Despite loss in Elite Eight, Texas’ future is bright

Amsal Madhani, Sports Reporter

Although the Longhorns will not go home with an NCAA title this season, the team made many strides this year.

With one of the younger teams in the nation, 10 out of 13 players being freshmen or sophomores, Texas played with toughness, reaching the Elite Eight and winning the Big 12 championship.

Texas will likely lose some key players in the next year, including seniors Joanne Allen-Taylor, Audrey Warren and Lauren Ebo. The senior trio provided veteran leadership on the court and set an example for the newcomers on how basketball should be played at Texas: leaving it all on the court night in and night out.

“They are absolutely incredible young women, and they’re going to be so successful in life. I’m just really honored to have had the opportunity to coach them and see them every day for two years,” said Texas head coach Vic Schaefer. “You can go and coach a long time, y’all, but these two … every day I knew what I was getting from them.”

Warren, Allen-Taylor and Ebo set examples each possession, diving for every loose ball and playing hard on the defensive end. Their leadership played a significant role in Texas’ successful Big 12 championship run in early March.

“These three seniors … couldn’t be more of a fit for how I want to play the game and how I want our team and our program represented,” Schaefer said after the team’s loss to Stanford on Sunday.

Despite losing the trio of seniors, a talented group of young players showed they are capable of bringing the Longhorns back to competing for an NCAA championship this season.

Texas found a star in Rori Harmon during the offseason. The freshman guard led the Longhorns throughout the 2021-22 campaign and did not disappoint.

Every game, Harmon had the task of picking up the opposing team’s best guard and pressuring them for the entirety of the game. She also held the responsibility of not only being the main ball handler and playmaker for Texas, but one of the top scorers for the team with 11.4 points per game.

Taking on the challenges of the season, Harmon won Freshman of the Year and Most Outstanding Player in the Big 12 tournament, averaging 22 points per game through three tournament games.

“We are sitting there listening to (Schaefer’s) postgame talk in the locker room, (and) we’re kind of like, well, this is only the first year. We went so far. This team is so great,” Harmon said. “We did so many great things. We can’t really be upset about it. Yes, we’re upset about the loss, but how we played and how we played this whole season, that really defines who we are as a team and as a university.”

Along with Harmon, freshman Aaliyah Moore showed improvement throughout the season, sprouting during the Longhorns’ run in the NCAA tournament. With games of 18 and 21 points during the tournament, Moore showed her potential as a big part of the team for years to come.

With a young squad that is determined to win, expect this team to be back competing for an NCAA championship for years to come.