News has started to trickle out about the Texas Longhorns basketball team. Head Coach Rick Barnes held a press conference a handful of days back, providing general commentary about the state of his team. That was followed by the bright minds inside Bellmont deciding to hold a last-minute, impromptu open practice hours before the Iowa State football game. If Bellmont was shooting for an attendance figure on par with the ill-advised Texas-UCLA game inside cavernous Reliant Stadium, then well done.
1. If the season tipped off today, your starters would be: Isaiah Taylor, Demarcus Holland, Jonathan Holmes, Connor Lammert, and Cameron Ridley. ESPN's Jeff Goodman leaked the news that Lammert started over heralded freshman Myles Turner in the Texas-Davidson closed scrimmage. If true, I'm not surprised.
2. Lammert isn't redshirting. After Turner committed to Texas, some rabble-rousers posited that Barnes would put Lammert on the Connor Atchley/Jason Klotz redshirt school for bigs who can't post good path to success. Never mind that Lammert has been the first big off the bench each of his first two seasons, averaging 20 MPG. I expect similar minutes this year.
3. Turner is talented and raw. But we knew that already. I suspect Barnes is still trying to figure out how to best deploy Turner. To the extent that Turner can find a defined role in the offense and serve as a help defender and plus rebounder on defense, the more minutes he will get. Texas' best starting lineup includes Turner, given sufficient maturity along the experience curve.
4. Thanks to Todd Wright's witchcraft and wizardry, Jonathan Holmes is svelte. Holmes as a 3 is a matchup nightmare against lesser teams. Is Holmes slimmed down enough to ball-you-man speedier, athletic wings (think Kansas' Wayne Selden or Kelly Oubre) or provide enough coverage against 3-guard sets? We'll see.
5. Roster length equals substantial zone defense and the possibility of half-court trap sets. Barnes has never been a full-court pressure guy. Texas lacks requisite guard size and lanky, lengthy wings, so the arithmetic doesn't change.
6. Let's apply Peter Bean calculus to the frontcourt (3/4/5) positions. Ridley, Holmes, Lammert, and Turner will average 20-25 minutes a game. That leaves 20-40 minutes to split amongst Prince Ibeh, Jordan Barnett, and [insert third guard here]. Not a lot of PT to be had.
7. The backcourt picture is clearer. Taylor and Holland will start. Last year, the duo led the team in minutes played: 30.1 for Taylor and 29.6 for Holland. The same is the same. Barnes wants Taylor to score more. Interesting.
8. Do those minutes come at Javan Felix's expense? Unlikely. Felix is still the primary backup for both the 1/2 spots as either the primary ballhandler or scoring sparkplug. His minutes are dependent on how easily the starters get the ball through the hoop and how quickly Felix takes to becoming an efficient rather than voluminous scorer. It's also likely Felix plays crunch time minutes when Texas is behind.
9. 30 minutes each for Taylor and Holland plus 20 minutes for Felix leaves club trillion minutes for Kendal Yancy and Damarcus Croaker. What can Yancy and Croaker do to get PT? (A) All-conference D [a la Holland]. (B) Get buckets. (C) Play the 3 better than the backup alternatives.
10. Back of the envelope addition says Texas is working with a law of large numbers. With twelve capable scholarship ballers on the roster, playing time will be earned, not bestowed. I'm looking forward to seeing which guys rise to the challenge.