The 2007-2008 men’s basketball team tips off this season with a 7 PM scrimmage with Xavier (La) at the Erwin Center. This will be the only men’s scrimmage that is open to the fans before they open regular season play Monday November 12th against UT-San Antonio.
Tonight’s scrimmage will not be televised nor carried on the radio, so your only chance to see the Horns will be in person. The scrimmage is free and seating will be open. So, much like early non-conference games, fans in attendance can seat anywhere they want.
Things to Look For:
- : By the end of last season, Coach Barnes was leading some tired Longhorns. Lack of depth forced many ‘Horns, especially DJ Augustin, to play too many minutes, and it showed in March. Obviously, Kevin Durant and Craig Winder are gone, but the Horns added a stellar four-person recruiting class: Dogus Balbay, Gary Johnson, Clint Chapman, and Alexis Wangmene. This year’s team will be much deeper than last year’s. Coach Barnes has reported that many of the Horns have "reshaped their bodies" this off-season. I’m excited to see Augustin, Dexter Pittman, and Justin Mason after another summer of work with Todd Wright.
- : Last year, Damion, 6-7 230, played as an undersized power forward and mostly with his back to the basket. With the addition of three freshman post players, the continued development of Connor Atchley, and a trimmed down Pittman, James will be asked to play more on the wing as a small forward this season. Hopefully, Damion has been working on his ball handling, which was a little loose last year, and his mid-range game this off-season. To me, the ability of James to score from the wing will be a huge key to the ‘Horn’s success this season. I will be watching intently to see how far along he already is.
- : The season hasn’t begun and the Horns are already racking up medical bills. As we all know, injury reports from the University are few and far between. However, there have been various reports/rumors this summer and early this semester of injured Horns: AJ Abrams (toe), Dexter Pittman (seen in walking boot), Gary Johnson (heart condition), Matt Hill (foot), and Dogus Balbay (knee surgery-out indefinitely). It will be interesting to see who is 100% healthy and who is still nursing injuries.
- : Johnson’s condition since high school graduation has been well documented. Briefly, over the summer UT doctors found that Gary was afflicted with an undisclosed heart condition. He was initially not cleared for participation in workouts of any kind. Before practice began two weeks ago, he was cleared to participate in both team and individual workouts. Then, he was cleared earlier this week to participate in tonight’s scrimmage. He is still not cleared to play in games, yet. I remain reasonably confident that Johnson will be cleared soon for full participation. By all accounts, Johnson is a tenacious power forward with strong hands and an extreme will for the basketball. Coach Barnes has favorably compared Gary to another slightly undersized UT power forward, PJ Tucker. With a healthy Johnson, the Horns should be a top 15 team nationally and the second best team in the Big 12. I can’t wait to see the jewel of this freshman class.
I can’t believe its hoops time already. Again, if you’re in Austin, there is no reason not to check out the Horns tonight. Remember, it’s free.