With another lame football season down the tubes, a repeat appearance in a nothing bowl and the Mack Brown departure watch a daily, nay, hourly distraction, this year's men's basketball program is surprising just about everyone. With all of the top-recruited talent skedaddling after last season on the heals of countless one-and-done's parachuting into Austin primarily to showcase their NBA-talent for the mandatory one season before going pro 2013-14 was supposed to be another last place showing. Well, shut my mouth! Who knew?!?! A bunch of no-name kids coming together to give Texas their best start since 2009. Granted, the competition leaves something to be desired compared to the previous few seasons, but 8-1 is 8-1.
With highly rated programs Michigan State and North Carolina looming large on the horizon some humble pie is probably in the offing. Still, who expected this? Not saying I did, because I didn't, but for years I've been rabble-rousing here on BON (and to anyone who would listen while we've watched some games together) about how damaging the one-and-done's were for the long-term health of the program. Sure, the Findlay Prep pipeline seemed dreamy as a concept when Rick Barnes decided that was the path to certain and immediate success. In the rear-view mirror it sure looks like that was chasing fool's gold.
I've contended here on more than one occasion that getting kids who may not be quite as talented as the top youngsters coming out of high school but who buy into the concept of team and placing its needs above their individual ambitions will be more successful over the long haul than recruiting all-stars. I've only watched one game this season, but from reading the posts of those who actually have LHN and can see games in the Drum noticeably absent is commentary about the discipline and attitude problems with players in RB's doghouse that have been endemic for many years. Coincidence? I think not.
I'm not saying these kids are going to be world beaters this season, but a return to the NCAA tournament after last season's absence is not out of the question. And building on their experience with kids who see loyalty as a virtue rather than obstacle will pay big dividends in the future. I, for one, am actually excited about a Longhorn team of any kind (besides women's volleyball) for the first time in years! I've never really doubted Rick Barnes' coaching in any of my previous comments on the subject. I always preferred to knock his recruiting strategy since the pipeline of one-and-done's proved itself to be a miserable failure. In the season that was supposed to be RB's Walking Dead Tour, unlike his football counterpart he's on track to save his hide and make us burnt-orange proud! Hook'em Horns! }-
(So, Peter, I'm not always doom and gloom, I prefer the term "prescient". Here's a sample of some comments on the subject I've made through the years:)