Rick Barnes is rebuilding his army in a typically impressive fashion targeting a 6'11" face-up big man from UTEP who PB at BON notes is just the right fit for the Texas high screen offense.
Barnes, or at least his players, frequently like to compare the Texas offense to the Phoenix Suns which revolves around heavy use of the high screen with Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire that frees up Nash to dribble in the paint and find layups and particularly open 3 pt. shots. They also use the high screen with any pairing of mismatches they find on the court with their small-ball lineups that punish slower bigger defenders trying to guard slashers and perimeter shooting bigs.
The best Texas lineup, as we can see from previous seasons of success from either Texas or Phoenix, would be built like this:
PG: Tremendously skilled offensive player who can dribble anywhere on the court, find teammates, and shoot 3's or punish teams off the screen. TJ Ford is the best PG Barnes has had but DJ Augustin was a perfect match for the system with his ability to score from more places on the court.
Future prospects: Joseph? Myck Kabongo.
SG/SF: The most important thing here is shooting. To afford the right spacing and punish teams that are often larger and unadept at defending multiple perimeter threats these guys have to be good shooters. 3 pt shooting then, and then some length and defensive abilities (Texas needs one perimeter stopper who can defend the most dangerous opposing creator) should characterize these guys.
Beyond that having another slasher/creator from this pair who can take over when the PG needs rest as well as some turnover creating ability would be beneficial at this spot. While the PG can be tiny like Augustin, the wings should not both be sub 6-3 and be vulnerable to teams with both size and athleticism. Hamilton and Bradley are two of the better examples that Barnes has had for these spots.
Future prospects: Jordan Hamilton, Shawn Williams, Varez Ward.
PF/C: Damion James is an ideal PF for this offense. He can finish at the rim against slower bigs, hit open 3s and jump shots, and still give fantastic rebounding on the other end. If you don't have your primary high screen partner in the pick'n'roll at Power Forward then obviously you want him at center. If you do, another screener who can play pick'n'pop and be your defensive rebounder and shot blocker. Connor Atchley is a good example.
Future prospects: Tristan Thompson...maybe this new guy Arnett Moultrie if Barnes nabs him. Johnson isn't really a strong fit although he's still clearly useful. Chapman with a huge leap in screening, consistent shooting, and defense.
All in all if you prioritize the right traits, namely 3 pt. shooting at most positions, it shouldn't be hard to build an offensive juggernaut with this system so long as you find that crucial piece at the point guard/wizard position. No one else on the team needs to be a superstar save perhaps for his primary high screen partner. Finding that point guard has been somewhat difficult but those guys are out there in strong enough numbers to continue featuring this offense. Especially since Texas can offer them one of the better situations in college basketball.
It may seem like I'm just explaining the reasoning behind the popular opinion "Barnes can't win without a great point guard" because I am, but if you can get other guys on the team creating shots off the screen for their teammates that can work just as well, which I think this team can do through a combination of a decent point guard plus Hamilton.
NateHeupel has a retort to the drafted OU players ripping the program in which he throws Trent Williams under the bus, understandably easy after an 8-5 season, and makes some interesting comments about Strength and Conditioning at Texas.
His argument basically goes,
1. No one improves in S&C at Texas cause Jeff Madden sucks
2. Brian Orakpo improved by a great deal
3. Thus, Brian Orakpo used steroids and Jeff Madden sucks.
Compelling reasoning. As bad a deal as Jeff Madden gets we do see some significant physical development from willing players. Lamarr Houston built himself into an All-conference level DT after playing, what, runningback in high school? McCoy obviously is another example.
A look at the starting lineup from last year reveals a large number of guys who improved a lot under the Texas S&C program. McCoy, Shipley, Charlie Tanner, Houston, little Earl, etc. John Chiles is a strong example of what the S&C program looks like.
As a quarterback floundering behind McCoy he put on a lot of questionable weight and lost the speed that made him a prospect. Now, as a more dedicated and focused receiver he's finishing blocks in practice and slimmed down back to the size where he poses a danger. The Texas program is very solid for guys who give a crap and are willing to devote themselves to improvement. It's not an as elite a program as you might hope for from a program of Texas' caliber but it's clearly not the worst in the country either.
Which team wore down in the 2008 and 2009 contests again?
I love the big international futbol tournaments but I couldn't tell you what the different positions in a soccer game are primarily responsible beyond a very superficial level, much less what Team USA should be looking for to match their personnel to their style. However, this guy probably could and he's not excited about the 30 man roster.
Charlie Davis is out, because he hadn't recovered as hoped, and the result is another Team USA without a ton of firepower. That might be remedied through team-oriented system offense but I've been led to understand that the USA style is isolation/individual matchup heavy which already makes scoring seem like a lost cause against international teams that should match up very well with US soccer players.
When he left, Bruce Arena cursed the team to not finish better than they had seen with him and I'm not sure that changes in this tournament. Hopefully they can at least escape group play and make some kind of showing against England.
Shia Lebouf is promising a better product from the Transformers series in round 3. Evidently they will get back to the "relationships" that the first movie was built around. Judging from that and his other comments you can read that Michael Bay is going to kill several humans on screen before panning to Shia turning away in emotion as the newest Linkin Park song blares a message of hopeless frustration.
In another words, potentially a worse movie even than we saw from "Revenge of the Fallen." Michael Bay is the Creed to James Cameron's overdone but drastically better Pearl Jam. A few popular hits but nothing with staying power like Aliens, Terminator 2/Ten, Vitalogy.
The Zande yum yums beat the empire building Jaguars in the latest Deadliest Warrior. I would have guessed that the Atlatl, which allowed Inuits to bring down woolly mammoths with pointed sticks, would have been a deadlier long range weapon. Roman Centurion vs. Rajput is the fight I'm interested in although I'm suspicious of how successful the Roman will be. The Legions were superior to their opponents mostly as a unit, having smaller units and commands that allowed for flexibility and maneuvering.
This also depends on which Rajput they choose as that title applied even to Indian troops that were recruited and trained by the British and used muskets. I'm betting anyone with a firearm destroys a Legionnaire.