Linking Up Texas Tech Basketball Preparing for Michigan State

All of the links.

There’s just so much out there that I felt like basketball needed its very own post.

Coach of the Year. This is quick and I won’t get too far into the weeds, but head coach Chris Beard on accepting the award for AP men’s coach of the year, had a lot of people to thank. Beard of course thanked his players and current staff and everyone associated with the program, but he also wanted to thank some other people as well:

Personally, if you’d just allow me a quick minute and just give me a favor. I just wanted to thank everybody that helped me get to this point to be able to coach a team like this year’s Texas Tech team that’s still playing in April, which is always a personal goal of mine. It started at Texas with Coach Penders and Eddie Oran and Vic Trilli giving me an opportunity, Danny Kaspar at Incarnate Word hired me for my first coaching job. Shannon Hayes — I might have my moment right here, boys.


Shannon Hayes at Abilene Christian gave me my first full-time NCAA job, and Vic Trilli gave me a great break at the University of North Texas, where I was a young Division I assistant coach. And I got my first head coaching job at Fort Sky Community College. I’ll always be indebted to Kevin Gundy giving me an opportunity, and then Rusty Beene gave me an equal opportunity at Seminole State College a year ago.

And then really the break of my career getting with Pat Knight and Coach Knight at Texas Tech where I spent ten years, and I’m really, really proud of. Cory Haffner and those guys hired me to coach the professional team, the South Carolina Warriors. Ron Holmes with McMurry University, Sean Johnson and Dr. Brian May giving me a chance to coach at Angelo State. Chase Conque believing in me when I was just a D-II coach, giving me a chance to coach on the biggest stage, making a really unpopular hire and hiring me to come to Little Rock. And ultimately, Kirby Hocutt giving me a chance to come back to Texas Tech, where we’re building something special just in our third year.

I know that’s a long list. I’ve had a great journey. Thank you for giving me the time to mention those people.

What Kind of Dog Are You? This was fanstastic as head coach Chris Beard is being interviewed for winning the AP coach of the year.

On Dan Patrick. Head coach Chris Beard is making the rounds.

New Curry 6s. I’m not a shoe-guy, but I can almost guarantee that all of these guys in the room are. Big deal.

Congrats Davide!


A-J Media’s Don Williams – Mooney, Owens show graduate transfer find success in Texas Tech process:

In Beard’s mind, it should come as no great surprise that Owens and Mooney made a quick impact and claimed two of the six spots on the Big 12 all-defensive team.

“We’re good at this,” the Red Raiders’ coach said. “It’s not arrogance. It’s just our background. In junior college, your roster’s always changing. (South Plains College) coach (Steve) Green’s roster changes every year, and they’re in Hutch [Hutchinson, Kansas, site of the NJCAA Tournament].

“In Division II, your roster changes. You get a lot of one-year guys. And so I think we’re good at this. I think we coach one-year guys as good as anybody in the country.”

A-J Media’s Don Williams – Francis found niche playing basketball, aiding Texas Tech to Final Four:

But he’s contributed more to team chemistry, according to guard Matt Mooney, who joined the team as a graduate transfer from South Dakota and immediately stepped into the starting lineup.

“He’s one of the guys who is the reason why I came here,” Mooney said. “Guys like him. He was really welcoming to me.

“From the first day I stepped foot out there, he took me under his wing, talked to me, became my friend before we got on the floor together. That helps you be good teammates and play better. He’s been through a lot of adversity, and they coach him as hard as anybody I’ve ever seen. They coach him hard. He takes it and plays his game.”

Senior forward Tariq Owens echoed the sentiment. Owens said the fact Francis is “from a completely different place” and exerts influence attests to his persona.

“He works extremely hard and he knows what his role is, and he does all the little things,” Owens said. “From a leadership standpoint, that’s big. To be from somewhere else and to be in such a leadership role and to have such an impact on the team, it speaks to who he is as a person.”

FiveThirtyEight’s Jake Lourim – Can Anything Stop Cassius Winston?:

The junior point guard is second to Murray State’s Ja Morant in assist rate, at 45.4 percent. He is second to Duke’s Zion Williamson in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating stat, among players with at least 28 percent of possessions used and 40 percent of minutes played. “He is as good a player as we’ve played against,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in a press conference after the game on Sunday.

SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell – The 8 best NBA Draft prospects in the Final Four, ranked (Culver is #1, but Michigan State’s SF Aaron Henry is #6, PG Cassius Winston is #5, and C Xavier Tillman is #4):

Texas Tech’s run to the Final Four has helped illuminate the sizable impact Jarrett Culver has on winning basketball. Despite not having another NBA prospect on the roster, the Red Raiders are in the national semifinals for the first time in program history behind a historically good defense and a burgeoning sophomore guard who fills every crack on both ends of the floor. After losing five of their top six scorers from last season, Culver has emerged into the do-everything hub of the Red Raiders, initiating the offense, thriving as a primary scorer, and fortifying the best defense in the country with length and strength.

SI’s Michael Shapiro – 2019 Final Four Preview: Texas Tech Is Out to Prove Defense Can Win a Championship:

Tariq Owens is a force to be reckoned with. The St. John’s transfer earned All-Big 12 defensive honors in 2018-19, yet still entered the NCAA tournament under the national radar. That should change over the weekend. Owens anchors the nation’s No. 1 defense, per, and he ranks seventh in the nation in blocks. He limited WCC Player of the Year Rui Hachimura to 8-of-19 from the field in the Elite Eight, including a key block on a three-point attempt from Hachimura late in the second half. Jarrett Culver is Texas Tech’s headliner, but don’t forget about Owens and his mammoth wingspan.

Detroit Free Press’ Chris Solari – Michigan State vs. Texas Tech in Final Four: Predictions, who has the edge:

Sophomore Xavier Tillman and senior Kenny Goins showed the nation against Duke how their talents have blended to buoy MSU’s late-season surge. Tillman helped contain Zion Williamson and forced the freshman phenom into five turnovers. Both he and Goins grabbed nine rebounds, and Goins hit the game-winning 3-pointer despite struggling from deep throughout the tournament — he is 12 of 46 (25%) from deep after shooting 43.9% in the final 18 regular-season games. Goins and Tillman have combined to average 17.8 rebounds and 31.6 minutes per game in the NCAAs. In Texas Tech, the Spartans will face a stingy away-from-the-paint defender and at-the-rim shot-blocker in Tariq Owens, the 6-foot-10 grad transfer from St. John’s who averages 8.9 points and 2.5 blocks a game. MSU’s big men will have the advantage on the boards, however (Owens averages 5.9 rebounds per game and senior Norense Odinase averages 5.2.)

Edge: MSU

Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman – Chris Beard’s coaching legacy at Texas Tech started under Bobby Knight:

“I had [Beard] as an assistant coach for a while,” Knight recalled. “He worked hard. He learned that defense is how you win. I think he really paid attention and worked hard at learning to coach.”

Pat Knight recalled how Beard first came to be at Texas Tech in a story appearing in the Las Vegas Review Journal: “Dad called me and said, ‘I found this kid and I think he would be great for us. He’s got everything we need.’ ”

In the lead-up to the Final Four, Beard talked about his relationship with Knight.

“I have heard back from several people that he sent his congratulations,” Beard said. “As always, Coach has been very supportive. He’s really been great the past three years since I’ve been back to Lubbock.”

CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave – How Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver went from unknown recruit to one of the top players in college basketball:

“He’s kind of like Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he played – he’d just do something amazing out of nowhere,” Caldwell said, referring to one of the best soccer players in the world. “He scored one best goals I’ve ever seen at the high school level. It was his junior year. Jarrett and JJ had just finished basketball, and if we won, we’d make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. We ended up beating the defending district champs 4-0. They both started for me.

“And in the first round of the playoffs we came up against the 13th-ranked team in state,” Caldwell continued. “Jarrett scored this goal from the 25-yard-line. It was like a rocket, went up to the top right-hand corner. If the U.S. men’s national team coach sees that, he’d be wishing he found him first. It was one of those. Just like Zlatan. Every time he got the ball it was something special to watch.”

SI’s Greg Bishop – How Matt Mooney Became the Perfect Piece to Texas Tech’s Final Four Puzzle:

That seems like a common basketball sentiment these days in Lubbock, Texas, where the basketball team that lost six of its top eight returning scorers and was tabbed to finish seventh in the Big 12 preseason poll finds itself on college’s basketball grandest stage. The Red Raiders are led by a coach who worked in Division III as recently as 2013, a hometown hero who morphed into future NBA lottery pick and a mish-mash of foreign talent, overlooked role players and two grad transfers that tied together this motley collection that will face Michigan State on Saturday in the Final Four.

One of those transfers is Mooney, who embodies the Red Raiders program, from Beard’s willingness to seek transfer aid to how Texas Tech develops players to the team’s suffocating defense, of which Mooney is a surprisingly crucial cog. They’re not in the national semifinals without him. And he’s not in the Final Four if he transferred to his other top choices, Creighton or Northwestern. He’s not in the Final Four if many things don’t fall just the way they happened.

Detroit News’ Matt Charboneau – Michigan State vs. Texas Tech: Who has the edge:

Sophomore Jarrett Culver is enjoying a breakout season, earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors while also earning All-American recognition from the Associated Press, the NABC and the Sporting News. He’s averaging 18.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game and was named the West Region Most Outstanding Player after averaging 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assist per game. Culver is joined in the backcourt by senior Matt Mooney, who was named to the West Region all-tournament team. He scored 17 in the win over Gonzaga, while sophomore Davide Moretti drilled two crucial 3-pointers late in the win and is averaging 11.6 points a game this season.

Cassius Winston continues to lead the Spartans. He was named East Region Most Outstanding Player and this week added first-team All-America honors after scoring 20 points and handing out 10 assists in the win over Duke. He’s now averaging 18.9 points and 7.6 assists a game while senior Matt McQuaid continues to make big plays, hitting a spinning layup late in the victory over Duke while shooting 42.2 percent from 3-point range. Freshman Aaron Henry has been enjoying a breakout tournament, scoring 20 in the win over LSU while averaging 10.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in four NCAA games.

Edge: Michigan State


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