Kabongo to make season debut against Cyclones

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Damarcus Holland attempts a basket during the Longhorns’s 72-59 loss against Oklahoma State on Feb. 9.  Myck Kabongo and Jonathan Holmes will both return to the court as Texas faces Iowa State Wednesday.  

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

There may never be a clear explanation as to what exactly happened in the offseason with Myck Kabongo, Tristan Thompson and an infamous workout that caused more trouble than it could ever be worth.

“When I went to Cleveland last summer, I did not intend to break any rules and did not believe I had broken any,” Kabongo said in a statement released Monday.

One thing is certain — it’s in the past, and now Kabongo has been relinquished of his suspension so he can lead Texas to the promised land.

Or something like that.

All allegories aside, Kabongo gives Texas something it has sorely needed all year: leadership. Sheldon McClellan has not answered the call, Jonathan Holmes, who will return from a broken right hand that kept him out for the last three weeks, is more of a soft-spoken individual and Julien Lewis hasn’t made enough of an impact for his teammates to get behind anything he might have to say. Of all the members of the Longhorns’ vaunted sophomore class, Kabongo is the one that has the “it” factor. He won’t lead the team in scoring on most nights, and he isn’t going to pull down more than a few stray rebounds, but what he offers goes beyond statistics and delves into the emotional side of the game.

“Myck plays really hard,” freshman forward Ioannis Papapetrou said. “He has a year of experience and he is really going to help our guys.”

He’s a leader, plain and simple.

“He’ll make mistakes,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “But the one thing I know he’s going to do is play with effort, he’s going to be fearless and where he’s improved is he really wants to be coached.”

No disrespect to Javan Felix, but he was thrown into a situation he could only make worse. And for the lack of a better explanation, that’s pretty much what he accomplished through 23 games as a true freshman. The Longhorns’ 10-13 record is evidence enough. No one expected Felix to play nearly every minute of every game this year, and although he has been productive in spurts, for the most part he has failed to lead this Texas team.

Texas will need all the leadership it can corral when it faces Iowa State tonight. After being on the wrong end of an 82-62 blowout Jan. 12 in Ames, Iowa, the Longhorns will attempt to even the season series with the Cyclones at one game apiece.

Easier said than done.

In its 20-point shellacking of Texas at Hilton Coliseum back in January, Iowa State shot more than 40 percent from three-point range and controlled the game from buzzer to buzzer. Former Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious flirted with a double-double, dishing out nine assists to go with his 10 points. Freshman forward Georges Niang led all scorers with 18 points, and guards Will Clyburn and Tyrus McGee added 16 and 15 points, respectively.

The Longhorns outrebounded the Cyclones on the offensive glass, but the game’s biggest disparity came from Texas’ bench. McClellan, Texas’ leading scorer, performed his first disappearing act of the year, playing a single, scoreless minute. McClellan may be relegated to the pine once again to start the game against the Cyclones, but if the Longhorns are to get back on track he’s going to be called upon to score some buckets in crunch time.

“We need Sheldon to score,” Barnes said. “That’s what he does.”

Published on February 13, 2013 as "Holmes, Kabongo return".