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Clint Chapman finds his niche on the boards

12/18/2011

AUSTIN, Texas -- Game after game, unimpressive stat line after unimpressive stat line, Texas coach Rick Barnes continued to insist Clint Chapman was playing his best basketball.

The 6-foot-10 senior finally lent some credibility to Barnes' statements this week.

For the second time in his 94-game career with the Longhorns, Chapman grabbed double-digit boards in the 77-65 win over Temple Saturday.

Chapman's first ever double-digit rebound game was just four days ago when he had 10 in a blowout against Nicholls State. Add those to the 13 Chapman had against the Owls and it begs two questions: Where has he been? And how bad is Temple at rebounding?

Well, let's get the latter out of the way first. Bad. Temple has been outrebounded in seven of its nine games. Texas, a team bereft of height or really that much interior tenacity, held a 25-rebound advantage over the Owls.

Now as for where Chapman has been. Well, oddly as it sounds, the center has been in the shadow of J'Covan Brown and a quintet of freshmen. And that is an easy place to hide all things considered. They were the players with all of the hype. They were also the players who lived up to all of the hype. In fact, on this seven-game win streak Texas finds itself on, a different freshman has led Texas in scoring four times. Brown has been the leading scorer in the other three.

But Chapman never has been and never will be a scorer. What Texas needs him to do is rebound. That is his rather large niche.

“I'm starting to get a little more aggressive and keep rolling with that,” Chapman said. “I have been here for a while and what I want most is to help this team win. When I rebound the ball and set screens, it helps my team be better. I really just want to do what I have to do to help my team win.”

Nobody arguably did more against Temple.

“His numbers are perfect doing what he needs to do,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He understands what his role is. He doesn't try to do what he can't do.”

Texas doesn't need him to do any more than what Chapman has done in the past two games. The Longhorns have scorers. They have guys with a mid-range game. And they are not built to have a low post, back-to-the-basket scorer. Texas wants to get in the passing lanes, limit second shots, run and attack the glass on the offensive end. To that end, Chapman has been a perfect fit.

“He played the best game he ever played at Texas,” Barnes said after the Temple game.

Chapman knew he had that type of game in him. It was at the start of this season that he challenged himself to put it on display.

“I wanted to be a leader,” Chapman said. “What I have told myself is leading by example is the only way you can get someone to follow. By making myself play more aggressive and rebound the ball it helps the younger guys on the team respect me. They don't want to listen to someone who is not really doing it themselves.”

Chapman has grabbed everyone's attention this week.