Never mind the fact that 11 former Texas Longhorns ballers are on NBA opening day rosters, the squad continues to be a player in the Big 12 and nationally under coach Rick Barnes, now in his 14th year at the helm. That said, Barnes sometimes takes unnecessary criticisms about the plethora of talent he recruits, but the lack of Final Fours and/or national championships. Evaluate how many one-and-dones and early entry players Texas has had in the Barnes era and perhaps no one this side of John Calipari has recruited so thoroughly and well. After all, it is any school’s perogative to put students, athletes or otherwise, in position to be in the work force. In this case, the work force is the NBA.
Credit: Matt Hempel/UT Athletics
Going forward, Barnes has an interesting mix of chemistry as Texas opens it’s season tonight against Fresno State. His entire roster is made of talented freshmen and sophomores who have been developing tremendous chemistry, but do not feature taht one or two players who Barnes could decisively say will declare for the draft and not be in Austin next season.”It’s really been a fun group to work with,” commented Barnes, “We feel like we have a pretty good pulse on this group, so we are excited about the season and looking forward to starting.”
Losing leading scorer J’Covan Brown was a tough scenario as it fell in line with the theme of great recruiting and early entries, but Barnes welcomes back three of his top five returning scorers in Sheldon McClellan, Myck Kobongo (currently indefinitely suspended by the NCAA) and Julien Lewis which provides one of the flashiest and most versatile backcourts in the nation.
“We just couldn’t seem to find a consistent second and third scorer with tha group last year,” explained Barnes, “As the season went on, Sheldon started being more consistent and we need him to do that with this group.”
Barnes figures on playing 11 players as the chemistry dictates as such. Kobongo will sit out tonight’s game due to an NCAA investigation dealing wiith whether and agent paid for a trip to Ohio to see Cavs forward Tristan Thompson this past summer. Consequestly, freshmen guards Demarcus Holland and Javan Felix will see more meaningful minutes right away due to Kobongo’s absence.
Moving to the post, two outstanding freshmen big men in 6-10, 245-lb. Prince Ibeh and 6-9, 270-lb. Cameron Ridley could be the key to accentuating the experience of the outside game if they can provide early scoring consistency inside the paint.
“I think the one question we have to answer is can we get consistent scoring from a couple of different guys that we really do think that we’re going to be a team that’s going to be balanced and a team that can get back to some of the things that we always tried to do like get the ball inside.”
Barnes likes the level of play he has seen in practice from both big men and will look for quick contributions from them.
“Neither one of those guys have ever played very far from the basket,” noted Barnes, “Those guys really do complement each other well in practice when they go against each other. You have Cam who is a very big, strong powerful player. And you have Prince who is long and blocks a lot of shots.”
Ibeh and Ridley should be able to operate in the paint immediately against Fresno State’s smaller posts. Senior Kevin Foster at 6-8, 230 is the Bulldogs’ most efficent big man.
“Last year we didn’t play above the rim,” noted Barnes, “We have blocked more shots in a week of practice than we didall last year. Cam and Prince are going to alter shots and make their presence felt.”
- Ken Cross
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