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Golden: Why Vic Schaefer will deliver more deep tourney runs to Texas

Horns won three tourney games for the first time since 2016.

Cedric Golden
Austin American-Statesman
Texas coach Vic Schaefer calls out to his team as Charli Collier and Lauren Ebo look on against South Carolina during Texas' regional final loss on Tuesday. Schaefer vows to have the Longhorns making deep tournament runs for years to come.
  • Texas finished at 21-10 after loss to South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Coach Vic Schaefer says going deep in the NCAAs is the standard at Texas.
  • Texas Tech coach Chris Beard is still mulling his options as Texas hopes to land him

The Texas Longhorns got a nice whiff of how life will change under Vic Schaefer after knocking out two high seeds in a memorable NCAA Tournament run, though just like all but one team in the NCAAs, they fell short of the ultimate goal.

The Longhorns rode the struggle bus throughout Tuesday’s 62-34 loss to No. 1 seed South Carolina in the regional final, but their performance in Schaefer’s first season was a message to the college basketball world that Texas is well on its way to crashing the national elite party.

Tuesday night was the fourth straight Elite Eight game that Schaefer was coaching, and what he considers old hat will become the same for his new program. He gets a full offseason this year and won't have to spend as much time on the X's and O's.

Plus, the Longhorns have some success to fall back on as well as some failures that, as Schaefer puts it, will serve as fuel.

The NCAA statement wins over UCLA and Maryland set Longhorn Nation on fire, and while Dawn Staley's Gamecocks proved too much Tuesday night — they held the Horns scoreless in the fourth quarter — Texas left the Alamo City armed with a season’s worth of positive steps to give fans real hope.

More from Golden:Big names falling by the wayside at Dell Match Play

A legitimate run at the Final Four doesn’t just fall in one's lap every year. Schaefer told his group as much at game’s end.

"Just don't take things for granted,” he said. "Don't just think this is going to happen. There is a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication, a lot of long days and hours that go into making this opportunity.”

Schaefer made a point to add that this is the expectation at Texas — not exactly breaking news, but still a reminder to his players that an Elite Eight finish isn’t good enough.

Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard, seen here shaking hands with UT guard Matt Coleman III after Texas Tech beat UT at the Erwin Center last season, is Texas' top choice to replace Shaka Smart, who left for Marquette.

The talent is there to get back. Celeste Taylor has the potential to be the best two-way guard in the Big 12. Joanne Allen-Taylor is already one of the most underrated point guards in the country. If Audrey Warren can stay healthy, she’s the perfect glue player.

And help is on the way, with three McDonald’s All-Americans and possibly some important grad transfers. Notably, six players from Schaefer’s old haunt Mississippi State recently entered the transfer portal.

Replacing Shaka:

Replacing Shaka: While the women’s team completed a successful season, we keep waiting to see if athletic director Chris  Del Conte can land a second big fish for campus hoops.

The Chris Beard watch draws on as the Texas Tech coach grapples with the choice of remaining in Lubbock or bringing his brand to Austin, where Texas has really made no secret of its desire to bring him aboard.

More from Golden:NCAA really dropped the ball with women's facilities fiasco

He would replace Shaka Smart, who made some really interesting comments at his introductory press conference Monday as the new head coach at Marquette.

Marquette athletic director Bill Scholl, left, gives Shaka Smart a jersey on Monday when Smart was announced as  the new head coach. Smart spent the last six seasons at Texas.

Any Texas fan that watched UCLA become the second school to advance to the Final Four after winning a play-in game has to shaking his or her head. The Bruins earned it with that 51-49 win over Michigan, but they were hardly impressive. Texas was talented enough to beat either team, but since the Horns couldn’t get past 14th-seeded Abilene Christian, that’s neither here nor there.

So Shaka left, but not without making a really pointed comment to his new fans.

“This is a basketball-crazy place,” Smart said. “This is a basketball-centric athletic department.”

As if coaching at a football school had something to do with his teams not winning any NCAA games during his six seasons and missing the tourney altogether in two of those (not including the 2020 event that was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns).

Shaka not winning here was because his teams weren’t good enough when they had to be. The 2021 team had some magical moments and I hope Marquette experiences success under his watch, but Texas gave him everything he needed to be a winner here. Great facilities, the money to hire qualified assistants and the means to recruit the best talent in the country.

Had he made it the Final Four as some (like me) projected, he would probably still be coaching at this football school.

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey suggested in her postgame press conference Monday night that the NCAA should eliminate COVID-19 testing for the Women's Final Four.

Mulkey's bad game plan:

Mulkey's bad game plan: The Baylor coach is great copy and can fill up a notebook in record time because she has this great talent for getting right to the point and breaking down the intricacies of the game in simple language.

But she gets in trouble when she goes off script.

Mulkey made one of the most irresponsible comments of her coaching career after the Lady Bears were eliminated from the NCAAs by UConn on Sunday. The Huskies benefited from the officials blowing an obvious foul committed against Baylor shooting guard DiJonai Carrington in the final couple of seconds. The 69-67 stung and Mulkey, who has always worn her heart on her sleeve, did not hide her disappointment.

Instead of staying on topic, the coaching legend busted though the guard rail and into a no-woman's land.

Mulkey came up with an idea for this weekend’s Final Four.

A very bad idea.

"They need to dump the COVID testing," Mulkey said Monday night, unsolicited. "Wouldn't it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that test positive or something and they don't get to play in the Final Four? So you just need to forget the COVID tests and get the four teams playing in each Final Four and go battle it out."

More from Golden:Taylor's emergence will take heat off top weapon Collier, Texas women

So basically, my team lost so let’s get rid of the swabs? How about let’s finish these two tournaments and give thanks that only one game was canceled over the last three weeks?

This issue is much bigger than a weekend of basketball in San Antonio and the dedication shown by the tournament organizers and medical staff involved should be appreciated and not shoved aside for nonessential reasons.

Mulkey’s comments were reckless, uninformed and just plain unnecessary given that she saw firsthand what the virus can do a team. She tested positive three months ago and Baylor shut the program for two weeks, causing the team to miss six games.

Now she wants to blow off testing altogether?

Hey, she’s a Hall of Famer whose team came close to repeating as a national champion, but Mulkey should cease coloring outside the lines. It usually ends up in a PR disaster for a school that’s had a myriad of problems in that area over the last couple of decades.