After we reviewed Mike DeCourcy's article on Rick Barnes job at Texas, we thought a follow-up interview with DeCourcy would be instructive. Mike, a senior writer for The Sporting News, took the time to answer our questions on Rick Barnes and hoops in Austin.
Burnt Orange Nation: Is it your impression that Rick Barnes is, in general, happy with his situation in Austin?
Mike DeCourcy, TSN: Absolutely. I don't think there's any question he understands that Texas is a special place, that Austin is a special place, and that great things are possible with Longhorns basketball.
BON: Do you think he gets bothered by empty seats and a general lack of enthusiasm for hoops in Austin?
DeCourcy: Yes, I do. I think it's reasonable for him to believe that with what he has established at UT that greater response is merited from fans of the university's athletic programs. I visited a game against Texas a few years back when the Longhorns were doing very well -- on their way to a Sweet 16 finish -- and they were playing Kansas, and the buzz just wasn't what it would have been somewhere else.
BON: Why do you think it is that other "football first" schools like, say, Ohio State, are able to garner more enthusiasm for their hoops squads than Texas is? Do you think there's something particular to Texas football culture that makes this so?
DeCourcy: That appears to be the case. Look, the people at Texas don't obsess about football any more than the people at Ohio State do. And I don't think OSU fans have any greater connection to basketball, although their program has more history. I think the difference has been that Ohio State fans come to cheer their Buckeyes even though they don't have a great love for the sport of basketball, but that Texas has been less responsive in that way. Frankly, I think Texas can do better. The building isn't so big that Austin shouldn't be able to fill it regularly.
BON: Assuming Aldridge and Tucker go, and Kevin Durant and DJ Augustin step in - how do you think Texas looks for next year?
DeCourcy: I wouldn't assume Tucker will, or should, go. It doesn't seem to be a prudent move. He's already thrown away one season of college basketball. Unless he were forced to, I don't think it would be wise to throw away a second.
I think with P.J. that Texas still has a chance to be special. With LaMarcus, they would have been a national championship contender. But with Abrams, Augustin and Gibson in the backcourt and P.J., Durant, Mike Williams and Atchley up front, that's a strong team that will compete nationally.
BON: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Mike.