AUSTIN, Texas — It is almost time for postseason awards in college basketball. The Big 12's Coach of the Year award has not come to Austin since Rick Barnes earned it in the 2013-2014 season – but that could change soon.
Rodney Terry stepped in as interim head coach of the Longhorns when the team fired Chris Beard. Since then, he has led the team to first place in the conference standings, proven his coaching philosophy works at the highest level and created genuine connections with every player on the roster.
"RT [Rodney Terry] just has what it takes" forward Dillon Mitchell said.
"If there's one man I'm glad is coaching me, it's RT" forward Timmy Allen said.
Terry's leadership has been so effective that even opponents have taken notice.
"Rodney always had an energy about himself," Oklahoma men's basketball coach Porter Moser said. "He's coaching that way and his team is playing that way."
Terry has stood firm on his coaching philosophies, specifically emphasizing defense, even at the expense of offense, at times.
"If you're going to be on the floor for me, you're going to guard," Terry said. "We'll figure out how to score."
His strategies on and before game day also separate him from other coaches.
"We haven't been practicing really long. We go about an hour and 15 minutes," Terry said. "We want a team that's going to leave it all out there in games and not play tired."
Terry was one of three Big 12 coaches to earn his way onto the 15-person Naismith Men's Coach of the Year late-season watchlist. The Big 12's Coach of the Year award will be announced in early March.