With word circulating across the web this evening that Texas Longhorns sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo will be suspended by the NCAA for the remainder of the 2012 college basketball season, there’s a large-scale assumption that Rick Barnes‘ squad is done for without his services.
Not so fast.
In this evening’s 85-67 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, true freshman point guard Javan Felix– who has filled in for Kabongo in his absence– played as well as he has all season, showing the promise which preceded him and has turned into big minutes much faster than expected.
Beyond Felix, the Texas bench is light and guys like DeMarcus Holland and even Julien Lewis will at times be required to handle the ball from the point more often that anyone would have expected them to prior to the 2012 season, but as they say, so it goes.
Apart from the point guard play, Texas saw some performances from players this evening against a struggling North Carolina team that suggests a solid finish in Big 12 play and another trip to March Madness next spring is well within reach.
Ioannis Papapetrou, Johnathan Holmes and Connor Lammert all showed some grit in the interior which bodes well for the paint presence Rick Barnes’ squad will have deeper into conference play when it will matter most.
This Texas team, as a unit, is learning how to play hard, something which surprisingly enough isn’t always an attribute of Division I teams, especially one as young as the Longhorns. Defensive intensity, effort, and energy can’t be taught– they are behaviors which are developed as young players learn what it takes to be successful on a high-level night in and night out.
Don’t get me wrong, here, however, missing out on the services of an NBA-caliber point guard like Myck Kabongo isn’t something to be taken lightly and will have an impact, but the impact it has will be much less substantial than we are being led to believe.
Let’s not dig the Longhorns’ grave just yet because another one-and-done player will no longer be wearing the Burnt Orange and White.
It’s not like they haven’t been in that situation before.
Myck Kabongo will do just fine on his own.
The NBA paychecks are right around the corner, and the next Longhorn one-and-done will fill his shoes in due time..
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page. Kris the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.