I was trying to wrap my head around the chickenhearted departure of Tubby Smith, wondering who we could get as our new head coach and BOOM… we landed Chris Beard. I could not have thought of a better fit for the program at this point in time. I had thought Texas Tech was not going to attract a rising-star in the college coaching ranks, and instead go for an accomplished mentor of the game to help guide our program to the next level. We hit a home run in proving me utterly wrong. The Red Raiders are getting an up and coming head coach that could propel Texas Tech basketball to that next level in dynamic fashion… and one that loves Lubbock. What else could we ask for?
After watching the Chris Beard introductory presser, I was all in on the guy to lead our basketball program and pumped to have him as our new head coach. I wanted to know what motivated Coach Beard in terms of basketball, and get a better grasp on his approach to the game.
Here are a couple of articles that helped me out with my research…
A few months back, last December, Coach Beard answered questions in a Q&A that had a lot of context with him and his time at Texas Tech as an assistant coach. Here are some things that Chris Beard said in that interview –
“Two things we talk about: mental toughness—I learned that from Coach Knight—and, tough times pass, but tough people last. Our guys embrace that, in a weird way.”
The link to those very good Texas Tech teams, coaching with the Knights, stands out on your coaching resume. Was that one of the most formative periods for you as a coach? How so?
“Yeah. Every day was a basketball clinic. I was learning from the best ever, in my opinion. There’s some things… I’d been a head coach for two years when I got the Texas Tech assistant job, and a lot of things that I believed in were validated. Character of players: we started there. We’re a business of talent, and you need it, but as a young head coach, I quickly learned that I’d rather have a guy who’s maybe not as good, but has more character than that talented guy.
If you compete for championships, you need a team that stays together, handles adversity, and works to improve. That was validated at Tech. We’d pass on talented guys that didn’t fit the team mold. Also, with coach Knight, you’ve got that fabled motion offense, but we were one of the best defensive teams in the country, too.
At Little Rock, we’re guarding really well, and taking care of the ball. That was the backbone of what I learned at Tech.”
I vividly remember watching that Texas Tech win over then-No. 6 Oklahoma State in January, 2002. That was your first season on Bob Knight’s staff: how much fun was it to come into a program like that? That arena was absolutely rocking during that win.
“I had an amazing time at Tech. Coach Knight is always associated with Indiana, but in my personal opinion, he doesn’t get enough recognition for what we did in Lubbock. Four NCAA tournaments, two NITs, including that run in 2003.
And the Big 12, at that time, was the best conference in basketball. Bill Self, Eddie Sutton, Rick Barnes, Bob Huggins for a couple years at K-State. You go down the line, the league was very good, and we were an NCAA tournament team year in and year out. It was a great time not only for my career but for basketball. I got to see so many different situations, and learn from it.”
“You’ve gotta embace this time you have, recognize what basketball does, and give it everything. We talk a lot about being positive every day, playing together…”
“I remember being a young kid, I was playing junior high football, and we were about to have three straight road games. And we’re in the locker room, and the coach said we should try to win one of the next three; if we could win two, that’s great. And as a kid at 12, I don’t buy that. That’s BS. Why go into a game and not have the goal of winning it?
My idea is to win every game on the schedule. And the last time it was done was coach Knight’s ’76 team at Indiana, but as a competitor, a coach, that should be the goal: there is a way to win every game. And our philosophy is to coach that way.”
Go read the whole interview. It is really great, and this was done before the Arkansas Little-Rock team had even made it through most of the season or into the NCAA tournament. It has me completley fired up that Chris Beard uses so much passion as one of his coaching techniques. I love that in a coach!
The other article that stood out to me was from The Washington Post after Coach Beard upset Purdue this year in the NCAA tournament –
On the biggest day of his professional life, Chris Beard coached with a broken hand. At halftime Sunday in the Sun Belt title game, Arkansas-Little Rock trailed. A trip to the NCAA tournament hung in the balance, and Beard wanted to convey his desperation. Beard punched a dry-erase board, and the dry-erase board won.
“I made a bad decision in the locker room trying to get the guys a little fired up,” Beard said Wednesday afternoon. “We talk a lot about boxing in our program. We’re a good defensive team. We believe in boxing, kind of footwork. But unfortunately I didn’t get the message with the handwork.”
“Me personally, I’ve been overlooked my whole life,” Beard said. “I wake up every day with an edge. Guys like me get one chance.”
Beard has made the most of his one chance. He will continue to coach with a soft cast on his right hand. Given his mentor, one can understand how it got there.
“There was a chair there,” Beard said. “I thought briefly about maybe using the chair, but Coach Knight told me never to do that, never use a chair in no situation.”
I had always wondered what had happened to his right hand, and why he wore a brace. I now know. What I got out of the article is that Chris Beard likes to coach intensely, and is not afraid to show his emotion. What do you expect from a disciple of Bobby Knight? He also wants to climb to the top and win every game. It is important for him as being an underdog in life to achieve success. Which is exactly what Texas Tech needs in a coach, because we are normally the underdog in the fight.
Coming away and learning more and more about Chris Beard is something that gets me excited about our future as a program, and what he is about to build upon. We did the unthinkable and went to the NCAA tournament this year. As time will play out this offseason, we will see if anyone transfers from the current roster. It will also be interesting to see who Coach Beard gets to fill up as his supporting cast on staff at Tech.
But, right now at this moment I am thrilled to have Chris Beard leading our team into next season. Wreck ’em Tech!