Chris Beard is a basketball wizard. He is an incredible recruiter, but also knows how to coach lower rated recruits into All-American players. His no-middle defense and Bobby Knight inspired motion offense have taken the NCAA by storm, inspiring many copycats (*cough cough* Baylor) and imitators. No matter how many programs try to copy Beard, there can only be one, and thank goodness he is at Texas Tech. One of the most interesting parts about Chris Beard’s coaching strategy is his rotations.
When I first started watching Texas Tech basketball, I was extremely confused by some of Beard’s decisions. Putting guys in the game for one possession and then sending them back to the bench. Running five guards one the court at once. After awhile I began to understand that there was a method to what seemed like madness, and Beard let his accolades talk for themselves. One of the staples of Beard’s teams have been a short rotation, usually around 8 guys. Here is the rotation from 2017-2018, Coach Beard’s second season with the team.
You can see here Beard actually ran about ten guys regularly. Of course accounting for Zach Smith and his injury makes things a little more complex. This would be the last year Beard had more than 8 guys averaging 10 or more MPG. Look at how different that Elite 8 team is from the national champ runner ups.
Here we see the rotation tighten up a lot. This team was a contender all year, so of course the rotation was a little more focused on winning games rather than developing players. They were also a much more talented team. The guys who were starters started almost every game. There’s an interesting pattern beginning to show. In these past 2 seasons, 2 guards off the bench have averaged more minutes than the starting big man (in both cases its Norense Odiase). This makes sense when you think about the 4 guard lineup Chris Beard usually likes to have out on the floor. That year Beard had two primary big men, Odiase and Tariq Owens. Last season, TJ Holyfield was the only true big man who saw significant floor time. Look at how the rotation adjusts around him.
Beard only had 11 guys see the court last season, the least amounts in those 3 seasons. Again, we see only 8 players get significant playing time. So, if we estimate that Beard will only give 8 players significant minutes, this is what the rotation for next season could look like.
Let me know what you think the rotation could look like below in the comments. This is truly just an estimate of what I think it could look like. Beard is the best in the business at chiseling a roster out and making it work, and I trust what he does more than what I guess will happen. Here’s where I think Beard will expand his depth chart out further than it has been the past 2 seasons. I believe there are 9 guys who are good enough to see at least 10 MPG. If everyone can stay healthy and these incoming freshmen are as good as I believe they will be, I truly do think this is what we’ll see. That number will cut off at Russel Tchewa, who I think probably sees at most 7-9 minutes a game. Now, this estimate is assuming Jahmi’us Ramsey heads to the NBA. If he doesn’t, then things get really interesting. If Ramsey returns, maybe the rotation looks like this:
Now we’ve hit a new dilemma. A team can only have 13 players on scholarship, meaning one guy would have to have their scholarship pulled. Pulling a scholarship almost guarantees a transfer. These past 2 rotation guesses have been based on the idea that the team adds no transfers. Well, this also doesn’t look like the case. If you follow guys like Jeff Goodman and Jon Rothstein on Twitter, you know that multiple guys in the transfer portal have said Texas Tech is in contact with them. An addition of transfers (with immediate eligibility) will likely mean a diminished role for the freshmen Micah Peavy and Chibuzo Agbo Junior. Nimari Burnett is too talented, in my opinion, to see less floor time. I think if Beard pursues a good (and I mean good) ball handling transfer then Burnett could come off the bench, but I still think he plays quite a bit. So, if Beard pursues 2 transfers, maybe the rotation looks like this. I believe that in order for Beard to get 2 transfers, Ramsey will be gone, so that’s what I am assuming here.
I’m assuming Beard pursues a sharpshooting guard and a rebounding big as his transfer choices. Now this roster is probably the most complex situation for 2 reasons. One reason is that there are 3 guys after the 8th position on the depth chart who I believe deserve 10+ minutes. Another is that there are now 2 guys who will need to have their scholarship revoked. The thing is Beard could run 8 guys in the example above and I still think this team is a Big 12 contender (even at the national level). The really good thing is I think any of the above teams is good enough to do the same.
It’s hard for me to imagine a Texas Tech team where anyone I think is very talented doesn’t get significant playing time. I think it’s worrisome for me in terms of guys transferring out. Despite how I may feel about something, Chris Beard knows best. This is now the nature of the program. Texas Tech is becoming one of the best destinations for a player to land. Some guys are gonna have to sacrifice their minutes for others. Next year’s team is good. Really good. And what we’re starting to see here is the beginning of something really special. Guys going to the NBA. Landing top-25 recruits. Winning Big 12 titles. Chris Beard is one of the best roster builders in the nation, I know whatever he comes up with next year is going to work really well.