Leo Manzano is on the run, all the time. The 1500 Meter Olympic trials winner stopped by the KXAN studios on Thursday and then will jet off to Europe Saturday. The pride of Marble Falls/Granite Shoals (he always includes Granite Shoals when talking about his hometown) will run a few tune up races before his 2nd Olympic experience. Manzano is hoping for a little more success this time around. He admitted that he was just happy to be in Beijing and was a little too wide-eyed as he took in the whole Olypmic experience. I remember him telling us a story in Beijing about how cool it was that he could get his hair cut for free in the Olympic village. Manzano said that while he appreciates the opportunity to run in London as much as he did in 2008, he feels likes he’s in better position to make a run at a medal. Manzano advanced to the semifinals in 2008, but did not make it to the finals. You can see an extended interview with Manzano on KXAN Game Night Sunday at 10:30.
Gregg Popovich never seemed too enamoured about the teams overall record as long as they were positioned well for the post season. That was as more about the rest of the his players than their record and seeding, that’s the only explanation for leaving Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli at home for a road trip to Utah a couple of weeks ago. But even with his cautious handling of the “big three”, the Spurs are still the top seed in the Western conference after Monday’s 124-89 win over Portland in their final regular season home game. Now the question is what do they do on their final two game road trip with a chance to claim the best record in the NBA, right now they are tied with Chicago. If history means anything, the “big three” will get a heavy dose of bench for their games at Phoenix and Golden State.
The Spurs aren’t just winning, they are destroying their opponents. In their current eight game win streak they are averaging 116 points per game and winning by an average margin of 16 points per game.
So how will that translate into the only thing that matters, their run for a 5th NBA title since 1999, we’ll find out over the next couple of months.
First off, this is all assuming Texas doesn’t win the Big 12 tournament. I still feel the Horns can make the NCAA tournament despite a 3-6 record in conference play and no real quality wins on the road unless UCLA at 12-9 gets it going to make UT’s December win in LA (not at Pauley Pavillion which is getting a face lift). Texas has to get 9 wins in conference and probably 10. That means the must wins begin Saturday with Tech at home and then probably at A&M next Monday. The margin of error is so small but they could probably absorb another home loss, to Baylor, but will have to get at least three road wins. Sounds like a long shot but considering they did lead late at Baylor Saturday and in their home loss to Kansas, not out of the question.
We take a hoops break for National Signing Day on Wednesday. Texas has 27 commits and are holding hope that WR Dorial Green-Beckham will shock the recruiting world and pick Texas over Missouri and Arkansas. Mack Brown said he would rather finish out of the running than 2nd when it comes to out of state recruits, this looks like one where he will finish in the dreaded 2nd spot. We’ll have plenty of co rage on KXAN news throughout the day, but with limited time and so much to get to, check out KXAN.com throughout the day.
Assuming Texas does not win their first ever Big 12 conference tournament in March, then they’re road to a 14th consecutive NCAA tournament bid will be as an at large team. Depending on the projection you pick, as of this week they were 10th seed by espn.com and not in the field by cbssports.com. That is based on a lot of guess work, the fact is Texas probably has to get to 19 or 20 regular season wins to feel good about their chances. That means going .500 in the Big 12′s new 18 game double round robin format. Based on their last two games, both wins at home over Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, its going to be a grind just about every night out. J’ Covan Brown is slowed by a nagging ankle injury that based on their schedule will have a hard time totally healing anytime soon unless Brown sits. Not only is he their best scorer, but he is one of the best down the stretch trying to hold a lead. That’s because of his ability to handle the ball, get to the foul line and most importantly, hit his free throws. Against Texas A&M he was 2-12 from the field but 10-10 from the line. After that they rely on all those freshman along with veteran big men Clint Chapman and Lexi Wangmene. Right now Julien Lewis looks to be the best shooter and scorer among the freshmen, but all of them have stepped up and led the team in scoring in at least one game.
Horns heading into a brutal stretch with games at Missouri and at Kansas State before coming home to Kansas on January 21st. Winning any one of those three would qualify as their best win of the season.
Its been a while since my last post, in fact it was so long ago that I was writing about how the Pac 16 would put together a football schedule, thats right a long time.
It’s been an interesting year covering these Longhorns. Sunday through Friday for KXAN and then on Saturday’s alongside Craig Way for the Longhorn Radio Network. It was kind of a strange regular season. You could argue it unfolded about exactly as everyone expected through 8 games. Texas was 6-2 with losses to OU and OSU, but teams ranked in the top ten at the time. The swing games came on the back end starting with the loss to Missouri and ending with the loss at Baylor and in between a the K-State game and A&M thriller. Now its the bowl game, but doesn’t it really feel like the season is over. The trip to Pasadena was special for one reason, the Rose Bowl. If you have never been and have a chance, do it. A spectacular setting even if the stadium was a quarter empty.
Now its back to Southern California for the Holiday Bowl. We hear so much about the “bowl experience and how it should be preserved when the mention of a playoff comes up. For the players, a trip to San Diego is a nice trip and they’ll come away with some nice gifts, but I’m not sure there’s much buzz about this game with fans as is the case with a lot of bowls. Look at Baylor, they are rewarded for their amazing season with Heisman winner RGIII with a trip to San Antonio, dream come true? Even the championship game is a rematch that figures to be a lot tougher on LSU than Alabama. How can LSU do more than go into Tuscaloosa and beat the Crimson Tide on their home field, now they have to do it again. What Alabama is trying to do is not unprecedented, in 1996 Florida won its first national title by beating Florida State after losing to the Seminoles in the regular season.
Back to the booth. What an experience it was moving into the analyst role. The most challenging part is to make sure you’re watching a lot more than just a football. Sounds easier said than done, but when is the last time you watched a game and didn’t watch the ball? The chance to spend a few minutes with Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin each week was invaluable. Getting a feel for what the UT offense is trying to accomplish as well as his thoughts on opposing defenses is always interesting. Amazing how a complicated game can be broken down into such simple terms. His never ending theme was “taking care of the ball” when Texas did it, they were pretty successful, when they didn’t OU and Baylor happened. Same goes for defensive coordinator Manny Diaz who should be a hot name when head coaching openings, especially if Dan Mullen were to leave Mississippi State, where he could be a candidate at Penn State.
If Texas is in fact headed to the Pac 16, then how do you schedule where it still feels like a conference and not just a league?
Forget the 2 eight team division idea. That amounts to two conferences. In that format you would play 7 games against your division and then, what 2 games against teams from the other division? That would mean you could go six years without playing any one school from the opposite division.
So here’s my solution. Four 4 team pods, not ground breaking idea, but there’s more. Let’s take Texas and say that this all this shakes out like it’s being reported, Texas would be with Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. Boom, three great rival/regional games every year. To fill out the conference schedule, within those pods schools would be paired. Texas/Texas Tech, OU/OSU in that pod. The rest of the pairings are pretty obvious. The Arizona schools with Colorado and Utah, four California schools and the four Pacific Northwest schools, with pairings within those pods pretty geographically obvious as well.
So then all you do is schedule a game with one of the two schools from all 6 pairings outside your pod and then flip it the next year. In this format you would play each team in the conference outside your pod every other year. Schools would also host and play at every school outside their pod every four years. So a recruit knows that if he stays for four years he’s going everywhere in e league at least once.
As for the championship game, just take the two best records. How many times have two teams from the Big 12 South been the two best teams but couldn’t meet in the title game? In the event of a tie, there are plenty of ways to break that.
So here’s a potential Texas schedule in this format.
2012. 3 Non Conference games
OU, keep it in Dallas
2014, flip the 2012 and in 2015, flip 2013 schedule.
There are reports out of College Station that Texas A&M has received the invitation from the SEC and will accept it on Wednesday. So whats next? Oklahoma appears ready to lead a charge to the Pac 12 with Oklahoma State. Wednesday Bob Stoops said if Texas and OU were to somehow split up that he can live without the Texas-OU rivalry. So in the span of a few weeks UT could lose rivalries with A&M and Oklahoma, assuming Texas and A&M do not agree to a non-conference series? A lot still has to happen for that to happen, but its pretty obvious that when Texas A.D. DeLoss Dodds said nothing was off the table when it comes to the future of UT Athletics, he meant it. While the Pac 12 has to decide if they want to expand, the SEC has to decide how long they want a 13 team league. If they go for a 14th, seems like there is momentum for Missouri or West Virginia.
Mack Brown said on Monday that Texas will be fine but probably never imagined this might go down.
Brendan Hansen went cold turkey after the 2008 Olympics. The Austin based swimmer quit for 2 1/2 years. Now Hansen is back in the water and looking to get to London and his 3rd Olympics. Good start, on Tuesday night Hansen won the 100 Breaststroke at the U.S. Nationals in Palo Alto, California. Hansen finished 4th in that event in Beijing after winning Silver in 2004. Hansen’s time of 1:00.08 which was not far off 59:57 time in China.
Headed home from the first two media days with some parting thoughts. The Longhorn Network was the hottest topic and there wasn’t close second. Mack Brown praised the efforts of UT brass for making it happen. When it came to the notion of televising HS games involving UT recruits, he doesn’t think its a big deal. Brown estimated Texas signs between 20-25 players out of nearly 400 that sign D1 scholarships each year. Brown figures most of his recruiting is already committed to Texas before their senior season begins. Baylor’s Art Briles and A&M’s Mike Sherman didn’t have much to say about the LHN, Briles said if coaches are worried about it then they are looking for things to worry about. He said recruiting against Texas is tough anyway. He did say if one school has network its not that big of a deal, but if four more schools get networks, then they have issues. Sherman said he doesn’t worry about, saying A&M has others doing that. Both A&M and Baylor declined to talk to the Longhorn Network. Missouri’s Gary Pinkell was a little more straight forward, saying the LHN televising HS games defies common sense in regards to fairness. Texas and the LHN will meet with the NCAA to figure exactly what is allowable. By the way, KBVO-TV is about to release our schedule for our 2nd year of live Thursday High School games as well as a full schedule of Friday Night games that will air tape delayed on Saturday nights.
As for the UT quarterback situation, Brown said the job is still up for grabs. Brown compared it to 2006 when Colt McCoy and Jevean Need were battling to replace Vince Young. Brown said when the began camp the players pretty much said McCoy earned the job with his work over the summer when coaches weren’t around. Now Brown and Co-OC’s Brian Harsin will begin to speak with players about summer workouts. Blake Gideon did say on Monday he feels Garrett Gilbert has an advantage because of his experience. Wonder if that’s a hint? With media day out of the way,its on to practice, thats begins a week from Friday.
As if Monday’s 3-0 season ending loss wasn’t bad enough, then the weather came to Omaha. The Longhorns were on their charter flight ready to head home when the plane was evacuated because of severe weather that also forced an evacuation of TD Ameritrade Park during the Florida- Vanderbilt game.
Update: as of 10:30 the Longhorns were re-boarding their plane and planning to leave by 11 barring more weather issues.
The Longhorns must figure this is a nightmare that won’t end. They probably should have known it wasn’t their day when Tant Shepherd opened the bottom of the first inning with a great at bat that ended with the hardest hit ball of the day only to end up a long out to left.
From there the bats were pretty quiet, which has been this teams Achilles heal all season. Texas closed the regular season getting shutout by Texas A&M 3-0 and that’s how their season ends.
One of Augie Garrido’s messages after the game was the promise of having 11 freshman on the roster, five playing key roles during the season.
After leaving downtown, photographer Todd Bynum and I drove out to Rosenblatt Stadium for one last look. I’m not really sentimental when it comes to things like stadiums, but it was strange to be at the empty park where I’ve been so many times beginning in 1991, knowing the CWS was going on just a few miles