Despite missing out on the NCAA tournament for the first time in 14 years, Texas head coach Rick Barnes was upbeat about playing in the College Basketball Invitational, the third-tier tournament that might not sound overly familiar to many Texas fans used to playing in a field of 68, not 16.
Speaking to the media Monday afternoon, Barnes was adamant that accepting the invite to the CBI was the right decision, saying that any competitive individual wants to play regardless of the situation. His message was that with a team as young as Texas, any experience is good experience.
"I think every possible experience that we can put these guys in, whether it's going on the road to play games, we need to do that," Barnes said. "And to be where we want to be, you have to be able to win anywhere."
When asked whether he felt that more games for Myck Kabongo might give the sophomore point guard a better opportunity to showcase his skills and declare for the NBA draft, Barnes was steadfast, if not realistic. "If that's what happens that's fine," he said, continuing to emphasize that the reason for playing in the CBI is to give the young players a taste of postseason play, which is important for a young team without a lot of experience.
Barnes did say that he was unable to watch the NCAA selection show Sunday night. "It's hard not being a part of it, it's hard not watching it … my thoughts are that I don't want to be in this situation again in any way, shape or form."
On a lighter note, Barnes felt that it was great for Austin (which he called the best city in America) to be hosting the second and third rounds of the NCAA tournament, saying it should be a "wonderful experience" and that "people in Texas do love basketball." He did go on to say that the Frank Erwin Center suffers as a basketball arena due to the lack of adequate parking. "A building that size should probably have a minimum of 5,000 surface parking lots. It has under 400."
Whether that would fill the often sparsely populated Erwin Center is up for debate.