• Dallas Mavericks Preview

    No team has undergone a more profound roster makeup over the past two years than the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are the only remaining productive pieces from the 2011 NBA Championship team.

    The current backcourt of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison screams potential. OJ Mayo, former 2008 #3 draft pick, had averaged nearly 20 points as a starter during his first two seasons in the NBA. Darren Collison averaged nearly 18 points and double digit assists when running the pick and roll offense in New Orleans. Now that these two players are put in positions where they can succeed-OJ Mayo as a starter and Darren Collison utilizing the pick and roll tool in the flow offense he will be commanding, it is quite possible that these players will reach the zenith of their basketball productivity.

    The frontcourt of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Chris Kaman at first glance seems like an outstanding asset. A top-10 player in the league, an elite defender, and a top 5 low-post scorer is not indicative of too much concern. However, it should when Dirk Nowitzki will be absent for the first month of the season, recovering from an arthroscopic surgery, and Chris Kaman is one of the most injury prone centers in the league. It seems like the frontcourt really cannot get any consistency until midseason. That will translate to a lot of initial struggles for the Dallas Mavericks, having to learn to play without an offensive legend in Dirk Nowitzki and then having to put him back into the system. There is certainly a tall order on the Mavericks roster this season.

    Last but not least, the bench of Elton Brand, Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dahntay Jones, and Jae Crowder is a highly effective and variegated unit that complements the starting lineup. This group has gritty defenders, shooters, paint players, veteran experience, and young athleticism to help establish a productive unit. So, let us hope that Rick Carlisle will somehow mesh these pieces in the right manner to extend that streak of twelve consecutive years in the NBA playoffs. Let us hope. 

  • NBA Eastern Conference Preview

    There is a remarkable disparity in the quality of teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. That disparity though is quite simple to understand-the Miami Heat and the rest of the field. The Miami Heat have separated themselves from any other playoff contender in the East, ever more strikingly with the absence of Derrick Rose. However, nothing is a guarantee in the NBA. So, let’s get down to business.

    The Miami Heat are the unquestioned number one in the Eastern Conference power rankings. Lebron James was a near perfect player last few years. He could guard all five positions at an elite level, had the versatility to play 1-4 on offense, and the physical athleticism to annihilate any opposing athlete. The only tool missing was his mental toughness. Now that Lebron James has proved to the world that he can perform in the most critical moments of a basketball game, he does not really have too much internal pressure constantly weighing down on him. Expect a surreal Lebron James, a revived Dwayne Wade, and a scrappy Chris Bosh to fit well with their new shooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and ultimately challenge the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls 72-win record.

    The Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics remain the two biggest threats to the reigning NBA Champions. Both teams boast a largely intact starting lineup that can match the chemistry of any other team. Talent is no shortage with these two teams. Rajan Rondo is arguably the best pass-first point guard in the league and will maximize the remaining productivity of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and new addition Jason Terry along with young guns Jeff Green and Courtney Lee. For the Celtics to have any chance of beating the Heat in the playoffs though, they will need Rajan Rondo to perform at his maximum, delivering triple doubles on a nightly basis. The Indiana Pacers on the other hand are largely dependent on the performance of their front court. With Roy Hibbert, David West, and Danny Granger starting at the front court positions, the Pacers have the talent to match up against the Heat. However, they really have not added much over the offseason and are relying on Paul George, second year shooting guard, to lift the Pacers into a new stratosphere.

    Teams in New York are talented. The New York Knicks and New York Nets have rosters that when put together hold sufficient talent to make an all-star team. However, chemistry issues will stall the productivity and talent of these two teams. The Knicks will rely on Jason Kidd to somehow rid them of their dysfunctional use of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony simultaneously. The Nets on the other hand need to figure out how to fit new face Joe Johnson along with returning Brooklyn Lopez and adjust to their rising expectations.

    The Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks should fill up those last few playoff spots. All these teams have a critical flaw that prevents them from performing much better. The Bulls don’t have Derrick Rose. However, Tom Thibodeau, a defensive mastermind, will muster enough defense and scoring from his relatively productive unit last year. The 76ers have the potential to be an amazing team if Andrew Bynum grows into a reliable franchise player. But, who thinks that’s really going to happen? Last, the Hawks made a great move by getting rid of Joe Johnson’s burdensome contract and making Josh Smith the new focal point. However, they did get rid of arguably their best player.

    Finally, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, and Toronto Raptors are just undergoing too many fluctuations to make a viable push for the playoffs. There are definitely some quality players and rising starts on these teams-Kyrie Irving, Monte Ellis, and Brandon Jennings. But, the majority of these teams are a couple of solid first round picks away from making a solid impact on the playoff standings.

  • LB Jordan Hicks (hip) will not play this week against Texas Tech

     

    Texas strongside linebacker Jordan Hicks is out for Saturday's game against Texas Tech stemming from a hip injury he suffered in the third game of the season against Ole Miss.
     
    This is a huge blow for the Texas defense with Hicks out for the sixth game in a row. Hicks was the team’s leading tackler through three games, and was the rock of the linebacking core. He made adjustments at the line and kept the younger players on the unit accountable.
     
    “It’s a big loss,” cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “Like I said he’s our defensive leader. He makes everybody a lot more comfortable.”
     
    Reports that Hicks was lost for the season were denied by Texas. If he did not play the rest of the year, Hicks would likely receive a medical redshirt as he’s played less than 30 percent of the team’s total games.
     
    The medical redshirt won’t be approved until the end of Hick’s senior season, so if he decided to come back another year he would be available.
  • David Ash named Longhorns starting quarterback vs. Texas Tech

    David Ash is listed as the starter on the depth chart for Texas’ game against Texas Tech. After being replaced by Case McCoy in the fourth quarter in Saturday's game against Kansas, his status as the starter was questioned. He went 8-for-16 with two interceptions. McCoy entered the game and led the team to a narrow 21-17 win. Other than Texas' games against Kansas and Oklahoma, Ash has been playing consistent with 12 touchdowns, 1726 yards and five interceptions.

  • Longhorn commits respond as season winds down

    As the Texas high school football playoffs creep closer, members of Texas’ 2013 recruiting class are trying to keep their seasons alive. For most of them, dominant Friday night performances provided a big step forward.

    Naashon Hughes helped his Harker Heights team earn their third straight victory and get back to .500 with a dominant performance over Temple on Friday, 42-7. According to the Killeen Daily Herald, Temple came into the game averaging 555 yards per game, but was held to just 304 against Harker Heights. Hughes was a menace coming off the edge, forcing two out of three Temple fumbles. Harker Heights Darius James, also a 2013 UT commit, remains hobbled by a broken foot and did not play. James has not played since the season started.

    Chevoski Collins and the Livingston Lions also extended a winning streak after beating Beaumont Central, 28-20. The win was Livingston’s third in a row, bringing their record to 4-4, 4-2 in district play. Collins, the newest addition to the 2013 class, rushed for 40 yards and two touchdowns according to hookem.com. Collins also completed four of seven passes with one interception. Collins is listed as a three-star athlete by rivals.com, and will likely play in the Longhorn secondary.

    Friday was just another day at the office for wide receiver Jake Oliver, who extended his state record for career receptions with seven more catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns, according to hookem.com. Oliver’s efforts fueled a 45-7 win over JJ Pearce. The Army All-American Bowl Honoree now has 281 catches for his career, 17 more than the previous record holder, former Longhorn Jordan Shipley.

    Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes’ Whitewright team remained winless this week, losing 55-20 against Tom Bean. Swoopes rushed for 176 yards on 21 carries, according to the Herald-Democrat. Though his rushing total was impressive, it paled in comparison to Swoopes’ junior performance against Tom Bean, when he rushed for 560 yards and seven touchdowns. Whitewright’s best chance for a win will come next week against Bells, who are also 0-8.

    Arlington Martin back Kyle Hicks continued his recent roll in a 42-21 win over Arlington Lamar. Hicks rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and also completed nine out of 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, as reported by hookem.com. Hicks now has 22 rushing touchdowns through eight games. Though a significant amount of Hicks’ snaps come at quarterback, it is unlikely that the four-star running back will continue to do so once he gets to Austin.

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