Friday, December 7, 2007

The Madness Has Already Begun

Last February, I was in Waco with my sister and my brother-in-law for the Texas-Baylor basketball. It was a frustrating game in so many respects: Kevin Durant's shot wasn't falling, Baylor was hanging tough with us when they were supposed to be sucking, and D.J. Augustine was playing like the inexperienced freshman point guard that he was. One minute he would steal a lazy, errant Baylor pass, and on the very same possession he played so beautifully, he would misread the defense, overthrow his teammate and watch the basketball sail into the stands.

The most difficult part was watching him make a spectacular drive to the hoop with eleven seconds to go, the Longhorns up by one point, 63-62. His shot missed, but he went to the line to shoot two. He missed the first. That unmistakable rumble happened. That rumble is a noise almost exclusive to the world of college basketball. I remember we made that noise in Austin as the Longhorns knocked out UConn in Austin back in 2001. It starts out almost whisper-like at first, "Hey, we have a chance?" it says haltingly. Then it dawns on everyone almost simultaneously in the building, that whisper building into a confident yell: "HEY! WE'VE GOT A CHANCE HERE!"

D.J. missed the second free throw. Baylor got the rebound, eleven seconds melting away, as they stormed down the court.


I was wearing burnt orange, but my face was alternating colors like a vomiting prism through nauseous sunlight. Five seconds remained, the Ferrell Center was losing is collective mind. I was on the verge of losing collective control of my bowels. The ball bounced into the hands of Baylor's Big White Stiff. He clanked it. The Longhorns won barely. I slinked off the Baylor campus and over to Cricket's to quaff a pint and check my pulse. I consciously realize that an 18-year-old kid running the point for the Longhorns shouldn't raise my blood pressure that much. But still, I turned to my sister and said, "I don't know who's going to kill me first: the Astros or D.J. Augustine."

I privately wonder if Longhorn great, now Toronto Raptor, T.J. Ford was silently dying too watching D.J run the point that he ran flawlessly for two magical years. Over the summer, he came back to Austin to help the sophomore run the point more efficiently. Not only did T.J. come back to help, but the entire team, minus Durant, came back. Last year, it seemed like the young squad, four freshman starters plus then-sophomore A.J. Abrams, just couldn't quite figure out what their roles were. Consequently, they spent most of the time waiting for Durant to do some something freakishly athletic or they just sat around and jacked three's for the entire game.

Now? What we're seeing is the emergence of a group of guys finally finding its identity minus the superstar. Forgive the cliche, but it's true. They really are playing like a team. Damion James has proven that he play inside the paint and bang bodies; A.J. Abrams has emerged as an elite college gunner; Clear Lake High School's own Connor Atchley added some muscle, and developed a three-point shot, and D.J. Augustine--the kid that was supposed to kill me--is now receiving some early-season run as National Player of the Year. I should add, well-deserved Player of the Year run as well, in light of the Longhorns rolling into Pauley Pavillion and beating #2UCLA 63-61.

It's still early, I freely admit that the season is still early. The non-conference schedule is still far from done, especially with Michigan State looming. The Big XII slate looks especially difficult in light of BOTH Kansas teams being tough, and an absolutely loaded South Division ready for conference. Yes, even Baylor is much improved. And there are still questions regarding the Longhorns if their shots aren't falling. How will they respond if A.J.'s not lighting it up from three? Can James sustain a season's worth of beatings down low?

Maybe it's still early to start talking Final Four, especially in light of all the questions. But watching D.J. play like T.J., I know this much: We've got a chance.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I've been gone for way too long...

Man, all this aggie talk is making me wonder what crazyness is going on in College Station right now... Lets go to the magical world of the aggies and visit with one of their prized alumni...

Check link or copy/paste this to your browser...

"Now, I'm just kinda like whatever with it," Nice. Now we know what they do in their spare time, protect, wash, and condition what any sane person would have plucked, and/or shaved at more than one-inch.

In other news, Lou Holtz continues to give the world a huge question sign above their foreheads with his ESPN Pep Talks, especially the New York Knick gem that just came out. My favorite comes from before, check it.

I can't believe this guy could capture every damn nuance of my favorite guy to make least sense on ESPN. Are we sure Lou Holtz isn't Sean Salisbury's real dad? Anyway, I haven't posted in a while since we're right in the middle of Finals at my school. So enjoy the laughs and I'll write something substantial after the 10th. Peas, DV.