Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? Well, the Men’s Basketball team was clearly not up to the task this year. Suspension, stamina, resilience, and any other critical words you can come up with would fit this team. The prism that people use to look at this program is based on 14 years of Tournament visits with a few Elite Eights and one trip to the Final Four. What the fans should be looking at is a broken mirror that has the Horns in a 7 year lock of bad basketball dating back to our highest point.
That high point for the Texas program was the 2007-2008 season where the team was led by DJ Augustin, A.J. Abrams and Damion James who put up the most wins during the Rick Barnes era (31 wins). A trip to the Elite Eight plus the last time this program could claim a share of the Big 12 title were just a few of the highlights for this program. Ironically, the Kevin Durant led team a year before put up only 25 wins and lost in the second round. The Horns just finished the 5th year of this broken mirror curse. Since that high mark, Texas has gone 47-37 in conference play and the low moment for the program was missing out on the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time in the Barnes tenure.
Many fans have a looking glass that tells them a Big 12 championship and a deep run in the Tournament is coming closer with this group of talented players. Unfortunately, this is a rear view mirror approach on what it used to be around here. The biggest reflection needs to be taken by Rick Barnes to see if he has the stomach to continue fighting like another coach on the 40 acres. Barnes has created some great moments and recruited some unbelievable talent that went on to the NBA.
Now players are looking to transfer or getting fed up with Barnes’ coaching style. But just like another 15 year veteran coach at UT, the head man needs to realize that his legacy is set, and he needs to ask if himself if he has any more left in the tank.
But the biggest problem with the Texas Basketball program is who is looking at the mirror right now. The fans and I include myself in this assessment are the ones that broke the mirror. We do not demand more from our basketball coaches and players like other fan bases. We are quick to move on to spring football which allows the team to feel complacent and second class. When you start hearing coaches pleading for noise and asking for students to come make the Erwin Center a festive atmosphere, you know you have a much deeper problem than just a need for some more wins. Do you think ESPN will ever have a College Game Day visit at a UT basketball game? I know that people say that the product needs to be better in order for fans to show up. That logic works on professional teams where the athletes get paid. (Insert joke here on college athletics) Attendance at men’s home games continue to slip. Four years ago the average home attendance at the Drum was 14,629…and now the Hum Drum posted a 10,945 average attendance for the 2012-2013 season. The Frank Erwin Center (seats 16,374) with all the bells and whistles still does not configure the student section to get the most excitement generated at the games and the alumni show up late as always. The seating arrangement needs to be changed or make late arrivals have to sit up in the balcony until halftime and somehow get students charged up to attend games. I have even seen an article or two saying that this Texas job is one of the top 5 jobs in college basketball. We as fans have a long way to go to even come close to that type of ranking for the fan base. We need to be the ones to generate the change or pressure in order for the players and coaches to reflect our passions and demands.
The eerily similar path that the two head coaches on the two most high profile teams at UT are working with a lame duck athletic director makes for interesting fonder but does not help fans see any hope for change. Maybe the curse of the broken mirror will be done in less than 2 years. By that time DeLoss Dodds should be riding off into the sunset and a coaching change might be in order for us to change the culture and attitude about our program.
Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter @40AcresSports or follow me @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!