Texas assistant Chris Ogden talks Texas hoops

Abrams and James will lead the Horns

The basketball season opener is eight days away with Stetson coming to Austin on November 14. Texas, ranked in the top ten in the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls, returns four starters and many experienced bench contributors so a deep tournament run is expected. To help get you ready for the season opener, Texas assistant coach Chris Ogden talks about a variety of subjects.

Q: What are your thoughts on Coach Barnes receiving the prestigious 2009 John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award given that you played for Coach Barnes and are now a coach on his staff?

I think Coach Barnes deserves it. In fact, the award may be a little overdue. It has always been more than about winning ball games. Barnes preaches individual improvement everyday. He wants all of his players to advance in their career and their aspirations. It is more than winning games.

Q: Connor Atchley improved as much as any player in the country last year. Can Texas fans look for even more improvement from Atchley this season and in what ways?

Connor played at such a high level for us last year that I don't think fans will see just how much he is improving. Fans won't see the little things that coaches see. He has become a coach on the floor for us. He helps in late game situations and shot selection. Smart players win tight games and Atchley is a smart player.

Q: Gary Johnson has been an interior player thus far in his playing career. Will Gary see time on the wing and if so, how has the transition process gone for him?

He will see spot time on the wing. We don't want to take him away from the things he does best like scoring on the block, rebounding, and driving on post guys. It is only his second season so we don't want to throw too much at him.

Q: There are a lot of questions regarding replacing D.J. Augustin at point guard going into the season. How do you see the roles of Dogus Balbay, Justin Mason, and A.J. Abrams developing as the season gets underway?

All three of those guys will play point at some point. Remember that A.J. ran point his freshman year, so it is not as foreign to him as most people think. He is a very smart basketball player. Balbay is really a freshman since he was hurt last year. Balbay is very athletic and very fast with the ball in hands. If you are not careful, he will get by you and dunk on you. Mason did good things last year and will do more of the same.

Those three will play minutes and you have to include [Varez] Ward. We have been really pleasantly surprised with Ward. He is a smart player with a great feel for the game.

Q: Matt Hill has returned from a year missed due to a foot injury. What has the process been for Matt to get back into basketball condition and what do you anticipate his role being on this team?

Matt kept himself in decent shape while he was injured. It is more about getting his timing back, sudden movements while defending, rhythm on his shot, timing in the offensive sets.

Q: One of the strengths of this Texas team looks to be its great depth. How does the depth of this team compare to past teams?

We have the most depth since the Final Four team. We can play big or small. We have a very versatile team this year and that is going to create match-up opportunities for our team.

Q: Damion James played on the wing for a short stretch last season. Can Texas fans expect to see more of James on the wing this year and what does he need to do to have success on the perimeter?

Fans can expect James more on the wing. He has to keep it simple to be successful. On the wing, you are guarded by guys like Justin Mason rather than a guy like Connor Atchley. You are going to stumble upon 16 points a game if you keep it simple. We want him to let others create shots for him. We don't want Damion to wear himself out creating his own opportunities.

Q: How have your first few months as a full time assistant been? What has that transition been like? What do you attribute to your success on the recruiting trail?

It has been very different. The biggest difference is the travel. I enjoy getting out and seeing the world, but the travel has been a change.

The recruiting success goes to the program as a whole. It is not me. I have listened to guys that have been successful before me like Frank Haith, Russ Springmann, Rodney Terry, and Coach Barnes. I love to hear Coach Barnes tell his recruiting stories.

The other key is the fact that I get to sell Texas. Texas sells itself. Do you want to play for a national championship program? Well, we have national championships in football, baseball, diving, swimming, track, you name it. You can meet Olympians every day here. People can tell that I am sincere because I was a player here. I have lived it. I believe it. And they can see that.

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