The #15 Texas men’s basketball team will emerge from the shadows of the college football season to begin the post-Kevin Durant era tonight at the Erwin Center. The Longhorns tip off the 2007-2008 season with a home game against UT-San Antonio. Tip time is 7 PM and the game will be carried by Fox Sports in the state of Texas only and on the radio on KVET 98.1 and the Zone 1300 AM in the Austin area.
Being the first game of the season, I am really excited, really nervous, and cautiously optimistic.
Things to look for:
- Universal Healthcare: As of this moment, freshman forward Gary Johnson has still not been cleared to play in games. He has been working out and practicing with the team and played in the only open-to-the-public pre-season scrimmage. I would love to see him out there tonight and firmly believe that Johnson is a key to this team’s overall success this season, but we must yield to the medical staff’s expertise on this one. AJ Abrams, Matt Hill, and Dexter Pittman all sat out the scrimmage with Xavier on November 2nd. Will they be ready ten days later? I hope so. Those injuries plus Johnson’s uncertain status and the knee injury to freshman Dogus Balbay, could lead to more of Harrison Smith and JD Lewis than we’d like.
- How Small is Too Small?: With the inexperience in our frontcourt and Johnson’s status, don’t be surprised to see a small starting lineup tonight: Abrams, DJ Augustin, Justin Mason, Damion James, and Connor Atchley. This is far from the ideal starting five and leaves the Horns too small and too vulnerable on defense and on the glass. If Coach Barnes does go small, look for the Longhorns to really push the tempo and attempt to score easily in transition.
- Quick Start: Yes, we lost Durant to the NBA, but the Longhorns do return four starters as well as a consistent contributor in Atchley from last year’s team. There is no reason why this team shouldn’t get off to a quick start in this game and this season. We’ve seen just about every college football Saturday turn chaotic, and college basketball is already traveling down the same path. Michigan State, USC, and Kentucky have all suffered shocking losses to Grand Valley State, Mercer, and Gardner Webb respectively. In a forty minute game, anything is possible. My heart has been strained enough this fall at DKR. I don’t need another stress test at the Drum tonight.