After the debacle in Manhattan and Scott Drew and his team potentially came through as saviors to our hopes for an outright title, Kansas is back in action against the Texas Longhorns, and this is an important game for both teams. To preview the game, I turned to our good friend Bitterwhiteguy over at Barking Carnival. He reluctantly agreed to answer some questions for us.
RCT: Last time these two teams faced each other, Texas needed a big win just to stay in the Big 12. This time, they need a big win to help make the NCAA tournament. What happened?
BC: It's amazing what can happen in a month. Texas went from a top-20 team dealing with a bit of uncertainty 30 days ago to an extra on 'The Walking Dead'. (I'm pretty sure we're the zombie with the flare in his eye socket.) It's hard to pin it on any one thing; at times the offense has been terrible, at times the defense has been terrible; at times they've both been terrible. It's best described as watching a guy trying to spin 5 plates and he can never get more than 3 going at a time. One of the biggest factors is Jonathan Holmes & Isaiah Taylor being generally worse than expected, though Taylor gets a bit of a pass since some of that is due to coming back from the broken wrist. Holmes looks like he's in a funk, his shots aren't falling and his defense has suffered as well. He can't quite get his bearings, and when he finally nails a couple 3s he decides to plant an elbow in Devin Williams' throat because hey, why not. I hate that his senior year is ending this way, it should've ended so much better.
RCT: I've noticed that Myles Turner has been struggling to stay on the floor, and is generally not living up to expectations. We've got a bit of that on our end too, with Cliff Alexander either not being put in the floor, or not performing once he gets on. Any ideas on why Turner is sliding? And who do you think has the better chance to get on track Saturday?
BC: I wouldn't say he's struggled to stay on the floor considering he's averaging more mpg the last month than any point of the season. His output has been up & down, but I think that has as much to do with the team getting him the ball(or not getting him the ball) as anything. I think expectations for him have been ridiculous all season; many people were expecting Durant and that's never what Turner was going to be. Fran Fraschilla compared him to Lamarcus Aldridge, and I think that's fair; it's also a better example of who he was going to be in college. LMA was a good college player who blossomed after a handful of years in the NBA, I think that's how Turner will shake out too. I guess I'd say Turner has the better shot of going off on Saturday, as Texas seems to get burned by guards more than big men.
RCT: Last time we talked, you seemed fairly confident that Rick Barnes was safe after this year. With the way this season has gone from that point, are you still expecting him back next year?
BC: After the Oklahoma State loss, I called for him to resign after the season is over and I haven't seen anything to change my mind since. I love Coach Barnes to death - he's probably my favorite Texas coach in any sport - so I don't say it lightly when I say it's time for him to move on. That said, I don't think he's got much choice at this point. There's only 1 path for him to keep his job right now, and that involves not only making the NCAAs but making the Sweet 16. Anything less than that - and there's a 90% chance it will be less - and I think his fate is sealed. Unlike Mack, at least he's leaving the roster stocked for his successor; with most of the team being juniors/seniors next year, not many of them really have the option to transfer.
RCT: With both of these teams looking vulnerable, this game really is up in the air. What advantages do you see Texas having that they can press to try and pull out this victory?
BC: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahaaa.... hahahahahaaaaaa..... hahahahaaaaaaaa... up in the air HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA UP IN THE AIR AHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA... woo, that's good. Thanks for that, I needed it. I wish we had done this over Skype so you could've seen my face when I read that sentence.
Uhm, Texas' superior gun arsenal? Our minimally higher belief in evolution? Rick Perry could run across Bill Self during a morning run and shoot him, I guess. Most of my suggestions for taking out Kansas were posted on WRNL a few days back.
RCT: With all that said, what do you expect the outcome to be? Kansas is undoubtedly the favorite, but do the Longhorns have it in them to save their NCAA bid (and maybe Barnes' job)?
BC: I'd like to pretend this is some sort of sly reverse jinx, but I've seen better Texas teams get trounced in the Phog so I'm going with Kansas 77 - Texas 63.
RCT: BONUS - Star Trek or Star Wars?
BC: Star Trek. George Lucas can go straight to hell.
I don't know that I share the sentiment, but at least I got another Star Trek supporter. It won't be a unanimous pick this time, and I didn't have to cheat to make it happen.
A special thanks to Bitterwhiteguy for helping us out today. Don't forget to check out the questions that I answered for him. We wax philosophical and it gets a little weird.