There’s nothing more agonizing in sports than a close postseason loss.
Nobody understands that better than Tennessee basketball head coach Rick Barnes.
Barnes gave an inspiring speech Thursday night following the Vols heartbreaking overtime loss in the Sweet 16:
I remember being at Rick Barnes’ introductory press conference and feeling unsure about the hire. After his first postgame press conference I started to love him. Now, I just think it’s amazing that I got to cover him. Shoutout to the legend:
— Jordan Dajani (@JDajani247) March 29, 2019
Barnes has been coaching for decades and has competed in the NCAA tournament during the vast majority of his years on the sideline. (RELATED: Highlights: Purdue Beats Tennessee 99-94 In Epic Sweet 16 Game)
“That’s the toughest part,” an emotional Barnes said. “This team won’t be together anymore. I know how you wanted it. I know how hard you worked.”
Barnes reiterated how proud he was of his guys. Tennessee finished the season 31-6, tied for the most wins in the history of the program. (RELATED: Tennessee And Vanderbilt Put On Atrocious Display Of Women’s Basketball)
“For four years I know what those guys did and how they came and set the standard,” Barnes said of his seniors.
Barnes then huddled up the team for a closing prayer.
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) March 29, 2019
As an Alabama fan, it’s no secret how much I hate Tennessee, but it’s impossible to dislike Rick Barnes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the meltdown that Tennessee fans are having over their loss, but there was something special about this Vols teams that even rival fans should be able to appreciate.
I Gave my All For Tennessee. Thank You ????????
— Admiral Schofield ???? (@admiralelite15) March 29, 2019
This was never the most talented team, but they were well-coach, tough, inspired, and because of that competed as one of the top teams in the nation all year.
Hats off to Coach Barnes and Tennessee.