Chris Beard, head coach: Texas Tech coach Chris Beard has completely changed the men’s basketball program, and sometimes the MVP isn’t always a player. He has the highest win-loss percentage in Texas Tech program history at .712 along with the only Final Four appearance for the Red Raiders.
Beard holds the program record for most wins in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to Beard, Tech was 6-16 in the NCAA Tournament. With Beard, the team is 7-1 in the NCAA Tournament, so he already has more NCAA Tournament wins than the rest of Tech’s program history combined, according to sports-reference.com
Under Beard, the men’s basketball team has been ranked highest in program history at No. 6 in the AP Top 25 Poll. The men’s basketball program has the highest seed in the NCAA Tournament under Beard over the past two consecutive years at No. 3. The only other coach to have the same seed in the tournament was James Dickey in 1995-96, according to sports-reference.com.
Beard has turned the program around and deserves to be the MVP.
Mark Adams, assistant coach: While picking Jarrett Culver, Tariq Owens, Davide Moretti, Matt Mooney or Norense Odiase would be easy for the Team MVP award, my nod goes to coach Mark Adams for making them all succeed on the court.
Tech would not have gone this far if it was not for its defense, which can be attributed to Adams and head coach Chris Beard. Tech’s defensive play has made all the Red Raiders on the court defensive stars and has gotten Tech to its first Final Four appearance in program history.
Of Tech’s top five defenders per defensive rating with at least 20 minutes per game played, Culver came in second, Moretti came in eighth, Mooney came in third, Owens came in first and Brandone Francis came in fifth in the Big 12. That across-the-board level of dominance is not possible without like-minded teammates with a dedication to defense, and so much of that dominance is accredited to Adams.
Ask any player on the team who makes the team’s elite defense tick, and they’ll tell you Adams.
Jarrett Culver, sophomore guard: From the minute he stepped onto the court, Jarrett Culver has taken the collegiate men’s basketball world by storm and deserves the MVP.
The Lubbock native has excelled in his sophomore season. He has posted an average 18.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, according to Tech Athletics, and helped lead the Red Raiders to their first Final Four.
Along with making history, Culver became the first men’s basketball player at Tech to be named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, according to Tech Athletics.
After defeating 1-seed Gonzaga, Culver was named the west region Most Outstanding Player, averaging 21.5 points and 6.8 rebounds, according to Tech Athletics.
The Coronado high school graduate has reached limits and broken records in only the two years he has been a Red Raider and with his collegiate career likely coming to after this season for the NBA Draft, he deserves to go out as the post-season MVP.
Davide Moretti, sophomore guard: Davide Moretti is my most valuable player for multiple reasons, including being one of the best two-way players on the team.
Moretti is shooting at a phenomenal rate — .502 percent from the field. He also led the Big 12 after shooting .472 from behind the arc, according to sports-reference. His ability to shoot the ball places him second on the team with 11.6 points per game.
Another aspect of Moretti’s offensive game that has had a huge impact on the team’s success is his performance at the free-throw line. He leads the Big 12, shooting .921, according to sports-reference.
Moretti is also a valuable player on the defensive end because he can guard almost any position without picking up fouls. He has the third most steals per game with 1.1, according to sports-reference.
He might not lead the team in points, rebounds and assists, but Moretti has had one of the biggest impacts on the Red Raiders’ success and is my most valuable player.
Matt Mooney, graduate transfer guard: Texas Tech’s basketball team has been successful this year because of how it plays as a team and its stellar defense. Leading the charge for the Red Raiders on the defensive side is Matt Mooney.
He finished the regular season the Big 12 leader in steals with 67, according to sports-reference. He was rewarded for this effort by being named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and the All-Big 12 Second Team.
His defense has not been the only impressive thing this year. He was a true jack-of-all-trades player for Tech, averaging 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and shooting 38 percent from the three-point line this season, according to sports-reference.
He has a usage rating, the number of times a play was run through him, of 22.6 percent, the second most on the team, according to Fox Sports.
Mooney’s ability to create space while forcing turnovers in bunches on the other end is something that cannot be replaced. He is the most valuable player this team has, and it has shown every time he gets a chance.
Norense Odiase, redshirt senior center: Norense Odiase is the silent weapon on the team. He’s doesn’t make many shots, but when he does it’s painful for the other team.
After Odiase’s slow start against Northern Kentucky, the senior from Fort Worth pulled down 15 rebounds against Buffalo, according to sports-reference.com. Also, of the four games the team has played in the NCAA Tournament, Odiase has committed only three turnovers — one against Buffalo and the other two against Northern Kentucky.
It’s not a secret Odiase has been through adversity, not just this semester, but throughout his career at Tech. The night before the Baylor game, the center had two family members die in a car crash. Two years earlier, Odiase suffered a broken foot and had to sit out the year.
Most people don’t go through this much adversity in a lifetime. Yet, Odiase had to go through this in his collegiate career and he is still one of the top leaders on the team.
Both his stats and his history make Odiase Tech’s MVP.