Barnes excited about what Patterson could mean for UT basketball program

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By Mike Blackwell, Inside Texas Editor
Posted Nov 5, 2013
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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Rick Barnes (Texas Sports Photography)

Rick Barnes said Tuesday that his new boss - Texas has hired Steve Patterson from Arizona State as the new AD - is someone he doesn't know, but he is well aware of his background, and how that background could pay huge dividends for the UT basketball program.

"I'm absolutely excited," said Barnes, when asked about Patterson in a Tuesday press conference at the Cooley Pavilion, prior to Friday's opener at home against Mercer. "I really believe there are some exciting days ahead."

Barnes said he was particularly excited about Patterson's background in developing new facilities for the various organizations for whom he has worked.

"I can only imagine that our new arena is going to solve a lot of problems for us," Barnes said of the difficult parking situation that surrounds the Frank C. Erwin Center, and of the potential of having a new basketball facility on the Forty Acres. "To have the program we want, we have to make it easier for fans to come see us. I think it's great for us to have someone who has that kind of vision coming here."

NOTES

* Job security - Barnes gave the standard line when asked about his job security Tuesday. "It's no different than it has been," Barnes said. "Just like every year, I'm eager to see us play to our potential. I've coached long enough to know that some years are going to be better than others. The question you have to ask is: Do you have the grit you need to fight back?"

* Freshmen - Barnes said the freshmen on his roster (the Longhorns have five of those) have assimilated well so far to his tough-approach program. "The first thing to say about these freshmen is that they have really bought in to what we've asked them to do," Barnes said of the group that includes Kendal Yancy, Isaiah Taylor, Damarcus Croaker, Martez Walker and Danny Newsome. "They have developed a work ethic that we expect here and we've seen improvement from all of the freshmen. But they're still learning."

* Last spring's exodus and personnel upheaval on the Texas team "had to happen," Barnes said Tuesday. "I knew it had to happen," said Barnes, whose losses included Myck Kabongo (professional), Ioannis Papapetrou (professional), Julien Lewis (transfer) and Sheldon McClellan (transfer). "I knew there would have to be major changes. For us to go where we had to go, there had to be a major overhaul. What happened in the spring had to be done."

* Point guard Isaiah Taylor has definitely gotten Barnes' attention prior to Friday's opener at home against Mercer. Taylor averaged 17.6 points, 10 assists and six steals per game his senior season, and has shown some speed flashes early for the Longhorns. "He has to get consistent, but he is very fast," Barnes said. "We need to be able to get up and down the floor, and he helps us do that. And he has done a good job of understanding that he has a certain job to do for us."

* Barnes indicated that his front court tandem of Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh will both be shot blockers for the Longhorns this season, and should give Texas an inside presence defensively. "They've both gotten better, even in the last couple of weeks," Barnes said. "It's just about them being able to find their space on the floor. And they've worked hard on their free throw shooting." Ibeh shot 37.5 percent (15 of 40) from the line last season, while Ridley shot 33.3 percent (28 of 84).

* Most preseason Big 12 polls have Texas slotted very, very low in the conference standings, a fact that Barnes says concerns him not in the least. "I had a team once that was picked to be the worst team in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and we ended up winning 16 games that year," Barnes said. "But I do think the number one team in the country is Kansas. I don't vote, but if I did, that's who I'd pick."

* Perhaps the most important answer from the Barnes press conference Tuesday came a few minutes before the end, when he was asked about whether or not his team has the ability to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. "No doubt," Barnes immediately answered. "Absolutely no doubt."

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