AMHERST -- The newest member of the George "Trigger" Burke UMass Athletics Hall of Fame said he was thrilled to be in, and thrilled to be sharing the day with a former teammate.
"UMass will always be my home. I’m a proud alum, and it’s even more satisfying to see one of my best friends do what he’s doing with the basketball program," said Tony Barbee, one of six former UMass athletes inducted on Sunday.
Barbee, who played for John Calipari and helped lead the Minutemen to four postseason appearances from 1990-93, flew in Saturday night after the Auburn men’s basketball team he coaches lost 86-67 at Arkansas.
Barbee was on UMass’ NIT Final Four team in 1991 and the NCAA Sweet 16 team the next year.
He coached under Bruiser Flint at UMass and under Calipari at Memphis before taking the head coaching job at Texas-El Paso. Barbee is in his fourth year at Auburn.
Joining Barbee in this year’s Hall of Fame class are Ned Deane from football, Rebecca Donaghue from cross country and track, Jim Weller from lacrosse, Doug Welenc from baseball and Julie Ready-Mulvey from women’s basketball.
"I knew he’d get [UMass] here because he’s a fantastic coach," said Barbee. "It takes time and it takes patience. Rebuilding something in your own image, in your own likeness, doesn’t happen overnight. I’m glad UMass was patient with him."
Barbee’s team is 8-9 but 0-6 in the Southeastern Conference.
"There are no easy jobs, no matter where they are," said Barbee, who has seven freshmen on his roster. "When you’re in that league, if you’re not going on all cylinders, it’s unrelenting."
Barbee will coach against his mentor on Feb. 12 when Calipari and Kentucky come to Auburn. Barbee said it’s something he tolerates for two hours.
So, how about scheduling Kellogg and the Minutemen?
"Derek and I, we’ve talked about it. We just never seem to get something together in terms of dates and where we want to do it," said Barbee. "He wants me up here. I want him to start down there.
"We’ll get it together at some point."