• Update: Tennessee officially hires Rick Barnes

    Update: The University of Tennessee has officially hired Rick Barnes as its new head coach, the school announced Tuesday morning. A press conference is set for later this afternoon in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

    "Rick Barnes is an elite basketball coach in every respect," Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart said in a statement. "Rick brings an extremely impressive track record of excellence, as well as much-needed stability, to our men's basketball program. This is an exciting day for our Tennessee family."

    Barnes' new contract with Tennessee is for six years, at $2.25 million per year with incentives, according to multiple reports. In addition, Barnes will get his $1.75 million buyout from Texas. 

    His new contract is similar to his $2.55 million per year base salary he received at Texas this past year. The hiring comes just two days after Texas let go of Barnes.

    Original story: ESPN reported Monday afternoon that Barnes and Tennessee were close to a deal that would send the former Texas head coach to the Volunteers. In his farewell press conference Sunday, Barnes hinted to the fact he would land another coaching job soon when asked about his future.

    “Will I coach again? Yeah, quicker than you’d probably think,” Barnes said.

    Barnes and Texas “mutually agreed” to part ways Sunday morning, according to the official announcement. But it wasn’t as mutual as the report suggests. After failing to live up to expectations in the last couple of years, which includes losing to Butler in the first round this year and missing the tournament entirely in 2012-2013, reports leaked Thursday that Texas men's athletic director Steve Patterson told Barnes to make changes to his staff or risk being fired.

    His staff offered to leave, but Barnes wouldn’t let them.

    "I couldn't do that," Barnes said. "That would be me saying this is about me. I've been carried by a lot of people here. We're in this together."

    Barnes would be the third coach in three years for the Volunteers, who saw Sweet 16 success just two years ago under the guidance of Cuonzo Martin before he bolted for Cal this summer. Donnie Tyndall of Southern Mississippi replaced him.

    However, Tyndall's time at Tennessee was short-lived as he was fired Friday after just one season. His time was doomed before he started when Southern Mississippi released a statement in November that it was under investigation by the NCAA. Later in January, it said it had inflicted a self-imposed postseason ban. All this comes after Tyndall headed Morehead State when they went on probation five years ago for booster related activity.

    "Knowing what I know now, is that a mistake?" Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart told the AP on Friday. "Probably. ... But, you know, there are a lot of coaches out there that have a transgression in their history somewhere that had an opportunity to do better. Obviously, if we'd known [then] what we know now, we would have moved in another direction."

    Tyndall finished 16-16 in his lone year with a chance of future punishment “highly likely,” according to Hart.

    Tennessee loses its top scorer from last season but will return juniors Kevin Punter and Armani Moore, who finished averaging double-digit points.

    Barnes’ wife is also an alumnus of Tennessee.

  • Gregory Gym to become home venue for Austin Aces during 2015 season

    Gregory Gymnasium has primarily played host to basketball and volleyball, but this summer it will add indoor tennis to the list.

    The Austin Aces, out of Mylan World TeamTennis, announced Monday that it would play its seven home matches in Gregory Gym after playing at the Cedar Park Center last year.

    “We are thrilled to have been able to find a downtown home in Gregory Gym on the UT campus as the Aces work to become Austin’s premier professional sports brand and the must-attend sporting event each summer,” Aces owner Lorne Abony said in a press release.

    Abony said that getting a downtown venue was something they found while evaluating the team over the offseason both on and off the court.

    “From feedback we received and the analysis that was done by our front office, we felt that a relocation to a venue located closer to the city center would be in our team’s best interest,” Albony said.

    While Gregory seats 4,000 people for volleyball, the Aces said that capacity for tennis matches will be over 3,500 along with VIP tables and courtside seating.

    The Aces went 6-8 in its inaugural season last year, finishing third in the Western Conference. Austin is led by former world No. 1 Andy Roddick, who also resides in the area. The roster also includes two former NCAA champions as well as the second-ranked Russian on the ATP Tour, Teymur Gabashvili.  The team is coached by nine-time Grand Slam doubles champion Rick Leach.

    The Aces open up their 2015 season July 13 on the road at the Boston Lobsters and will play their first home match on July 16 against the California Dream.

  • Longhorns fall short in extra innings

    Texas starting pitcher Kacy Clemens turned in one of his best performance of the year, but the Longhorns' offense had trouble getting things going, losing 1–0 in extra innings.

    Sophomore right-hander Clemens only allowed two hits and a walk while throwing seven innings of scoreless baseball.

    Offensively, the Longhorns tried to help Clemens as they were able to get on base three times in the first four innings. But the Cornhuskers shut the Texas offense down.

    The Longhorns were kept hitless until the 14th inning when junior left fielder Ben Johnson singled.

    Nebraska was able to take advantage of Texas’ mistakes in the 15th inning as junior pitcher Travis Duke hit the Cornhuskers leadoff batter senior catcher Tanner Lubach. Nebraska bunted Lubach over to second and scored him home on game-winning single by senior outfielder Austin Darby.

    The Longhorns dropped a pitchers duel Friday and to avoid being swept tomorrow at 12:05 p.m.

  • Report: Rick Barnes not expected to return as head coach

    Texas head coach Rick Barnes isn’t expected to return to the Longhorns next season, according to a report from 247 Sports.

    Multiple reports surfaced Thursday that athletic director Steve Patterson wants Barnes to make significant changes to the program or risk losing his spot. However, a source told 247 Sports that the veteran head coach is not expected to consent those requests.

    Barnes’ job security has been in talks this season after once again failing to produce a deep postseason run. Last season, the Longhorns lost in the round of 32 before falling to Butler in their first game of the tournament last week.

    Through his 17-year tenure, Barnes, the winningest head coach at Texas, has tallied 402 wins with the Longhorns, but hasn’t appeared in Sweet 16 or beyond since 2008.

    Barnes’ contract, which runs through March 2019, is currently worth $2.5 million per year. After his recent contract extension at the end of last season, he is due $1.75 million if he is fired before. But after that date will be due $1.5 million.

  • Thoughts from Texas' first spring practice

    With the first spring practice in the books, it’s officially football season.

    The first practice was telling in regards to the Longhorns’ attitude and direction. The changes that Longhorn fans have been craving after a disappointing 6-7 season are already present, with both offensive and defensive scheme shifts on display early.

    The Longhorns new-look offense can best be described with one word-- tempo. The teams’ conditioning was tested early with the offense running to the line after each snap and getting set without a huddle. It’s clear that head coach Charlie Strong and his staff want the offense to play fast this year, similar to the up-tempo offense ran by former offensive coordinator Major Applewhite during the final years of the Mack Brown era. 

    Texas also seems to be getting more creative with offensive formations. The Longhorns displayed a primarily shotgun and pistol offense, which is something quite different from last season where the Longhorns often preferred to be under center.

    Texas lined up in a variety of shotgun and pistol formations, including sets using full backs and tight ends in the backfield, as well as multiple spread formations with three-to-four wide receivers. Creativity was also present in play calling with junior receiver Daje Johnson taking end-around handoffs out of shotgun formations.

    Though Strong said Monday that rising junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard would be taking equal reps, it seemed that Swoopes had the early advantage in Texas’ quarterback battle.

    Swoopes looked confident and sharp when throwing the ball and made a number of nice throws in traffic. Heard had his moments, but he struggled with his accuracy at times and limited himself to shorter range throws. Though they received about an even number of total plays, Swoopes took all of the major reps with the first-team offense.

    Other offensive standouts include rising sophomore receiver Lorenzo Joe who was impressive in using his six-foot-two height to box-out defenders and make grabs in traffic. Junior receiver Marcus Johnson also made noise using his speed to gain separation on several different route types.

    Defensively, the Longhorns showed a different look from last year’s 4-3 defense, with three linebackers, three linemen and five defensive backs on the field at almost all times. The new defensive look may be an attempt to get faster in a conference that features up-tempo passing offenses.

    Though it’s very early in spring play, the Longhorns showed they are making strides in addressing last season’s shortcomings.  There is still a lot of work to do before the spring game, but with already noticeable changes on both sides of the ball, Longhorns fans have something to hang their hat on.

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