I’ll admit it, this is not an easy article for me to write. This season, many bad thoughts have run through my head. I have said Jahmi’us Ramsey’s name in vain. I have been angry seeing the ball in Moretti’s hands in clutch situations. I have blamed the outcome of games on free throws and officiating. Yet after the Baylor game, I noticed something important. I needed to calm down.
I’m not here to say this season has been perfect. I remember the three-game losing streak. I remember the close games with Southern Miss and UTRGV. I remember the losses to TCU and Oklahoma State. Still, I knew my reaction to some of the recent games was blown out of proportion. This Texas Tech team was ranked at #13 in the preseason rankings. The answer to why the national championship runner up was ranked so low is because of youth. This team only returned 1 starter from the 2019 National Championship starting lineup (Davide Moretti). Moretti, Kyler Edwards, and Avery Benson are the only guys on this team that were on the team last year. This means everyone else seeing the court is either a freshman or a grad transfer (meaning both groups are in their first year of Texas Tech basketball). Think about what the Red Raiders have been able to accomplish this season. Knocking down #1 Louisville in Madison Square Garden. Showing how tough they are by taking premier programs like Kansas (hopefully twice), Baylor (twice), and Kentucky down to the wire. Beating good Big 12 teams such as West Virginia and Oklahoma. I couldn’t be prouder of what this team has accomplished despite how young and inexperienced they are. This proves one thing above all else to me: Chris Beard is the truth and the blame absolutely doesn’t land on him.
Seeing Beard getting blamed for this team having 12 losses (in a very competitive conference) is laughable to me. In just his 4th year at Texas Tech, Beard has managed to lead Tech to an Elite Eight, a National Championship appearance, and a Regular Season Conference Championship. This team is 20th in KENPOM, 11th in KENPOM AdjD, 22nd in the NET rankings, and 21st in BPI rankings. Those numbers are absolutely incredible without even considering how young this team is. The youth of this team in addition to those incredible numbers earn Beard and this squad the utmost respect in my eyes.
I know this season has been hard to watch at times. I know the expectations at the beginning of this season were incredibly high. I know it’s not fun to watch a team lose close games. All things considered, this team is in a very good position. I think we’re lucky to even have a chance at the NCAA Tournament. This team has managed to hold a third/fourth position in the Big 12 for the majority of the season, ahead of teams full of veterans like West Virginia and Oklahoma. This team is gaining experience and showing some serious toughness. College basketball is arguably the most fluctuating league in all of sports. To retain the same starting lineup for more than 2 years is rare. The sport is always changing and unpredictable, which is why so many love it (especially in March). The programs who manage to stay at the top despite all the changes are the programs with starting lineups consisting of all 5 and 4-star prospects. Jahmi‘us Ramsey is the first ever 5-star recruit in Texas Tech history. Chris Beard has a serious niche for talent and making players the best they can be, and he’s proved that by keeping this team afloat this season.
This team still has a huge game left against Kansas and the Big 12 tournament. It also has the chance to be in the Big Dance. Whatever happens at the end of this season, I will be extremely proud of what this team has managed to accomplish. And hey, I know no one likes to talk about next season, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
McCullar looks like he’ll be an All-Big 12 player and will always play harder than everyone else on the court. Shannon is a freak athlete and if he can develop a shot he will have serious potential to go to the league. Moretti is a problem when he’s on his game. Kyler Edwards is a great guard who can score inside and out with ease. Joel Ntambwe and Tyreek Smith are extremely talented, versatile forwards and give this team good size down low. Russel Tchewa is a great rim protector and can shoot the mid-range shot. There will also be 3 freshmen in Lubbock next year named Nimari Burnett, Micah Peavy, and Chibuzo Agbo Junior. If you haven’t watched the film on these guys, do it now. They’re gonna be difference makers and make this team really dangerous.
For now, I’ll postpone that excitement until April. I trust this team and I trust Chris Beard. This team is not gonna quit and finish the season with lazy play. They are going to fight hard in every single game they have left. Let’s rally behind our guys, and watch them fight with everything they have in them.