Column: Texas fans should expect more excitement, wins around basketball program

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Texas athletics sent out a full-blast email to students Wednesday asking them for a favor.

The email, with the subject line of “Burnt Orange Blowout,” asked students and faculty to wear burnt orange all day Friday in preparation for the Texas men’s basketball home opener against North Dakota State. While it is a common request for schools to ask students to dress up, it is far from a common request in Austin.

For the past few season, the Longhorns have struggled to gain any passion or support behind their basketball program. After getting knocked out in the third round of the NCAA tournament in 2011, Texas had trouble filling the burnt orange seats of the Frank Erwin Center.

However, Wednesday’s email represents a change in Texas basketball. It shows there is once again excitement surrounding the program, and, for the first time in years, the student body is excited for head coach Rick Barnes’ team.

After last season, when the Longhorns won their first NCAA tournament game since 2011, students started gaining interest again. And when Texas signed Myles Turner, ESPN’s No. 2 recruit, a real shift began.

Now, the Longhorns sit No. 10 in the preseason rankings and are predicted to be a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

However, the real excitement this season for Texas fans will be Turner, the 6-foot-11 freshman from Bedford, Texas, who has been compared to former Longhorn star Kevin Durant.

He is known for his elite shot blocking, in addition to his ability to make shots from the perimeter. With a team returning all of its starting players from last season, Turner is expected to do big things on the court.

Furthermore, with the addition of Turner and the return of starters such as junior center Cameron Ridley and senior forward Jonathan Holmes, Texas fans should expect more wins this season. Last season, the Longhorns built a team that was able to work together, and, instead of having individual superstars, each player produced points and added to each game.

And, as Texas players mentioned during media days this season, over the last few months, Texas has created a chemistry with its new players that should easily transfer to the court.

Although the Frank Erwin Center was mostly empty burnt orange seats in previous years, expect more excitement and anticipation surrounding Texas this season.