Youth is served in ’07 with Men's Basketball team
And a child shall lead them.
Or in the case of Texas freshman phenom Kevin Durant, it is more like a manchild shall lead them.
While perhaps the most talented basketball player in UT history wasn't able to put his signature on a victory in Lawrence, Kan., Durant still carried the load in that game, just as he did throughout the Longhorns' grand regular season.
Durant, a 6-foot-9 wingman, caused sportswriters across the country to turn to their thesauri to invent new ways to describe his indescribable game that allowed him to lead the Longhorns in scoring, rebounds, blocked shots and double-doubles during the Big 12 regular season.
And speaking of the Big 12, Durant re-wrote the record book by becoming the conference's single-season scoring champ en route to capturing the Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards.
Durant became the first freshman ever to win Big 12 Player of the Year honors. He is the second Texas player to be so recognized, following P.J. Tucker who won it last year.
Three other freshmen -- D.J. Augustin, who is a first-team All-Big 12 honoree, Damion James and Justin Mason -- joined Durant in the starting lineup for coach Rick Barnes, who lost every starter from last year's team.
Certainly, Barnes' 2006-07 edition of the Longhorns disproves the bromide 'Youth is wasted on the young.'
Barnes' babies improved steadily throughout the year and appear to be peaking as March Madness kicks into high gear.
"If you are not getting better, you're getting worse," said Barnes, who in his ninth season at Texas became the 25th active Division I coach to record 400 career victories.
"But it is a never-ending process," he added.
Oh, there is just one thing.
Barnes prefers that no one talk about his team being young. He didn't like that conversation in October and he likes it even less now.
"They are not young," the Longhorns mentor began. "They have played an entire college basketball (regular) season. They have played top 10 teams, top 25 teams, and have played in difficult places away and have played challenging teams at home."
Barnes took a breath, but only for a moment.
"I was not going to use youth as an excuse if we didn't play well this year," he said.
Thus, this season may be Barnes' best given the hand he was dealt after the graduation and NBA exodus last spring.
Still, he won't budge on the talk about youth, especially now.
"No one who has played an entire college basketball season is young anymore," he stated again.
The performances of Durant, Augustin, James and Mason bear out Barnes' comments. Sophomore A.J. Abrams, the graybeard of the starting five, and sophomore sub Connor Atchley have made contributions during the regular season and will need to continue to do so through March.
Augustin echoed Barnes' message on being a "young team."
"I don't think we are young anymore," said the Longhorns' point guard. "With all we've been through, no way we're young."
While Durant no doubt has been the "Human Highlight Reel," Augustin has been running the projector.
If you ask 100 people who the most valuable player of the UT team is, one will not say Kevin Durant.
That person: Kevin Durant.
"D.J. runs the offense, distributes the ball and helps set the tone on defense," Durant said. "How could he not be the most important?"
The selfless attitude by Durant has made things easier for Barnes, who always has said that Durant didn't want it to be all about him.
Durant refused to be on the cover of Dime basketball magazine unless all of his teammates were included. They were. Such action embodies what Barnes talks about almost daily.
"I thought we would get better as the season went along," Barnes said. "From game to game, I don't know what we're going to do, although we have good intentions.
"Now, I just want us all to be on the same page mentally and physically. I want us to be consistent and I want us to be ready."
His players sound as though they are.
"We're putting it together at the right time," Abrams said.
Adds Augustin, "We have confidence now that we can beat any team."
And if they can, the Longhorns will spend the first weekend of April in Atlanta.