Texas works to balance nerves, excitement in NCAA tournament

Texas guard Damarcus Croaker shoots during a practice session for their NCAA college basketball tournament game Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Milwaukee. Texas plays Arizona State on Thursday. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE (KXAN) — One of the big keys in Texas’ game again Arizona State is how they handle the moment.

The Sun Devils have no tournament experience. For Texas, it’s only Jonathan Holmes. He played 23 minutes in their loss to Cincinnati two years ago.

“Being nervous you might come out and make some silly mistakes, and then settle down,” said Javan Felix, sophomore guard for the Longhorns. “Being real fired up you might waste all your energy in the beginning and kind of die down as the game goes. I don’t think you want to be either of those.”

“I don’t think the jitters are really a bad thing,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “I’d be disappointed if they didn’t have some…you want them on edge. This is what they want to do, they’ve earned it . You want them to embrace it, but you don’t want them to be just content to get here either.”

“I think we’re excited, we’re hungry,” said Arizona State guard Jermaine Marshall. “Coming off a three game losing streak, our guys are just excited to play. You want to get a win.”

A lot has been made about how Arizona State will handle Texas’ front line and all their size, but the Sun Devils feature 7-foot-2 Jordan Bachynski. He averages more than four blocks per game.

The NCAA Tournament has also always been known as a guards tournament, and there are some good ones in Milwaukee.

ASU is lead by Jahii Carson who averages almost 19 points per game, while freshman Isaiah Taylor paces the way for Texas.

Taylor came out of relative obscurity to lead his team and has become kind of barometer for the rest of the squad. When he’s good, the Longhorns are usually very good.

“Its the feeling I had coming into the Kansas game, Kansas State game, also my first college game,” Taylor said of the buildup. “This is my first experience with the NCAA tournament. It’s something I’ve dreamed of playing in, and my dream is finally here.”

“We’re all really excited,” Carson said. “We’ve been wishing and dreaming and having a goal to come to the tournament since the beginning of the season…since we’ve got here we’ve been excited, but with me being one of the leaders on the team, it’s my job to calm everyone down.

“We can’t let the excitement shock us one we’re on the floor,” he added.

“After the first four minutes you should be ready to play,” Holmes said. “The nerves should calm down after that and it will just be another basketball game.”


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