Last season,while attending an NBDL game in Austin with his dormmate, Longhorns point guardD.J. Augustin was asked to give up his front-row seat at halftime. "We hadto leave through the backdoor," he recalls, "with security." Thetwo weren't causing trouble; it's just that Augustin's friend happened to be afellow named Kevin Durant--heard of him?--and a sizable portion of the crowdhad become more interested in getting his autograph than watching the minorleaguers. Durant's takeover of the college game last season made him an instantcelebrity. He collected so many player-of-the-year awards that, as of October,they were still scattered about the Texas players' lounge, awaiting theconstruction of a new trophy case.
After Durantmoved on to the Seattle SuperSonics in June, Augustin enrolled in a couple ofsummer internship programs to prepare himself for the Longhorns' starring role.Former Texas point guard and Wooden Award winner T.J. Ford, now starting forthe Toronto Raptors, returned to Austin to take classes--and in daily pickupgames schooled his latest successor on becoming a more assertive floor general.Augustin had averaged a team-high 6.7 assists a game in 2006-07, but he wasn'tmaking himself heard enough to please coach Rick Barnes. "T.J. told him,'This is your team, and the point guard's job is to coach,' " Barnes says."After a month of working with T.J., D.J. totally changed."
Then in July, atthe Steve Nash Skills Academy in Union, N.J., Augustin learned firsthand fromthe two-time NBA MVP whom he has been studying zealously on film since arrivingin Austin. Texas assistant coach Russell Springmann says Nash's influence isobvious in both the way Augustin comes off ball screens and in his penchant forshooting midrange jumpers off one leg. Augustin has even begun sporting blackNike Zoom BBs--the signature footwear of the Suns' star--in practice. Now, whenAugustin enters the gym, guard A.J. Abrams, one of three other returningstarters, sometimes shouts, "Steve Nash is here!"
He's kidding, ofcourse. The Longhorns would be happy if D.J. could just become their new T.J.this season.
November 19, 2007
Nov. 12 Texas-SanAntonio
Nov. 16 UCDavis
Nov. 23 LegendsClassic (in Newark, vs. New Mexico State; plus West Virginia, Tennessee)
Nov. 28 TexasSouthern
Dec. 2 atUCLA
Dec. 5 NorthTexas
Dec. 8 Rice (inHouston)
Dec. 15 TexasState
Dec. 18 OralRoberts
Dec. 22 MichiganState (in Auburn Hills, Mich.)
Jan. 2 TCU
Jan. 5 St.Mary's
The Longhorns aren't backing away from challenges in their first yearpost-Durant. They could play three top 10 teams outside of Austin--Tennessee,UCLA and Michigan State--before Christmas. One drawback: The only true roadgames are the battles against the Bruins and the Spartans.
Coach Rick Barnes(10th year)
Big 12 record12-4 (3rd)
NCAA tournament2nd round
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