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Longhorns to be contender in hoops, too

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

There will be a lot of things to cheer about down at Texas. Right now, football fans are happy with coach Mack Brown's Longhorns as they head into the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma on Saturday.

Vince Young, the multitalented, electrifying quarterback, is a legitimate Heisman candidate. He'll be battling the likes of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Yes, Longhorn country is big on its pigskin, but the fans in Austin should get ready for Hoops Hysteria.

Coach Rick Barnes' basketball team will be dynamite. Why is there so much optimism? The return of P.J. Tucker will make all the difference in the world. When he wasn't in the lineup (academically ineligible in the second half of last season), the Horns missed his presence on the baseline.

When Tucker played, Texas was physically tough. He wanted the ball late in the game and he was a force on the glass. He is academically eligible and back this season.

Another difference is the development of guard Daniel Gibson, who was one of the most influential diaper dandies last season. In his second season, he will be ready to contribute in a positive way with consistency. He will be a nightmare on the perimeter for opponents.

Texas also gets back LaMarcus Aldridge up front after injuries took their toll during his freshman campaign. He will be a big factor up front; he has a world of potential.

The Longhorns also expect a lot from veteran Brad Buckman up front. Mike Williams should be more productive in his sophomore season, and Kenton Paulino will help in the backcourt.

Barnes has built successful programs wherever he has been. He has a winning mind-set, a great mentality. It doesn't get much better than the combination of football and basketball down at Texas. The Longhorns have had success in women's basketball, too.

The Texas athletic program has facilities that are second to none. I was blown away when I took a tour of the facilities in Austin. Barnes and his team will be in the hunt for a national title.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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