Jerry World is an impressive place, even for basketball.
"It's my first time ever feeling small," said 6-foot-10 center Dexter Pittman, who used to weigh nearly 400 pounds. "I didn't think that JumboTron was that big. I thought people were overexaggerating, but it's huge!"
As big as the screens look for football games, it's even more overwhelming for basketball.
"I told (a team official) I didn't want to play — just buy me a ticket to sit in the stands and I'll watch it on the JumboTron," Pittman said, laughing.
Point guards are no big deal to Rick Barnes.
On Rick Barnes' team, like many others in college basketball, one player is often asked to bring the ball up the floor and initiate the offense.
Just don't make the mistake of referring to that player as a point guard.
"You guys make too much of a big deal about that," Barnes said.
The way the Texas coach sees it, the description is far less important than the job itself. And the No. 2 Longhorns have no shortage of applicants — with a wide range of body types and skill sets — willing to perform it.
Dexter Pittman was probably the most improved player in the Big 12 last season, if not the country.
"It's been a journey," Pittman said to FanHouse on Wednesday. "Everybody didn't expect me to be like this, to become the player that I am now. The only people who believe in me were my coaches and my family."
Most important, Pittman believed in himself. With the help of UT strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright, Pittman defied the limitations placed on him by others and has become an integral part of the Texas Longhorns' frontcourt the past two seasons.
Last season he was the most improved player in the Big 12 and arguably in the country, especially towards the end of the year.
But after games, Bradley would always ask, "Was Texas here?" recalled Garry Ward, Bradley's AAU coach.
Texas assistant Chris Ogden, who was also interested in Gaddy, finally heard about it and checked out Bradley.
"I almost took it personal," said Bradley, of waiting for UT.
Dexter now has his own fan club over at Youtube and his own channel.
Dexter Pittman just wants more respect for the Texas basketball program.
Sometimes, the Texas Longhorns wish their basketball program commanded more respect. Then, they often remember they have more of it than even they realize.
Earlier this week, UT center Dexter Pittman found himself getting worked up about the opportunity to face 10th-ranked North Carolina, a team he described as "basketball gods, (from) the capital of college basketball." Then, all of a sudden, it dawned on Pittman that the Tar Heels — TV darlings, five-time national champions — might actually have reason to look up to the Longhorns, too.
"Dang," Pittman said, "I forgot we’re No. 2."
UNC coach Roy Williams talks about the Texas game.
Avery Bradley checks in from Arlington.
If you’ve never been to Cowboys Stadium, all I can say is the place is beautiful. We had practice there this afternoon. We were honored to be the first team to ever get a chance to shoot on the court which was just put down for the first time. The court was dead in a couple spots, but I’m sure they’ll get that fixed in time for the game.
Personally, I’m excited to play in Arlington. I grew up in Arlington and it’s where I became a Texas fan. Hopefully there will some familiar faces in the stands who come out to watch me play.
As a whole, the team is looking forward to the chance to play against North Carolina. This is the big-time game you dream of playing in when you’re a kid on the courts. We’re excited to play the game.
#2/2 Texas (9-0) vs. #10/10 North Carolina (8-2)
Saturday, December 19, 2009 • 1 p.m. Central
Cowboys Stadium (46,753) • Arlington, Texas
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS
TELEVISION: The game will be televised nationally by ESPN. Dan Shulman (pxp), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Doris Burke (reporter) will call the action.
RADIO: The Longhorn Sports Network and KVET (FM 98.1/1300 AM Sportsradio The Zone) broadcast every UT game on the statewide network and on XM Satellite Radio Ch. 231. Craig Way (pxp) and Eddie Oran (analyst) will call the action. Check www.TexasSports.com for a listing of affiliates carrying the game.