Rick Barnes and the Tennessee basketball program has effectively ended the Tennessee-Memphis series, and I honestly don’t blame him.
Fans from both Tennessee and Memphis are upset that Rick Barnes and Tennessee has canceled the Tennessee-Memphis series for the future.
Barnes reportedly said he “doesn’t think” the series will continue after the first contract expires next season. The current contract is a home-home-neutral site series ending in Nashville.
Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway even went on to talk about it in an interview on Tuesday. Hardaway believes Barnes should consider continuing the series because it’s “good for the state.”
“I think it would be good for the state, for sure,” Hardaway said. “Absolutely, because the state needs it. We really do.”
In that case, I would agree with Penny and say that it is good for the state. I think it’s the most exciting basketball series we’ve seen within the state in a long time, but that doesn’t mean Barnes should have to extend the series.
The one game the two teams have currently played was a complete mess, at least for Memphis. There were flops and poor play throughout the game, and the post-game shenanigans hurt Memphis’ chances to continue this rivalry.
Hardaway called out then Tennessee point guard Jordan Bone after Bone and Memphis guard Alex Lomax both received a technical. Barnes didn’t appreciate Penny calling out his player, either.
Penny didn’t stop there. He continued throughout the following week, calling out Barnes and his program.
“He’s blessed to have the No. 3 team in the country and he should be happy with that,” he said. “And we will see each other again, for sure.”
“He can do whatever he wants to do,” he added, “but we’ll see each other out on the road somewhere or in another game.”
Barnes responded by taking the high road a couple of weeks later.
“The thing with Penny, I don’t get it, to be honest with you,” Barnes said. “I respect Penny, what he’s done. I’ve never said anything about anything that’s between Penny and I. I think he’s done a terrific job recruiting, I think he’s done a terrific job with his team. And that league is a very good league.
“You think about the basketball in the state right now, with what’s going on, this is a great basketball state. But the fact is, our biggest concern is the very next game.”
Hardaway also felt it was necessary to go after Barnes after the game, and I know there was a little bit coming from both sides, but Penny did not handle the whole situation like he should’ve.
With that being said, I don’t think Barnes should be required to continue the series because it’s good for the state. He’s not coaching the state he’s coaching the Tennessee Volunteers.
If Penny is going to go on a tirade like he did every time the Vols and Tigers play then there’s no reason why Barnes should be required to continue the series.
If I had an opposing coach act that way and then want to extend the series I’d probably say no too. Not because I’m scared or whatever reason you want to throw out there for Barnes, but because I don’t think it would be the best for my program.
Barnes can go play in a tournament or something instead of playing Memphis and not have to deal with the drama that would come with Penny.
Maybe when Tennessee beats Memphis again this year then Memphis fans will calm down, but I’m sure this will be their out for Penny’s future failures.