October 9, 2006

Longhorns hoops - Questions to be answered

The Texas basketball program has won 20 or more games seven years in a row under the leadership of head coach Rick Barnes. Included in the 20-win seasons are a Final Four appearance, Elite Eight appearance, four Sweet 16 appearances and an NCAA Tournament record of 12-7. The youthful Longhorns will be looking to add to the impressive resume of the program Friday when practice begins.

The challenge this season for the Longhorns staff is taking a team basically from scratch and building it into an NCAA Tournament ready team by the end of conference play. The building process will start from the bottom and will be a work in progress in each and every game.

With seven new faces, all without Division I experience, the task is a tall order even for an established coach such as Barnes.

The toughest chore will include teaching the young Longhorns how to play defense as a unit. With seven players playing minutes as freshmen, the task will certainly have its ups and downs. As important as defense in the half court, transition defense will be just as important on a young team filled with offensive players.

Right along with defense is rebounding, which is an area of the game in which Barnes' teams have always excelled. In past seasons, Texas had multiple players that could rebound the ball on the interior, but the 2006 team will have to be more of a team rebounding unit. A lack of depth and experience in the frontcourt will force the guards into more of a rebounding role and will call upon each and every player to do his part.

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