CHIP'S MONDAY LIVE CHAT!

HornsDigest.com columnist Chip Brown holds live chats for HD's amazing, attack-free, message-board community on Mondays and Fridays - in other words, right now! Chip has been annoying Texas ... err ... covering the Texas Longhorns for 24 years - so put those years of hiding in Dumpsters on the 40 Acres to get the scoop - to good use!

I chat on Mondays and Fridays around lunch.

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SHANE BUECHELE MAKING PROGRESS

The word I got after Saturday's scrimmage is that early enrollee freshman QB Shane Buechele keeps getting better.

And it's going to be hard for a starving fan base not to get excited about that progress. But remember, it's spring practice. The quarterbacks don't get hit. 

It's not Notre Dame. 

The bottom line is Buechele is making solid progress at this point in spring practice. There hasn't been many days where you'd say Buechele has suffered a step back.

If anything, that's what his teammates like about him - even when he does make a bad throw or a bad decision, he calmly makes sure the mistake is corrected in following snaps.

And I keep going back to what I was told - that Buechele is "far and away" the most accurate passer among himself, Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard (the three QBs getting the most reps).

At this point, consider the praise for Buechele a positive sign - not the end all be all. No one is anointing Buechele as the 2016 starter. Patience is still needed. We'll know much more after this Saturday's scrimmage and after the practice right before the Spring Game on April 16.

But there is reason for optimisim that Buechele is showing signs of being a QB who can help Texas win games eventually. Exactly when that time will be is still too early to tell. 

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HUGE OPPORTUNITY/CHALLENGE FOR UT WOMEN VS UCONN

It's all how you look at it.

Vegas says the UConn women are 30 points better than Texas tonight at 6 pm CT (ESPN) in the Elite 8.

Last year, UConn beat the Texas women 105-54 in the Sweet 16. This year, the Longhorns get the three-time defending national champions in the Elite Eight - in Bridgeport, Conn., where the Huskies beat Mississippi State in the Sweet 16 by 60 points.

Texas coach Karen Aston said her team is ready for the challenge of facing UConn after taking down third-seeded UCLA 72-64 in comeback fashion - after trailing the Bruins 54-48 after three quarters.

"I really am looking forward to (Monday)," Aston said of meeting UConn in the Elite Eight. "Extremely,extremely proud of our team and our program right now and where we're at. I think that when we started the year this year, one of the goals that we set forth was to get to this point.

"We fell short last year. I think it was a big step for us to get to the Sweet 16 last year, but our team fell short. And it was something that we repeatedly talked about.

"Once we set the goal, we really never looked back on that being a true goal of our team, which was to take one more step and get to the Elite Eight. And we have done that."

Hopefully, the Longhorns won't feel like they've accomplished their goals already and will instead hit the court in Birdgeport with a hunger to use their size to get physical with the Huskies.

Texas has to be the more physical team, willing to get rough with the Huskies and national player of the year Breanna Stewart -  otherwise UConn could make Vegas' line seem conservative. 

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EDDIE REESE HAS TEXAS IN DYNASTY MODE

Here's the best part of these back-to-back national titles for Texas men's swimming and diving  - the unprecedented 12th national title for coach Eddie Reese - all of the swimmers who won individual national titles in Atlanta and all but one member of three national title relay teams are back next year:

* Junior Will Licon (200 IM, 200 breaststroke, 400 medley relay)

* Sophomore Joseph Schooling (200 butterfly, 800 free relay, 200 free relay, 400 medley relay)

* Freshman Townley Haas (200, 500 freestyle, 800 free relay)

* Junior Clark Smith (800-yard free relay)

* Junior Jack Conger (800 free relay, 200 free relay, 400 medley relay)

* Sophomore Brett Ringgold (200 free relay)

* Freshman John Shebat (400 medley relay)

* Senior John Murray (200 free relay)

"I'm not upset about that," Reese said. 

A lot of the names above are likely to be on the U.S. Olympic team this summer in Rio, and Reese said when Michael Phelps came out last August and said he won't drink alcohol until after 2016 - several members of his own team took a similar pledge.

"Michael Phelps saying that has had a big effect," said Reese, adding that he thinks the reaction by his own swimmers only helped the Longhorns in their quest for a second straight national title.

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LESSONS TO BE LEARNED IN SERIES WIN OVER TCU

Perhaps the Longhorns learned something about themselves in the first two games of their series victory over No. 6 TCU: the Texas bullpen can be dependable in big moments. And error-free games matter.

After solid performances from starting pitchers Morgan Cooper and Ty Culbreth in the first two games of the TCU series, the story became the Longhorns' bullpen.

In a 4-3 victory in Game 1, Travis Duke, Blake Wellmann, Chase Shugart, Josh Sawyer and closer Connor Mayes combined to provide 4.1 innings of scoreless relief after Cooper left the game (having given up 3 earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks).

In a 2-0 victory in Game 2, Culbreth provided 6.1 shutout innings and then handed the ball to Shugart, who promptly got the final two outs in the seventh. Lefty Josh Sawyer struck out the side in the eighth on just 11 pitches, and then Mayes took care of the ninth for his second save in as many nights.

Texas also did not have an error in Games 1 and 2 of the series, ending a 12-game string with at least one error.

The Horns, who have gone without an error in only four games all season and have 34 errors in 24 games, had 3 errors in a 9-5 loss to TCU in Game 3. Two of the three errors led to unearned runs scoring for TCU. A wild pitch by Jon Malmin in the top of the ninth also allowed a TCU run to score.

In Game 3 in the series, starter Kyle Johnston struggled and lasted only 2.1 innings after giving up 3 earned runs on 6 hits with two strikeouts and two walks. So it was all hands on deck out of the bullpen, and just about everyone struggled. Duke gave up a run. Nolan Kingham gave up 3 runs (2 of them earned). Shugart gave up a run as did Wellmann.

The performance of the Texas bullpen in games 1 and 2 was just what the Longhorns needed to start off Big 12 play - considering the late-game collapses by the bullpen recently in losses to Cal, UCLA and Texas A&M. And the bullpen needs to put that Game 3 performance against TCU behind them.

UP NEXT: The Longhorns (11-13, 2-1 B12) hit the road in Big 12 play this week with a trip to Oklahoma, which fell to 11-13-1 overall and 0-3 in league play after being swept last weekend by Texas Tech - 5-0, 6-1 and 13-7 - in Lubbock.

Right now, the Big 12 standings look like this:

Team ............................Big 12.........................Overall

Oklahoma State..............3-0 ..............................17-7

Texas Tech .................... 5-1.............................. 16-7

TCU ............................... 4-2 ............................. 18-5

Texas ............................. 2-1 ............................ 11-13

WVU .............................. 2-3 ............................  12-8

Baylor ............................ 1-2 .............................10-13

Kansas .......................... 0-2 .............................  7-13

Oklahoma ...................... 0-3 .......................... 11-13-1

Kansas St ...................... 0-3 ............................ 11-13

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