The Horns finished their season in Kansas City with a rousing blowout at the hands of K-State on Thursday. The season record: 16-17. That taste in your mouth: bitter and disappointing.
Rick Barnes will have a job next season, at least that's what DeLoss Dodds assures us. “I think Rick’s done a good job,” Dodds told the Austin American Statesman. “He’s got
young kids. He’s changed the culture of the program, and in basketball,
recruiting is hard to do. He’s an honorable guy.” That's great but UT has had and deserves better.
This marks Barnes first losing record and first year not to take the Horns to the NCAA tournament. Winning over 70% of your games will buy you a year like this, but not two. Texas has invested in it's basketball program since the late 80's when Tom Penders arrived to undo 6 years of Bob Weltlich. Penders brought the Runnin' Horns and national relevance.
Barnes arrived in '98 from Clemson under minimal fanfair but excellent pedigree. In the years since the Horns have made a final four appearance and been on the cusp of two others. Add in two sweet sixteen showings and it's been a very good 15 years. Think of names like Durrant, Augustin, Aldridge, Ford, Gibson, Mihm, and Thompson and you've got a nice cross section of UT basketball for the past decade plus.
Now we meet at a cross roads. Is this a blip on the radar screen or is this the first creak of a downturn? The fortunes seem to turn on whether Julius Randle commits or not. Barnes has a track record that says he'll work it out, but then again a lot of coaches lose their touch at some point.
One thing we know, another season like this and we'll have a new head coach in Austin.