Madison Square Garden

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The moment you step inside Madison Square Garden for the first time, you get it.

Nestled in the heart of New York City, the place is unlike any other. There’s an undeniable buzz that engulfs the arena regardless of who is playing between its walls.

From Michael Jordan to Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali to George Harrison, the greatest performers always seemed to save their best acts for the Garden. There’s a reason they call it “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

And on Thursday and Friday nights, under the brightest lights in America’s most iconic city, the Longhorns made themselves right at home and proved they deserve their preseason billing as one of the nation’s top teams.

After a shaky opening in the first game, No. 10 Texas dominated for three halves to clinch the 2K Classic championship — its first November neutral-site tournament title since 2009.

Aside from their early issues Thursday, the Longhorns thrashed Iowa and California. It wasn’t exactly the “Murderers’ Row” of opponents, but each is a quality,
power-conference team nonetheless. Iowa is projected to be one of the better teams in the Big Ten, and California easily brushed No. 23 Syracuse aside Thursday night.

All offseason, Texas fans heard how good the Longhorns would be this year, and now there is tangible evidence. Texas’ two blowout wins in Austin against North Dakota State and Alcorn State to open the season showed little. But in their trip to New York, the Longhorns passed their first major test of the season and proved they’re a step above three of college basketball’s better teams.

Syracuse played in what were essentially two home games in front of the New York City crowd. Iowa, too, had a significant fan base in the stands for each of its games.

But in the arena in which the great Billy Joel continues to hold concerts each month, it was the Longhorns that had a “New York State of Mind,” leaving teams buzzing about Texas’ size and depth.

“I don’t know if there is any other front line in college that can match that,” California senior forward David Kravish said of the Texas big men.

Perhaps most significant was that Texas managed to win the tournament even without its best player, sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor, on the court for the title game. Taylor went down with a wrist injury Thursday, but junior guard Javan Felix filled in admirably with 9 points and four assists in 35 minutes to keep the offense rolling.

This is the Longhorns’ first season start with four consecutive victories of more than 10 points since the 2009-10 season. That season, Texas began the year 17-0 before slumping to a final record of 24-10 and losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But the Longhorns have far higher aspirations this year.

The legendary Frank Sinatra summed up New York best with his lyric, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

The Longhorns made it there. Now, it’s time to see whether Sinatra was right about everywhere else.

Brad Pitt wears leather pants at the Moscow International Film Festival screening of "World War Z."

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Kanye West walks on stage during a sold-out benefit concert at Madison Square Garden for victims of Hurricane Sandy — not wearing a suit or any typical runaway attire that we all know he can afford. No, he is wearing a leather shirt matched with skintight leather pants.

One of these two articles of clothing has taken off, even being seen on street-wear nuts in New York City. Leather skirts were cool for about a month, with A$AP Rocky and Kid Cudi following West’s lead, but it looks like those skinny leather pants are here to stay for a while.

Leather pants aren’t just a thing for rockers in the ‘80s and motorcycle gang members. During the NBA All-Star Weekend Dwyane Wade and Lebron James both wore matching leather pants on the floor — which also proves it’s not something exclusively for the hip-hop game. Brad Pitt even busted out a pair of the glorious leather pants for a “World War Z” premiere in Moscow.

OK, let’s look at this trend for a second. Leather pants first and foremost are very hot, temperature-wise. Now this might be great for someone on the East Coast, but here in Austin it’s just a bit silly. There are alternatives for the same look, such as waxed denim, which gives the same look as leather pants without the sweat. Also, unless you’re riding a motorcycle, you’re going to bring a lot of attention to yourself, so the look is not for the shy or reserved.

Still, that is precisely the reason why the look is so popular on the red carpet. It is almost impossible for any celebrity to wear leather pants without at least a brief article written about it in paparazzi magazines. This can be good (Scott Disick has been compared to Kanye in terms of style when he’s wearing leather pants) or bad (just think about Rick Ross in huge red leather pants for a second).

The biggest winner of trend is French luxury clothing boutique Givenchy. Although they do not make every single pair of skinny leather pants, they are the go-to brand of some of these stars. There are plenty of hip-hop lines about Givenchy, which started right around the leather pants revival. Does this mean that Givenchy could become the new Gucci as the bravado brand of choice for rappers? A keyword search for “Givenchy” on RapGenius.com gives 92 songs as a result. Givenchy has their leather pants (and probably Kanye) to thank for.

            

Sheldon McClellan shoots over Greg Whittington during the second half of Georgetown’s win over Texas.  McClellan led the Longhorns with 12 points.
 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Many great games have been played in Madison Square Garden in its storied past. But Texas turned in a flat performance Tuesday night that likely won’t be remembered as anything besides its value as another learning experience for the youthful Longhorns.

Georgetown dominated in the 64-41 win, snapping Texas’ three-game win streak and further cementing the notion that the Longhorns are going to struggle without suspended point guard Myck Kabongo on the court.

“I am really disappointed in the lack of will and that we did not continue to fight,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “We talked over and over about turning the ball over. The way we turned it over and the decisions we continue to make and the fact that we do not do what we practice. Georgetown did not do one thing tonight that we weren’t expecting and I don’t understand.”

Kabongo did not travel with the team, a decision the NCAA made Monday after previously allowing Kabongo to travel to Hawaii for a tournament last month. Texas officials have stated that the NCAA has yet to notify the team of any progress, or lack thereof, in the investigation surrounding a summer training session Kabongo participated in during the off-season.

Jaylen Bond also sat out his fifth straight game after re-aggravating a foot injury against Chaminade in the Maui Classic.

The Hoyas led by as many as 17 points in the first half, as Otto Porter scored eight of his game-high 14 points in the first period. The Hoyas’ deliberate offensive style, made effective by crisp team passing, allowed players to find open areas near the basket all game and led them to 41 percent shooting from the field.

Entering the game, Texas had led the nation in field goal percentage defense, but Georgetown overpowered the Longhorns on the boards and converted baskets around the rim. The Longhorns had a bit of success slowing down the Hoyas by switching to a zone defense, but any momentum Texas had entering halftime had dissipated once the second half started.

“We don’t have the winning attitude as a group yet that you need to have,” Barnes said. “We are better than how we are playing. Obviously I am going to hold myself responsible for that. I know how hard we are working, but you come to a point in time where they are the ones that are going to have to execute it.”

Sheldon McClellan led the Longhorns in scoring once again with 12 points, and the only other player to score double figures for Texas was Cameron Ridley with 11. The Longhorns’ starting five of Ridley, Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes, Demarcus Holland and Julien Lewis accounted for 17 of the team’s 21 turnovers and Texas shot its lowest percentage from the field since 1996 (28.6). The Longhorns’ 41 points were also the lowest during Rick Barnes’ 15 years at Texas.

Printed on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 as: Shooting thwarts Texas during loss

This file photo from 2006 shows Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (11), of China, scoring against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter on an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

When the Houston Rockets used the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft on a tall man from China named Yao Ming, I forced my mom to drive me home in the middle of whatever errands we were running so I wouldn’t miss the seven-footer walk across the Madison Square Garden floor.

I was 12 at the time and my favorite player was Steve Francis. Many of the draft reports leading up to Yao’s selection pinned him as the missing piece that Francis needed to bring Houston a championship.

The generation before mine had its wonder years. Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Cassell and Kenny Smith were their adolescent heroes, but to me they were relics of an older game that I couldn’t attach myself to.

But this team was my team. The team that I pretended to be a part of when I was on the driveway alone. I’d pass the ball to all of the Rockets from Francis to Cuttino Mobley to Yao (myself to myself to myself), and score the game-winning dunk. And Yao was the face of it all.

I was 15 when Yao went 13 for 14 from the field against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2005 playoffs. My Dad and I were watching the game on a television outside, and the game ran later and later into the night. My mom frequently came out to scold both of us for caring so much about something so trivial.

“Sameer, it is a Monday night!” she yelled from the back door. “Get to sleep, you have school in the morning.”

My dad and I responded with a halfhearted, “Okay, mom,” never peeling our eyes from the screen to be sure not to miss a moment of Yao’s heroic 33-point performance. We later sang that silly ode to Yao that mimicked the famous “Ole” chant. You know the one.

“Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming! Yao Ming! Yao Ming!”

Houston later lost the series, as was the case throughout most of Yao’s career, and then the injuries began to pile on.

Still, you don’t think superheroes have the capability of going down for the count. I always assumed he’d come back and dominate like he did when I was still a wide-eyed fanatic.

Yao’s superhero moment was in 2009. My first year of college was coming to an end, and the world was significantly scarier than it had been when I was a kid. I stuffed what was the entirety of my freshman 15 in wings down the gullet at Pluckers and watched the Rockets take on the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs — the first and only time Yao had advanced past the first round.

With about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Yao bumped knees with Kobe Bryant and it was another “here-we-go-again moment.” He writhed in pain as the trainers walked him through the tunnel to end his night. I was fed up with him.

Yao was fed up with it all, too. In one of those “where-amazing-happens” instances, I watched Yao stretch in the tunnel, fend off the trainers begging him not to risk further injury and march back into the hostile Staples Center to finish the game. The Rockets won.

That is the last real memory I have of him as a player, but I prefer it that way.

You only get one childhood and a handful of childhood heroes, and after 10 or so years they are gone. Then there are new bunches of stars and heroes for 12-year-old boys and girls to help raise them, to help serve as that microcosmic reminder that everyone gets older, and that everyone has ups and downs. The only problem is you often don’t recognize it until it is too late.

Much has been written in the past few days of Yao’s global impact, and some have even talked about him being a disappointment. But to me, Yao Ming serves as reminder of all that is good at the core of sports, as well as a reminder that getting older is not a bad thing as long as you take it in stride.

In 2010, when asked about his injury issues, Yao laughed.

“I haven’t died,” he said. “Right now I’m drinking a beer and eating fried chicken. What were you expecting, a funeral?”

A friend of mine once said it is alright to be nostalgic without wanting to go back and relive it all, but I can’t quite immediately accept that. But with perspective like Yao’s, I’m working on it. 

Texas scored on its first four possessions early in overtime to go up eight and gain a lead that they would not let go in beating No. 16 Illinois 90-84 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Two baskets from Texas’ leading scorer Jordan Hamilton and defensive stops led by Dogus Balbay propelled the Longhorns in overtime to a big early season win.

Led by Hamilton’s 25 points and freshman Tristan Thompson’s 20, the Longhorns did not falter after letting a nine-point second-half lead slip.

After scoring the first nine points in the second half, the Longhorns were unable to hit a field goal during a seven-minute stretch late in regulation. The drought was snapped with Cory Joseph making a shot from the left elbow with 24 seconds remaining in regulation to give Texas a two-point lead.

Illinois quickly responded with an inside basket from freshman Jereme Richmond, which forced the overtime period after Joseph was unable to make the last second attempt.

The Illini were able to creep back into the game with the Longhorns making only 25 of 44 free throw attempts.
The game, which ended in a hard-fought free throw-filled battle, started as a high scoring slugfest.

The scoring barrage started for Texas with Hamilton contributing for 11 of the Longhorns’ first 13 points.

Hamilton both attacked the basket and converted from behind the three-point line to rack up 15 first-half points off of six for eight shooting.

While Hamilton began the game hot, Thompson was the one who stole the show to close the first half.

Thompson, who received the first start of his young career, got his first two points of the game by taking the ball from the top of the key and around a defender to the basket for a dunk as the shot clock ran down.

All 12 of the freshman’s first-half points came within the 10-minute mark as he continued to post up against the taller Illini defenders and find a way to score.

Behind Hamilton and Thompson, the Longhorns were up eight points, but the Illini answered with seven three-pointers to tie the game entering the break.

In addition to Thompson’s 20 points, he racked up nine rebounds, three assists, six blocks and two steals.

With the win, the Longhorns advance to play fourth-ranked Pittsburgh tonight in the finals of the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Texas scored on its first four possessions early in overtime to go up eight and gain a lead that they would not let go in beating No. 16 Illinois 90-84 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Two baskets from Texas’ leading scorer Jordan Hamilton and defensive stops led by Dogus Balbay propelled the Longhorns in overtime to a big early season win.

Led by Hamilton’s 25 points and freshman Tristan Thompson’s 20, the Longhorns did not falter after letting a nine-point second-half lead slip.

After scoring the first nine points in the second half, the Longhorns were unable to hit a field goal during a seven-minute stretch late in regulation. The drought was snapped with Cory Joseph making a shot from the left elbow with 24 seconds remaining in regulation to give Texas a two-point lead.

Illinois quickly responded with an inside basket from freshman Jereme Richmond, which forced the overtime period after Joseph was unable to make the last second attempt.

The Illini were able to creep back into the game with the Longhorns making only 25 of 44 free throw attempts.
The game, which ended in a hard-fought free throw-filled battle, started as a high scoring slugfest.

The scoring barrage started for Texas with Hamilton contributing for 11 of the Longhorns’ first 13 points.

Hamilton both attacked the basket and converted from behind the three-point line to rack up 15 first-half points off of six for eight shooting.

While Hamilton began the game hot, Thompson was the one who stole the show to close the first half.

Thompson, who received the first start of his young career, got his first two points of the game by taking the ball from the top of the key and around a defender to the basket for a dunk as the shot clock ran down.

All 12 of the freshman’s first-half points came within the 10-minute mark as he continued to post up against the taller Illini defenders and find a way to score.

Behind Hamilton and Thompson, the Longhorns were up eight points, but the Illini answered with seven three-pointers to tie the game entering the break.

In addition to Thompson’s 20 points, he racked up nine rebounds, three assists, six blocks and two steals.

With the win, the Longhorns advance to play fourth-ranked Pittsburgh tonight in the finals of the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Texas scored on its first four possessions early in overtime to go up eight and gain a lead that they would not let go in beating No. 16 Illinois 90-84 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Two baskets from Texas’ leading scorer Jordan Hamilton and defensive stops led by Dogus Balbay propelled the Longhorns in overtime to a big early season win.

Led by Hamilton’s 25 points and freshman Tristan Thompson’s 20, the Longhorns did not falter after letting a nine-point second-half lead slip.

After scoring the first nine points in the second half, the Longhorns were unable to hit a field goal during a seven-minute stretch late in regulation. The drought was snapped with Cory Joseph making a shot from the left elbow with 24 seconds remaining in regulation to give Texas a two-point lead.

Illinois quickly responded with an inside basket from freshman Jereme Richmond, which forced the overtime period after Joseph was unable to make the last second attempt.

The Illini were able to creep back into the game with the Longhorns making only 25 of 44 free throw attempts.
The game, which ended in a hard-fought free throw-filled battle, started as a high scoring slugfest.

The scoring barrage started for Texas with Hamilton contributing for 11 of the Longhorns’ first 13 points.

Hamilton both attacked the basket and converted from behind the three-point line to rack up 15 first-half points off of six for eight shooting.

While Hamilton began the game hot, Thompson was the one who stole the show to close the first half.

Thompson, who received the first start of his young career, got his first two points of the game by taking the ball from the top of the key and around a defender to the basket for a dunk as the shot clock ran down.

All 12 of the freshman’s first-half points came within the 10-minute mark as he continued to post up against the taller Illini defenders and find a way to score.

Behind Hamilton and Thompson, the Longhorns were up eight points, but the Illini answered with seven three-pointers to tie the game entering the break.

In addition to Thompson’s 20 points, he racked up nine rebounds, three assists, six blocks and two steals.

With the win, the Longhorns advance to play fourth-ranked Pittsburgh tonight in the finals of the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.