Barnes: Kabongo, Holland To Start Vs. ISU

Texas coach Rick Barnes tapped Myck Kabongo and Demarcus Holland as starters for Wednesday's Iowa State game.

Wondering how Myck Kabongo will fit in with a team that has played 23 games together? Don't. According to Texas coach Rick Barnes, Kabongo — fresh off an NCAA suspension that didn't allow him to play until the Longhorns' Wednesday showdown with Iowa State — will pick up right where he left off last season, as Texas's starting point guard.

But that wasn't the only starting spot that Barnes was willing to give away in the postmortem of Texas's 72-59 home loss to Oklahoma State. Barnes also tapped freshman guard DeMarcus Holland as a co-starter at the off guard spot.

"They [both] will definitely start," Barnes said. "I think you asked me the other day about rhythm. We don't have rhythm. We don't have anything going. I realize some of it is because Myck plays point differently than Javan. When we are in practice, one team is playing one way and the other is playing another.

"All year long, we have tried to get consistency and we haven't [achieved it]," Barnes said. "We need to run. It is pretty obvious. Every team does. It is hard to score against set defenses all the time. Running is not just the point guard. It's everyone doing their job, getting out in transition and getting their lanes. We just haven't consistently done that this year."

That's one area where the jet-quick Holland has excelled. Holland came into Texas as somewhat of a raw athlete who provided some defensive cover because of his outstanding quickness, speed and quick hands. But he's also shown to be a demon in transition because of those same athletic traits and a knack for finishing at top speed. He had 11 points in Texas's win over Texas Tech and topped that with a career-high 13 against the Cowboys Saturday.

His speed should serve as an outstanding complement to that of Kabongo's, with the latter player respected as one of the fastest players with the ball in his hands in the league. Known as a pass-first point guard, Kabongo averaged 5.2 assists per game a year ago and entered this season with the third-best returning assist-to-turnover ratio in the league.

But Kabongo has also provided two traits that were missed just as much: an ability to defend on the perimeter — he was named the team's Most Outstanding Defensive Player by his teammates last year — and the talent to push the break and break defenses down off the dribble. While the latter trait has created open looks for teammates, it has also allowed Kabongo add some scoring pop at times. In a two-game stretch against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, for instance, Kabongo scored 17.5 points per game while still dishing out 4.5 assists per contest.

Of course, the other part of Barnes naming those two players starters is the re-demotion of Sheldon McClellan. McClellan again found himself in Barnes's doghouse and sat out long portions of Saturday's game, logging just 20 minutes. He can be at his best coming off the bench, while Julien Lewis and Ioannis Papapetrou, two of the team's best set shooters, could also benefit greatly by Kabongo's ability to penetrate and pitch.


Horns Digest Top Stories