Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NCAA: Goodbye Austin, Hello Lottery

By Dustin Hockensmith

Texas basketball fans, I hope you're enjoying Kevin Durant's stay in Austin because he won't be there for long. To put it in Longhorn terms, he'll be off to greener pastures after this season, and you'll be up the dry creek bed without a dune buggy. He's heading to the NBA, and he'll be darn good when he gets there.

His talent counterpart can be seen just across the state in Houston, where Tracy McGrady is helping the Rockets win. Another way it has been put to me is 'halfway between Rudy Gay and Kevin Garnett', which again is probably too flattering, but you get the idea. The kid can play.

He is listed as a guard/forward in the Texas media guide, so it becomes apparent early how he prefers to play. He likes to work on the perimeter, but can get into the lane and hit from mid and long range

Combinations for Texas could include him anywhere from the 2 to the 5, so he'll be asked to do a lot on both ends of the floor, which is convenient because he can do a lot on both ends. He is blocking shots, rebounding, shooting the 3 and getting to the free throw line. If he continues to do all of those things, you can forget Big 12 Rookie of the Year and call him the conference Player of the Year.

Gay had this kind of all-around game at Connecticut for two seasons, but shared the spotlight and the ball with a multitude of NBA draft picks. Durant has all the freedom he could desire in the Texas offense, and to go a step further, he'll be strongly encouraged to carry the load. So far, 20 points a night has been automatic and it will probably stay that way even through the Longhorns' Big 12 Conference schedule.

This may or may not be going out on a limb, but Durant WILL be a Top 10 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and WILL successfully take his all-around game to the big stage.

Other Coaches vs. Cancer Thoughts
Maryland has talent, depth and chemistry and has recently gotten impressive wins over St. John's, Michigan State and Winthrop. Active bigs James Gist and Ekene Ibekwe complement lockdown defender D.J. Strawberry, scorer Mike Jones and the impressive Eric Hayes at the point. An experienced lineup that can get points from any player on any given night makes Maryland an intriguing team in the Atlantic Coast Conference … St. John's got blown out by Maryland in the tournament semifinals, but bounced back nicely and had a shot to beat No. 18 Texas in the final seconds on Friday night. Junior Avery Patterson has led a revamped offense with 19 three-pointers in four games, and sophomore Anthony Mason Jr. is doing a little bit of everything and asking for the ball in key situations.

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