Immediately after Tubby Smith’s departure I’ll be the first to tell you that I hit the panic button. Texas Tech came off of its most wins 2009-2010 and its first tournament appearance since Bob Knight. The coach who took them there bolted for Memphis. When this happened, boosters stepped up big time to buy out Chris Beard’s UNLV contract before the ink had dried to bring him back to his home state.
Whatever fear we had of a letdown from last year, Chris Beard eliminated by winning his first 11 games played in the United States (Tech lost a two point game to Auburn in Mexico in the fourth game of the season.
These Red Raiders headed into conference play 11-1, beating their opponents by at least 20 points in two thirds of their games. Then conference play hit and the narrative changed.
After five conference games, the Tech is 2-3 with wins over top 10 West Virginia and 25th ranked Kansas State. The losses came to Iowa State, blowing a 14 point lead, at Kansas which will happen, and last night in Norman to a sub-par Sooner team.
Three of those four losses are ones deemed unacceptable, or just troubling. Auburn is having a down year, Iowa State might be better than anticipated, but the Oklahoma game is one you really wanted. Last year wasn’t this bad, was it?
Five games into conference play last year, Tech was 1-4, and would be 3-7 in their first ten Big 12 games. Last year the team finished with 19 wins. The Red Raiders would finish with 20 wins if they finish the regular season with a .500 record.
That goal remains fairly easily in reach. Keep in mind that this is Beard’s first year with the program, also that nearly half of the roster is new. It’d be easy for Beard to use that as an excuse, but he has persevered.
In a strong conference like the Big 12, rough patches will come. So far, Beard has given us enough to believe he’s the right one to lead us through the hairy stretches and pull out more than his fair share of close shaves.