Fans of the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball team need to keep one thing in mind this season: Patience is a virtue.
This year, the Longhorns currently rank 314th out of 314 NCAA teams in terms of youth. With seven freshmen, five sophomores, no juniors, and two senior reserves on the roster, Texas is officially the youngest team in college basketball. Nevertheless, there is reason for their fans to have hope for the future.
Since the season began, this young Horns team has had their share of disappointment this season, including their loss to the Division II Chaminade Silver Swords and the season-long absence of star point guard Myck Kabongo, whom the NCAA has suspended until the final month of the season.
However, the Longhorns have shown some positive things as well. For one, they’ve shown vast signs of improvement over the last couple of months and shown signs of promise along the way. They played the UCLA Bruins very well (in fact, they had them beaten and gave it away in the end), they defeated the storied North Carolina Tar Heels, and gave the Michigan State Spartans a run for their money on their home court. Despite their youth, their overtime road loss to the Baylor Bears this weekend to open Big XII play proved that they have a chance to do well in conference play this season as well.
To be fair, at this point no one should believe that they will compete for the Big XII title this year, and it will be a struggle for them to even make the NCAA tournament in March. Nevertheless, this team is going to be exciting to watch as they gain experience and grow up this season.
What should give fans the most hope, however, is that for the first time in a long time, they may have a chance to watch this team grow together over the next several seasons. The nucleus of the squad is composed of guys who won’t jump to the NBA after just one season.
In the last several years, the Horns hoops team has been the victim of costly early departures: T.J Ford, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Tristan Thompson, and Jordan Hamilton. While any Texas fan will tell you that they wouldn’t have traded those guys for anything, it has been a bit frustrating to watch the team suffer year after year, having to rebuild entirely each time. There hasn’t been a chance for the team to gel beyond one season. Until now.
While the current group of guys may not be one-and-dones, they certainly have some talent and with each game they play and the more experience they gain, they are only going to get better. Add to that the fact that they are still in excellent shape to land the nation’s No. 2 recruit in Julius Randle.
Sure, it may be a long year for the Longhorns, and they may indeed miss out on the Big Dance for the first time since the ’97-98 season; regardless, Texas fans have lots of reasons to be excited about this young team. The future certainly looks bright if fans can just find a way to be patient.