Erwin Center

Texas put their offensive woes in the rearview mirror as they pummeled Lipscomb 106-61 Tuesday night at the Erwin Center.

“The fact is we moved the ball,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s what we haven’t been doing. Ball movement is hard to defend if you can throw the hard, crisp passes.”

After a lousy offensive performance by Texas Saturday against Texas State, the Longhorns came back with, arguably, their best. With sophomore guard Demarcus Holland running the point, the offense was smooth, crisp, quick and shooting the open shots with confidence—something that hasn’t been done since Isaiah Taylor went down a few weeks ago.

They recorded season highs in points, three point field goal percentage (53%) and assists (24), all while committing a season-low nine turnovers.

“[Coach Barnes] emphasized us not playing scared,” Holland said. “He emphasized that we need to trust the offense, trust the coach and just go out there and try. We don’t like to be scared. This program is built on toughness.”

Standout freshman Myles Turner led the way with a career-high 26 points to go along with nine boards and six blocks.  In the first half alone, Turner was on pace for a triple-double with 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocks before he rested most of the second half as Texas opened up a large lead.

It wasn’t just Turner, though, as the entire Texas team was rolling. Everyone on the roster scored—including the five walk-ons.

 “Anytime the whole entire team scores, it’s a great night,” Turner said. “It creates great vibes.”

Holland had nine points and a career-high eight assists. Kendal Yancy, in his second straight start, also set a career-high in assists with seven. Senior forward Jonathan Holmes added 17 points while freshman Jordan Barnett had his best game of his young career tallying 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from downtown (he was 1-of-12 coming into the game).

While the offense was clicking, the defense showed some vulnerability (not much, but some). The Longhorns, who pride themselves, on the defensive end, came into the game fifth in the nation, allowing just 50.9 points per contest. But Lipscomb was able to crack 60—the first team to hit that mark against Texas’ length this year.   

Just hours before tip-off, sophomore guard Damarcus Croaker announced he was transferring from the school and was given an unconditional release from his scholarship.

“Damarcus has been a great teammate,” Barnes said. “The role he plays is difficult. He wants to play. We didn’t want him to leave.”

 

Big Blue Madness was a sight to behold. Rupp Arena, home of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, was sold-out and bouncing: The players were introduced by smoke machines, there was a multilevel stage to heighten the moment, and Drake introduced head coach
John Calipari.

It was exciting and kicked-off the start of the basketball season, despite the first game being almost a month away. The intra-team scrimmage gave fans a first look at the preseason No. 1 team in a concert-like atmosphere. 

The day after Big Blue Madness, on Saturday afternoon, No. 10 Texas had its own way of showing off the team to fans: an open scrimmage. While Rupp Arena was sold out, the Frank Erwin Center was hardly able to make the front levels look crowded, as only about 300 fans rolled in to watch.

But there was still excitement in the air as fans got their first looks at the team and its prized freshman forward Myles Turner. Before resorting to situational drills, head coach Rick Barnes had his team run two 12-minute halves just like a real game. Although it was a small sample, it was our first look at the team and a few things stood out.

First things first, it was all about Turner.

All eyes are on Turner to see how he can help take this program to the next level, and on first impressions, he looks ready, especially on offense. He looked most comfortable at the high post, with a smooth catch-and-shoot from around the elbow. He did a good job of keeping the ball high consistently and opening up the offense. He also showed off some handles, driving from the top of the key to the rim to finish an “and-one.”

While he looked incredibly smooth on offense, there were some areas in which he clearly needs work. On the block, junior centers Cam Ridley and Prince Ibeh threw him around. Both centers had little trouble backing down the thinner Turner and getting the shot they wanted.

Turner also didn’t have the best of hands. Multiple times it seemed as though the ball would just bounce off them and result in a turnover.

But Texas fans should be excited for Turner. He proved he can play with Ridley and help spread the court. He was comfortable with the ball and the jump shot and, by season’s end, he should be the best player.

The other freshman, forward Jordan Barnett, looked a little out of place. The 6-foot-6 forward clearly isn’t as strong as he needs to be, but that will come with time. While he did have a few good spurts — hitting a corner three and getting a block at the end of one of the halves — he was unimpressive for the most part. Despite seeming to be in the right spots on defense, he was a bit lackadaisical and was caught ball-watching a bit too much. While he’s not ready yet, there is definitely a need on this team for the intangibles he has as a tall, quick and athletic forward.

While we got our first look at the freshmen, we also got to see the development of the returning players, most notably Ridley.

The center seems to be getting better and better each year, showing up at the scrimmage looking both stronger and slimmer. And when he was in, the offense worked its way around him. He dominated in the post and looks to be the primary option in this offense.

By the time the scrimmage was over, one thing was clear: This is one of the deepest teams Barnes has ever had. He has 11 guys he can use, as every position except point guard has significant depth.

For the first time since I’ve been a student at UT, there is excitement around the basketball team. And there should be. This team is legit.

Bags of cotton candy, circus hats and a circus uniform disappeared from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in one of two thefts last week at the Frank Erwin Center. 

According to Erwin Center director John Graham, UTPD reports numerous thefts at the Erwin Center each year. Graham said no particular special precautions are taken to prevent thefts at large events, such as the circus, despite the large number of people in attendance. 

The Ringling Bros. Circus performed at the center from Aug. 17-24. The circus comes several times a year to Austin and holds several different shows. 

Sunday, circus staff reported seeing a man trying to take a souvenir cup and a stuffed animal from some displays. The man also tried to take a camera from one of the tripods available for event photographs, according to UTPD records. Police stopped the man after seeing him try to return the stuffed animal without a sales receipt. The man’s stepdaughter then gave the police the items the man had stolen, including a bag of cotton candy. UTPD let him leave after the encounter.

Thursday, a staff member at the circus reported that another theft had occurred. This time a circus uniform, circus hats and bags of cotton candy were stolen. According to UTPD records, the staff member did not see the theft take place but told police the items were taken sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. UTPD officials placed the estimated loss value of the items around $65. 

Erin Burgy, regional communications director for the circus, said she did not have any information on why the hats and uniform were stolen or how often thefts typically occur at the circus.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The Frank Erwin Center has hosted stars ranging from Kevin Durant to Paul McCartney, but, after serving Austin as a major event hub for the past 37 years, the site’s future residents will tend to patients instead of sinking baskets or belting anthems.

The Erwin Center and the adjacent Denton A. Cooley Pavilion site on Red River Street, located across from the School of Nursing, will be relocated in the next 6-15 years to make room for the new Dell Medical School.

In May of last year, the UT System Board of Regents approved the building plans for the medical school, which will accept its first class in 2016. According to the Medical District Master Plan, a teaching hospital will sit on the lot currently occupied by the Erwin Center. The medical school construction project is projected to cost $334.5 million. 

Although the medical school is the reason the Erwin Center will be demolished, the 37-year-old center suffers from the natural deterioration associated with buildings its age, including leaks, according to building manager John Graham. Eleven years ago, the Erwin Center underwent a $55 million renovation to modernize the facility, which included the addition of 28 new suites and an electronic scoreboard. 

Aside from issues of old age, the Erwin Center also lacks key attributes that would keep it in line with modern facilities. The lack of surface parking and a single loading dock make it difficult to accommodate modern shows with extravagant sets and multiple 18-weelers worth of material. Erwin Center visitors may also experience heavy traffic because of its proximity to I-35. 

These issues factored heavily into the projections for relocation of the Erwin Center made in both the 2013 Campus Master Plan and the subsequent Dell Medical School Master Plan, according to architecture professor Lawrence Speck, who participated in both planning efforts.

“When a building gets to be that old, you have to invest a whole lot of money in upgrading it, or you have to think of replacing it,” Speck said. “Do you spend a whole lot of money — and it will [take] a whole lot of money — to bring it back up to high performance standards? Or do you think that money might be better invested in a new facility?”

The University has not conducted a study to estimate the cost of restoring the Erwin Center to a competitive level for modern events, but Rhonda Weldon, University Operations director of communication, said “millions would not be a surprising figure.” According to Weldon, there is “a rather large ballpark” for potential rehabilitation costs. 

Rumors abound concerning potential new locations, but the two most likely candidates at this point appear to be land owned by the University on the east side of I-35 and the Austin American-Statesman’s lot across from Lady Bird Lake, according to multiple reports including an article in the Statesman last week. 

Both sites come with their own share of problems. The land the University owns along Manor Road would have many of the same issues the Erwin Center currently experiences because of traffic on the highway’s feeder road. 

The Statesman and the Texas Department of Transportation currently occupy the lot on South Congress, and both entities would have to agree to sell the property. The lot does meet many of the school’s requirements for the space: It’s reasonably close to campus, near a vibrant downtown area and adjacent to I-35.

Texas men’s basketball head coach Rick Barnes, whose team plays its home games in the Erwin Center, said he looks forward to a new arena, which he thinks will boost fan attendance. Texas ranked 32nd nationally in home-game attendance in 2013 — averaging 10,495 fans a game, well below the arena’s capacity at 16,755.  

“I’m excited for the future of this program when we build a new [arena],” Barnes said. “We know a building this size should have half the size its surface parking. The minimum would be 5,000. We’ve got less than 500.”

Texas head men’s athletic director Steve Patterson declined to comment. 

Crowd noise is limited in the arena because of the distance between fans and the court. The fans are far away from the floor at the Erwin Center, which limits the crowd noise in the arena. Many of the loudest venues in college basketball, such as Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, have similar seating capacities as the Erwin Center but are smaller facilities, able to trap noise.

Some members of the basketball team say a new arena could be beneficial. 

“I’d like the fans to be closer, so they can be more into the game,” sophomore center Prince Ibeh said. “It’s more spaced out in the Erwin Center, and [the lack of noise] makes it tough to get into the game.”

But there are needs other than basketball to consider, according to Matthew Payne, Austin Sports Commission executive director. The Erwin Center has served community purposes for nearly four decades, hosting huge music acts, high school state championships and UT commencement ceremonies.

Payne says the community requires a dynamic multipurpose facility such as the Erwin Center to host large-scale events. Austin has hosted international and national events before, sporting and otherwise, and Payne said he hopes it remains that way. 

“I think it needs to be close to downtown,” Payne said. “It truly needs to be a community facility, along with taking care of the needs to the University. The Erwin Center has been a great facility for a long time, so I’m sure they’ll get it right.” 

Kansas center Jeff Withey (5) gets past Kansas State guard Shane Southwell to put up a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 22 in Manhattan, Kan.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Fresh off their first conference victory, the Longhorns head to Manhattan, Kansas to face the Kansas State Wildcats. Although Kansas State is ranked No. 18 in the latest Associated Press college basketball polls, the Longhorns seem to be catching them at the perfect time, as the Wildcats have lost two straight Big 12 games after winning their first four. However, K-State’s Fred Bramlage Coliseum, also known as “The Octagon of Doom,” is always a tough place for visiting teams. The Wildcats are returning to “The Octagon” for the first time since suffering their only home loss of the season, a 55-59 loss to Kansas, and will be looking to end their current losing streak and defend home court. Without a doubt, the big question in this matchup is how will this young Texas team, in search of its second straight Big 12 victory, handle the pressures of playing in a hostile environment? Here are some statistics that should paint a clear picture of what the Longhorns will be up against Wednesday night:

72: Points per game the Wildcats have scored on average in games played at home this season. This could spell trouble for the Longhorns, who are averaging just over 61 points per game in games played away from the Erwin Center. If Texas wants a chance to upset the Wildcats on their home court, it will need to hold them well below this scoring average.

64: The national rank in team rebounds per game for Kansas State, which averages just a shade under 38 a game. Texas has fared slightly better, ranking 30th in the nation with 39 per game. Although this appears to be an area of advantage for Texas, the Longhorns will be without their leading rebounder, sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes. Holmes, who is averaging 7.1 rebounds per game, is out for the next several weeks with a broken hand injury.

14.8: The number of home victories the Wildcats have averaged per year over the past five seasons, including a 71-62 win in 2010 over a Texas team ranked No. 1 at the time. Since head coach Frank Martin took over during the 2006 season, the Wildcats have won at least 15 homes games in all but two seasons.  

11: Home victories for the Wildcats this season. Kansas State has lost only one game at the Bramlage Coliseum so far this year, a four-point defeat to No. 2 Kansas. However, only one of those victories came against a ranked opponent, when the Wildcats defeated the No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys 73-67 earlier this month.

7: Total games Texas has played in “The Octagon” under head coach Rick Barnes. The Longhorns have performed fairly well in the coliseum’s hostile conditions, holding a respectable 3-4 record in those games. However, they have not won in Manhattan since 2008.

6: The number of road games left on the Longhorns’ schedule, including Wednesday’s game. Over the past five years, Texas has averaged just over seven victories a year away from the Erwin Center during the regular season. If they want to match that total, they will need to win the rest of their road games, starting Wednesday in “The Octagon.”

After a disappointing showing at the Maui Invitational, the Longhorns return to the Erwin Center on Tuesday night to face Sam Houston State.

Texas took down Mississippi State, 69-55, in the tournament’s seventh-place game Wednesday but it didn’t do much to ease the pain of losses to Chaminade, a Division II team, and Southern California the two previous days.

“We finally played somewhat as a team and somewhat hard but we still have a lot to get better at,” sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes said. “We definitely need to get tougher. We need to grow up and figure how to play a whole game.”

Texas is facing a Bearkats team that has not once beaten it during head coach Rick Barnes’ tenure. The Longhorns have won 36 straight games against non-conference teams at home. However, after falling to Chaminade, no contest may be the sure victory it appears to be.

The Longhorns have struggled without sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo and sophomore forward Jaylen Bond, who has a left foot injury that is not season-ending but will force him to miss a significant amount of time. Meanwhile, the NCAA’s investigation into whether Kabongo received impermissible benefits this offseason drags on, meaning he will miss his sixth straight game Tuesday.

“Our two leaders haven’t played,” Barnes said. “And they may not play for a while. So that can’t be an excuse. You’re talking about two of our best defensive players, our best rebounder. With that said, we’ve got to have other guys step up and fill the leadership role. It might not just be one person. Collectively, that’s got to happen.”

Texas is allowing opponents to shoot just 33 percent from the floor, the fifth-best mark in the country, and will be facing a Sam Houston State squad that is shooting only 36.9 percent from the floor, the nation’s 17th-worst mark. But the Longhorns will need to limit their turnovers. They’re committing 19.2 turnovers per game this year, the 14th most in the country. 

Printed on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 as: Horns back at home after terrible Maui trip

United States’ Mike Bryan, left, and doubles partner Bob Bryan celebrate after beating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Marcel Granollers 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 at the Davis Cup quarterfinal tennis match Saturday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

American tennis fans walked away Sunday afternoon disappointed that their nation lost the Davis Cup tie to Spain 3-1.
But thanks to Mike and Bob Bryan, they at least got their money’s worth.

The most successful doubles pair in U.S. Davis Cup history took the Erwin Center by storm Saturday afternoon, turning a match against Spain into the tennis equivalent of a rock concert.

A flying chest bump was the exclamation point of the Bryan Brothers’ 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Fernando Verdasco and Marcel Granollers in four sets, the lone win for the Americans this weekend.

The outcome of the match was never really in doubt — after all, Verdasco and Granollers had never even played a doubles match together — but the Bryans took a set to warm up.

“We were pretty jacked up,” said Mike.

Added older brother Bob: “With a best-of-three set match, you have a little more time to boogey-woogey. We had a lot of looks in the first.”

The match-up never favored Spain. With Feliciano Lopez scratching after a tiring Friday match against Mardy Fish, captain Albert Costa turned to Granollers, who was only on the team as Rafael Nadal’s replacement. And Verdasco, while an accomplished singles player, isn’t much of a doubles guy — ranked No. 398 in the world.

So they didn’t have a chance against the Bryans, identical twins who have spent much of their lives together. The first set went to Spain, and that was it. The combination of Bob’s serve and Mike’s return game proved devastating, and the two just got better as the match went on.

“We were pretty stingy on our serve,” Mike said. “We were pretty confident up the break. Had a couple of crazy, long volleys.”

The highlight of the match was a play in the final set in which the twins both went up for the same overhead attempt, only to crash racquets. The ball still got over the net, and the crowd went wild.

“I think Bob hit it,” Mike said. “But I crushed his racquet.”

Throughout the match, opposite sides of the Erwin Center engaged in pre- and post-point chants, the most common of which was a “Bob! Mike!” cheer, similar to UT basketball games when one part of the arena yells “Texas!” and the other responds “Fight!”

The win renewed hope and drew the U.S. closer to Spain, 2-1. After the match, Costa expressed concern that it was enough to change the tide of the weekend’s momentum.

“I’m not feeling like we are the favorites,” he said.

Of course, Spain’s David Ferrer shot down any hopes America had at a comeback with his four-set victory over Mardy Fish on Sunday, making the Bryans’ win on Saturday the only positive happening of the quarterfinals.

“We love [the] Davis Cup, it’s a huge part of our career,” Bob said. “Some of our best memories have come from Davis Cup.”

Printed on 07/11/2011 as: Bryans put on show for United States: Doubles pair gives crowd something to cheer about during frustrating week

Sports Briefly

The North American Super Welterweight Championship will be decided in Austin this summer, when No. 2 contender Fernando Guerrero faces Michael Medina at the Erwin Center.


ESPN announced the main event for its June 17 card on Tuesday. The cable network’s popular Friday Night Fights program returns to Austin for the first time since 2008.


“I will take all the titles I can get, but what I’m really after is that World Championship belt,” Guerrero said. “For me, this is a must win.”


Austin boxer Jesus Chavez, a former two-time world champion, will also be honored during the event. Chavez is the only world champion in the city’s history. He now works as a trainer in Dallas.


“I know this is supposed to be honoring me and my career,” Chavez said. “But the truth is, when they hand me the microphone, it will be me thanking the great fans of Austin for all their support over the years.”

Funding 40 Acres

Editor’s Note: This is the final installation in a four-part series examining the sources of UT’s funding. The University’s self-funding enterprises, research money and University land income make up approximately half the University’s $2.2 billion overall operating budget for fiscal year 2011, while less than half comes from tuition, state allocations and gifts. Auxiliary enterprises include Intercollegiate Athletics, the Division of Housing and Food Service and the Frank Erwin Center. UT budget director Mary Knight said the University’s auxiliaries, especially athletics, have increased consistently for the past five to 10 years. She said the other sources’ ties to the economy have made them less predictable over the same time period. Auxiliaries’ budgets, which are completely self-funded, have made up between 11 and 12 percent of the overall budget since 2000, while the budget has increased from $1.1 billion to $2.2 billion. Knight said while auxiliaries do not receive state money or tuition, they pay 3.25 percent of their income into the University’s academic budget. She said this fee pays for human resources, budget staff and other services University offices provide for the auxiliaries. “We also retain the interest they have on their accounts, which amounts to between 5 and 6 percent total,” Knight said. “Athletics pays that, too.” John Graham, associate athletics director for the Erwin Center, said the center’s income comes mostly from ticket sales, concessions and advertisements within the facility. He said any surplus revenues from year to year stay within the center as reserves for down years or fund infrastructure improvements. He said these surpluses fund work to improve energy usage currently under way on the center. Graham said the separation of funding allows auxiliaries to serve the University’s nonacademic needs. University Lands, which is within the UT System and is located in Midland, manages the leases of 2.1 million acres of Texas land, called the Permanent University Fund, designated to help fund UT and Texas A&M. A nonprofit investment firm created by the UT System invests income from leases. Two-thirds of the investment income, called the Available University Fund, goes to the UT System and the other third goes to the A&M System. For 2011, UT Austin received $166 million from the fund. This makes up just more than 7.5 percent of the overall budget. Stephen Hartmann, executive director of University Lands, said all of the University Lands are leased for at least one purpose. He said while oil and gas leases generate the most money, thousands of miles of easements for gas and fiber-optic lines, agricultural spaces, wind farms, businesses including gas stations and hotels and a winery that produces the Sainte Genevieve and Peregrine Hill wine labels are all on University Lands. “We subscribe to a multiple-use policy,” Hartmann said. “That’s what we do; we try to make a nickel however we can.” He said the office has recently seen interest in alternative energy projects other than wind, including several solar projects and biofuel production. He said these alternative lease uses can ensure the land remains profitable for the University. “We know oil and gas are depletable resources,” Hartmann said. “We try to be good stewards because we know the land is always going to be there.”

Horns slip past with Thompson, Hamilton scoring 17 each

After hitting the first of two free throws with 24 seconds to play, Gary Johnson stepped off the line, raised his hand into the air flashed a “Hook ‘Em” sign to the sellout crowd at the Erwin Center — the Bears weren’t coming back to upset No. 3 Texas on Saturday.

He hit his second free throw, giving the Longhorns (22-3, 10-0 Big 12) a seven-point edge, and Cory Joseph added two more 11 seconds later to deliver them a 69-60 victory.

“We are proud of the way we are playing, but we can improve,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We have to stay focused on our game.”

The Longhorns led by as many as 19 but Baylor (16-8, 6-5) played its way back into the game, getting within three late.

But Texas outrebounded and outshot the Bears to win its 10th consecutive game. It helped that the Longhorns took a whopping 37 free throws to Baylor’s eight.

“Texas was dominant,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson each scored 17 for Texas while Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn led all scorers with 26.