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WRNL Interrogates: Barking Carnival

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Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again and welcome to this year's first basketball edition of WRNL Interrogates! Naturally, one of our favorite guest commenters, Bitterwhiteguy from Barking Carnival, will get us started off right by talking some Texas Longhorns basketball. He also dives into one of the most popular topics recently discussed around these parts near the end.

Don't forget to check out the questions we answered for BC over on their site too!

Hope you enjoy!

WRNL: The hire of Shaka Smart during the offseason was arguably the biggest in all of college basketball. Yet, the Longhorns have gone through some growing pains this year. Texas seems to have talent, so is this simply a situation where the coach's system is still being installed, or something else?

Bitterwhiteguy: Simply put, Cameron Ridley broke his foot at the worst possible time for this squad. Texas had been on a fairly linear growth line from the first Washington game in China - which was most notable for Bill Walton's 2+ hour Alibaba shill job - to the win over North Carolina in Austin. Cam was averaging a double-double & playing like the 5-star people had hoped for when he signed with Texas, and the offense flowed through him nicely for the most part.

Without him, all of the team's deficiencies are more evident. Rebounding is down, blocks are down, FG % is down, about the only thing that's better with him out is team free throw percentage. More over, there's no great answer for how to adjust to the After Cam Era. Shaka is trying a number of things but every choice has negative consequences, and a good team can & will make Texas pay for whatever strategic decision Shaka makes. I'm confident in Shaka's ability to coach and his recruiting class for next year is shaping up nicely for how he wants to play long-term, but this year has been rough and it's almost entirely because of things that are out of his control.

WRNL: Tell us a little bit about this year's Texas squad. Who's back from recent years and who's new in Austin? Have any of the returning players made any big improvements? What can we expect to see from the new faces?

Bitterwhiteguy: The A.C.E. Texas squad begins with Isaiah Taylor, who is as lightning fast as ever and is shouldering a bigger load than ever thanks to Cam's absence. Expect to see him drive a lot, as his ability to get in the lane is one of Texas' only reliable weapons. Beyond that, Texas is going to live & die by the 3, and the guy most directly responsible for that is the Amish Fire Hydrant, Javan Felix. He's a senior now and playing the best ball of his career because Shaka has him in the role that suits his talents, namely a spot-up shooter. He's hitting 46% from 3 and is picking his spots well.

As for new guys, have you seen this? Unfortunately, to this point that's about the best Kerwin Roach has offered up. Oh wait, except for this. Out of the 3 freshmen, Eric Davis is the most likely guy to have an impact as he's a quality perimeter shooter who plays decent defense for a freshman. He may not start, but chances are he's going to see plenty of time on the court.

WRNL: The high of the season for UT so far appears to be their win over then-#3 North Carolina back on December 12. What went right during that game that contributed to the upset?

Bitterwhiteguy: ERRTHANG. That game was essentially the peak of Texas' abilities with Cameron Ridley; Cam had more offensive rebounds(6) than the entire UNC squad(4), Javan Felix & Eric Davis were 5-7 & 4-5 from 3, respectively, and the team was playing a cohesive game. That game was (and is) the apex of the season for this squad; it's basically the NYE party scene in Boogie Nights, which means the Kansas game in Lawrence will probably be the scene where Dirk gets the hell beaten out of him by a bunch of gang members.

WRNL: What are your thoughts on this year's Big 12 title race? You wrote a nice FanPost about it on WRNL last year that mentioned cloning Anna Kendrick. Does cloning her still apply to this year too?

Bitterwhiteguy: I'm sure everyone else enjoyed the KU/OU triple OT game as much as I did, that was pretty much everything you want from a NCAA basketball game from the absurd Buddy Hield performance to the Big 12 refs making a handful of terrible decisions that enrages both fan bases. If nothing else, that game showed me the difference between them and the rest of the league; while ISU/WVU/BU might be able to trip up one/both of them and backdoor into the title, it seems like they're the teams to beat and the gap to 3rd place is significant.

If I'm being honest, I'd rather see Kansas win their 437th straight Big 12 title than see OU win anything ever. So, uhh, go Jayhawks? (Excuse me, I have to bathe my face in lava.) As for Ms. Kendrick, I'm sorry to report that my cloning technology is limited to duplicating hairpieces for Travis Ford. I'm told that as long as he has his hair, he's happy to stay in Stillwater forever which is a win for the rest of us.

WRNL: Also, for scientific purposes and while we're on the subject - FMK: Kendrick, J-Law and Emma Watson.

Bitterwhiteguy:

F: Jennifer Lawrence, because holy shit have you seen the Fappening photos? I mean, I haven't either, obviously. That would be illegal.
M: Anna Kendrick, because I suspect she looks better clothed than nude & married people never have sex so we can spend all of our time being hilarious together.
K: Emma Watson, because somebody needs to pay for "Aloha". Wait, that's Emma Stone. Still, somebody has to pay for "Aloha", it might as well be an Emma.

WRNL: Your prediction?

Bitterwhiteguy: I predict I will get at least a dozen snarkily sympathetic tweets from my burgeoning Cyclone fan base during the course of the game, and it will be the most positive thing that happens to me during an 11-point ISU win. Say, 77-66 ISU.

Thanks to BWG for answering our questions! Chances are he'll pop in at some point today, so if you have any questions of your own for him, leave them in the comments.