March is finally here and madness has arrived! With that being said, I have to give a huge shout out to the Cal State Bakersfield Men's Basketball team for punching their schools first ever ticket to the NCAA Tournament. I'm so happy for Coach Barnes, his team, and his family, as this moment could not have happened to a better person.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Coach Barnes and his family while my dad was an assistant under Coach Barnes at Georgia State a few years back. Our time together at GSU was nothing less than a struggle as we couldn't seem to get these going, which ultimately led us to all to part our separate ways. As the child of a college coach it was hard to see because I saw firsthand how much work the coaching staff put into changing the culture of the program and the internal issues they faced. But the only thing everyone else saw were the wins and losses. It honestly broke my heart to hear so many negative comments about our staff. It was even harder the last couple of years to see GSU have so much success and not be a part of it.
Coach Barnes is a man and coach of integrity and believes in doing things the right way, which this day in age in college athletics is rare to see. However, even in his first couple of seasons at CSUB the team finished with records of 16-15, 13-19, 14-16, 14-19, before finishing this season with an outstanding record of 24-8. God is so good!!!
I always questioned God and wondered why we just couldn't seem to win at GSU? But sometimes you just have to trust God, stay grounded, and continue to do things the right way. 24-8, WAC Champs, WAC Coach of The Year and an NCAA Tournament bid. Not only for Coach Barnes and his family, but seeing my dad win Dallas Coach of The Year and his Skyline High School basketball team win 32 games is amazing to see. But none of this success would have been possible without our struggles at GSU and having the continued faith to keep fighting and working hard. God has a plan, it may not happen when you want it to, or the way you think it should, but stay the course and keep doing what is right.
People that aren't directly associated with an athletic program, team, or coach don't understand how important or how amazing a moment like this is, and just how rare it is to make the NCAA tournament. Especially as a mid-major university, you honestly never really know when you'll have another opportunity to play in the big dance. I'm so proud and happy of the Barnes family and this amazing accomplishment. Coach Barnes, Ms. Bridgette, Ma' Barnes, Brandon and Bray, CONGRATULATIONS, and thank you for all you have done for me and my family. WE LOVE YOU GUYS, and best of luck in the tourney!!!
Cal State Bakersfield punching their ticket to the big dance in dramatic fashion: