a lot of talking, and at some point, it is certain that Texas will want to be the big fish in a bigger pond.

My conclusion is that the Big 12 is on shaky ground at best. And while Kansas is a competitive basketball program, and oklahoma is a competitive football program, there isn’t enough star power from the conference’s assembled members. Texas should consider a move to a more established, profitable conference. While the Pac-10 is intriguing, I don’t think it benefits Texas to expand west. The eastern time zones are still the king of coverage, and would do more to further thrust Longhorns athletics into the national spotlight.

Tomorrow, stay tuned to Eyes Of TX for the final installment on the conference re-alignment series, as “Keifer Nandez” evaluates a potential move to the Pac-10 Conference.

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Championships Not A Priority For Barnes?

Well, not exactly. Although Texas men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes wasn’t very clear on the distinction.

In a recent ESPN magazine article, Barnes said that he’d rather see his players be successful in their future careers (like the NBA) than to win NCAA championships.

“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 dream. What’s happened to Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, T.J. Ford — I’d give up a national title for all of our guys to be able to live their dream.” – Rick Barnes

When one sits back and thinks about it, that makes sense. The problem in this instance was that Barnes’ comments were taken out of context, and they made a lot of Barnes-doubters jump all over the current coach for his lack of desire to be successful in the here-and-now.

But, not to worry, many pundits have come to Barnes’ rescue, including Austin American-Statesman reporter Kirk Bohls and ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas. Even Texas’ Big 12 conference foe – the Jayhawk Nation – has come to Barnes’ defense…kind of. And, they make a good point about Barnes taking some media relations training from Texas head football coach Mack Brown.

What are your thoughts? Was Barnes out of line with his comments? Or, is he spot-on in terms of “sacrificing” at the collegiate level and wanting his players to have a successful future career at the next level?

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Doh! Dogus is done…

Texas’ basketball team has been in a serious slump lately, losing six of their last 10 games after a 17-0 start. The latest polls have the Longhorns dropping to #21 nationally, and the conference schedule has taken its toll. Now, starting point guard Dogus Balbay, who started 22 games for the ‘Horns this season, joins Varez Ward on the bench with an injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season.

Balbay tore the ACL in his left knee early in the first half in Saturday’s win at Texas Tech. Balbay is, by far, the team’s best on-ball defender, yet his ability to lead the offense has hampered the ‘Horns throughout the season. So, while the injury leaves Texas thin at the point guard position, perhaps his injury isn’t such a bad thing for Texas’ long-term success in 2009-2010.

While no one wants to see injuries decimate a legitimate NCAA tourney team, Balbay wasn’t a threat on the offensive end of the court. Time and time again, Balbay would penetrate the lane, only to dribble around in circles and come back out to the top of the key without dishing the ball, putting up a shot, or drawing a foul. While he was Texas’ leading assist man when he was on the court (3.9 apg), his inconsistency to produce points (3.8 ppg) in Barnes’ ball-screen offense was offensive in itself.

It’s been no secret that with Balbay and senior Justin Mason starting at the guard position, Texas has been playing 3-on-5 in most of their games. Until mid-season, that worked for the ‘Horns, as Damion James, Avery Bradley, or Dexter Pittman would step up to lead the team to victory. Now, Barnes will be forced to start J’Covan Brown or transfer Jai Lucas at the point, with help from Mason and perhaps Bradley shifting over to run the offense when either of them needs a blow.

What does this mean for the rest of the season? Well, Texas does lose a great defender, but it also forces Barnes to insert a player in to the line-up who is more aggressive when it comes to putting the ball up and potentially scoring points. While Mason is a good defender in his own right, if Brown, Lucas and Jordan Hamilton can continue to improve on the defensive end, and make better shot selection on the offensive end, Texas has more potential to create opportunities and score points to help get and maintain a lead, and then close games out.

Balbay’s only a junior, so he’ll be back, and Eyes Of TX wishes him a speedy recovery. But, the focus for this team is here and now, and the time has come for Brown and Lucas to show that they are willing and capable of putting in the effort and control to lead this team deep in to the NCAA tournament come March.

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