The Texas Tech men’s basketball team has 10 newcomers on this year's squad with seven of them listed as freshmen. With two ESPN top-100 recruits from last year's recruiting class and top-tier graduate transfers, this team has talent, but coach Chris Beard knows it will take more than talent to win games.
“Obviously the scoreboard is what matters, but what you hope for in coaching, one of the biggest words in coaching, is carryover," Beard said. "You hope that all the things we’ve been working on this summer and this fall and the start of practice that they resemble how we play. It sounds like captain obvious, it’s simple but it’s not simple. Especially with the young guys that we have."
Beard continued by saying there will be times at the beginning of the season that the team will look like they could play any team in the country. He added there will also be times where you can tell the Red Raiders have four freshmen on the floor, emphasizing the importance of a carryover.
The Red Raiders are coming off their first Final Four appearance in program history. With that success will come comparisons to past teams, players and experiences. Beard wants the team to learn from past years, but make sure they are not dwelling on it.
“I think as a coach you always draw comparisons. You always compare things, but every team is a new team, every team is a new journey. Sometimes you’ll have the same players, but it’s still a new team and a new journey and for us, it’s three returners and ten new players,” Beard said. “Anytime we can teach and get better by taking a look at the past we’ll certainly do that but more than not it’s eyes ahead, not a lot of rear-view mirrors going on especially with ten new players.”
Tech started their season off 1-0 following an 85-60 win over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night. Freshmen Jahmi’us Ramsey and Terrence Shannon Jr. not only started the game but were leading scorers combining for 30 points in their debut, Ramsey with 19 and Shannon Jr with 11. Beard spoke about Ramsey’s talent but said he needs to stay consistent to ensure a larger impact on the court.
“Just like all young players in the country Jahmi’us (Ramsey) is a work in progress, I think he would tell you the same. There’s no doubt about it that we see the talent on a daily basis, not only in practice but in our summer games and our exhibition games. I think what Ramsey is looking for is consistency,” Beard said. “It’s not a question of whether he can get some things done it’s just a matter of can he be consistent enough to do it at this level and will his team to victory. I have a lot of confidence in Ramsey. Where that confidence comes from is not just his talent, that anyone can see, it’s his love of the game, it’s his discipline, it’s what he does when no one is looking early in the morning and at night. The guy wants to be really good.”
Eleven players suited up on Tuesday night, and all 11 players got on the court. With lots of talent and youth, it might take a while for each player to find their role. Graduate transfer TJ Holyfield stepped into a role immediately, recording 15 points and five rebounds in his Tech debut. Beard said it is important that Holyfield and Virginia Tech graduate transfer Chris Clarke make an impact beyond the stat sheet because they are the only seniors on the team.
“Every player on the team has to play their role, every player on the team has to meet and exceed expectations. We’re a team, the grad transfers are no different than the freshmen. So, we’re asking a lot from each of our players and we don’t really have a backup plan in terms of ‘oh, if this guy doesn’t play well, we’ve got this guy’ we recruit guys with roles in mind,” Beard said. “With Chris (Clarke) and (TJ) Holyfield their roles on this team needs to exceed the stat sheet. It’s not just about points and rebounds and stops, it’s about them giving us a veteran experience. They’re the only two seniors on our team, now there’s a relationship in college basketball between experience and winning.”
Tech will look to get back to the Final Four this season but will be doing it with little veteran presence as the Red Raiders continue their season at 7 p.m. on Saturday against Bethune-Cookman in the United Supermarkets Arena.