Texas was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 by the league's coaches, though most seem to feel that spots from 4-8 are fairly open. Still, sophomore forward Connor Lammert admitted that the Longhorns weren't achieving at the level they should have been.
"Growing up watching Texas basketball, they were always top-25, and obviously we haven't been where we've wanted to be the last few years," Lammert said. "It's unacceptable. We're working every day to change that. It's not something that can happen overnight, or even in a month. But we're working to help change that."
So what are the expectations for this year?
"As a team, we're expecting to go out there and compete, have fun and win," said sophomore guard Javan Felix. "We're listening to Coach [Rick] Barnes and trusting what he asks us to do. I don't feel like we did that a lot last year, and that's something we can control.
"At times last year, I don't think we were all on the same page," Felix said. "We all had different things on our mind sometimes. We weren't really all together. Now, we all have one goal in mind."
Where Will the Points Come From?
"That's a good question," Lammert said.
Texas spent much of last season among the nation's top defenses in adjusted defensive efficiency, despite only really succeeding at one of the four factors — effective field goal percentage defense. Still, the hope is that the Longhorns will be able to put together another high-level defensive group this year.
That leaves the question of who's going to do the scoring for the Longhorns, a question that was made more pressing when Ioannis Papapetrou left the team to play overseas (more on this in a minute). The bottom line, per Lammert, is that everybody's going to have to pitch in.
"I think we're going to have a pretty balanced scoring effort," Lammert said. "But I think Javan is going to score a lot for us."
Lammert went on to state that every position is going to need to pick up the burden, but added that the Longhorns had players at each position who could score. He mentioned Cameron Ridley, who he called "one of the players who has made the most improvement," and the combination at the four of himself and Jonathan Holmes.
Talented Freshman Class
But two players that Lammert listed as chipping in aren't returners.
"[Damarcus] Croaker and Martez [Walker] are more than capable of scoring on the wings," Lammert said.
Croaker has drawn rave reviews from as far back as this summer's workouts for his outstanding athleticism, while Walker has a great shooting stroke and scorer's instincts. On a team that might struggle to put the ball in the basket, both stand to earn quite a few minutes, as could fellow wing Kendal Yancy, who entered the program with the most college-ready body of the foursome.
But the most ready to play right away could be Houston product Isaiah Taylor.
"I'm very impressed with Isaiah," Lammert said. "He has a good ability to find the open guy and get people open shots. He kind of reminds me of Myck [Kabongo] in that sense. He can get it down the court just like that, and we need to get our wings out running with him."
One of those wings could be Felix, who said he expects to play quite a bit with the freshman point.
"Isaiah's really quick," Felix said. "He likes to get out and run and likes to push the ball. He's very fast in the open court.
"There are definitely going to be times we're going to play in the game together," Felix said. "[Having Taylor] will have me out on the wings there where I can shoot the ball a little more."