Thanks a lot, Rick Barnes. Thank you ever so much.
It's not like any of us wanted to watch Barnes' best player at Texas, Kevin Durant, play any more games in this NCAA Tournament. Or in a college uniform.
|Rick Barnes should enjoy seeing Durant in a Texas uniform -- that won't last long. (Getty Images)|
I mean, he doesn't come along to the college game. U.S. basketball has produced a handful of Kevin Durant-like players -- Kobe, LeBron -- but they went from high school to the NBA. And pretty soon the NBA, says me, will rescind its rule barring prep players. Someone will come along and challenge the ruling in court, and the court will rule in favor of the individual over the monopoly.
Meantime, Kevin Durant is gone from the NCAA Tournament, which means he's gone from the college game, because he's at worst the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, and that assumes Greg Oden goes No. 1. Oden is just quirky enough to stay in school, but not Durant. He's a mercenary, always has been -- three high schools in three years -- and the way he ended this season should show him just how pointless staying in school would be.
For what? For another year with Rick Barnes?
Yes, I blame Barnes for Texas' second-round exit from the NCAA Tournament, and I have my reasons. Seven of them. One for every year his Longhorns have lost in the tournament to a lower seed.
The seventh and latest example was Sunday, when fifth-seeded USC beat Texas like a rented 14th seed, not an exalted No. 4, to prevent a sexy Sweet 16 date with North Carolina.
There's more, but first some perspective. Texas was a solid program -- Tom Penders averaged 21 wins from 1989-98 and went to eight NCAA Tournaments in 10 years -- but Barnes has made it great. He has averaged 24 wins per year, and in 2003, Texas went to its first Final Four since 1947. Even with underclassmen like T.J. Ford, LaMarcus Aldridge, P.J. Tucker and Daniel Gibson turning pro early, Texas is an annual Top 15 team. Under Barnes, Texas has become a giant.
Until March. When Texas becomes Tiny Tim.
I have proof, people. Nine times Barnes has taken the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament. Nine times in nine years. That's fabulous.
But seven of those years -- seven out of nine -- Texas has lost in the tournament to a lower seed. That's not a blip. That's a trend of underachievement. And there has been little overachievement to balance it out. Under Barnes, Texas has played three NCAA Tournament games against a better seed. And Texas has lost two of those three.