I wonder what Chris Beard told his team in the locker room in Kansas City following the cancellation of the college basketball season. I suspect it was the most difficult conversation that Beard’s ever had with a team, including the one that took place last April in a locker room in Minneapolis.
Beard, as with everything he does, has a plan or template for these post-season locker room conversations. And the stage for Beard’s message is set in a meeting with his seniors before the season even starts.
The below quote can be heard in the linked video of a Beard’s preseason breakfast with the seniors from Tech’s 2016-2017 team:
“When all is said and done, and our season ends, like everybody’s season ends, there’s only one team that ends with a win. And that’s on a Monday night. Everybody else’s season ends, somewhere in a locker room, and what we want to have is no regrets. We want to be able to look each other in the eye and say, ‘hey man, that was a hell of a journey; no regrets.’ What we don’t want to do is look each other in the eye and say, ‘man, I wish we had one more year.’ – Chris Beard.
Prior to Thursday morning, I doubt Beard’s felt regret while meeting with his team in a locker room for the last time. That conversation may have been Beard’s worst fear, the stuff that keeps him up at night, because his message could have been: Man, I wish we had one more year, one more game, even just one more possession.
This sucks for the seniors (and any other current player that won’t be here year next year). Chris Clarke & TJ Holyfield didn’t have a chance to finish writing their legacies at Tech.
But they should have zero shame about what this team accomplished. This was a great year for Texas Tech basketball. Were there some close losses against national title contenders? Sure. Were we in a position to make noise in post-season tournaments? No question.
I’ve seen comments from fans recently that I think would make Beard go ballistic. Specifically, comments that could be summarized as follows: At least this happened during a down year in Tech basketball.
That’s absurd. The 2019-2010 season was not a “down year” for Tech basketball.
In 21 seasons from 1997 – 2017, Texas Tech finished with a losing Big 12 record in 15 of those seasons. It’s now been three years in a row at .500 or better.
In that same time-frame (21 seasons), Tech made the NCAA tournament only 5 times. Tech basketball had never made the NCAA tournament three years in a row. This year’s team was going to the Dance, and it was going to make a run.
Since the NCAA tournament expanded, Tech basketball made it to the second weekend (the Sweet 16) only 4 times. Only twice if I was writing this in March 2018. That means Chris Clarke & TJ Holyfield were two wins away from being legends in the minds of your average Tech basketball fan. No one would’ve remembered them by a few one-possession losses in February.
At minimum, this team’s season was going to end in some locker room, with Beard and the players looking each other in the eye without any regrets.
As you can tell, I’m convinced that conversation would’ve happened after an immensely satisfying run in the tournament. But they never got that chance…