April 1st, 2021: The day the entire nation wrote off the Texas Tech basketball program after a certain coach took off for Austin.
One might say that’s an overreaction, but a majority would agree. Not many people thought that Texas Tech basketball would stay relevant after the departure of Chris Beard. With no certain future and no idea what roster was left, this program looked left for dead.
Then comes Mark Adams.
The man who didn’t get on the plane. The man who fought for this program and the man that was determined to keep it relevant. Not only did Tech basketball stay relevant, they stayed elite.
Mark Adams had to build a roster from the ground up. only 5(!) players elected to return. Kevin McCullar. Terrence Shannon Jr. Marcus Santos-Silva. Clarence Nadolny. Chibuzo Agbo. Those are the only guys that stayed and believed in this program. From there, Coach Adams had to dig through the transfer portal to build up a roster, and boy did he find some gems.
Bryson Williams and Kevin Obanor were bigger names in the portal that everyone knew their talent. Obanor coming off a Sweet 16 run with Oral Roberts and Williams who notably had went off in Allen Fieldhouse almost leading UTEP to an upset victory. The others were guys that were determined to make names for themselves. Adonis Arms, Davion Warren, Mylik Wilson, Daniel Batcho, and KJ Allen. All had their own fantastic stories, and all showed the nation they belonged on this stage.
All of the guys on this team were set out to have a magical season to prove the doubters wrong, and they did all of that and more.
In the non-conference, this team started to make a name for themselves. Starting out unranked, Tech started out the season 6-0 before having to face a tough Providence squad on the road, where they would suffer their first loss.
That was where we really saw this teams grit. Not only did they respond the next game, they didn’t on the biggest stage. Beating a ranked Tennessee team at MSG. No bigger stage to redeem yourself in basketball.
Fast forward to January and Tech is 10-2 after suffering a loss to #1 ranked Gonzaga. Tech would start off conference play with a BANG. After taking a tough loss on the road to an underrated ISU team, Tech would make their first statement of the season, beating Kansas at home and then #1 ranked Baylor in their own gym.
This is the moment everyone knew this squad was for real. These were 2 of the biggest wins in recent history for Tech basketball. It opened the nations eyes up to the greatness that is the Tech culture and Head Coach Mark Adams.
Then comes Feburary 1st. Chris Beard returns to Lubbock. The nation gets to see quite possibly the craziest atmosphere in college basketball history. Media members that were in attendance stated it was the loudest they’ve ever heard a college basketball arena. Tech cemented itself in the eyes of many that night, and really showed they were title contenders. Getting the bug of Chris Beard off your back and showing this program was so much more than just a coach.
This team would race into March, finishing 3rd in the Big 12 behind only Kansas and Baylor. Tech finished an amazing 5-1 against the other top 4 in the standings, including sweeps of Texas and Baylor.
This team would make more history and advance to the 2nd ever Big 12 title game in Tech history, suffering a loss to Kansas on what was basically a home court advantage for the Jayhawks.
Earning a 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, Tech would advance to the Sweet 16 where they would eventually lose to Duke in Coach K’s final tournament run. Mark Adams led Texas Tech to the Sweet 16 one year after losing Chris Beard.
One of the most improbable seasons in recent memory in all of college basketball.
Programs like Tech aren’t supposed to survive losing an elite head coach. Most programs would die off into mediocrity, example being Iowa State after Fred Hoiberg. Mark Adams and this group of guys kept the program afloat and relevant, to the point where media members were picking them as national title contenders.
There is not a single thing to be upset about after this season. Mark Adams proved to all of Red Raider nation that we are in good hands. These guys showed us what a true culture and bond in within a program, and represented Tech in the best ways possible, and for that we are forever grateful.
To the guys who believed in Mark Adams and the Tech program enough to transfer here, thank you. You gave us a team to remember and made yourselves legends all in one season. You made sure this program has a future and made it a destination for future recruits.
To the guys who stayed, you will never be forgotten. You will always be legends of Texas Tech basketball. You stayed for a program that was left for dead and represented everything it stands for.
The 2021-22 Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball team left this program in a much better place, and I for one am pumped for what's in store for the future. Let's keep this thing going and continue our rise to the top of the college basketball world. Tech basketball is just starting their rise, and Mark Adams is gonna keep this ride going.