Best in show? Kirk Bohls makes the case for Rick Barnes as Coach of the Year in the Big 12 in an excellent feature article I agree with completely. The award could plausibly go to Barnes, Bill Self at Kansas, Scott Drew at Baylor, or Frank Martin at Kansas State, but the job Barnes has done stands out above the others. A win Sunday clinches at least a share of the Big 12 championship for the Longhorns; it would be the university's third under Rick Barnes.
Year two... As much as Texas basketball has exceeded expectations this season, in hindsight, perhaps we shouldn't quite be so surprised. Recall years two of both the TJ Ford era and the Gibson-Aldridge era, probably Rick's two best teams at Texas. In '02-03, the Ford-led Longhorns finished 13-3 in conference, earned a #1 seed in the NCAAs and made the Final Four. In '05-06, year two of Gibson-Aldridge, Texas also finished 13-3, earned a #2 seed, and were an overtime loss away from the Final Four.
Here we are again, in the second year of another outstanding recruiting class. It's incredible to think that Rick's accomplished this without Durant, but perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised that the Augustin-James-Mason class has leapt forward in year two, as well. Could this portend another deep tourney run? Let's hope so.
(By the way, as a fun thought experiment: imagine this team with Kevin Durant. Would we have lost a game this year?)
15 commitments in the books. Texas picked up its 15th football commitment of the year when Irvine LB Tariq Allen announced for Texas. I've not seen any film of Allen, but his offer list is a-okay and the recruitniks indicate he might be the top Texas LB in the class of '09. Good enough for me. Welcome to Austin, Tariq.
Dude, this is different. Anyone else enjoying reading the practice reports at MB-TF this spring? Normally, the reports are full of boring coach-speak and players talking about nothing much at all. This year? The player quotes are exciting, and at times hilarious.
"I got chewed out today for not hitting the running back hard enough to concuss him. Coach hated that. He called me a Nancy. 'Let's go, Nancy! Is that a jobck strap or a thong! LET'S GO!'"
Okay, I made that up, but it's honestly not too far off from what the kids are saying about the intensity of spring workouts. Thumbs up.
What the blog? I'm having trouble embedding this, but... click through for Trev Alberts' awkward pleas to bloggers to engage him in tourney talk.