Basketball Media Notes

Texas basketball players talk about what went wrong last year, along with their thoughts on the 2010-2011 squad.

* What went wrong last year? Texas coach Rick Barnes said at basketball media day Monday that he wasn't totally sure, though he said he certainly learned from the experience.

Barnes said he wouldn't be as transparent with his team from now on, instead serving to get the players' backs if they were giving him maximum effort.

But while Barnes didn't really go into last year's struggles, senior forward Gary Johnson didn't have any problems doing so.

"There wasn't any leadership," Johnson said. "I don't think guys held each other accountable as a team. Ultimately, it affected us in a terrible way."

Johnson, who was cited as the team's best leader by several other players, said he talked with former 'Horns T.J. Ford and Royal Ivey to get leadership advice.

"(They told me) just to be vocal," Johnson said. "The guy who is the most vocal is the one that everybody follows.

"But also, with that, you have to bring it every day," Johnson said. "And I respected that, and that's what I'm doing now with the team."

* Several players said they felt last year's end result was a big part of the reason Texas wasn't as respected as other Big 12 schools in the national polls. Texas is unranked in one poll, while the Longhorns are No. 25 in the other.

But the players were also quick to point out that those decision didn't bother them.

"I think being rated that high brings a sense of identity that we weren't," Johnson said. "Guys were feeling good about it, kind of cocky, had a different arrogance.

"We love it now," Johnson said. "We have everything to work for. Nothing was given to us."

Jai Lucas said he thought the Longhorns were flying under the radar.

"I'm sure you could say that," Lucas said. "It really doesn't bother us that nobody talks about us, that we're not the hoopla that we were last year. We're still down here. We're still working."

Lucas said he expected this year's team to be better than last year's version, citing better chemistry and basketball I.Q. Several players also talked about better maturity on this year's team, with Jordan Hamilton serving as one of the primary examples.

* Each of the players said they were impressed with the two newcomers, point guard Cory Joseph and forward Tristan Thompson.

"First of all, they're really good guys off the court," said forward Shawn Williams. "Their parents did a great job raising them. They've fit in perfectly with the team.

"On the court, their performance speaks for itself," Williams said. "Cory is super fast, can handle the ball and shoot. Tristan is athletic and long and they both play hard. They're both good players."

* Joseph also earned high marks for his defense, and several players commented on how deep, and competitive the point guard battle was with Joseph and seniors Lucas and Dogus Balbay.

"You have Dogus, who is coming back from a knee injury," Lucas said. "He's basically 100 percent and you know what Dogus is going to bring every night. Then you have a guy like Cory who is ahead of his years.

"And I think I'm pretty good myself, not having to wait and sit out half the year has really helped me," Lucas said. "It's been a great competition."

The development of those three guards has allowed Barnes to move J'Covan Brown off the ball, a spot where every player said he had excelled.

* Joseph is also among the fastest players on the team, and among the best dunkers. Williams pointed to Balbay and Joseph as the top players at throwing the ball down on the squad.

Balbay laughed and said he disagreed with that assessment.

"I'm an old man now," Balbay said. "I don't know if I can compete with Cory."

Joseph was quick to shoot down Balbay's answer.

"I would say probably Dogus is the best," Joseph said. "He can get up. Dogus, Gary, Tristan, they can all jump.

"Even Jai Lucas on a good night," Joseph joked about Texas's 5-foot-9 point. "He'll surprise you. He can jump."

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