Hoops: Barnes 'Not Concerned' With Offense

Last month, Texas basketball coach <B>Rick Barnes</b> said he was going to experiment with rotations during non-conference play and, in essence, said he was not going to sweat the small stuff -- such as a team shooting under 40 percent in each of the last three games.

That's why with Big 12 action tipping off Saturday for the No. 8 Longhorns (9-2) against Iowa State (10-2) in the Erwin Center, Barnes insists he is not worried about his team's field goal accuracy. ESPN+ will broadcast the conference opener at 8 p.m. (CST).

"I'm not concerned with the offense," Barnes said. "What we've been able to do has been good for us. There is no question we now know our substitution patterns. We've done a lot of different things lately. Because of that, maybe we didn't flow as well as we might have. But we know we've got the rotation down now that we need to have."

Senior guard Terrell Ross will back up sophomore sensation T.J. Ford at point, while freshman Kenton Paulino will move to his "natural position" at wing, Barnes said.

"We need (center) James (Thomas) and (guard) Brandon (Mouton) on the floor," Barnes said, adding that junior forward Brian Boddicker and sophomore center Jason Klotz are expected to provide quality minutes off of the bench.

Forward Brad Buckman (a mere wisp of a lad at 6-8, 220) is one of three McDonald's All-Americans on this year's team and has been a fixture in the starting lineup since the December 8 Arizona game -- except for once.

Barnes benched Buckman in Sunday's win over Mount St. Mary's after the otherwise feisty freshman failed to pull down enough boards in the previous close call against Louisiana Tech. Buckman took it personally, and contributed his first double-double as a Longhorn. (One recalls the comment Barnes made during October's Big 12 Media Day in Dallas where he said the "bench is a great motivator…when that bench starts talking through your ass to your head, it gets the point across.")

Nobody, however, has had a tougher preseason than power forward Deginald Erskin. His mother died during Christmas break, and now the 6-5 senior is on crutches after last week's ankle injury. Barnes absolutely gushes over Erskin's tenacity and work ethic, which is part of the reason why he doubled his regular season average by scoring a team-best 12.8 ppg in Texas' five post-season games last March (Big 12 and NCAA Tournament).

"Deg is mature enough so that, when he comes back, he'll be to able pick it up pretty quickly," the Texas head coach said.

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