Haith faces former mentor in Missouri men's basketball game Saturday against Texas

Thursday, January 12, 2012 | 7:00 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — When the Missouri men’s basketball team faces Texas on Saturday at Mizzou Arena, Tigers coach Frank Haith will have an opportunity to coach against his former mentor, Texas coach Rick Barnes.

Haith served as an assistant coach at Texas under Barnes when the Longhorns advanced in postseason play to the Sweet 16 during the 2001-02 season and the Final Four during the 2002-03 season. Haith then became an associate head coach at Texas for the 2003-04 season, and the Longhorns made another trip to the Sweet 16.

“He’s always worked,” Barnes said during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “That’s one thing you know after being around him, he’s got a great work ethic.”

Barnes praised Haith’s ability to understand and connect with people and described him as “very confident, very sure, just a very classy person.”

While coaching under Barnes, Haith was impressed with Barnes’ ability to adapt to his personnel.

“He was the best at that,” Haith said. “Some coaches are not willing to change. They have their certain mentality how they want to play, and that’s what we’re going to do all the time.”

Haith said Barnes hasn’t been afraid to change based on his personnel and has continued to learn and talk to other coaches.

Both coaches have adapted to their teams’ lack of height. Texas (12-4 and 2-1 in the Big 12) has only one player taller than 6 feet, 7 inches. No. 9 Missouri (15-1 and 2-1 in the Big 12) has only two players taller than that. 

Both teams have seen significant scoring from their benches. When Texas beat Texas A&M 61-51 on Wednesday, 24 of the Longhorns’ points came from the bench. In Missouri’s 76-69 victory over Iowa State, the Tigers’ bench added 22 points.

Missouri’s ball movement and ability to work as a team also impressed Barnes. He said they seem to like each other and like playing with each other. Under Haith, Barnes said Missouri looks like a very cohesive team. 

“Missouri got it going. I said that when they hired him,” Barnes said. “I think the players realize now how good a coach they got.”

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