Rick Barnes has his working vacation ruined
Imagine that you're on a getaway with your better half in a lush tropical paradise. You and your boo lay under an umbrella on a white sand beach in front of the 5-star resort you're paying thousands of dollars to enjoy. Life couldn't get any better at that moment.
Just then, your cabana boy approaches with a tall glass filled with the fruity boat drink ($1 to Jimmy the Saint) that you ordered a few minutes ago. But as he draws closer, he trips over an unfortunately placed coconut and goes tumbling forward. The drink on his platter flies through the air and cracks you right between the eyes, knocking you out cold.
That my friends is basically what happened to Texas last night in the first round of the Maui Invitational. But instead of a clumsy cabana boy doing the deed to the Longhorns, it was everyone's favorite November underdog, the Chaminade Silverswords.
In losing by an 86-73 count to a Division II program, Texas made Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray a very thankful man. Why? Because while everyone is staring in amazement at what Chaminade did, few people will notice that Ray's team was throttled by North Carolina in the same tournament.
The only consolation for Texas coach Rick Barnes is that his team is far from the first high profile squad to stub its toe against Chaminade. Everyone remembers the program taking out Virginia in 1982, but Chaminade did the same thing to BOTH Louisville and SMU just a season later.
But here's the funny thing: Barnes is a guy who REALLY oughta know than this. Back in 1991 he brought a Providence team to Maui for a little sun and fun. That team also ended up losing to Chaminade.
I will say this about Chaminade in the Maui Invitational: traditionally, there has been a lot of home cooking. You know the perception of how Duke gets every single call in every single game? That's not always true (I think), but in the case of Chaminade in this tournament, it very often can be.
However, anyone who watched the game last night can tell you that there really wasn't an issue with officiating. Texas was only whistled for one more foul than Chaminade, that largely being a result of the Longhorns having to put the Swords on the line coming down the stretch.
Speaking of the free throw line, that's the area that was actually Texas' undoing. The Horns attempted 30 free throws but made only 17. In shots of the 3-point variety it was even worse: Texas took 21 and made only 4.
Now a bad shooting night can do in any team, regardless of who the opposition might be. But here's the rub: Chaminade was actually much scrappier than Texas. The Silverswords ended up winning the rebounding battle (41-33). Keep in mind that five days before, Chaminade was outrebounded by 10 in a loss to Western Washington. Yes, WESTERN WASHINGTON.
So in the aftermath of this ugly dumpster fire, Barnes' critics in Longhorn Nation (of which there are more than a few) have more ammunition to fire at him. They were already anxious over the fact that he hasn't taken Texas to the Sweet Sixteen in four years. Losing to Chaminade most likely sent them into a full blown panic.
It only takes a few under-achieving teams to make people forget all the good you've done. At this moment, fans don't care that Abe Lemons never took a Longhorn team to a Final Four, which Barnes did in 2002-03. Nor do they care that Tom Penders never produced a 30-win campaign as Texas' coach, something that Barnes has done twice.
Can a guy who's taken a program to 13 straight NCAA Tournaments be on the hot seat? That appears to be the case, because in the "What have you done for me lately?" environment of big-time college hoops, all anybody remembers right now is that Barnes lost to Chaminade. AGAIN.