Texas basketball is experiencing its worst year in the 15 seasons since Rick Barnes took over as head coach, and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds will have a decision to make at the end of the season regarding the future of his head basketball coach.
The return of point guard Myck Kabongo this week provides a glimmer of hope for the Longhorns, but it might be too little, too late for this year’s team, as well as for Barnes.
Here are five reasons why this year should be Barnes’s last at Texas.
Texas always plays good defense, but the offense has consistently been a point of frustration for Longhorn fans. The Longhorns have been in the top 100 in effective field-goal percentage just once in the last seven years. The offensive efficiency has not been terrible because Texas has been a good offensive rebounding team, ranking in the top 40 in five of the last six seasons.
This year, Texas has hit a new low for offensive issues. The Longhorns are No. 227 nationally in offensive efficiency, No. 292 in effective field-goal percentage and No. 291 in turnover percentage. The absence of Kabongo for the first 23 games has been a huge issue, but the Longhorns shouldn’t have been that bad without him.
All advanced stats according to KenPom.com.
There is so much talent in Texas, and Barnes used to get the best players the state had to offer. LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson, Damion James and D.J. Augustin are just a few of the players who decided to stay in-state and play at Texas.
In the 2012 class, Isaiah Austin (Baylor), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke) all picked a school other than Texas. The 2013 class has been even worse.
Aaron Harrison (Kentucky), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky) and Matt Jones (Duke) are leaving the state. Julius Randle and Keith Frazier still have not committed to a school, and if Barnes does not land either, this year’s recruiting class will be a dud.
Recently, Barnes has turned to Findlay Prep, a prep school in Nevada, to get his elite talent. Myck Kabongo, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson all came from Findlay Prep, but in the 2012 and 2013 classes, Texas has not gotten a commitment from Findlay.
Texas has been to the NCAA Tournament every year that Barnes has been on the sideline in Austin. However, the Longhorns have not advanced past the first weekend of the tournament in any of the last four years. There are 17 different schools that have made the last four tournaments, and the only school other than Texas that did not reach a Sweet 16 in any of the tournaments is Temple.
On the whole, Texas has failed to make the Sweet 16 in nine of its 14 NCAA Tournaments under Barnes.
Since the NBA put in its age limit rule, there have been a few NBA superstars who have been forced to spend a year in college, and most have had considerable success in the NCAA Tournament.
Derrick Rose made it to the final game at Memphis in 2008. Kevin Love made the Final Four at UCLA that same year. Going back to 2003, Carmelo Anthony won a national title in his one year at Syracuse. Kevin Durant, one of the top two players in the world right now, made it to the second round at Texas in 2007.
Barnes has recruited at a high level. Since 2003, Texas had a top 10 recruiting class five times, according to Rivals.com. The amount of success on the court has not matched the talent in the program. Texas has earned a top two seed in the NCAA Tournament just twice in that span.
Barnes has done so much for Texas since arriving in 1998 with the program in a tough spot after the resignation of Tom Penders. Barnes took the Longhorns to the Final Four in 2003, their first since 1947, and made the Elite Eight three times when the program had only been there four times before he arrived.
That being said, it feels as if Barnes’ best days in Austin are in the past. Texas is one of the best college basketball jobs in the country with great facilities and easy access to talent. There is no reason that Texas should not be competing for Final Fours on a regular basis.
Lately, that just hasn’t been the case.