Unclear what my posting schedule might be tomorrow, so I'm posting now while I can.
Beware revisionist history. Barking Carnival's Scipio Tex has an outstanding essay on sports, journalism, and history, using the media's portrayal of Muhammad Ali to warn readers of the agendas which drive how sports are covered in the mainstream press. He correctly notes that those agendas are sometimes worthy, but cautions us to temper our desire to see comfortably packaged storylines with an even stronger commitment to truth.
I especially like the essay for bringing to light the importance of understanding that there are human beings behind the by-lines on each story. Writers are flawed, sensitive people just like the rest of us. To believe, as journalists will often try to have you, that they offer a God's-eye view of the truth is to be insufficiently skeptical. And though we have evolved to understand this reasonably well with history in general, the perception of sports as "merely entertainment" can lull us into a too lax acceptance of the stories we consume.
A happy consensus. I noted in my postgame review that Augustin, despite not scoring well, was playing strong basketball overall. So I'm happy to see that most everyone else covering the team agrees. The AAS' Cedric Golden has a column on the subject; Barking Carnival's Trips Right likes the improvement in his distribution; and Tim Griffin agreed with me that DJ was the most important player on the floor for the Horns, even without scoring much.
Along with DJ's improved distribution game, there are encouraging signs up and down the roster. Damion James is playing with that killer instinct again. Gary Johnson is a legit college player, with tons of room to grow. AJ Abrams' shot selection is right where we want it. Connor Atchley is looking to score after a mini-slump in which he became too passive. And Jay Mason is all over the box score, giving Texas value on both sides of the court.
We said pre-season that this team might not be a good or great one until March. And we're now seeing a lot of that growth that we expected... The surprise is that as we start to move towards our peak, we've gone 21-4 along the way. Credit to Rick Barnes...
No rest for the weary. Big as Saturday's road win over Baylor was, Texas now enters a critical three-game stretch that could go a long ways towards determining Texas' NCAA Tournament seed and regional assignment. The Longhorns will face three of the conference's top five teams with back to back home games against A&M and Oklahoma, then a road trip to Manhattan to battle Kansas State.
Protecting the home court is by far the most important goal here; if successful, Texas would find itself 10-2 in conference (23-4 overall) heading into its Big Monday showdown with KSU. With three games to close out the season (at Tech, vs Nebraska, vs Okie State) in which the 'Horns will be solid favorites, winning two of the next three would give the team a real shot at finishing the season 13-3 in conference. Two important notes on seeding:
There's only the slightest advantage in being a #1 seed instead of a #2. But there would exist a very real, tangible benefit to landing a spot in Houston. Unless Memphis collapses down the stretch and we can replace them as the #1 seed in Houston, I'd much prefer us on the #2 in line in Houston than the #1 line anywhere else.
As of now, K-State, Texas, and Kansas are tied atop the Big 12 standings, at least in the loss column. If Texas were to win out, its head-to-head wins over each of the Kansas schools would give it the #1 seed for the conference tournament. I bring this up because this year's tourney is in Kansas City, which means both Kansas schools will have the bulk of the crowd support in each of their tournament games. If Texas were to claim the #1 seed, it would draw A&M, Baylor, or Oklahoma in its semifinal game (assuming high seeds advance through the early games). That would leave Kansas and Kansas State to battle with one another in the other semifinal. It's not a huge deal, but it's something I'm keeping an eye on.