The internet is the home of many opinions; some of which are right and some of which are very, very wrong. That being said, nothing is ever as black and white in my eyes and the correct answer usually lies somewhere in between.
Earlier this week, one of our contributors wrote about Chris Beard possibly not exploring the grad transfer market following this season due to the inconsistent play of both TJ Holyfield and Chris Clarke. I’m here to respectfully disagree with this take.
A big issue with this article, and it seems that a number of others on Twitter and Facebook thought similarly, was that it took too much liberty comparing Holyfield and Clarke to Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens.
We hold Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens up on a pedestal for what they did in one short season in Lubbock, and -yes- rightly so. It has been many times on the Air Raid Podcast (the best Texas Tech podcast in the world. Episodes at the bottom of this page) that Tariq Owens is one of Dylan’s all-time favorite Red Raiders. If you take off your National Championship runner-up blinders, however, you can see that both Tariq Owens and TJ Holyfield have statistically similar outputs.
Keep in mind that Owens’ block average had a significant boost at the end of the season, much like Holyfield has been exhibiting lately as well. Do you also remember Matt Mooney last February? During that stretch of basketball Mooney struggled mightily with consistency; sometimes hitting 60% of his shots and other times hitting less than 25%. It was enough to the point that Chris Beard had to call him out in a press conference much like he had to do with his team this season.
Finally, putting the full weight of our inconsistent efficiency on the graduate transfers is just lazy. It’s easy to compare two grad transfers from one year to the next, but the real discrepancy between the 2019 and 2020 rosters is youth (which also spells inexperience). Last season we could rely on a surprisingly-poised sophomore in Jarrett Culver to get us a bucket on any given day. We leaned on players with three to four years of Division I College Basketball experience like Norense Odiase and Brandone Francis. There was strong seniority throughout the group.
Now? We have two freshmen getting over 25 minutes of play time per game. Last year the only freshman that had significant playing time was Kyler Edwards; and it was barely 17 minutes! Yes, Ramsey and Shannon bring a lot to the table and nobody can dispute why they’re getting substantial playing time. But we can’t, likewise, pretend they don’t make freshman mistakes that give way to damaging repercussions.
As mentioned at the beginning: this is a gray area where you have the opportunity to see the high and low of our graduate-transfers. Neither Clarke nor Holyfield came to Texas Tech to be mediocre, in the same way neither Mooney nor Owens did. They know that Chris Beard is a developer. Everybody knows that now. I don’t see any shred of evidence that could convince me that, fresh off a national championship appearance, Beard would turn away from two grad transfers that are showing positive trajectories like their predecessors.