Coming off his first losing season in 15 years at Texas and with a new men’s athletic director hired recently in Steve Patterson, some people believed Rick Barnes might be on the hot seat this year.
Barnes was not one of those people.
And neither is Patterson, who reportedly plans to bring Barnes next year. The Longhorns (22-9), the No. 3 seed in this week’s Big 12 tournament, are considered a lock to make the NCAA Tournament after last year’s 16-18 record — Barnes’ worst in 15 years on the job. Texas went to the NCAA Tournament 14 years in a row prior to Barnes’ only losing season at Texas last year.
“Nobody had ever told me I was on the hot seat,” Barnes said after Wednesday’s practice. “I trust the people at Texas. … They’ll never tell me when it’s time to go … I’ll know.”
Barnes was selected as Big 12 coach of the year by his vote of his peers this season. Barnes, who turns 60 in July, does not envision coaching as long as SMU’s Larry Brown, 73, but is in no hurry to hang up his whistle.
“I know this. I’ve been around long enough to know that when my times is up at Texas, and I know it will be, I’ll look back and know I’ve been extremely blessed to be at the University of Texas and in this profession as long as I have been,” Barnes said.
Holmes feeling better
Texas forward Jonathan Holmes, who has been battling an ailing right knee for the past month, said he feels close to 100 percent going into the Longhorns’ first game of the Big 12 tournament at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against West Virginia.
“I’m good. I’m ready to go,” Holmes said after Wednesday’s practice at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. “I’m as close to 100 percent as I’ve been since it happened. I feel great going into the tournament.”
Holmes, the Longhorns’ leading scorer at 13 points a game, injured his knee in a loss to Kansas State on Feb. 8 and has missed home games against Oklahoma State (Feb. 11) and TCU (March 5). The junior was a game-time decision before a 59-53 loss at Texas Tech in Texas’ regular season finale Saturday, when he played only 21 minutes.
The Embiid factor
As the top seed and winner of 10 consecutive regular-season conference titles, Kansas is once again the odds-on favorite to win the Big 12 tournament.
But Jayhawks 7-footer Joel Embiid is out this week as he recovers from a back injury and will likely miss the first week of the NCAA Tournament as well. However, whatever happens in Kansas City this week, the NCAA Selection Committee will take Embiid’s absence into consideration when deciding where to place the Jayhawks.
“I can assure you, in any situation, whether it regards an injury or an overall evaluation of a team, the committee not only looks at the victory or the won-loss record, we look at how the team played, where they played that particular team,” committee chairman Ron Wellman said. “It will be a deep evaluation.”