2008 Texas Longhorns Basketball Preview
The Texas Longhorns (31-7 overall, 13-3 Big 12) seem to always be in the NCAA mix and this season will be no different for coach Rick Barnes and company. Last year, the Longhorns went to the NCAA Regional Finals where they lost to Memphis 85-67. This season this club could go even deeper.
Junior swingman Damion James (31.2 MPG, 13.2 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 46.1 FG%, 57.0 FT%) is a double-double artist who also has a fine three-point shot. Last season, he sank 41.3% of his attempts from downtown. Senior forward/center Connor Atchley (27.6 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.8 APG, 53.8 FG%, 67.2 FT%) led the Big 12 in blocked shots with 2.11 per game. Atchley, like James, hit 41.3% of his threes. There’s some fine depth upfront, which includes Dexter Pittman (6.8 MPG, 2.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 0.2 APG, 55.9 FG%, 56.1 FT%). Pittman, who in high school weighed 388 pounds and now weighs 288, is one of the hardest workers on the club. A breakout season is within his grasp.
In the backcourt, star point guard D.J. Augustin is gone. Augustin put up 19.2 PPG, dished off 5.8 APG and made 1.2 SPG. Three guards are in line for his spot—A.J. Abrams, Justin Mason and Dogus Balbay. Abrahms (35.9 MPG, 16.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 42.4 FG%, 80.9 FT%) has played well at the two-spot and offers a fine three-point shot but may not have the stuff to play point. Mason (32.8 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 41.5 FG%, 66.2 FT%), a junior, looked good last season backing up Augustin. Balbay, a sophomore who wore a medical redshirt last season, can drive to the hoop and score or kick it out to the backcourt. He or Mason will most likely be the club’s next point guard.
Texas needs to get excellent play from the point in order to make
the most out of the post-season. Augustin will be tough to replace
in an unforgiving conference like the Big 12 and the intense competition
that defines March Madness. There’s fine depth on this club,
solid experience and some exciting new talent. Watch out for these