October 31, 2007

UT frontcourt has plenty of options

Basketball season is almost here with Texas slated to take the court Friday night at 7 p.m. in exhibition play against Xavier (LA). The Longhorns enter the season ranked No. 16 in the ESPN/Coaches poll after finishing 25-10 with a second round NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago. The Texas program will be attempting to continue the string of nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances as well as moving on after the loss of a Naismith and Wooden Award winner for the second time in five years.

Last year, the Texas Longhorns entered the season with a roster full of inexperienced players. While the newcomers were a talented group and Texas head coach Rick Barnes did a very good job of developing them quickly enough to turn in a 25-win season and third place finish in conference play for the eighth time in nine years, the talented group was very green and without the interior depth one is accustomed to seeing when watching a Texas basketball team under Barnes.

Much of the talk this year centers around the experienced Texas backcourt heading into the season, but the frontcourt will be the key to the Longhorns having the ability to reach their goals of winning a conference championship, making a 10th straight NCAA Tournament and make a run in the Big Dance.

Returning are junior Connor Atchley, sophomores Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Matt Hill, although Hill is still recovering from a foot/heel injury and his status for the season is unknown at this time. Joining the returning frontcourt players is a group of three talented freshmen in Gary Johnson, Alexis Wangmene and Clint Chapman.

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