Thursday, February 22, 2007

Starting 5 Putting Horns in 'Power 16'

The Texas basketball team seems to be picking up its play at the most important time of the year. But how long can the Horns survive on the legs of five starters who have rarely had the luxury of resting on the bench this season? (Though some might argue their legs are getting plenty of rest on the defensive end of the court)

Texas' starters (Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, Damion James, Justin Mason and AJ Abrams) are averaging nearly 32 minutes a game, with only 8 minutes coming from the likes of Conner Atchley and Dexter Pittman. Now, no one at ‘Drinking the Forty’ is calling for Rick Barnes’ head if Harrison Smith and Ian Mooney don’t start seeing significant playing time, but UT’s players are going to need some rest down the stretch if they hope to have the energy to make a lengthy post season run.

Despite the extra minutes, Texas is becoming a more legitimate pick, rather than just a sexy one, for tournament success. You might even say that this young team has morphed from an Anna Kournikova into quite the Maria Sharapova over the course of the season. ESPN’s latest 'Power 16' now even has the team poised as a potential 4 seed going into March.

There’s no doubt that Durant and his teammates have the star power and talent to shoot for Carmelo Anthony-like run in the Tourney. However, it’s worth worrying that the Horns just aren’t going to survive without the bench improving upon its contribution of barely over 10 points a night. But, at this point it seems more likely that Barnes is going to pass up Nike as the nation’s leading over-user of child labor for basketball purposes.

So who’s the answer? Is it Connor Atchley? (I will wait for you to climb back into your chairs.) JD Lewis? (Who may or may not still be on the team.) Or Dexter Pittman? (Apparently there is no truth to the rumor that he will be the next to appear with Jared arguing the finer points of “More meat vs. Less fat.”)

It’s likely that there will be no one who steps up and takes over the roll of the “go to” 6th man. So, sorry fellas. Looks like you starters are on your own the rest of the way. Now, I’m not suggesting that all starters take time off from classes to rest up for the Big Dance. But I hear Sydmill Harris is proficient in several foreign languages and Brian Boddicker may just have some old term papers from Intro to American History. Just thought I should mention it.

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