North Carolina

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Sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run in Texas’ blowout victory over Ohio University on Friday.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The first day of play in North Carolina was cancelled because of weather, but storm clouds couldn’t stop the big bats in Texas’ lineup.

The Longhorns (15–8) collected 30 hits and scored 19 runs through three games at the Carolina Classic, and overall went 2–1 on the weekend.

Texas used 12 hits and three three-run home runs to defeat Ohio University early Friday, 11–0. Sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning notched one of the long balls — her first of the season — and went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Junior catcher Erin Shireman also hit a home run and went 3-for-3 with a career-high five RBIs. Sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis hit the other
home run.

On Friday afternoon, the Longhorns dropped a late game to North Carolina, 8–3, despite outhitting the Tarheels.

Texas had eight hits in the game, led by sophomore left fielder Stephanie Wong, who went 2-for-3, and sophomore first baseman Kelli Hanzel, who also went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

But the Longhorns pitchers walked three batters and hit two, allowing North Carolina to come out victorious. Freshman pitcher Erica Wright took the loss, giving up three earned runs on four hits over two innings of work.

Five runs on 10 hits powered the Longhorns to a 5–0 victory over Charlotte on Saturday morning. The Texas offense was led by Davis, who had two RBIs, and juniors Lindsey Stephens and Stephanie Ceo, who both went 2-for-3 with a combined three runs.

Wright was the highlight of Saturday’s win, tallying a career-high 11 strikeouts with just two hits allowed over six innings of work. Wright gave up four walks in the game, but she was able to adjust and keep baserunners from crossing the plate.

The small downside to Wright’s strong line exemplifies the inconsistency the Texas pitching staff has struggled with throughout the five tournaments to open its season. The staff has a collective 2.82 earned run average and has granted 83 runs in 23 games.

The Longhorns will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, this weekend for a three-game set with the Razorbacks. Only five games separate Texas from its first Big 12 series against Kansas at the end of the month.

Freshman pitcher Erica Wright leads the Longhorns’ pitching staff with a 5–3 record and 1.54 ERA.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

In its fifth and final tournament before the conference season begins, Texas (13–7) will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to compete in the Carolina Classic. 

Although the team was originally scheduled to start the tournament against North Carolina on Thursday, the Longhorns never took the field because of inclement weather.

As a team, the Longhorns are coming off a 4–0 performance in the Texas Invitational. Their success comes from a combination of offense and defense. Texas’ leadoff batters, known for setting the tone early, reach the bases over 40 percent of the time — while from the circle, freshman Erica Wright has pitched up to her hype with a 5–3 record, three solo shutouts, six complete games and an impressive 1.54 ERA.

Texas, ranked No. 25 last week, dropped out of the rankings this week. 

With three games remaining in the tournament, weather permitting, the Longhorns face Ohio at 11 a.m. Friday.

So far, the Bobcats (4–9) have struggled to find a consistent positive rhythm — the team is currently on a five-game losing streak, though select Ohio players have stepped up to the plate. Junior outfielder Sloan Walker, who has played in all 13 games this season, has displayed a stellar batting performance, hitting .404 with nine runs on the season. Although she’s only played in four games so far, freshman outfielder Michaela Dorsey records a team-best .429 batting average for the Bobcats. Three other players join Sloan and Walker in hitting over .300 for the team. 

The last and only meeting between the Longhorns and the Bobcats, five years ago, ended in an 11–5 Longhorns’ victory. In the remaining two games of the tournament, Texas will play North Carolina on Friday and Charlotte on Saturday.

North Carolina (11–4) started the season on a positive note, and the Tar Heels’ freshmen do the most work to carry the team. Freshman infielder Taylor Wike is batting .432 with four doubles and two triples and freshman pitcher Kaylee Carlson maintains a 2.58 ERA with a 6–2 record and 37 strikeouts. Junior outfielder Aquilla Mateen also hits .429 and has started in all of the team’s games this year. The Longhorns last played the Tar Heels in 2014, defeating them 7–3.

Texas will meet Charlotte for the first time in program history Saturday. Charlotte (8–6) is 2–2 on a neutral site this year and provides a balanced batting lineup. Four players hit over .300, and the 49ers have outscored their opponents 73–41. 

Men's Tennis

Following a grueling three-match weekend at the ITA Indoor National Championships in Chicago, Illinois, No. 10 Texas will head back to Austin on Friday to face No. 8 North Carolina at the Weller Indoor Tennis Center. Both the Longhorns and Tar Heels participated in last weekend’s ITA National Indoor Championships, where the Longhorns went 2–1, including wins in their last two matches, and the Tar Heels went 1–2, losing their last two matches. 

Friday’s match will feature a battle of the brothers, as North Carolina’s Esben Hess-Olesen is coming to Austin. Esben is the twin brother of Longhorn’s senior Søren Hess-Olsen and will be facing Søren’s teammates for the fourth year in a row. The two players will not be playing each other directly this year — as was the case in 2013 when Esben bested Søren in a three-set victory — but both players will be integral in getting their teams back on track following the last weekend’s tournament. 

Beginning with Friday’s contest against North Carolina, the Longhorns will have a seven-match home stand spanning over a month before they head on the road to face Oklahoma State on March 27.

—Michael Shapiro

Track and Field

Head coach Mario Sategna will send his distance runners to Notre Dame’s campus this weekend for the Alex Wilson Invitational. The rest of the group will take the weekend to rest and then gear up for the Big 12 Indoor Championships next weekend in Iowa.

The only group headed to South Bend, Indiana, this week is the distance medley relay runners, who will represent the Longhorns in the Invitational. Typically, the Alex Wilson Invitational records many of the qualifying times for the NCAA Championships. Texas’ team of sophomores Chris Irvin and Robert Uhr, junior Brady Turnbull and senior Craig Lutz will look to solidify a spot at the championship meet in mid-March. The medley, currently ranked 16th in the country, must place inside the top 12 to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

The Longhorns enter the week as the No. 5 men’s team in the country and the No. 4 women’s team.

—Bradley Maddox

Texas head coach Rick Barnes coaches freshman forward Myles Turner. Barnes earned his 600th Divison I victory Wednesday after the Longhorns beat TCU.
Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

For the past few weeks, head coach Rick Barnes has faced questions about his job security. 

His team, which many picked to unseat Kansas as the Big 12 champion, has struggled mightily on offense and finds themselves near the bottom of the conference. But Wednesday, after defeating TCU to earn his 600th Division I victory, Barnes was all smiles. 

Instead of asking questions about what’s wrong with Texas’ offense or whether the expectations for Myles Turner are too high, all anybody wanted to know was how Barnes felt after reaching a milestone — one only 30 other coaches have reached.

But he didn’t want to talk about himself.

“I’m not just saying this, but winning the game tonight was more important than that,” Barnes said after the game. “Because I still have a lot of faith and confidence in this group of guys, and they deserve it.”

Then he went on to mention everybody else that helped him. He praised the athletic directors he worked with. He praised his players. He praised his coaching staff — even going on a bit of rant about watching the children of Todd Wright, his assistant of 21 years, grow up.

“I truly love what I do,” Barnes said. “But the best part really has always been the relationships and the interaction every day with people you enjoy being with.”

Growing up in Hickory, North Carolina, Barnes wasn’t a big-time player. He stayed in his hometown, playing at small-time Lenoir-Rhyne College before transitioning into coaching. At 33-years-old, he became a head coach at George Mason.

“Obviously, I’ve been fortunate and blessed,” Barnes said. “I became a head coach at a very young age, and I’ve worked for great institutions.”

Barnes has seen and done a lot in his career. He watched as future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan slipped right through his grasp at Providence, as the school’s president wouldn’t let Barnes sign the big man from the Virgin Islands without a scholarship open, despite the fact two of his players were in the process of transferring. 

He confronted the late, legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith face-to-face in the ACC tournament about Clemson’s hard, physical play — an 
interaction that still draws the ire of North Carolina fans.

He then guided two Longhorns, T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant, to National Player of the Year honors while taking Texas to 15 NCAA tournaments in 16 years.

Nearly everyone around him likes playing for him. If his players ever want to talk, he is available. He spent hours on the phone with Ford. Recently, he has mentioned long late-night conversations with senior forward Jonathan Holmes and freshman Myles Turner.

“He treats us like we were men,” said junior center Cam Ridley. “[He] talks to us about more than basketball; talks to us about life.”

“He teaches us how to grow up and be men — helps us grow both on and off the court,” junior guard Javan Felix added.

But while the regular season wins keep piling up, the big ones still elude him. He’s 20–20 in the NCAA tournament, making just one Final Four appearance in 2003. He’s won just one post-season conference tournament championship at Providence in 1994.

For him, 600 isn’t a goal, but a part of the path. And Tuesday night, that path leads him to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on the No. 17 Sooners to start a brutal stretch of five straight games against ranked opponents. 

OKLAHOMA CITY–The most overused cliché in sports is the David vs. Goliath story, where the underdog team finds a way to win against a team they weren’t supposed to beat.

It’s a feel good, Cinderella story that almost everyone roots for—everyone that is, except for the team that is looking to win and advance.

Headed into its national semifinal match, Texas finds itself in this very situation facing a BYU team that almost no one outside of Provo, Utah, would have picked to make it this far.

“We’re ready to play,” senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. We’re just ready to battle.”

While Texas spent the entire season ranked inside the top ten in the AVCA coach’s poll, BYU fluttered in and out of the top ten. Despite finishing the year with a 25-4 record, the Cougars ended up 17th in the RPI and had to travel for the first and second rounds.

Along the way to the Final Four, BYU sprung upset after upset, taking down No. 11 Arizona, No. 6 Florida State and capping it all off with a dominant 3-0 sweep of No. 14 Nebraska in the Seattle Region final on Saturday.

“Now, we're just in a position that these kids, there's some sort of confirmation of their hard work in terms of they're the ones that put out this goal,” said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead. “To be able to actually see a plan in place in life and here it is and here's what we've got to do to get there, I mean, that's pretty darn remarkable.”

On the other hand, Texas breezed through its first three matches of the tournament, including wins over Arizona State and No. 15 Colorado State while not dropping a single set; however, the Longhorns met a formidable opponent in North Carolina in the Minneapolis Region final.

After taking the first set, the Longhorns struggled against the Tar Heels as North Carolina rolled off point after point en route to a 25-18 set win to take all of the momentum into intermission. But Texas rolled out in the second half of the match taking the third set and then surviving a marathon fourth set to advance to its third-straight Final Four.

Eckerman, who was triple-block most of that night by the Tar Heels, said that there are a number of things they can take from that match over to their semifinal meeting with BYU, especially not underestimating any team.

“North Carolina played amazing against us and challenged us,” Eckerman said. “It showed that when we are challenged, in the fourth set especially, if we look each other in the eyes and know we can do this, then we can come out and win.”

But BYU isn’t planning on backing down now that they’ve made it this far and they’re not necessarily taking on that underdog role.

“Honestly I haven't thought too much about it,” Olmstead said. “These kids haven't worried too much about that either.”

The Cougars bread and butter this season has been their block. BYU led the country with 441 total blocks and 3.87 blocks per set and posted 12 blocks in the win over Nebraska. Up front the Cougars are led by a trio of blockers in sophomores Whitney Young and Amy Boswell and senior Jennifer Hamson who each have 1.35 blocks per set or more this season.

But Eckerman said that North Carolina trying to block her with three people has helped her prepare for BYU’s block.

“It showed on the last kill I got that I had to take different swings,” Eckerman said. “That’s the thing about being an outside hitter is that you have to manage.”

Hamson has also been great for the Cougars on the attack as well, posting 3.75 kills per set, including nine against Nebraska. Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said that they have to make sure they contain her.

“She can play at a very high above the net,” Elliott said. “She can pretty much go over us if she's in rhythm and able to score. And when she's on fire, she's one of the best players in the country.”

If Texas were to win the semifinal match, a difficult match in the championship would await with Stanford and Penn State squaring off in the other semifinal Thursday night.

Stanford comes into its semifinal match after being the top team in the coach’s poll since Sept. 8, the first poll after they defeated Penn State on Sept. 5 in a five-set thriller. The Cardinal come with the second-highest hitting percentage of the four teams remaining at .316 and junior setter Madi Bugg leads the nation with 12.11 assists per set.

“We had a great match with them and one of our goals certainly this year is to be one of the teams that works to get better every week,” Dunning said.

Penn State comes in looking to score a championship in the home area of senior setter Micha Hancock, who’s from Edmond, Oklahoma. Hancock, who leads the fifth-seeded Nittany Lions 11.53 assists per set and leads the country with 1.03 aces per set, said she was initially excited to play the Final Four in her home state, though it has come with distractions.

“When I found out it was here I was like, no way, it’s my senior year and there’s nothing more to get back here to have a chance to compete for the championship,” Hancock said. “It’s one game at a time for me and my team to see what we can do.”

But the task at hand for the Longhorns is to beat an unseeded BYU team. In each of the last two trips to the Final Four, Texas is 1-1 against unseeded teams in the national semifinal—beating Michigan 3-2 in 2012 and losing 3-1 to Wisconsin last year. And with the goal seeming to always be to get to the Final Four, Elliott said they’re ready to get another shot at winning it all.

“We've got another great opportunity in front of us with BYU,” Elliott said. “And hopefully we can make our university proud by the way we fight and get out there and compete.”

Until this point, the road for the Longhorns in the postseason had been relatively easy. Texas survived a slow start against Northwestern State, then easily dispatched Arizona State and No. 15 Colorado State to get to the Minneapolis Region final.

But against North Carolina, the Longhorns had to dig deep.

Texas bounced back after a rough second set, which North Carolina lead from start to finish, and then survived a tenacious Tar Heel attack in the fourth set to take the match 3-1 and advance to the national semifinals for the third-straight year.

After both teams traded points to start the match, the Longhorns finally broke free with a 3-0 run to take an early 5-2 lead. North Carolina would fight back numerous times to close the gap to 6-7 and then later to 15-17, but Texas would follow with a 4-0 run to take a 21-15 lead and close out the 25-21 set win with two kills from senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman.

The second set, however, would be one that the Longhorns would rather forget.

The Tar Heels came out on fire, taking a quick 5-0 lead, which included back-to-back service aces by junior outside hitter Leigh Andrew, and set the tone for how the set would be played. Texas would manage to pull back to within a point three times, but North Carolina held off those runs and then went on runs of 5-1 and 6-1 to level the match with a 25-18 set win.

After the 10-minute intermission break, the Longhorns came back out more composed, taking an early 6-3 lead. The Tar Heels continued to battle back, answering every Texas run with a run of their own. However, with a 21-20 lead, Texas finished off the set with a 4-0 run, including two Tar Heels hitting errors to take a 2-1 match advantage.

But it would be the fourth set that would be the most competitive set.

Texas grabbed a quick 7-4 lead only to see North Carolina take over a few points later with an 11-10 lead. The Longhorns then responded with a 5-0 run with Eckerman at the line to take a sizeable 15-11 lead; however, once again the Tar Heels clawed back into the set, eventually taking a 24-22 lead as they tried to extend the match.

But Texas managed to stave off three set points thanks to a Tar Heel service error, a block and a kill by senior outside hitter Khat Bell, then took a 26-25 advantage with another block. North Carolina, as it had all match, continued to fight, keeping Texas from getting the two-point advantage it needed to end the match until an attack error gave the Longhorns the 31-29 set win and a spot in the Final Four.

Four Longhorns finished the night with double-digit kills as the team combined for a .272 hitting percentage. Eckerman led the team with 14 kills, despite the Tar Heel’s strategy of trying to put a triple block on her, and drilled two aces. Junior outside hitter Amy Neal posted 11 kills and lead the team with 15 digs.

The Longhorns advance to the Final Four for the third-straight year and the sixth time in the last seven years. Texas will take on the winner over BYU vs. Nebraska, who played late Saturday night, in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

A fire ravaged the North Carolina home of former Texas football coach Mack Brown last week, according to multiple reports. 

David Vance, Avery County, North Carolina Fire Marshall, told the Austin Business Journal that the fire was first reported late Thursday night and took five local fire departments to finally put it out. Only two chimneys were left standing from the fire. 

Since announcing his retirement in December, Brown has spent significant time at this mountain home, which is located in a gated community in Linville, North Carolina. Recently, Brown reportedly moved most of his Longhorn memorabilia from his Austin home to this residence. 

Brown reached out to his supporters on social media Tuesday morning to thank them for their well-wishes. 

“Thx for your thoughts and prayers about the loss of our house,” Brown tweeted. “Tough deal, but thanks. Blessed everyone is fine and we are moving forward.”

The cause of the fire is currently unknown. 

Myles Turner, a five-star recruit in the class of 2014, committed to Texas on Wednesday in front of a national audience.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Basketball fans dream about walking through the tunnels at Allen Fieldhouse or hitting a buzzer-beater against North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

But not many imagine hitting a game-winning shot at the Frank Erwin Center.

So why would Myles Turner, the lone uncommitted five-star recruit in the 2014 class, choose to attend Texas?

The 6-foot-10 high school senior, who attends Trinity High School, could potentially transform whatever school he chooses to attend into a legitimate championship contender. He can knock down jumpers, dominate inside and protect the rim.

Seven schools are still chasing him: Duke, Kansas, SMU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Ohio State and Texas.

Some reports have Turner leaning toward Texas — he even tweeted admiration of the school last week. But if I were Turner, I would take the nod of recent Texas high school greats and spurn the Longhorns.

Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Baylor’s Isaiah Austin and class of 2014 five-star recruit and SMU committ Emmanual Mudiay all chose other schools.

Here are a few reasons why.

 — The Atmosphere

No matter how successful the basketball program is for Texas, it isn’t football.

Longhorn fans aren’t the most passionate about basketball. Fans don’t show up for nonconference game, and only games against Oklahoma and Kansas seem to get fans on their feet.  

The Erwin Center is devoid of a deafening atmosphere. Even if the crowd is relatively large, seats almost always look empty because of the size of the building.

Wouldn’t Turner rather play at Allen Fieldhouse, the place ESPN ranked as the loudest stadium in college basketball?

Heck, even SMU’s newly renovated Moody Coliseum offers a better basketball experience than the Erwin Center.

 — The Spotlight

Texas basketball doesn’t get a lot of attention around Austin.

Even though the team was ranked in the top 20 this past season, the only thing Longhorn fans could pay attention to was the beginning of new football head coach Charlie Strong’s program. Part of this is attributable to the Big 12 Conference itself, as it’s not too flashy. The Big 12 is deep, and one could even make the case that it was the best conference last year. But only Kansas was really ever a championship contender.

The ACC, Big 10 and even the AAC had more weeks in the top 10 than the Big 12. While the No. 20 and No. 21 teams matching up is a good game, the country will always pay more attention to perennial top-5 teams. If Turner went to Duke or Ohio State, he would have more high-profile games to boost his stock.

 — Coaching

Rick Barnes is a good coach. But would people rather play for him than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas’ Bill Self or SMU’s Larry Brown? Turner will likely turn pro after one year, and, while talented, his game is in need of considerable molding. Barnes is not the best man to do that. Krzyzewski, Self and Brown all have considerable experience preparing players for the NBA.

Close proximity to home and following the path of his favorite player Kevin Durant are compelling reasons for Turner to attend Texas. But, with the wealth of experience he could gain elsewhere, are the Longhorns really the best place for Turner to play in college? 

Dr. Torin Monahan gives a talk about Department of Homeland Security fusion centers in Garrison Hall Thursday afternoon. There are 72 fusion centers across the country that alert the DHS about possible terroristic threats. 

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Torin Monahan, a communications associate professor from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said abuses of power by data surveillance agencies could compromise the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security’s anti-terrorism operations in a talk Thursday hosted at the Graduate Student Symposium titled “Beyond Counterterrorism: Data Fusion in Post-9/11 Security Organizations.”

The Department of Homeland Security, along with a multitude of other governmental agencies, make up fusion centers — physical collaborations of police, national security and private sector experts — in an effort to aggregate their collected data and compile a full-bodied database of possible security threats. The department expedited the launch of these fusion centers on state, city and regional levels following the breaches in national defense during the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001.

“Our technological world tends to collect data by default, and these security organizations have adapted to the imperative of the surveillance society we live in today,” Monahan said. “Just about any data that are out there, they can basically bring together.”

Monahan’s previous research has focused on the way state surveillance promotes social inequalities but said his research on fusion centers has made him more sympathetic, as “information societies are [also] surveillance societies.” 

The centers are intended to serve as neutral, apolitical channels for multiple agencies to join forces and physically discuss their shared intel. But most of the 78 fusion centers across the country are housed in police departments — characterizing them less as passive conduits of information and more as groups in active pursuit of threats, according to Monahan.

The issue remains that fusion centers succumb to cultural biases, Monahan said, especially within the centers’ associated police departments.

Though federal law requires “reasonable suspicion” for the storage of information, the FBI has since changed its rule, allowing agents to make quick searches through these databases without recording the information found.

American studies graduate student Carrie Andersen said she feels the population has a general tendency to trust the government, but the lack of transparency makes that trust harder to justify.

“I think it’s a perpetual problem,” Andersen said. “How do you create accountability when the system is so secretive?”

The effectiveness of fusion centers is unmeasurable, but the concept of pooling governmental resources certainly champions efficiency. Simone Browne, assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, said the potential use of the compiled data could still be beneficial as a concept.

“The idea of combining all this data could be very useful for other things — even Amber Alerts,” Browne said.

Seven Big 12 teams began this year’s NCAA Tournament and now only two remain; the Baylor Bears and Iowa State Cyclones have each punched a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen.

Baylor, after an upset win over number three seed Creighton in the third round, is one of the hottest teams in the field of sixteen, having won an impressive 12 of its last 15 games.

The Iowa State Cyclones are now the highest seeded team left in the East Region after a dramatic victory over the always-competitive North Carolina Tar Heels led by Roy Williams.

As the field gets smaller, the competition obviously gets tougher. Here is how I see the rest of this year’s tournament playing out for the two remaining Big 12 schools.

First we have Baylor in the West Region. The Wisconsin Badgers are the next opponent for the Bears.

Wisconsin finished second in the Big 10 this season, one of the toughest conferences in college basketball, but the Badgers have failed to move past the round of 16 in recent years.

I think this will be the year Wisconsin breaks that trend.

Baylor’s field goal percentage over the last two games is ridiculous. The Bears shot an astounding 68% to move past Creighton in the round of 32. But they can’t stay hot forever.

Wisconsin is a much more disciplined team, from a strong conference, and should take care of Baylor to go on and face Arizona in the Elite 8.

I’m sticking with the Iowa State Cyclones as the Big 12’s best bet to advance to the Elite 8.

The Cyclones have played well throughout the tournament and have been very efficient in scoring, especially down the stretch against North Carolina when they needed it most.

The Huskies are up next. Connecticut escaped Saint Joseph’s in round one to go on and upset two-seeded Villanova by 12 in the round of 32.

UConn finished third in the American Athletic Conference this season and will be a formidable opponent for the Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen.

This will be a clash of Connecticut’s potent defense and Iowa State’s high-powered offense. ISU finished the season in the top ten in scoring and first in assists per game.

The Huskies can swat, averaging over six blocks a game this season while holding teams to an average of just 64 points.

I’ve watched the Cyclones all season long and their offense is consistent. I like Iowa State to move ahead and play Michigan State in the Elite Eight, despite the loss of Georges Niang.

But, the Cyclones will need that depth to get past MSU. After the injury (broken foot) to Niang, the depth simply is not be there for Fred Hoiberg.

The experience of Tom Izzo and his Spartans will overpower the Cyclones, ending their bid for a spot in this year’s Final Four.