There has been a lot of great discussion about Rick Barnes in the wake of the 2010 collapse. For the most part, Barnes has been defended. I myself don’t want Barnes to be fired, but I have - and have always had - concerns about Barnes’ ability to coach in-game. It is his weakness in my opinion and until he addresses it, I’m afraid we Longhorn basketball fans are in for a lot more 2010s and very few 2003s. As I’ve said in many of my comments, what bothers me the most about Barnes is his performance during winning time. I define winning time as both the last five minutes of tight games and post-season tournament play. Most disturbing to me is that he has never won a conference tournament title. If you look at the great programs in this country – including Kansas in the Big XII, they have multiple wins in their conference tournaments. They often have to learn how to win their conference tournament before they learn how to win in the NCAAs. I don’t think we can expect to win the NCAA Big Dance until we learn to win the Little Dance called the Big XII Tournament.
A lot of stats and players have been examined in posts lately, but I would like us to examine winning time – post-season play. Let’s take a look at Rick Barnes’ Longhorn teams in post-season play as referenced by our media guide you can download from Texassports.com:
1998-9 Texas is a one seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 1-1. To be fair it was an incredible season for a team that started 3-8, but managed to win the regular season conference title. But in the conference tournament, Texas lost to fifth seed Oklahoma State by two points. Chris Mihm is all Big XII Tourney; Mihm and Muoneke are all conference. In the NCAA Texas is seeded 7th. They are upset by 10th seed Purdue by four points.
1999-00 Texas is a two seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 1-1. Texas loses to three seed Oklahoma by sixteen points in the semi-finals. Chris Mihm is all Big XII Tourney and all conference. In the NCAA Tournament Texas is 1-1, seeded 5th. In a tight game, Texas loses to 4th seed LSU by five in the second round.
2000-01 Texas is a four seed and goes 2-1. Texas loses to three seed Oklahoma in the finals by nine. Texas scores 45 points in that game. Texas loses three games to OU that year. OU is upset in opening round of NCAA. Chris Owens is all Big XII Tourney. In the NCAA Texas is a 6th seed and gets upset by 11th seeded Temple by 14 points.
2001-02 Texas is a three seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 1-1. Texas loses to two seed Oklahoma in semi-finals by sixteen. TJ Ford is all Big XII Tourney. In the NCAA Tournament Texas is a six seed. Texas upsets 3rd seed Mississippi State by four points in the second round. Texas is defeated by two seed Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen by two points.
2002-03 Texas is a two seed in the Big XII Tournament. Texas loses the first game to seven seed Texas Tech by eleven points. TJ is all conference and national player of the year. In the NCAA Texas is a one seed. Ford’s team goes to Final Four beating UNC-Asheville, Purdue, Connecticut, and Michigan State. The Longhorns then lost to Carmelo and Syracuse in the semi-finals by eleven points.
2003-4 Texas is a two seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 2-1. Longhorns lose to one seed Oklahoma State in the final by sixteen points. Brandon Mouton is all Big XII Tourney and all conference (media). In the NCAA Tournament the Horns are a three seed. Texas loses in the Sweet Sixteen to seventh seed Xavier by eight points.
2004-5 Texas is a six seed in the Big XII Tournament. Texas loses to eleven seed Colorado by 12 points. In the NCAA, Texas is seeded eighth. Texas loses to nine seed Nevada by four. Gibson is the freshman of the year in conference.
2005-6 Texas is a one seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 2-1. Texas loses to two seed Kansas by 12 points in the final. LaMarcus Aldridge and P.J. Tucker are all Big XII Tourney and all conference. In the NCAA, Texas is a second seed. Texas loses in the Elite Eight to four seed LSU and Big Baby by 10 in overtime.
2006-7 Texas is a three seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 2-1. Texas loses to one seed Kansas in OT 88-84. Horns blow 32-10 lead. It is the biggest comeback in Kansas history. AJ Abrams and Durant are all Big XII Tourney. Durant is Most Outstanding Player in Big XII Tournament despite loss (all Chuck Howley). Durant is all conference and Player of the Year in the Universe. In the NCAA tournament Texas is a four seed and loses to five seed USC by nineteen points.
2007-8 Texas is a one seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 2-1. Texas loses to two seed Kansas by ten points. AJ Abrams, DJ Augustin, and Damion James are all Big XII Tournament. Augustin is all conference. In the NCAA Tournament Texas is a two seed and loses to one seed Memphis by 18 points in the regional final.
2008-9 Texas is a five seed in the Big XII Tournament and goes 2-1. Texas loses to nine seed Baylor by six points in the semi-finals. Dexter Pittman is all Big XII Tournament. Texas is a seven seed in the NCAA and loses to two seed Duke by five points.
2009-10 – (No need to rehash)
The good in the Barnes’ era: We have gone to five Big XII Tournament title games. We have been to one Final Four, three Elite Eights, and five Sweet Sixteens. That is a good record of achievement and Barnes has taken us to the NCAA Tournament every one of his twelve years here. We've had great players (two national players of the year) and now we even have several kids playing major minutes in the NBA. That is awesome. However…
Seven times Texas has been beaten by a lower seed in the Big XII Tournament. Seven years Barnes has been beaten by double digits in the conference tournament. Barnes is 0-5 in Conference Tournament Finals: five losses – with large leads in two of those games by my memory. Given his comments in ESPN the Magazine, I guess he doesn’t care that much. But I hate being the Buffalo Bills of Big XII basketball. Until we climb this mountain, I find it highly unlikely we find our way back to the Final Four unless TJ finds a way to get his eligibility back. We have to be about winning Rick if we are ever going to cut down a net. And Peter, with all due respect, I was at Texas during the BMW era and back then our basketball program produced a lot more winning and excitement than the football team did. Just expecting us to be football dominant all the time led to our downfall in the late eighties and nineties. And by downfall, I don't just mean wins and losses. I sat in some awfully empty stadiums watching Texas football in the late eighties.
In the NCAA Tournament, Barnes’ squads have been beaten by lower seeds eight out of twelve years. (One of those defeats was by the eventual champion: Carmelo Anthony [Syracuse]). Texas has been beaten by double digits five times. This may be because we are over-hyped, but we have been upset quite a bit over the years. And several times, even in the Durant year, we have gotten our @#$’s handed to us. Again, I worry about our coach in winning time. He has got to improve his in-game coaching when the heat is on. Just some data for our conversation to continue...