2009-2010 Texas Longhorns Basketball Preview
In two of the last five seasons, the Longhorns of Texas (23- 12 overall, 9- 7 Big 12) have made it to the Elite Eight, but despite putting some talented teams on the court in those years, Texas has seen a National Championship elude them. This year the Longhorns, who finished sixth in the league in 2008- 2009 and went two and out in the NCAA Tournament, will compete for the Big 12 crown and be a contender for the national crown.
Texas excelled last season on "D" but had a tough time on offense. They held opponents to 65.6 PPG (3rd) but score on average just 72.3 PPG (8th). The Longhorns placed fourth in rebound margin with a plus-4.9 RPG difference. Shooting wise, they were ninth in the league from the field (44%), 11th in frees (67%) and 12th in threes (33%). Look for better shooting this season.
There's good news upfront as senior center Dexter Pittman (10.1 PPG, 5.5 PPG, 0.4 APG) returns after posting an amazing season last year. With senior Damion James (15.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.3 APG) at forward and Pittman at center, Texas puts one of the best combos in the Big 12 on the court. James brings some new shots to the court this season and should be even more productive. Completing the frontcourt is able scoring junior Gary Johnson (10.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.6 APG).
Although Texas returns three experienced players to the backcourt, there are four new guys who could see serious playing minutes. Freshman Avery Bradley is an avid point scorer and tough-minded defender. The topnotch two-way player, who can score from outside and go to the rim and dunk with aplomb, could have a huge impact immediately. At the point, Florida transfer Jai Lucas, the son of former NBA coach John Lucas, knows how to protect the ball and set up plays. Experienced vets and former starters such as Dogus Balbay (3.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.1 APG) and Justin Mason (6.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.0 APG) may end up being backups this season.
Like Kansas, Texas has a skilled and talented team. Coach Rick Barnes has amassed one of the best teams Texas has seen in some time. Although they were inconsistent last season, this revitalized club should be more dependable. Still, there are concerns about depth upfront and inexperience at the starting guard spots. The Longhorns will end the year either first or second in the conference and go deep into the Big Dance, perhaps even to the Finals.