I don’t need to remind Texas fans that there was a time during the 2009-2010 season that the Longhorns were ranked No. 1 in the college basketball rankings. Last season, Texas was unable to retain that early season momentum and only limped into March Madness with little hope of making much March noise. Fast forward to the present. The Horns are again ranked No. 1 after the recent losses to Ohio State and Kansas. Coach Rick Barnes likely learned something from last year’s experience, and I wouldn’t expect his team to crumble under the pressure of being the top dog once again.
Barnes joined Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Rusillo on Tuesday to talk about what his message has been to the team since assuming the top spot, his team’s Wednesday night game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and some of the lessons he learned from last season. Portions of that interview follow. Full transcript can be found at Sports Radio Interview.
What his message will be to his squad about what the number one ranking does or does not mean:
"Well ours has always been, it doesn’t mean a lot this time of year, and because, again, just based on talking to my Sports Information Director yesterday, Scott McConnell, based on what happened last week I don’t think there is any question the number one team in the nation this week should have been Pittsburgh. I mean when you lose your leading scorer and go in and win two games on the road against ranked opponents, with the kind of year they have already had, so if you are really looking at it from, OK, who really got something done last week? I don’t think there is any question Pitt would have been there. Again, Ohio State losing at Wisconsin, if you have ever been to Wisconsin you know that is a hard place. We don’t put a lot of stock into it with our team and we know what we are playing for in terms of postseason. There are so many games left to play. We have got six conference games left, plus a postseason tournament, and I think if we were fortunate to play deep into our postseason tournament that would give us I think nine more games left… There is really no excuse to get excited when you get there other than the fact you have got to try to continue to win basketball games."
What are some of the lessons learned from last season being ranked number one:
"Again, what we did at the end of last year we sat down and talked about where we went wrong and the fact is we just said it is over and it is done with and we are going to start over like this is our first year on the job and we are all going to start over and we are going to do the things that you need to do to build a program and a team. Our players, again, they were tremendous, the older guys coming back for their last year, Jordan Hamilton went to his teammates and said, ‘Hey look. I want to be a better teammate. I want to be a part of this’, J’Covan Brown, and they had a great spring and were fortunate we signed two really good players in Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, who came right in with no sense of entitlement, arguably between the two hardest workers on the team and it has just meshed well and it goes back to those seniors that really set the standard for us."