Five weeks from today, the Texas Tech basketball team will face Eastern Illinois to tip-off the season. And although the name on the front on the jersey will be the same, and names on the back will be fairly new.
You can count the number of returning players on one hand, and you can flash the “Guns Up” gesture to show the number of scholarship players who saw minutes last years. We knew the recruiting class was going to be big with four seniors and a lottery pick on the roster, but I don’t think anyone expected 11 newcomers.
Even though Chris Beard is used to turnover, as he coached at four separate schools in a span of five years, he hasn’t seen this much youth on his roster. During his history as a head coach, he typically has had a ton of upper classmen on his team.
I counted the number of experience in years this team has, with a sophomore getting one year, junior getting two years and a senior getting three years. I gave the player an extra year for a redshirt. I only counted the scholarship players to keep it from getting lopsided, and if I wasn’t sure who was on scholarship, I took out the most experienced players.
|TEAM-YEAR||EXP||EXP not including RS or Ineligible players|
|Angelo State 2014||16||15|
|Angelo State 2015||24||23|
|AR-Little Rock 2016||27||23|
|Texas Tech 2017||30||21|
|Texas Tech 2018||23||20|
|Texas Tech 2019||21||16|
|Texas Tech 2020||14||9|
This is going to be a new challenge for Beard. He has a lot of players on his roster that haven’t played a lot of games. However, if you ask Beard (as someone did in his press conference last week), the lack of experience is skewed due to the long tournament runs players on the team have made and the amount of minutes the player gets:
First of all, the whole thing with youth, I’ve always said there’s a relationship in college basketball between experiencing winning, but not necessarily age. If that was the deal, everybody would just go out and sign a bunch of 24-25 year old guys that haven’t been to college and be the oldest team and you win. It doesn’t work that way.
These young guys that we call freshmen now, there will come a time sooner rather than later when they are not freshmen. If a guy plays a lot of minutes by the time he gets to Christmas, he’s basically already a sophomore. So I’m a big believer in experience over age or classification on a roster. These guys are all getting experience.
So obviously Beard is not worried about the lack of experience on this roster. And it’s not like Beard hasn’t had success with young guys. Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver were two of three best players on the team their freshman year, and Kyler Edwards was arguably the best player in the national championship game last April.
If Beard can get half those players to play well their freshman year to go along with the four players with experience prior to the season, Texas Tech will be okay. And that brings up my next point about the new challenge Beard will go through this year; the amount of talented newcomers.
Over the past three years, the staff has brought in more talented players than the last staff, but still nothing that got national attention. That was until February 2018, when they landed Top 50 player Khavon Moore. Since, Texas Tech has landed a few players inside the Top 100, including a few just outside.
Although the potential and the readiness of these talented players are greater than the ones the Beard got when they first arrived in Lubbock, they also likely have higher standard for what they expect and possibly more likely to be upset when they don’t get as many minutes or opportunities as expected.
Now I am by no means saying that Beard and company won’t be able to successfully coach the newcomers and keep everyone at ease, but it’s he dealt with this much talent recruiting wise in the past. And the one player he did got has already left the program.
Plenty of great coaches have been successful doing this, and now it’s time for Beard to prove he can do it too. This team has potential to be better than last year. Although it’s hard to be better than a team that was 30 seconds away from a national title, if Beard can use his coaching magic once again, this team will compete for titles.