Texas head coach Rick Barnes is on the hot seat.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Longhorns have struggled mightily in the past two seasons, getting knocked out in the Round of 64 in the 2012 tournament and missing the NCAA tournament all together last season after finishing the year 16-18.
Barnes hasn’t been able to recruit the state of Texas despite the fact that there has been a talent boom in recent years. He lost Myck Kabongo, Ioannis Papapetrou (both went pro), Julien Lewis and Shelden McClellan (both transferred) this offseason. Current Texas athletic director and Barnes supporter DeLoss Dodds will be stepping down soon.
There’s a valid reason that he found himself at the top of this list.
But apparently we’re not the only ones that feel that way about Barnes. Earlier today, Pete Thamel of SI.com published a story on the downfall of Texas athletics, and buried on the second page were some pretty harsh words about the Longhorn’s basketball coach:
“I worry more about basketball,” Dodds said. “If I were going to pick one [program] to worry more about, I worry more about basketball.”
Added the high-ranking Texas official: “I can’t imagine [Barnes] turning it around.”
“I can’t put my finger on it or pinpoint exactly, but we’re not getting Texas kids,” Dodds said. “We’ve had a lot of kids come into the program that are pretty good players that have left, not to go to the NBA.”
“They were the least competitive Texas team, in terms of winning and competing, that I’d seen,” said a veteran Big 12 coach of the Longhorns’ performance last season. “They used to have rugged, physical dudes who playing for Texas mattered to them. Last year, they just folded, like a lot of guys on the team didn’t care if they won or not.”
When the administrators at a football school with a struggling football program are more worried about the basketball coach, well, that’s not a good sign for Barnes.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.