A proven winner at every stop of his career, Rick Barnes has led The University of Texas basketball program to a level of national prominence never before seen at the Forty Acres. In his first 10 years at the helm of the Longhorns, the 54-year-old Barnes has guided Texas to a school-record 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a school-best nine straight 20-win seasons entering the 2008-09 campaign.
Barnes became the all-time winningest coach in Texas history during the 2006-07 season. The Horns have registered a 247-93 (.726) mark in Barnes’ 10 seasons, an average of nearly 25 victories per year. UT is one of just eight programs to have advanced to each of the last 10 NCAA Tournaments, joining Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
In the last seven seasons, Barnes has moved the Texas program into one of the nation’s elite. UT is one of only three programs to have advanced to at least the “Sweet 16″ of the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven seasons, joining Duke and Kansas. Included in this seven-year stretch was a trip to the 2003 Final Four, marking the third time in school history and first since 1947 (a span of 56 years) that UT had advanced to the Final Four. Texas advanced to the “Elite Eight” in 2006 and 2008 and the “Sweet 16″ in 2002 and 2004.
Texas has claimed three Big 12 Conference titles in Barnes’ 10 seasons, including two in the past three years (1999, 2006 and 2008). UT also has advanced to the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA tourney in two of the last three years (2006 and 2008).
During the last three seasons, Texas has posted a combined 86-24 (.782) record, shattering the mark for most wins at UT in a three-year period (previous was 75, twice). Texas set a school record for most wins in a season (31-7) in 2007-08. While using a starting rotation of four freshmen and a sophomore in 2006-07, the Horns posted a 25-10 mark and advanced to the NCAA Second Round. In 2005-06, Texas registered a 30-7 record and advanced to the NCAA “Elite Eight.”
During the Barnes era, the Longhorns have spent 128 weeks in the AP Top 25 poll, including 52 in the Top 10. Texas also has finished the season ranked in the Top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll in four of the last six seasons (No. 3 in 2002-03, No. 10 in 2003-04, No. 9 in 2005-06 and No. 5 in 2007-08).
The Longhorns have reached the 10-win mark in Big 12 Conference play in nine of the 10 seasons under Barnes. Texas posted a 9-7 conference mark in 2004-05. UT has reached 12 league wins in each of the last three seasons (13-3 in 2005-06, 12-4 in 2006-07 and 13-3 in 2007-08) and recorded at least 13 conference victories in five of Barnes’ 10 seasons in Austin (13-3 in 1998-99, 13-3 in 1999-2000, 13-3 in 2002-03, 13-3 in 2005-06 and 13-3 in 2007-08).
Not only has Barnes shown the ability to develop winning teams, he has played a huge role in producing individual success. Texas is the only school in the country that can claim two National Player of the Year winners in the last six years, T.J. Ford (2003) and Kevin Durant (2007). UT has had four consensus first-team All-Americans during the Barnes era (Chris Mihm in 2000, T.J. Ford in 2003, Kevin Durant in 2007 and D.J. Augustin in 2008), and Augustin claimed the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard in 2008.
Texas also has produced 10 NBA Draft picks in Barnes’ first 10 seasons, including five lottery picks in Chris Mihm, T.J. Ford, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin. Both Aldridge (2006) and Durant (2007) were selected as the No. 2 overall picks in their respective drafts. In fact, UT became the first school to have a Top Two pick in consecutive NBA Drafts since DePaul in 1981-82.
When Augustin was selected as the No. 9 pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2008 NBA Draft, it completed quite a three-year run for the Longhorns at the Draft. Texas is the only school in the nation to have a Top 10 pick in each of the last three NBA Drafts. In fact, UT is just the fourth school since 1985 (when the current draft lottery system was implemented) to produce a lottery pick in three consecutive years. Georgia Tech (1989-91), Duke (1992-95) and Connecticut (2004-06) previously accomplished the feat.
Texas has produced four Top 10 picks in the last six years, the top total in the nation during this stretch. Connecticut, Florida and North Carolina have each had three Top 10 selections in this span.
With talent, depth, recruiting, facility improvements and a commitment to the program’s success at an all-time high, Barnes has everyone talking about Texas Basketball, both in Austin and around the nation.
Barnes has compiled a 449-227 (.664) record in 21 seasons as a head coach at George Mason, Providence, Clemson and Texas. Along the way, he has guided his teams to a total of 16 NCAA Tournaments, including a current streak of 13 straight, and three Postseason NIT appearances.
In addition to creating success on the court, Barnes also has been the point-man in changing the physical face of Texas Basketball. The Frank Erwin Center completed a three-step, $52 million makeover. Phase one was completed prior to the start of the 2001-02 season, when the lower arena seating areas were reconfigured to move fans closer to the court. In the process, almost 1,200 arena-level seats were created as general admission seating for UT students.
Construction on the final two phases – luxury suites and the 44,000-square foot Denton A. Cooley Pavilion (a state-of-the-art practice facility located immediately south of the Erwin Center) – was completed in mid-October of 2003. The two-story facility serves as the Longhorns’ permanent headquarters for the basketball program.
Barnes is a coach who adapts his style of play to the talents of his team. In his first three years at Texas, the Horns combined a halfcourt offensive attack featuring post players Chris Mihm and Chris Owens with a hard-nosed, man-to-man defense that posted three of the top 10 marks in school history for single-season field goal percentage defense. In fact, Texas ranked fifth nationally in 2000-01 in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 38.9% shooting on the year.
In 2001-02, Barnes instructed freshman sensation T.J. Ford to push the ball and attack offensively at every opportunity. Under Barnes’ guidance, a smaller but quicker squad reached the “Sweet 16″ for the first time at Texas since 1996-97. In 2002-03, the Longhorns turned heads around the nation by climbing to as high as No. 2 in the national polls (the highest ranking in school history), earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the Final Four for the first time since 1947.
In 2003-04, following Ford’s early departure to the NBA, Barnes used a balanced lineup that featured an 11-man rotation to post 25 wins and reach the “Sweet 16″ for the third consecutive year, another first in Texas history. Using just a seven-man rotation and playing zone defense throughout much of the 2005-06 season, the Horns posted a 30-7 record, claimed a share of the Big 12 Conference crown and advanced to the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA Tournament.
Barnes and his staff did one of their best jobs during the 2006-07 season. After losing the entire starting five from the “Elite Eight” team the year before, the staff took a starting lineup that featured four freshmen and one sophomore and led the club to a 25-10 mark and the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Kevin Durant became the first freshman in NCAA history to earn National Player of the Year honors, sweeping all seven major awards.
Despite Durant’s departure to the NBA, the Horns registered a school record for wins in a season (31-7 mark), claimed a share of the Big 12 Conference title and advanced to the NCAA “Elite Eight” during the 2007-08 season. D.J. Augustin earned consensus first-team All-America and first-team Academic All-America honors in addition to winning the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard.
Barnes at Texas
Hired as the 23rd men’s basketball coach in Texas history on April 12, 1998, Barnes took all of one year to turn the Longhorns basketball program from one in disarray to one on the rise in the national picture. Despite playing with just seven scholarship players for the majority of the 1998-99 season and struggling out of the gate to a 3-8 mark, Barnes remained patient and engineered one of the greatest midseason turnarounds in school history. The Longhorns won 16 of their final 21 games to finish the year at 19-13.
In the process, Texas posted a 13-3 mark in the Big 12 Conference en route to capturing its first ever Big 12 crown and first outright league title since 1993-94. Texas claimed a No. 7 seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Purdue 58-54 in a first-round nailbiter at Boston’s FleetCenter.
For his efforts, Barnes was named the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year by both the media and the league’s coaches. He also earned mention as Basketball Times’ All-Southwest Coach, USBWA (United States Basketball Writers Association) District 7 Coach of the Year and NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) District 9 Coach of the Year. Barnes became the first rookie coach at Texas to win an outright league title since Harold Bradley led the Longhorns to the Southwest Conference crown in 1959-60.
Barnes led the Longhorns to one of the best regular seasons in modern school history in 1999-2000. Along the way, Texas posted a 24-9 record (13-3 Big 12, second), advanced to the second round of the NCAA tourney and earned a No. 15 final AP ranking, the best in school history. Tabbed No. 21 in the AP preseason poll, the Horns were ranked in the AP Top 25 all season for the first time in school history.
Despite playing a school-record 12 games against AP Top 25 foes, Texas won 20 games for the first time since 1995-96. The 22 regular-season wins tied for the third-most victories by a Texas team. The Longhorns also posted five wins against AP Top 25 opponents, including two against Top 10 foes, breaking the school record for most wins in a season versus ranked opponents.
Texas earned a No. 5 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament, tied for the best NCAA seed in school history since the tourney expanded to 64 teams. UT downed Indiana State (77-61) in the first round, before falling to fourth-seeded LSU (72-67) in round two.
One of 15 finalists for the 2000 Naismith National College Coach of the Year, Barnes helped develop junior Chris Mihm into one of the top centers in the country. Mihm earned consensus first-team All-America honors, becoming just the second player in Texas history (Jack Gray, 1935) to earn the accolade. Mihm also was named to the AP first-team All-America squad, becoming the first player in school history to earn the honor.
Despite losing four starters, including Mihm a year early to the NBA, from his 1999-2000 squad, Barnes did one of his better coaching jobs during his third year in Austin. He molded four true freshmen who all played significant minutes and a total of eight newcomers into a team that posted a 25-9 record (12-4 Big 12, tied for second), advanced to the NCAA Tournament and finished the year ranked No. 18 in the final AP poll. The ranking marked the first time in school history that the Horns appeared in the final AP poll in back-to-back seasons.
Texas used an eight-game winning streak to reach the Big 12 Tournament title game for the first time in the league’s five-year history before falling to Oklahoma. After earning a No. 6 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament, the Horns closed out the season with a 79-65 loss to an upstart Temple squad which eventually reached the “Elite Eight.”
The Longhorns tied a school record for most home wins in a season (16-1 mark) and defeated two AP Top 10 teams (No. 5 Illinois, No. 6 Iowa State) at home in the same season for the first time in school history. Texas’ 23 regular-season wins also tied for the second-most regular-season victories in UT history. Barnes again earned USBWA District 7 and NABC District 9 Coach of the Year accolades.
Year four in Austin proved to be one of the most dramatic in school history. When All-America candidate Chris Owens was lost for the season with a torn ACL in late December, most predicted Texas would be lucky to reach the Postseason NIT. One of the youngest teams in the nation, as its top five players by season’s end consisted of four sophomores and then-freshman Ford, the Longhorns managed to rally around each other and prove the nay-sayers wrong. UT posted a 22-12 record (10-6 Big 12, tied for third) and advanced to the NCAA “Sweet 16″ for the first time since 1996-97.
Texas used a 70-61 win at No. 5 Oklahoma State to open Big 12 Conference play and set the tone for an exciting spring. The victory marked the first against an AP Top Five opponent in a true road game in school history. The Longhorns overcame a brutal February slate, as six of their eight opponents were ranked in the AP Top 25 at some point during the season, to earn a No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
The conference battles proved to be a maturing process for Texas, with the league sending six teams to the “Big Dance” and four into the “Sweet 16.” After falling in the Big 12 tourney semifinals, the Longhorns headed to Dallas as a No. 6 seed at the Midwest Sub-Regional.
Before a pro-Texas crowd, the Longhorns posted wins against Boston College (70-57) and No. 17 Mississippi State (68-64) to advance to the “Sweet 16″ for just the third time since the NCAA tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985. In a matchup against No. 2 seed Oregon in the regional semifinals, Texas rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 70 with 24 seconds remaining. However, a place in the “Elite Eight” was denied when Oregon guard Fred Jones drove the lane and hit a running floater with three seconds left to give the Ducks a 72-70 victory.
Ford became the first freshman in NCAA history to lead the nation in assists (8.27 avg.), picking up USBWA National Freshman of the Year honors. Texas concluded the season tied at No. 18 in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.
The 2002-03 campaign was arguably the most successful season in school history. Returning all five starters from the team that reached the “Sweet 16,” expectations had never been higher. Texas was ranked No. 4 in the AP preseason poll.
The Horns proved up to the challenge, tying the school record for most victories in a season with a 26-7 mark. Along the way, Texas earned its highest ranking in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today polls in school history (No. 2 in both polls on Dec. 2, 2002). UT was ranked in the AP Top 10 for all 19 weeks of the season, a first in school history, and 13 of those 19 weeks were spent in the Top Five.
Barnes earned his 300th career collegiate victory in the 58-50 win against Louisiana Tech on Dec. 30, 2002. He also became the sixth coach in UT history to reach 100 wins while at Texas with a 70-50 victory against Iowa State on Jan. 11, 2003.
UT placed second in the final Big 12 standings by registering a 13-3 mark in arguably the nation’s toughest conference. The Longhorns posted a 14-0 record at home, marking the first time since the 1994-95 season and just the third time since the move to the Erwin Center in 1977-78 that the Horns completed an unbeaten home campaign. Texas also recorded a 6-4 mark against AP Top 25 teams, setting a school record for most victories against ranked opponents in a season, and a 3-1 record against AP Top 10 foes.
Barnes used a formula of depth and exceptional team chemistry to guide the Horns to their first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Texas made the most of its opportunities in the tourney, recording wins against UNC Asheville and Purdue during the NCAA First and Second Rounds in Birmingham, Ala. The Horns then posted hard-fought victories against No. 23 Connecticut and Michigan State at the NCAA South Regional in San Antonio to advance to their first Final Four since 1947, a span of 56 years. A 95-84 loss to eventual national champion Syracuse in the Louisiana Superdome before 54,432 fans, the largest crowd to ever see a Texas Basketball game, ended UT’s successful run in the NCAA semifinals.
One of 25 finalists for the Naismith National Coach of the Year, Barnes garnered Big 12 Coach of the Year honors from the league’s coaches and NABC District 9 Coach of the Year accolades. He helped develop Ford into one of the top players in school history. Ford became the first UT male to earn the Naismith and Wooden Awards as college basketball’s Player of the Year. He also was named National Player of the Year by CBS SportsLine, ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News and garnered consensus first-team All-America recognition.
Despite the early departure of Ford to the NBA as the eighth overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks, year six (2003-04) saw Texas record a 25-8 mark and advance to its third straight “Sweet 16.” Led by a quartet of seniors who ended their careers as the winningest class in school history with 98 wins, UT again was ranked in the AP Top 25 for all 19 weeks of the season.
Texas placed in a tie for second in the final Big 12 standings by recording a 12-4 mark. UT advanced to the league’s postseason tournament championship game for the second time in four years, before falling to Oklahoma State. The Longhorns also registered an 8-5 record against AP Top 25 opponents, breaking the school record for most wins against ranked opponents in a season.
Barnes again used depth and balance to play an 11-man rotation while leading the Horns to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the second-highest seed in school history. Texas recorded hard-fought wins against Princeton (66-49) and North Carolina (78-75) during the NCAA First and Second Rounds in Denver, before an upstart Xavier team ended UT’s season in the “Sweet 16.” The Horns recorded at least 25 wins for the second consecutive season, setting a school mark for most victories in a two-year period (51).
Texas replaced the four departing seniors with a quartet of true freshmen who saw significant action in 2004-05. As if that wasn’t a difficult transition by itself, constant lineup and roster changes due to injuries and off-court situations were the norm, rather than the exception. Through it all, Barnes and Co. never wavered or allowed expectations in Austin to dip.
Mid-season losses of two key starters, LaMarcus Aldridge and P.J. Tucker, spoiled a 14-3 start to the season which saw UT climb as high as No. 10 in the AP poll. Although the Horns suffered through a three-game losing skid in league play for the first time in the Barnes era, Texas rallied together to reach the 20-win plateau for the sixth straight year and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season.
Despite its depleted roster, the Longhorns managed to post a regular-season sweep of eventual “Sweet 16″ participant Oklahoma State. The Horns recorded a 75-61 home win against the No. 5 Cowboys, then followed with a dramatic 74-73 victory over No. 8 Oklahoma State on “Senior Night” in Stillwater. The road win snapped OSU’s nation-long home winning streak (29 games).
The 2005-06 campaign saw the return of both Aldridge and Tucker to the lineup and high expectations again. The Horns were tabbed No. 2 in the AP preseason poll and No. 3 in the preseason coaches poll. Both rankings marked the highest preseason rankings in school history.
Texas lived up to the hype, registering one of the most successful seasons in school history. UT registered a 30-7 mark, shattering the school record for most wins in a season (previous: 26, four times). The Longhorns claimed a share of the Big 12 Conference regular season title, the No. 1 seed in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Texas then advanced to the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA Tournament, before falling in overtime to LSU in the Atlanta Regional final.
In short, 2005-06 proved to be a record-breaking season for the Horns. Texas led the nation in rebound margin and set a school record for highest rebound margin in a season at +10.6. This marked the second time in school history (and first since 1947-48 when the Horns led the nation in free throw percentage) that the Longhorns topped the nation in a team statistical category. UT shattered its previous school record of +7.3 set in the 1961-62 season. Texas also ranked second nationally in scoring margin (+14.9, a school record) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (38.4).
UT set a school record for most regular-season victories. The Horns posted a 25-5 mark in the regular season, topping the previous record of 24-1 set by the 1946-47 Final Four team. The Longhorns reached the 20-win plateau on the earliest calendar date (Feb. 6) in school history with a win at Texas Tech. The previous mark was Feb. 13, set during the 1977-78 season.
Texas proved to be a dominant team in the friendly confines of the Frank Erwin Center. UT tied the school record for most home victories in a season with a 16-1 mark at the Erwin Center (Texas went 16-1 at home in 2000-01 and 16-0 in 1932-33). On the season, the Horns posted a +27.8 scoring margin in their 17 home games (83.2-55.4). UT also had a perfect 8-0 mark in Big 12 Conference home games and registered a +25.1 scoring margin in those eight contests (81.5-56.4).
The 2006 NBA Draft featured a strong presence of burnt orange and white, to say the least. For the first time in school history, The University of Texas had three players selected in the same NBA Draft. LaMarcus Aldridge was selected as the No. 2 overall pick by the Chicago Bulls. Aldridge became the highest draft pick in UT history, topping LaSalle Thompson’s selection at No. 5 by Kansas City in 1982. Aldridge’s rights were later traded to Portland. P.J. Tucker was selected by Toronto at No. 35, and Daniel Gibson was taken at No. 42 by Cleveland.
Most of the talk surrounding the Texas program during the spring and early summer prior to the 2006-07 season focused on what was lost from the “Elite Eight” team of the year before. After losing a pair of seniors in Brad Buckman and Kenton Paulino, the Horns also said goodbye to a trio of underclassmen who all were taken in the 2006 NBA Draft: LaMarcus Aldridge, P.J. Tucker and Daniel Gibson. When all was said and done, UT did not return a single starter and had lost six of its top seven guys from the 2005-06 team.
The 2006-07 roster featured just one senior and two juniors. In fact, only one player (Connor Atchley) had been with the UT program for more than one year, and he spent one of his first two years as a redshirt. To make the adjustment easier, Barnes and his staff brought in the No. 3 recruiting class in the country that featured seven freshmen.
The team used a starting lineup that featured one sophomore (A.J. Abrams) and four freshmen (D.J. Augustin, Kevin Durant, Damion James and Justin Mason) for most of the year. Youth was never used as an excuse, and that philosophy paved the way for a 25-10 season that saw the Horns reach the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
One of the most exciting teams to watch in the country, Texas played a school-record five overtime games during the season. Included in these contests was a triple-overtime classic that resulted in a 105-103 loss at No. 12 Oklahoma State and a 98-96 double-overtime win against No. 7 Texas A&M in the final regular-season home game. UT concluded the year ranked No. 11 in the final AP poll and No. 16 in the final ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
Freshman sensation Kevin Durant became the story in college basketball. In all of one season, he proved to be one of the great players in UT history. All Durant did was sweep all seven major National Player of the Year awards, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to win any of them. The fourth consensus first-team All-American in Texas history, Durant ranked in the Top 10 nationally in both scoring (25.8 ppg, fourth) and rebounding (11.1 rpg, fourth).
Barnes reached a pair of personal milestones during the 2006-07 season. With the home victory against Texas State on Dec. 16, he became the 25th active Division I coach to reach the 400-win plateau. Barnes also became the winningest coach in school history with UT’s 83-54 home victory against No. 18 Oklahoma State on Feb. 12.
Despite the loss of Durant to the NBA (No. 2 pick by the Seattle Sonics), the 2007-08 campaign proved to be one of the most successful in school history. Texas set a school record for most victories in a season (31-7 record), marking the second time in a three-year period that UT had reached the 30-win plateau.
The Longhorns claimed the Big 12 Conference regular season title (13-3 record), earned the No. 1 seed at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and advanced to the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA Tournament. Texas played 20 of its 38 games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament and posted a 15-5 record in those contests.
UT was ranked No. 5 in the final ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, announced following the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament. The Horns also were ranked No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll. It marked the fifth time in a six-year stretch that the Longhorns had been ranked in the Top 12 of the final AP poll.
Still a relatively young squad that featured two juniors and three sophomores in the starting rotation, Texas set records for most regular-season victories (26-5 mark), most home wins (17-1 record), total games played (38) and tied the mark for most wins away from home (14-6 record).
UT recorded two victories against AP Top Three teams during the season. Texas’ win at No. 2 UCLA (63-61) on Dec. 2 equaled the highest-ranked (AP) opponent the Horns had defeated in school history. UT also posted a 72-69 home victory on Feb. 11 against No. 3 and eventual national champ Kansas.
Texas was the only school in the country that could claim three wins against teams ranked in the Top Five of the final AP poll. The Horns had victories against No. 3 UCLA (road), No. 4 Kansas (home) and No. 5 Tennessee (neutral-site). UT posted a 4-3 mark against the AP Top 10 and a 6-4 mark against the AP Top 25 on the season. Texas also led the nation in fewest turnovers per game (9.4), setting a school record in the process.
D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Connor Atchley and Justin Mason played in all 38 games which broke the school’s individual mark for most games played (previous record: 37). In addition, Augustin and Atchley started all 38 games, also eclipsing the school record (previous mark: 37).
Augustin earned both consensus first-team All-America honors and first-team Academic All-America accolades in his sophomore season, becoming just the 15th player in NCAA history to earn both in the same year. The winner of the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top collegiate point guard, Augustin led the Big 12 in assists (5.8 apg) and ranked second in the league in scoring (19.2 ppg). Augustin turned pro following the season and was selected as the No. 9 pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2008 NBA Draft.
One of 10 finalists for both the Henry Iba Award (USBWA National Coach of the Year) and the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, Barnes earned Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year and NABC District 9 Coach of the Year honors.
The Clemson Years
Barnes came to Texas after taking the Clemson program to never-before-seen heights in four short years, including a school-record three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a No. 2 national ranking during its 1996-97 “Sweet 16″ campaign. Barnes left Clemson with the school’s best all-time winning percentage (.607) and top winning percentage in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
While at Clemson, Barnes’ teams drew more fans and saw more season tickets sold than at any other time in the program’s history. Overall, Barnes’ teams at Clemson posted a 74-48 record, including 13 wins against AP Top 25 teams.
The Tigers jumped out to a fast start in 1994-95, Barnes’ initial season, winning their first 10 games. In his first ACC game, Barnes guided Clemson to an upset of No. 9 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was the program’s first win at Duke in 10 years. Barnes had Clemson in the AP Top 20 on Jan. 10, 1995 for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign. His Clemson team, which did not have a starter over 6-7 and was tabbed in the preseason as “the worst team in ACC history” by the Greenville (S.C.) News, went on to finish 15-13 and earn an NIT bid.
Barnes followed up his first year with an 18-11 overall record, earning Clemson’s first NCAA bid since the 1989-90 “Sweet 16″ team. Along the way, the Tigers had four wins against Top 25 teams. Clemson also defeated every ACC school during the year for just the fifth time in school history. Barnes’ year was highlighted by a dramatic, last-second 75-73 victory over North Carolina in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. The win marked the first by Clemson against the Tar Heels in the state of North Carolina in 29 years. The Tigers lost an 81-74 decision in the NCAA First Round to a Georgia team which reached the “Elite Eight.”
Bolstered by a Top 10 national recruiting class, the 1996-97 Tigers jumped out to a 16-1 start and a No. 2 ranking. Clemson finished that season with a 23-10 record against a schedule ranked as the ninth-toughest in the nation. Barnes’ team played 15 games against teams ranked in the Top 25 of the RPI, including nine games against Top 10 foes. Clemson and LSU were the only schools in the nation to play three of the teams that advanced to the Final Four.
The Tigers posted wins over Miami (Ohio) and Tulsa to advance to the NCAA “Sweet 16″ for just the third time in school history, before falling to third-ranked and eventual Final Four participant Minnesota in a 90-84 double-overtime classic at San Antonio’s Alamodome. Clemson concluded the year ranked No. 8 in the CNN/USA Today poll, the highest final season ranking in school history.
During his final season at Clemson (1996-97), the Tigers began the year ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP poll – the highest preseason ranking in school history. Despite facing a schedule ranked third toughest in the nation by the RPI and playing with an injured point guard in Terrell McIntyre for the majority of the season, Barnes’ team still posted an 18-14 mark en route to another berth in the “Big Dance.”
It marked the third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament for Clemson, the first time in school history the feat had been accomplished. The Tigers posted three wins against Top 25 opposition during the regular season. Barnes also picked up his 200th win as a Division I coach with a 77-72 victory over North Carolina State on Feb. 26, 1998.
The Providence Years
Prior to his stint at Clemson, Barnes served as the head coach at Providence College for six years. During his tenure at the Big East Conference school, he posted an 108-76 (.587) overall record while leading Providence to its first Big East Tournament title and a total of five postseason appearances (three NCAA, two NIT). In his 102 games at PC, the Friars averaged 10,596 fans per game and posted the top five single-season attendance marks in school history.
Under Barnes’ guidance, Providence recorded 17 wins over Top 25 teams. His 17 wins over ranked opponents are tied for second in school history, although he owns the mark on a season average basis (2.8 wins per year). Dave Gavitt had 23 ranked wins in 10 years, while Joe Mullaney chalked up 17 victories in 14 seasons.
Barnes helped develop 11 Providence student-athletes who went on to play professional basketball at some level, including six NBA players. PC joined Duke as the only schools in the nation to boast at least two selections in both the 1994 and 1995 NBA drafts. All four Friars players drafted in those years were recruited and coached by Barnes.
While at Providence, Barnes’ teams featured an up-tempo style that held rebounding as the key aspect of the game. Four of the top 11 scoring teams in PC history were coached by Barnes, including the 1988-89 squad that averaged a school-record 85.3 ppg. In his six years, the Friars averaged 79.7 points per game. In addition, each of his last four PC teams ranked in the top 25 nationally in rebound margin, including the 1991-92 squad which ranked fourth (+7.5).
In his first season at Providence (1988-89), Barnes inherited an 11-17 team and opened the season with a 13-game winning streak. Less than a month into his first year, Barnes had the Friars in the Top 20. PC went on to post an 18-11 record and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Virginia 100-97 in a First Round contest. Barnes was named District I Coach of the Year by the NABC.
His second year at PC proved his initial season was no fluke. Barnes led the Friars to a 17-12 overall mark, including the school’s first win at the Carrier Dome with an 87-86 victory against No. 5 Syracuse. The win snapped a 21-game losing streak to the Orangemen. The Friars also upset No. 3 Georgetown en route to earning a second straight NCAA bid. Providence lost an overtime thriller to Ohio State in a First Round game.
With the help of the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the nation, the 1990-91 Friars posted a 19-13 record while narrowly missing a third straight NCAA appearance. During the year, PC played 12 games against ranked teams, including a remarkable 10-game stretch against Top 25 opponents from Jan. 8-Feb. 12. The Friars survived the span with a 5-5 mark.
After receiving a NIT bid, Providence downed James Madison and West Virginia, before falling to Oklahoma in the quarterfinals. In his first three seasons at the Rhode Island school, Barnes had taken Providence to three straight postseason tournaments (two NCAAs and an NIT) and posted three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the legendary Dave Gavitt accomplished the feat for the Friars 14 years earlier (1976-78).
Barnes led a 1991-92 Providence team dominated by freshmen and sophomores to 14 wins, including a victory over No. 12 Syracuse. The Friars also posted a 23-point victory at Georgetown, the first time the Friars had ever won at the Capital Centre.
PC returned to the postseason during the 1992-93 campaign, reaching the 20-win plateau for the first time since Rick Pitino’s memorable march to the Final Four in 1986-87. Along the way, Barnes led Providence to an 81-66 victory over No. 14 Arizona, marking the school’s first win over a ranked non-conference team since the 1977-78 season. He also became the first PC coach to post a season sweep against Georgetown.
The Friars won 10 of their last 13 games to end the year, including a victory over Connecticut in the Big East Tournament, which earned PC its 1,000th win in school history. Providence defeated James Madison, West Virginia and Boston College in the NIT, before falling to Minnesota (76-70) at Madison Square Garden. PC finished fourth after dropping a 55-52 decision to UAB in the third-place game.
In his final season at Providence, Barnes guided the Friars to a 20-10 mark (10-8 Big East) and a NCAA bid. It marked the first back-to-back 20-win seasons at PC since the mid-1970s. The 10 Big East wins were the most by a Providence team since Pitino’s Final Four squad posted a 10-6 mark in 1986-87.
Providence won its last five regular-season games, then swept past Villanova, No. 2 Connecticut and Georgetown to capture the Big East Tournament crown. Despite losing to Alabama in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Barnes’ team ranked 14th in the nation in the final Sagarin computer poll.
Barnes accepted his first head coaching position at George Mason on April 23, 1987. It was at the Fairfax, Va., school where Barnes’ teams began his trademark of defying the odds. Under his guidance, George Mason posted a 20-10 record in his first and only season, including a 9-5 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association. After leading his team to the conference tournament championship game, Barnes was recognized as the league’s co-Coach of the Year.
Barnes coached his first team in a Hickory, N.C., recreation league while he was still in high school. He said then he wanted to teach high school, nothing else. That all changed when he went to the 1978 Atlantic Coast Conference tourney in Greensboro, N.C., and coaching basketball at the collegiate level became his passion.
Barnes began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at North State Academy during the 1977-78 season. He then moved on to an assistant spot under Eddie Biedenbach at Davidson College the following year. After two seasons at the Davidson, N.C., school, Barnes moved on to George Mason where he served as an assistant to Joe Harrington from 1980-85.
In 1985-86, Barnes joined Wimp Sanderson’s staff at Alabama as an assistant coach. The Crimson Tide posted a 24-9 record en route to a trip to the NCAA “Sweet 16.” The following year, he served as an assistant at Ohio State under current Maryland mentor Gary Williams. The Buckeyes had a 20-win season and reached the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Personal Side
A native of Hickory, N.C., Barnes was born on July 17, 1954. He was a standout basketball player at Hickory High, where he graduated in 1973. Barnes moved on to Lenoir-Rhyne College (Hickory, N.C.), where he lettered three years and won the Captain’s Award for Leadership as a junior and senior.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1977 and was named the college’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1997. Barnes was inducted into the Lenoir-Rhyne College Hall of Fame on Oct. 5, 2002 and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lenoir-Rhyne on May 7, 2005. He and his wife, Candy (also a Hickory native), have a son, Nick (born Oct. 3, 1984), and daughter, Carley (born Jan. 9, 1988).