Basketball

Post Game Thoughts: Virginia 85, Texas Tech 77

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Game Recap

Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: Brandone Francis stepped up big-time last night and Texas Tech gets blown out by 20 without Francis. He had 17 ponts on 7 of 12 from the floor, including 3 of 7 from the three-point line, and 4 rebounds.

Defender of the Game: Tariq Owens for giving it his all. I would have loved to play this game with a completely healthy Owens.

Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: Matt Mooney finished with 10 points, on 4 of 9, 2 of 6 from beyond the arc, a rebound, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

Game Notes:

  • I’ve only had to write 7 of these after a loss all year long. That’s pretty incredible and I got to write 31 after a victory. None of what I intend to write about will make you feel any better and it really isn’t supposed to. I don’t have that kind of power. Losing is supposed to hurt and Texas Tech fell short. Before the Final Four head coach Chris Beard made it very clear that this team wasn’t content to play in the Final Four, but to win the Final Four. This team fell short and as you know by know, sports will kick you when you’re down 99% of the time. It is set up for complete failures time and time again because there can only be one champion. The other 350 teams in basketball will end in defeat.
  • With that being said, if you don’t celebrate the victories along the way, then you’re more than likely going to be a very depressed person. The small victories make it all worth it in the end. A particular game, or series of events, or a tournament run. There were a ton of pretty cool and puff-your-chest moments from this whole danged tournament. So, I’d ask you to find your joy in something from the past three weeks. There’s plenty to choose from and it might make last night’s game find some perspective.
  • It stinks that Jarrett Culver wasn’t himself the past two games. He was so good for 98% of the season, an occasional off-game in the middle of the season, but he carried this team, leading the team ins scoring, rebounding, and assists. That’s no easy task. In fact, in an “off” game, Culver had 15 points, 9 rebound, led the team with 5 assists, 2 steals, and a block to go with 3 turnovers. He’s getting drafted because of all of the other things he does when his offensive game isn’t rolling. The thing is that Culver’s shot got a complete make-over from last year to this year and his improvement was truly significant. For those of you who think that 2 games out of nearly 40 will affect his draft status, I’m not sure what to tell you because it just won’t. Culver doesn’t need to stick around for another year because of two bad games, especially when his resume is glowing for the most part. You should know that NBA teams salivate over 6’6″ or 6’7″ athletes that have significant potential, much like Zhaire Smith last year. Culver is apparently a very young sophomore so this is absolutely motivating for NBA teams, to take Culver and make him into a better player, something that would happen if he were to stay, but when you have the chance to go top 10, you go. Hell, if you’re top 20, you take the chance. And one final thought about Culver. Texas Tech is not in the Final Four or winning the Big 12 title or winning 20 games without what he did this year. He was the player of the year in the Big 12, deservedly so. He elevated this entire team.
  • It’s strange to think that Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney weren’t part of this program for 20 years because it felt like they were so ingrained in this team. There is absolutely no way that Texas Tech makes it as far as they did without Owens and Mooney. I’m so impressed that Owens was even able to go after twisting his ankle. I honestly tink that Mooney was angry that he had to throw the ball in at the end of regulation and couldn’t be the guy to take the shot. You want guys not afraid and I’m all but sure that Mooney would have absolutely stepped up to be that guy.
  • Part of me wants to talk about some of the strange calls (Moretti didn’t trip Guy in overtime, Guy fell over his own man and holy smokes, if we slowed down the replay on every tipped ball out of bounds it would probably drive me insane), but I don’t think I have the ability, right now, to pour over the tape and obsess over each one. The two mentioned above stick out in my head and I’d like to tell you that they didn’t matter, but cumulatively, they probably do matter over the course of the game.
  • The biggest difference in the game is that Texas Tech didn’t have an answer for Virginia’s Hunter. Deshawn Corprew is probably the closest thing on the roster to being able to match-up with him defensively, but I think that Corprew still has some growing pains (every player goes through them and he’s got two years to get a lot better, which he will). There just wasn’t an answer, and Hunter just nailed the three-point attempts he was given. Hunter just made shots.
  • And before we get off of this idea, I firmly believe in player development. One of the more exhausting things that I’ve done was that I’ve tried to consume everything that Beard and the players said in this tournament, which means watching each and every press conference from start to finish. At some point during this process, Beard was asked about what the star ratings meant and much was made about how Texas Tech didn’t really have any top-100 players. Beard’s answer, which I’m paraphrasing, is that stars are just a starting point. Beard absolutely believes in player development and think for a second about the development of guys like Moretti and Culver and Odiase. Think about how far they’ve come as players from one season to the next. I wasn’t sure that Moretti could be a starting Big 12 guard and I was wrong. I didn’t think that Culver would be a top-10 pick, but he will be. Odiase’s transformation happened the minute that Beard walked on campus and saw a sculpted and athletic forward, not just a 260 mass of flesh without purpose. So yeah, Kyler Edwards, Deshawn Corprew, Davide Moretti, and everyone else on the bench is going to get significantly better. And this is an idea that probably deserves more consideration through the offseason, but Beard and his staff intentionally carried three players that were not going to play big minutes, Kevin McCullar, Khavon Moore, and Andrei Savrasov. they weren’t going to play but they got to witness the process up close and personal. They’re significantly ahead of where they would be had they arrived in the summer. When considering how players will contribute next year it would be foolish to not take that into consideration.
  • I am all but certain that Chris Beard will be a Red Raider for as long as he wants to be a Red Raider. There will most likely be an announcement in the next couple of weeks. After the game, athletic director said that over the next 72 hours he would sit down with Beard and discuss a contract situation, via David Collier.
  • I’m going to go this whole Post Game Thoughts without talking about the game. Virginia was, by far and away, the best defensive team that Texas Tech has played all year. Texas Tech could hardly get going offensively, although they shot significantly better in the second half. That slow first half was a killer though. And Virginia doesn’t get enough credit for being so versatile on offense. A lot like Texas Tech, they have three guys that can make plays, whether it be making shots or distributing the ball, and that’s a very tough thing to stop. Just to make sure that I acknowledge everyone: Culver, Moretti, Mooney, Odiase, Owens, Francis, Edwards, and Corprew. You poured it all out.
  • Head coach Chris Beard:

    Q. Chris, it looked like you stopped to talk to a couple of your guys before they walked off the floor. What was your message to them after the game there?

    CHRIS BEARD: Just — man. Just told them I loved them. You know, our relationship is just getting started. I’ll be at those guys’ weddings one day and hopefully when their kids get born and do everything I can to talk them out of getting into coaching so they don’t ever feel like this.

    You know, I just love those guys.

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