AUSTIN, Texas -- The losses are mounting as the Texas Longhorns'
roster keeps shrinking.
Ranked as high as No. 10 a month ago, Texas has tumbled to No. 22 in this week's ESPN/USA Today rankings and No.
23 in The Associated Press rankings heading into Tuesday
night's game at Colorado.
The Longhorns (15-6, 4-4 Big 12) have dropped three of their
last four since losing P.J. Tucker to academic problems and are
down to just six scholarship players in the rotation after
Kenton Paulino (toe) and Sydmill Harris (groin) were injured in a 92-80
overtime loss Saturday against Iowa State.
Then came the latest bad news: Injured freshman center LaMarcus Aldridge is not expected to return this season, coach Rick Barnes
Aldridge, who started 16 games and was averaging 9.9 points, has
been listed as out indefinitely since injuring his left hip Jan. 15
in a win over Nebraska.
Aldridge had a doctor's appointment Monday and a formal ruling
on his status was to come later. He tried to return to practice
last week, Barnes said.
"We didn't like the way he responded afterward with the way he
felt," Barnes said. "LaMarcus wants to do everything he can for
this team. If the doctor gave him any hope at all there's no doubt
in my mind he'd say 'I want to do this,'
"[But] from the time he got hurt we didn't think he'd be
back," Barnes said. "I've moved on. I never thought he would come
All of which creates some unique challenges for Barnes, who took
his last three Texas teams to the round of 16 in the NCAA
Tournament, including a Final Four appearance in 2003. Those teams
were deep in talent and often overwhelmed opponents with a rotation
that consistently sent fresh bodies into the game.
"A lot of things have changed," Barnes said.
Of the six scholarship players left, three of them -- point guard Daniel Gibson and forwards Mike Williams and Dion Dowell -- are freshmen. Barnes said
he'll likely start Dowell against Colorado (11-9, 3-6).
"I look at it as an opportunity," said Dowell, who is
averaging 1.8 points in nine games. "We're not going to stop
playing because of injuries."
For Barnes, it's a juggling act that reminds him of his last
season at Clemson in 1997-98. Injuries had depleted his roster and
four Tigers fouled out of a game at North Carolina, leaving Barnes
with just four players left in uniform.
"The referee comes down and says 'Who you putting in?' " Barnes
recalled. "I took my jacket off and undid my tie like I was going
in the game and the place went nuts. It was the only time [North
Carolina fans] thought I was funny. We ended the game with four."
Clemson also lost.