, Texas (PressExposure) May 05, 2009 -- Texas has had a basketball program for over 100 years and it has just recently come into national prominence. Texas has always had a respectable basketball team; however it was only recognized on a regional level as opposed to being a nationally recognized team. The team had great success early in the program's history going to the final four in 1943 and 1947 and also winning numerous conference titles during their early years. However, the team really struggled to build on any early success and never took the next step to becoming an elite team on the national stage.
This all changed in 1998 when Texas hired Rick Barnes away from Clemson University. Barnes had been a highly respected coach and was coming into the Texas program that was in disarray following scandals that were caused by former coach Tom Penders. To say that Barnes came into the season with a steep hill to climb would be an understatement. Because of the scandal, the team only had seven players under scholarship and almost half the team were walk-ons. However, this did not deter Barnes as he overcame a terrible start to lead the team to a Big 12 championship and an appearance in the NCAA tournament. This was significant as the team started 3-8, however with the turnaround they captured their first ever Big 12 regular season championship. The team would build on the success year after year and Barnes was able to bring in more and more nationally recognized players, which in turn would make the Texas program more nationally recognized.
Barnes also led the team to a sweet sixteen appearance in 2002, which was the only the third time they had been to the Sweet Sixteen since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The team would expand on that success in 2003 by posting the best season the team had ever had in their history. They would accomplish many things that had never been done before in the program's history. They would garner their highest ranking ever at any point in any season by getting to Number 2 in the country; they also would receive a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the first time. They also had a player that would achieve individual success that no other Texas basketball player had ever achieved. Sophomore guard T.J Ford would earn the Naismith and Wooden award for national player of the year in 2003. The 2003 team went 26-7 and would go all the way to the final four. The 2004 was also very successful even though they lost star player Ford to the NBA. The team would advance to the Sweet Sixteen marking the first time in the program's history that they went to the Sweet Sixteen three years in a row. In 2006, the Texas Longhorns reached another milestone becoming the first team to win 30 games and they advanced to the elite eight in that season.
All in all, it can be said that Barnes' time with Texas has been a huge success. His career at Texas includes a 270-105 record, three Big 12 Championship, appearance in NCAA tournament every year as coach, and five Top ten finishes during his 11 years. The future looks bright for the Texas Basketball program and as long as Rick Barnes is at the helm, things will only continue to improve.