In anticipation for Shaka Smart’s second season on the 40 acres, HornSports college basketball writer Chris Flanagan will go in-depth on the Texas men’s basketball team and on the college basketball season as a whole.
To get things started, Chris will recap last season on the 40 Acres and which players were lost.
2015-16 Season record: 20-13 (11-7 Big 12)
*How last season ended
A Northern Iowa buzzer beater ended the chance of a Texas-Texas A&M rematch in the second round. It was a shot that will live in infamy for years to come.
*Biggest Win: February 27th: Oklahoma
After losing to the Sooners on a Buddy Hield 3-pointer with 1.3 second to go in Norman, the Longhorns sought revenge against their hated rivals. It was a back and forth affair but when the Sooners held a 58-51 point advantage, the Longhorns reeled off a 25-5 run to win 76-63.
*Disappointing loss: February 29th: Kansas
On leap day, the Longhorns decided that they didn’t need to show up against Kansas. Two days after the epic win over Oklahoma, top-ranked Kansas came into Austin and put on a clinic that likely secured the overall #1 seed with a 30 point blowout. Texas didn’t score their first point until Kansas already had 15. It was one of the worst losses in Texas basketball history. Sure, the Northern Iowa loss was heartbreaking and the TCU loss was infuriating, but it was disappointing to see the Longhorns lay an egg after a huge win against a very good Oklahoma team. Texas simply wasn’t ready for prime-time.
*Players Texas Lost
*The most difficult piece to replace: Isaiah Taylor
Isaiah was the go-to guy for the Texas basketball team for 3 seasons. If you needed a play, he would be the player you gave the ball to. For reasons we may not fully understand, Isaiah Taylor decided to forgo his senior season and declare for the NBA draft despite all mock drafts having him being undrafted.
While there is hope that Kerwin Roach or another player can step up and be the “go-to” guy, it will still be an adjustment without Isaiah Taylor manning the point for the Longhorns.
*The “what could have been?” player: Cameron Ridley
Cameron Ridley will likely be the first to tell you that he was happy with his career at the University of Texas, as he should be. However, this is about what he could have been for the Texas Longhorns during conference play. He missed 20 games and was averaging a double-double before his injury. He could have become one of the greatest bigs to ever play at UT, instead he had a very good career.
While these were mostly Rick Barnes’ players, it was still a tremendous benefit to have 5 seniors and an All-Big 12 junior on the team. Now, the biggest issue is going to be overcoming the lack of experienced depth for the Texas Longhorns. There will be talent that Shaka Smart recruits/wants on his basketball team, but what remains to be seen is if it will be enough to compete for championships.
Texas begins the 2016-17 season on November 2nd against Angelo State