Two things come to mind about Texas men's basketball. Head coach Rick Barnes is a great coach, and he's one hell of a human being, but I just wonder something about his coaching philosophy these days. I wonder if all the "one and dones" of recent years have hurt the program more than actually helping it?
Texas is slippin' and slidin' all over the NCAA bubble as we speak.
The 'Horns are 17-11, under five hundred in conference play and haven't beaten a ranked team all season, if my math is right? UT plays at lowly Texas Tech on Saturday and should secure regular season win number eighteen, but that's not exactly ruling the roost at the end of February.
Coach Barnes had two studs last season that lost to Arizona in the NCAA tournament. I know because I was there, the game was awesome! Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson are just the latest couple of UT'ers to smell the bright lights and the big city of the NBA before they could even come close to completing their core curriculum.
Anybody remember Kevin Durant?
You know, that guy that is clearly the best player in the NBA. Look, I know you have to recruit, and I realize that NBA rules no longer allow players in this country to go straight to the NBA from high school, so at least one year of college ball is the deal. But should it be the deal for everybody?
I suppose we have to be understanding of the "all in" argument that you cash in the chips to win now and worry about the rest later. And is Texas one of those programs that can do that? Yes, and yes! The best of the best are always going to come to Texas. That's just the way it is. The product is easy to sell. But I wonder if Coach Barnes should be selling a product of staying in Austin for at least a full calendar year? That shouldn't be that hard of a sell, should it?
But maybe the confusion lies with me?
Maybe this is what college basketball has morphed into within the sports world we now live. Maybe the gig is to get the best of the best, knowing you can do it year in and year out (basically), and just try to restock the pantry, so to speak, from season to season?
But that's where I wonder if recruiting players that you know will be "one and done" slowly, but somewhat surely, takes a slight toll on the program. I don't have any problem arguing that the answer to that question is yes - understanding, of course, why programs like Texas do it. I get it.
But I look at the numbers from this season, for example, and say to myself that UT is not even a number one seed for the post-season NIT Tournament.
My argument is simply that the formula of "one and dones" affects your chemistry. It affects the ability of Coach Barnes to gel his team from November to March to be that team to beat. And I'm not piling on this argument about Texas, they just happen to be the team I cover. Take some time and lookee-lookee what's transpired at UCLA recently - not much good.
And have you noticed lately that the NCAA tournament gets a little more stacked with "mid majors" each year.
I've noticed. And I wonder if that is nothing more than those schools recruiting for "four" years and some of your power programs recruiting for one. T.J. Ford didn't win a national championship. D.J. Augustine didn't win a national championship. Kevin Durant didn't win a national championship.
Texas basketball is ultimately going yo be fine simply because they are the University Of Texas. But is doing business the way they are ever going to hang one of those really pretty banners at the Erwin Center? I'm just sayin'...