Now that Avery is gone and now that both he and James have a shot to go in the lottery the 2009-10 season looks even worse. I argued a few times that the team would be better not focusing on trying to feed Pittman in the low post but in spacing the floor with a Hamilton-Johnson-James frontcourt for offense. That might have freed up Bradley to get better looks as well and made up for Mason's presence on offense.
Ultimately the trigger men for either strategy were poor and while the later season saw offensive improvement it was accompanied by defensive atrocity. They were, overall, a terrible team in the truest sense of the word. They just didn't play well together. I don't even really want to think about it any more.
As for the future; we will see the return of Ward (Barnes next Royal Ivey) and Shaun Williams (a better Sydmill Harris) back so that's a plus. GhostofBigRoy has a spotlight up for Cory Joseph that makes him sound like Russell Westbrook so there's that as well. The NBA is hunting for these Brandon Roy, Westbrook, George Hill combo guard types now so it's a great sign that Texas is able to attract these players and have a selling point for young talent as an NBA guard factory.
Bruce Feldman did a list on High Schools that are like assembly lines for specific positions into the NFL. Dallas Skyline is your Texas representative for the position of linebacker. Is it a coincidence that OU builds defenses around linebackers and have dominated the Skyline pipeline in the Stoops era? The answer, of course, is no. I'm not negating their coaching at the position but recruiting is no. 1 in college football and Dallas recruiting has been a major factor in pushing OU over the edge into elite status.
Dr. Saturday did a meager report on Texas and their prospects at being BCS quality. All of the big name losses on offense and defense are scaring most people away from Texas and creating a lot of "unless Gilbert is able to do x" type comments.
Quarterback, offensive line, and the secondary are where continuity is most important and at first glance Texas looks potentially shaky on all 3 having lost Ulatoski, Hall and Tanner and all their experience (it's sizable, don't totally discount it), McCoy, and the best playmaker in the secondary Earl Thomas.
I think there are reasons to believe that Texas can recover and be particularly strong in all 3 of those positions but from the outside it must be fairly unconvincing. Who are you going to believe though, me or the guy who refers to Ben Wells as a remaining regular?
Anyways, here's an unrelated article on cornerback play in quarters coverage. You might remember Texas playing quarters a ton in 06 and 07 as well as Chris Applewhite lambasting it. However, when you match it with corners who can make breaks on the ball and pattern-reading concepts it becomes an awesome tool as it affords both deep protection the possibility of safety support against the run or middle throws. Texas already runs it some and it has some strong possibilities with Scott and Vaccaro on the field and also for freeing up Aaron Williams to pursue his own activities if his receiver goes deep.
Pattern-reading and mixing coverages will continue to be useful with OSU adopting the Air Raid offense. They are too late to begin this transition now when the counter move is to stay with the power-running game that the rest of the league isn't recruiting to defend. Big 12 defenses, beyond already having plenty of experience against this style facing Tech, are being built to deal with the spread.
This is also after changing their defensive philosophy from coverage shifts and zone blitzes to playing base defense and making people beat them. If conference realignment doesn't finish off the Pokes then misguided strategy will as they will never beat Texas at that game.
Very often in the salary cap era the champion is determined by who draws the most favorable matchups.
The Celtics are a nightmare for everyone with their starting lineup and phenomenal team defense that is back at the 2008 championship level. The bench is weak but Rasheed Wallace can still guard a strong low-post player one-on-one which makes for one very strong asset for the team.
The kill shot from the Celtics is that the Big 3 are playing at a high level again but are now led by a D'artagnan in Rondo. All that talent packed into the starting five and supported by that defense makes for a team that no one should be excited to face.
The Magic are built like the Russell Celtics in that the best player doesn't require a lot of shots to do what he does best, which is anchor the defense and devour the backboards. It's a great value to a team to have a superstar that doesn't absorb all the attention and shots although Howard's 7 turnovers in game 1 sum up the kind of performance that will sink Orlando. Overall their frontcourt lacks offensive firepower right now and if Rashard Lewis isn't punishing the Celtics from the perimeter they aren't overcoming Boston.
The Suns are the most brilliant and efficient offense I've seen but the Lakers advantages inside looked insurmountable in game 1. Besides another 40 point Kobe game the Lakers got 10-13 shooting from Gasol, who was unmatchable for the Suns, and a 19-19-3 from Lamar Odom. When Lamar Odom looks like a superstar the Lakers are virtually unbeatable.
It's difficult now to forecast anything other than another Lakers-Celtics final and the way Boston is playing defense now I don't foresee a different outcome than in 2008 or 1984. Even numbered years go to the Celtics, it's science.