The Texas Longhorns are 8-1. That's 1 loss less than my other rooting interest team, the Kentucky Wildcats. And two losses less than that all-knowing, all-seeing,
scum of the universe Big 12 power, the Kansas Jayhawks. AND MACK BROWN IS OUT too? We live in strange times.
I have a theory. This year's Texas team represents a less talented version of the squad Rick Barnes really wanted to coach two years ago. Think it over. OK, now come back.
A sophomore Tristan Thompson would have anchored the middle, performing at a higher level than the positive output Cameron Ridley has exhibited thus far. In Prince Ibeh's place, seniors Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene would have served as the offensive and defensive minutes bought as backups to Thompson.
A freshman Jonathan Holmes could have slid in at power forward, taking over Gary Johnson's starting gig. If Holmes hadn't been ready at the beginning of the season, Wangmene likely would have drawn starting minutes. Obviously, Holmes as a junior is light years better, but as a fifth option, a freshman Holmes would have filled the part just fine.
Instead of a team-high 33.6 minutes to Demarcus Holland, sophomore Cory Joseph would have started in a three-guard set. Joseph would have been the team's defensive stopper, and he could actually hit his 3's. I'm not counting on Jordan Hamilton returning for his junior year: two looked like more than enough for him.
We saw Javan Felix's "J'Onions!" shot as the undersized sparkplug and scoring threat at the 2. Imagine a bigger, smarter, more talented, and more experienced J'Covan Brown manning that position as a junior. With both Joseph and Brown starting on the perimeter, top 75 freshman guards Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis move farther down the bench. Like this year's top 150 freshmen, Damarcus Croaker and Kendal Yancy, their production would have been gravy instead of necessity.
We've already annointed Isaiah Taylor as a freshman wunderkind around the Burnt Orange blogosphere. Just imagine if a freshman Myck Kabongo had gotten to play with his childhood teammates Joseph and Thompson. Motivation is a powerful drug.
What could have been.
All Things Burnt Orange:
Texas Longhorns 81, Temple Owls 80 (Sat) | Weekly Record 1-0 | Overall Record 8-1
J'ONIONS!, part deux? Laissez les bons temps rouler! (In other words, great game. Hope you didn't miss it.)
Big 12 Power Rankings:
Time for the power rankings, FUN FACT EDITION.
1. Iowa St. Cyclones (7-0)
Still the last remaining undefeated team in the Big 12. I'm a big fan of Melvin "DGAF" Ejim. According to his Iowa St. bio, his last name is pronouned EDGE-um, making him the third most famous "Edge" after the guitarist and the wrestler.
2. Baylor Bears (7-1)
Really solid come-from-behind victory against Kentucky in Jerryworld, in what looked like a de facto road game despite being in Arlington. The Barkers' own Jonathan Tjarks has a nice write-up on RealGM about the frontcourt battle in that game, but I was more shocked about how juco transfer Kenny Chery flat-out abused Andrew Harrison in the second half. Chery, by the way, is Canadian. Remember that when he beats out Kabongo and Joseph for the backup point guard role on the 2018 Winter Olympics national team.
3. Oklahoma St. Cowboys (8-1)
The Cowboys get leapfrogged by Baylor, but I still like OK St. better in the long-run. The return of backup point guard Stevie Clark is a plus. Stevie, by the way, is the older brother of 4* football recruit Deondre Clark. Younger brother may be leaning towards decommitting from LSU to attend Oklahoma. That could be a fun rivalry at Christmas.
4. Oklahoma Sooners (8-1)
Backup guard Je'Lon Hornbeak just suffered a broken foot that will knock him out of action for 4-6 weeks. Hornbeak played high school ball at Flower Mound Marcus with Cowboys Marcus Smart and Phil Forte, along with New Mexico backup forward Nick Banyard. That was a L-O-A-D-E-D team that knocked off the Harrison twins en route to winning the Class 5A finals.
5. Texas Longhorns (7-1)
Javan Felix's name is an anagram for "javelin fax," which I'm pretty sure is what he did as he Lamar'ed the
alpha betas Temple Owls.
6. Kansas Jayhawks (6-3)
A bit of a free-fall here for Kansas, which just lost back-to-back road games at Colorado and Florida. Freshman enigma Joel Embiid started his first game of the season against the Gators, scoring 6 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 30 minutes. He could be the number one pick in the draft, which might just be a good reason why David Stern was so adamant about a minimum age limit.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-3)
The Red Raiders haven't played since December 3, which is very curious since studying for finals is very clearly an optional task in Lubbock. Connor Lammert's older brother, Clark Lammert, is a walkon at Texas Tech. Now a junior, he's played 207 career minutes. Connor, one year younger, has scored 216 points in his career. There needs to be a spread on this, stat.
9. Kansas St. Wildcats (6-3)
10. TCU Horned Frogs (5-3)
Not in the basement! Thanks, one game winning streak! TCU has a backup guard named Clyde Smith III. I was curious to see if Clyde Smith II was famous. He is not. That is all.
10. West Virginia Mountaineers (6-4)
You have the most losses in the league, you get the basement. West Virginia had mounted a good stand against Gonzaga before it let Bulldog star Kevin Pangos go buckwild from distance late in the second half. Juwan Staten still leads the league in assists with 6.3 APG. He apparently calls Bob Huggins "Coach Huggs." I love it.