By: John G
Early Exit Barnes Strikes Yet Again
Another year, another disappointing finish for Tennessee basketball. A year filled with so much hope and promise, comes to an abrupt ending as the Volunteers collapse late in the second half to the Michigan Wolverines. Rick Barnes once again fails to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. This has been a common narrative for Coach Barnes ever since his days at Texas. Since being a Tennessee I have been very critical of Barnes knowing his poor postseason resume. This year his team had so much talent and was playing their best basketball at the right time, yet still came up short when it mattered most. I, like most Tennessee fans, once again fell for the hype and thought this year would be different.
Barnes has only made it to the Sweet 16 once out of the last 10 years in the tournament, including back to back seasons getting bounced out by a double digit seed. It seems like there is a massive lack of accountability with this coaching staff. Fans will point out that Rick Barnes wasn’t the one who shot 2-18 from 3, which is true, but there were also no adjustments at all from Tennessee’s head coach late in the game. Barnes made many questionable decisions in yesterday’s loss, or rather lack of. Fulkerson got way too many minutes, and he was getting abused by Dickinson all night. Barnes didn’t throw any different looks at Michigan’s offense. He didn’t try to double team and get the ball out of his hands. Our offense looked very stagnant all day with little to no movement or purpose. Things like that fall on the coach, but Tennessee fans will do anything in their power to defend him for some reason.
Even with all the hype and winning the SEC tournament, the Volunteers could not put together a deep run. You are going to hear a lot of fans trying to justify this loss with “sec champs” and “20+ win season”. At the end of the day, having 20+ wins and winning the SEC tournament doesn’t mean anything at all. It was cool to see the Vols get their first tournament title since 1979, but how did that do them any good in the tournament. Bringing up those statistics to make your team or coach look better is a loser mentality and just doesn’t sit right with me. There was no excuse for this team to not at least make the Sweet 16, making this season a disappointment. The bigger question Tennessee faces this offseason heading into next season is where do we go from here?