Countdown to The NCAA Season: JNixon-Iggy9's Top 35 Teams (#25)
#25: Texas Longhorns
Frontcourt: Damion James, the 24th pick in the 2010 draft, is a huge loss, arguably the biggest loss in the conference. James was the all-time rebound leader in BIG 12 history, a high-energy player, the closest thing to a leader as Texas had, and he developed a nice mid-range game a decent handles as a Sr., showing he could be a true SF. The bet to fill his combo forward role is 6'8 Fr. Tristan Thompson, a player that's not dissimilar to Damion James, especially by the time James was a Soph or Jr. even. Thompson uses his athleticism and motor to make plays, and has nice physical ability too. With that said, he's a sub-par ball-handler with developing shooting skills that lack real range, and he's a tweener. He seems like a guy that is not polished enough to be a 1-and-done player, but he could be a 2-year guy if he develops the right way. Gary Johnson, Matt Hill and Alexis Wangmene were all apart of the (too big) frontcourt rotation last season in some ways and if Barnes doesn't cut the rotation, they will be again in 2010-2011. Johnson is the best player of that group, and his toughness, motor, and raw strength allow him to make impact plays for spurts, despite the fact that he's essentially a 6'6 240 PF. Matt Hill and Clint Chapman played sparingly, but they both usually play hard even though they pretty much suck. Alexis Wangmene is a big body who is the designated post defender who he's on the floor. He isn't going to score though. This group loses James, but Thompson isn't a shabby replacement, even though I seriously doubt he gets the 18 and 10 James did or provide the intangibles James possessed. I do think Johnson will chip in his 9-10 ppg, Thompson should be good for 12 ppg, and the other 3 guys will do whatever is called of them in whatever time they see.
Backcourt: This group was a problem last year, at it made their season go down the drain. They lose the best perimeter defender in the country and a decent scorer (Avery Bradley) and the limited Justin Mason, but they return everything else. Corey Joseph is the best PG they've had since D.J. Augustin left Texas, and while he's not very athletic, he's got nice quickness, has a jump shot that is cash (especially when open), and is a rather effective playmaker. I think Joseph will make the team better, and I expect 14 ppg and like 5 apg from him. His running mate will be the physically gifted and offensive talented Jordan Hamilton, a big 6'7 wing who loves to shoot the ball lol. He has a nice shot and he can play in transition, and he's also a better than advertised defender, but he has mediocre handles and he rarely passes the ball. He has the raw talent to develop into a starting SG/SF in the NBA, and at worst should be an instant offensive piece. Dogus Balbay, J'Covan Brown, Varez Ward, and Jai Lucas are the rest of the guards fighting for time. Balbay has nice quickness, likes to drive and dish, and is a pest on-ball in pressure D, but he can't shoot worth a damn and he's turnover prone. Brown is a talented scorer who has a nice shot and decent quickness, but he is a bit selfish and sometimes has a shaky attitude and basketball IQ. Ward is returning from a freak ACL injury (got hurt in warmups I believe), and he's a strong defender who likes to slash. He's not a great scorer, but he works hard. Jai Lucas is very fun to watch at his best, because he's so small (5'9/5'10 145/150) and so quick, and while he has that going for him, and he has a nice shot, he's not a PG, and Texas looked bad with him running the offense. Barnes may just need to play him off the ball and see if he can get on the floor that way. Corey Joseph is just the pure PG they need to return to the top 25, but if Hamilton has the year he's expected to (I expect 14 or 15 from him), then this group will have improved from last year.
Overview: To me, Rick Barnes is a below-average coach. No way should Texas be without a Final 4 for this long with all the talent they've had. He can recruit and he stockpiles everything you need to be successful, but Texas always comes up short. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of Barnes' coaching. Texas' season last year showed some reasons why too (he played a rotation that was too big for a college team, didn't make adjustments EVER, and the chemistry wasn't great by year's end). This year though, Texas will be led by a true PG (Joseph), a potential high-level scorer at this level (Hamilton), and a high-level energetic role-playing combo forward (Thompson). Still, I think Texas will be a 2-and-out team. lol
I do not think he is a bad coach Jorye. I think the best thing you can be as a college basketball coach is a good recruiter, and he has done that quite well. Texas always seems to be at the top of the Big 12 and he just continues to get recruits, but do you honestly feel like they have been Final 4 contenders year in and year out? I just always think they seem to be missing a piece, which I guess is as much Barnes fault as anything else. But he has not at all done a bad job as far as keeping Texas in the thick of things. He has at least made a Final 4, and I think people should know that it took John Wooden 15 years at UCLA before he made his first Final 4. All I know is that Texas should be ecstatic to be doing as well as they have. It always seems to me that Texas more than many other schools seems to develop some undersized grinders into solid players. Also, from seeing Tristan Thompson, if he is energetic this next year, than Rick Barnes will have done his job as a coach. The guy must be a motivator if you check his track record, a lot of very high energy tough basketball players during his reign as coach. He is not one of my personal favorites, but I do think he is a good coach, and his players must think highly of him as well, as Texas keeps getting great recruits.
they have talent to be top 10 but I just don't see the chemistry working out between guys like Joseph and Hamilton.
Did I just see a Rick Barnes - John Wooden comparison??
Are you trying to David Kahn me Chris Webber? Not even in the slightest did I compare the two. Get some new reading glasses man, you're scaring me. But, the point I was trying to make is that coaches in modern day college basketball get judged very harshly for not going to the Final Four, when it is incredibly difficult to do so. But, no, Barnes and Wooden are MILES apart. The only thing you can say is that Rick Barnes got Texas to a Final Four sooner than Wooden did at UCLA, but they are a good 10 championships apart.
Here are some reasons why I think Rick Barnes is a below-average coach, relative to the talent he's had:
1. In 2006-2007, they had arguably the best freshman in college basketball history (Kevin Durant), the most prolific 3-point shooter and rebounder in Big 12 history (A.J. Abrams & Damion James respectively), a 14 ppg and near 7 apg freshman PG (D.J. Augustin)....and what do they have to show for it?? They lost in the 2nd round of the tournament.
2. Last year, with their terrible PG play wearing down their season, they rode Dogus Balbay, Justin Mason and J'Covan Brown. All of those guys either suck (Mason), can't shoot and play wayyyy too wild (Balbay), or shoot too much and play wild (Brown). Why did they not let Avery Bradley play PG? He would've been limited by his lack of true playmaking ability, but even I know that if you simplify the playbook and make Bradley run basic pick and roll, or let him drive and dish. He would've been better than all 3 of those guys, and would've easily given them the best chance to win. It was clear Bradley could play off the ball relatively effectively, but he would've been more effective off the ball.
3. Why did he never make adjustments? Whenever a team threw a zone at him, or the other teams guards changed the pace of the game, Texas was going to lose the game at the end. I mean......you're job is to control pace when the inexperienced players can't. This was his most noticeably deficiency as a coach IMO.
Players want to go there, yes. But that has wayyyyy more to do with his charisma, recruiting skills etc etc than it does his actual coaching. Texas has the talent to go to the Elite 8 and Final 4 nearly every year. I believe Scott Drew, Frank Martin, Bill Self etc would make Rick Barnes' teams Elite 8 or Final 4 contenders every single year. I guarantee it
Texas does get some pretty good recruits. Unfortunately guys like Jordan Hamilton and Avery Bradley which most of us thought were going to take Texas to the next level just didn't deliver. Some of the blame goes to Rick Barnes and the some of it to the dissapointing recruits.
Rick Barnes isnt that bad of a coach he may not be a top coach like Coach K or Bill Self saying he lost in 2nd round of the NCAA tourney shows he is a bad coach is wrong then Bill Self is a bad coach for losing with the number one overall team in the 2nd round too, Also the point guard thing is true he should of put bradley at point guard but who knows how much better he would of been then the other guys. Coaches get too much blame when the players are the ones that have to go out and play the game
Texas has alot of talent but I think that depending on how ready Texas commits DeAndre Daniels, and Myck Kabongo are as Freshman, this team will make a serious National Title run next year. If they can lock up a recruitment from a solid C type guy like Amir Williams, or Norvel Poole (Ranked 43, and 44 by Rivals), and a nice 3, 4 combo scorer like Kyle witljer this team could be dangerous.
I see Joseph and Thompson getting late 1st Round, Early 2nd Round Draft Pick looks. I see Jordan Hamilton being progected around the 10th to 20th picks.If Texas could play there cards right this could be their lineupin 2011/12.
Sorta looks like the future Team Canada.
6TH Man-Kyle Wiltjer
Well maybe putting Williams in the starting lineup as a Freshman is a stretch, and for whatever reason I sorta believe Wiltjer will be playing in Gonzaga (don't ask why).
BTW Tristan Thompson is now a legit 6'10 235 pounds and his job this Summer was to prepare for becoming a true PF. He reminds me alot of Amir Johnson with more skill and abillity potential wise.
Daniels just decomitted
As great as Kevin Durant was his freshman year, a lot of it had to do with how bad their team was. For as talented as that freshman class became, and for the fact that they had three freshman make huge contributions, it was definitely out of necessity. Remember, Dexter Pittman and Connor Atchley were not anywhere near their current development. Damion James is a very solid rebounder, but it was Durant basically playing Center and averaging close to 112 boards a game, mainly defensively as he used his length to clog the middle. The reason for that? Texas had no Center they could play at the time! They were an inexperienced, undersized team, and Kevin Durant would at times play point Center (Do not tell me DJ Augustin brought the ball up all of the time, he still doesn't). This was out of necessity, and while they were very athletic with Durant and James, they were super undersized at the guard spots. That is why when they ran into the crazy athletic, taller guards of USC and legit big Taj Gibson, they got killed. I honestly did not know why Kevin Durant went to Texas, he killed it and he got lots of exposure, but it was not a team set up to win come tournament time. Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt were sick, and Taj was and still is a beast, not to mention they had players like Dwight Lewis and Daniel Hackett. Those are all NBA level players and big time athletes, who had major size/speed advantage over DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams. It is true that they lacked a solid PG last year, but I am fairly sure Avery also would not have been the answer. They were again an undersized team, and I think their was a definite reason that they did not just let Jordan Hamilton and Avery Bradley run wild. The biggest problem I see with Texas in Barnes history is that LaMarcus Aldridge seems to be the lone legitimate 4/5 prospect who combined size with being able to contribute right away. Without that, it is difficult to win. I just did not think they had a great team last year and were fairly overrated. This year at least they got some legit recruits with size, so I think this ranking is accurate.
i agree durant was very good but tht team as awhole wasnt that good. d.jones as a freshman was ok but he was nothing like he was as a sr. abrams and dj were retty good but pittman was a nonfactor and the rest of the big's werent really good. i think they got as far as they could have considering the young talent that they had
I don't. I think Bill Self, Frank Martin, Scott Drew (the best coaches in the Big 12) would've took them to at least the Elite 8. That's alot of talent, and they had a revolutionary talent on their team.
That also doesn't excuse them from the shaky job he did last year either. He make alot of simple mistakes that are inexcusable for a college coach at that level.
i agree that barnes isnt the best of coaches though. i used to think other wise untill i looked at his history
but i have a question for ya'll...wasnt jim boheim a overrated coach before winning the title with melo?..He's has MAJOR talent but had never won the big one ala Coach Cal