Right now, it feels like the Texas Longhorns are limping into the NCAA Tournament. After battling for first or second place in the very competitive Big 12 for most of conference play, Texas has just a 7 seed and a 50-50 shot at winning one NCAA Tournament game to show for it.
I'm here to remind you: it could be far, far worse.
Eleven months ago, Texas lost in the first round. In the CBI.
Five months ago, Texas Longhorns basketball was a dumpster fire.
Four months ago, a young Texas team could barely squeak by teams like Mercer and Stephen F. Austin (who, hey, turned out to be pretty good teams!) and lost a tight one to a good BYU Cougars team. Here we go again, you probably said.
Here's how the AP write-up started: "Texas coach Rick Barnes had told his players they would have to do something unexpected if they wanted to get more respect." Well, Texas did something, all right.
You should remember Jonathan Holmes battling cramps to get back on the court, en route to a 15-and-10 double-double. You should remember Isaiah Taylor turning in another promising performance, leading the way with 16 points, en route to an all-conference rookie year.
You should remember Demarcus Holland following up a missed free throw with a money putback to provide the margin of victory. You should remember Javan Felix shaking off a poor start to drop the hammer and swish the nets late in the ballgame.
You should remember Prince Ibeh buying valuable minutes when Cameron Ridley was saddled with foul trouble early. You should Ridley's big body slam in the second half (seriously, watching him throw down the orange is blunt force poetry in motion).
You should remember Connor Lammert's 10 boards in 15 minutes of play. Demarcus Croaker's 5 points. Kendal Yancy's 5 rebounds.
Most of all, you should remember this game as the moment you began to believe. This Texas Longhorns team is a young team. A young team, but a very good team. It's a team that exhibits resilience, a team that battles, a team that works together, a team that bonds. It's a team that has been really fun to watch all year. And win or lose on Thursday, it's been a fun, fun ride.