Two of my favorite college basketball coaches – Rick Barnes and Billie Gillispie – split in their regular season match-ups this year. You can surf this link to a few other historical entries which may be of interest to you.
Today, Barnes and the Texas Longhorns won the rubber match against the Aggies in the Big 12 Semi-Finals and will advance to tomorrow’s Big 12 Championship. The Longhorns will be making their 8th consecutive appearance (probably as a #1 seed) in this year’s NCAA Tournament appearance — an appearance for EACH of Rick Barnes’ seasons in Austin. (Which is amazing when you consider he walked into a scandal-ridden program that contained only 7 scholarship players due to problems under previous coach, Tom Penders).
The Longhorns are looking for a sweep of the titles after Barnes’ 2nd Regular Season Championship this year, and they are currently playing well enough to make it happen despite an injury to their star, Daniel Gibson. Ohhh, imagine a team and a group of leaders that don’t doesn’t make excuses about injuries to their (ever-changing) “best” players every single season. I turn your attention to this insightful entry about Barnes and the winning culture that he instills that was written LAST YEAR when UT was battling a rash of injuries.
Texas has been on fire as of late, having crushed their rival and Top 20 ranked Oklahoma 72-48 last week. (Could you imagine? I mean, how has Barnes been able to succeed after walking into the shadow of Kansas and Oklahoma and now having to battle Bobby Knight?)
Earlier in the week (before the Big 12 Tournament began) ESPN’s Steve Lavin said:
“Texas playing well at the right time of year. 8 out of 10 wins. Their tough non-conference schedule has led to a level of confidence. They had injuries early in some of those blowout losses. They are at full strength playing well at the right time.”
It is public knowledge that Barnes, a native of North Carolina and graduate of Lenior-Rhyne, has coveted the NC State coaching job in the past. Because of the current environment around the Wolfpack program and embattled coach Herb Sendek, it is only natural that Barnes’ name is on the front of many Wolfpackers minds on various internet message boards.
A few people question why Barnes would leave his $1.4MM a year position for any school…let alone NC State? I am going to refrain from jumping too deep into what I know to be true about that thought right now. If you choose to base any of your conclusions on your own uneducated presumptions about someone that you do not know and an industry that you do not know, then there is not much that many people can do to open your mind.
What I will do is share with you that Barnes has made no secret of his frustration of Texas’ fans apathy towards basketball from the outset of his tenure in Austin. Texas is a different world and if you haven’t ever left North Carolina or spent significant time in the Lone Star state then it is just going to be tough to grasp. But, I will give you illustration number 5,024 of what I am talking about —
About 90 minutes ago, The Big 12 Regular Season Champion, Texas Longhorn Basketball Team has just advanced to the Tournament Championship. I am writing this piece on an independent fan site for a school located 1,200 miles away and if you were to visit the UT Blog named Bevo Beat at the Austin American Statesman (similar to the News & Observer) RIGHT NOW, the lead story on the blog was posted yesterday and is titled, “How did Vinceâ€™s (Young’s) test score get out? Hereâ€™s one explanation.”
The entry before that (from Thursday)? How about,“Columnist rips on Vince; what do you think?”
In fact, the front page of the Blog doesn’t have a single entry related to basketball that isn’t in just press release form – like “PJ Tucker named POY”. Additionally, there are more football related entries currently on the blog (in the middle of MARCH) than there are basketball entries. Review the left side of the blog and you will see links to “other recent entries” which are as follows:
Ramonce Taylor to miss spring drills (Football)
Osterman picks up another honor (Womens’ Softball)
Jamaal Charles plans to sprint for track team (Track)
Texas secondary mixes it up this spring (Football)
Atchley, Williams make Big 12 academic team
In review….I think that I need to ask the idiot naysayers out there that don’t understand how WINNERS & COMPETITORS view the world the same thing that they ask …“why would a basketball coach want to come to NC State and have to compete in the nation’s top conference in an arena that sells out for every game (when fans are energized) against the likes of Roy and K?”
If you don’t already inherently know the answer, you still aren’t going to get it.