Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
The Horns' strange basketball season has ended.
One generation of lottery-pick talent already was in the NBA, and the next round was still a year away from arriving. In the space between, Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes had a team that didn’t dazzle, couldn’t dribble, and – with one notable exception – couldn’t shoot.
Somehow, though, the Longhorns made it work. And when their 11th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and 10th-straight 20-victory season came to an end Saturday with a loss to Duke at Greensboro Coliseum, UT’s long, strange trip started to get put in perspective.
"At times it was frustrating," Barnes said. "But even with all that frustration, I think we grew."
So, what's next? The Austin-American Statesman's Cedric Golden has some thoughts.
Barking Carnival has a crystal ball to look into the future of Texas basketball. Part One covers the newcomers.
We need to thank Kevin Durant for a lot more than a stellar career at UT. When the University of Kentucky went looking for another basketball coach, Rick Barnes was high on the list.
Rick Barnes was on that list. Trouble was, he needed more time. His superstar freshman, Kevin Durant, had not yet informed him as to whether or not he was ready to jump to the NBA. Barnes, understandably, wanted to coach Durant again, if he had the opportunity.
Your football fix. This just never gets old, does it?
Cody Johnson checked in from spring break with a few extra pounds.
Burnt Orange Beat has the top 300 football prospects for 2010. The state of Texas has the most athletes at 57. UT landed 16 on this list from the committed class of 21. (Check out the entire list on Scout.com.)
The state of Texas leads the way with 57 players included in this initial list followed by California with 45 members, Florida with 34, Georgia with 14, and Pennsylvania with 13.
Mack Brown and the University of Texas also leads the way in the 16 of their 21 commitments making the Scout300. Florida is second with six commitments on the list while Oklahoma is third with five commitments.
CBSSports' Dennis Dood has his Spring 25. Texas is No.2. Oklahoma is No.3.
2. Texas: I'm leapfrogging the 'Horns over the Sooners into the second spot. They are the Big 12 version of Florida: loaded. Given the way the award has gone it's Colt McCoy's turn to win the Heisman isn't it? Mack Brown is kicking back right now with 20 commitments for the class of 2010.
Watch: For a better running game, meaning Colt doesn't have to scramble as much.
3. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops has called out the offensive line. The tragic accident involving Corey Wilson impacts the receiver depth. No other major news during the spring is good news.
Watch: Sam Bradford's hair. For some reason he is letting it grow out and it's ... not good, Sam. Not good. Larry Fine is wondering what you're doing.
The Sooners credit Jeff Capel for their success.
After Kelvin Sampson left, three of the prominent recruits who had signed with Oklahoma backed out of their letters of intent, including Damion James, who went to Texas, and Scottie Reynolds, who went to Villanova. That left Sampson’s replacement, Jeff Capel, with a bare cupboard of a roster.
But it didn’t take long for Capel to turn around the program. Three years after taking over, he’s guided the second-seeded Sooners into the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament, in which OU (29-5) will play third-seeded Syracuse (28-9) at 6:27 p.m. Friday in a South Region game in Memphis, Tenn.
The University of Virginia job could be Capel's, if he wants to make the move.
Blake Griffin has unquestionable talent, but he also has an incredible work ethic. (ESPN's Andy Katz has a nice article on the Griffin family.)
So Oklahoma men's basketball strength and conditioning coach Darby Rich watches, and when the sophomore finishes a workout and looks at the sheet of exercises and asks, "Anything else?" Rich gives his broken-record response: "No, Blake, not today."
That's what it's like to train Griffin, a 6-foot-10 forward who is all of 251 pounds, with barely 5% body fat. He is the strongest player for his age -- he just turned 20 -- the team's medical trainer, Alex Brown, has seen in 22 years with the program.
If there were weight-room records, Rich says, Griffin would be in the top three in every category.
The Big 12 actually gets some respect from John Feinstein.
The Big 12 -- no, not the Big Ten -- was underrated by those of us who are known to some as eastern elitists. There were nine conferences that received multiple bids, including five with at least six bids. Only the Big 12 won all its first round games (6-0). Three teams -- Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri -- are in the round of 16, and Texas and Oklahoma State scared the heck out of Duke and Pittsburgh respectively.
Kansas head coach Bill Self's light went on at Oral Roberts and it is still burning...
Nebraska's Bo Pelini has absolutely no plans to mellow. He also has a list of things he wants to accomplish this next season.
Don't they need to find a quarterback first? Nebraska may go with a no-huddle offense this year.
Can you say system quarterback? Texas Tech is not the least bit concerned about their quarterback situation.
College football teams normally panic when a Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterback graduates. But that situation never applies at Texas Tech.
Two reasons create this unusual situation. A talented backup always waits in the wings for the Red Raiders, and head coach Mike Leach knows how to develop quality quarterbacks.
Sam Bradford is a candidate for the Sullivan award.
This guy is off to a great start in his new job, New Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads had the players tape their name to their helmet so he could identify them. He also thought their first day of practice was boring.
So, Paul Rhoads, just how was your first practice as a head football coach?
"Boring," Iowa State’s new coach said.
The Bears are on a roll. Newsday.com has some football programs to watch this year. Baylor is No.1.
Baylor: Yes, Baylor was just 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the Big 12 in 2008. But I really think this program is ready to turn the corner. Quarterback Robert Griffin is coming off an impressive freshman season when he passed for over 2,000 and 15 touchdowns (with just three interceptions), and rushed for over 800 yards and 13 touchdowns. Including the brutal Big 12 schedule, Baylor played Wake Forest and Connecticut in non-conference games. Baylor led Texas Tech at halftime and into the fourth quarter in its final game of the 2008 season. I think that was a glimpse of what you'll see more of this season from the Bears.
College Football News' Pete Flutak looks at teams he expects to tumble this next season. Missouri and Texas Tech made the list. He also lists his top ten conferences. The Big 12 is in the No. 3 spot behind the SEC and the ACC. The ACC Really? (Maybe Flutak should check their schedules. Dr. Saturday certainly did.)
According to ESPN's Tim Griffin, Big 12 offenses rule.
The Big 12 is tough place to play defense. Baylor safety Jordan Lake can attest to that fact.
The Big 12 South is a tough place to play defense.
That fact was re-emphasized to Baylor senior safety Jordan Lake when he watched the postseason college award shows and saw a lot of familiar faces receiving hardware.
"It was amazing watching all the postseason awards shows," Lake said. "For the John Mackey Award all three players were from the Big 12. Same thing with the Biletnikoff Award. The Maxwell, all three were from the South Division."
Photo by Ensign Beedrill.
The celebrated news item of the day...
Good news. The Aggies are indeed playing football this year. I Am The 12th Man is addressing the pertinent questions.
Not if we have anything to say about it. The University of Floria gators start spring practice this week and they are gearing up for another BCS title. And they are a little annoyed at the other UT.
McDonald's: Not just for breakfast. If you have one or more of the 24 high school players selected to the McDonald's All American High School Basketball Game, you will probably end up in the NCAA Tournament.
Having at least one of those players on your roster is one of the most surefire ways to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
The tournament opened last week with 21 teams featuring at least one McDonald's All-American on their roster and 44 with none. Eleven teams with McDonald's All-America talent reached the round of 16.
SI's Andy Staples looks at the seven-on-seven football tournaments.
One Saturday earlier this month at the University of South Florida, more than 250 players from six states gathered for a seven-on-seven football tournament. Their teams didn't represent individual high schools, though; instead, battles raged between all-star teams comprised of skill-position players from different geographic regions hand-selected by independent coaches or writers from Scout.com. In 11 months, most of the participating players will sign Division-I scholarship offers, and for those who follow the NCAA's other big-money college sport, all of this should sound eerily familiar.
"It's AAU football," Brett Goetz said.
Some guy writing for The Daily Toreador in Lubbock thinks March Madness should make us appreciate the BCS system.
The biggest debate in sports during the past few years has been about the need for a college football playoff system.
I am not trying to spark that debate because that argument needs some rest until the start of football season.
I am simply saying that watching the NCAA Tournament has given me a greater appreciation for the current college football system because the same intensity provided during the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament is provided every week during the college football season.
A lot of the proponents of a college football playoff argue a playoff would give more teams a fair chance to win a championship just like the NCAA Tournament gives "Cinderella" teams a chance each year. But there is a possibility that a playoff could take away from the season long intensity.
This from the same paper that produced this enlightening article.
Checking in on Colleyville... The Batt had a good article on the experiences of African-American football players in the 60s. The article looks at 1967 when James Reynolds, class of '69, and Samuel Williams, class of '68, broke the Aggie football color barrier.
In an attempt to skirt the stresses of the corps, Williams tried out for football his freshman year. He made it all the way to the practice field before the coaching staff sent him home.
The next day he received an apology, but was told the University was not ready to integrate its football program.
The issue came up again during the next season when, during a casual conversation, Reynolds told Williams of his decision to try out for football and told him he should try out again as well.
"That sport, if you play it," said Reynolds. "It gets in your bones; so I decided to try out. I hadn't even really thought of racism and dejection. It wasn't even on my mind. To play a sport you love, that was what it was all about."
This time the coaching staff allowed the two to try out, imagining the rigors of pre-season training camp would weed them out, as it did with most walk-ons.
Instead, Reynolds and Williams excelled and made the team as walk-ons for the 1967 season. However, their trials were just beginning.
Though the team was not overly aggressive and confrontational with their new teammates, much of the coaching staff was, including Head Coach Gene Stallings.
Richard Pennington also wrote a great article on racial integration in college football in Texas. This is a must-read for anyone interested in Texas football history.
Bravo. SMU head coach June Jones will have a player wear No. 23 in the 2009 season in honor of Jerry LeVias, the first black scholarship athlete in the Southwest Conference.
It is time for Aggie Yell Leader elections. The Batt has interviewed the potential men in white. Or overalls.
The Chronicle of Higher Eucation is not very fond of the sports fan.
Marx was wrong: The opiate of the masses isn't religion, but spectator sports. What else explains the astounding fact that millions of seemingly intelligent human beings feel that the athletic exertions of total strangers are somehow consequential for themselves? The real question we should be asking during the madness surrounding this month's collegiate basketball championship season is not who will win, but why anyone cares.
The University of Missouri is going after some school district in South Dakota because their tiger looks like Missouri's tiger.
The Sports Economist believes the three point shot has changed the college game.
CBS college basketball analyst and former coach (Manhattan, Villanova, UMAss), Steve Lappas made this (paraphrased) observation over the weekend:
The game has changed. We used to think that you had to pass the ball to get shots. Things have changed over time with the three point shot. With guys spotting up at the three point line, dribbling and driving has become more important. Getting the ball to the low post doesn't matter much anymore.
Shall we call this a complete waste of tax payer time... The Texas House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Graham Harrell for his "stellar career that distinguished him as one of the top quarterbacks in the college ranks."
And one more. The Senate is reviewing the BCS.
Former Longhorn tight ends coach Tim Brewster is now twittering in his role of head coach at the University of Minnesota. He is also the father of Texas saftey Nolan Brewster. Why doesn't Mack Brown twit?
R.I.P. The Houston Chronicle is no longer covering college sports.
The Dallas Morning News has an article on Travis and Corey Wilson.
Corey, nicknamed Superman as a youth, has a tattoo of the man of steel in the middle of his chest.
His spirit has proved to be indestructible.
Travis said his brother's attitude uplifts family and friends. Corey, he says, believes he'll walk one day.
He's made daily progress. It's excruciatingly miniscule but it's tangible.
Corey has moved one of his toes. And he has sensation in his hips. And his butt, if he's on his back too long.
"He knows he's going to walk. We respect the doctors and their profession," said Travis, "but the only one who knows is the man upstairs.
"Corey is going to walk again. It might take two weeks. Or three weeks. Or six months. Or 10 years. But it's going to happen."