It has been 221 days since playing their final game of the 2019-20 season against Kansas. Now, Texas Tech men’s basketball is back underway, with their first practice having taken place on Wednesday afternoon.
The beginning practice date is in accordance with NCAA guidelines that allow teams to hold 30 practices in the 42 days leading up to the season’s start date.
Before the team’s first practice began, head coach Chris Beard and junior guard Kyler Edwards addressed the media.
“There’s optimism all over the office and gym,” Beard said on emotions surrounding the first day of practice.
This season, teams will have to face many complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One example of that is the fact that teams are not allowed to scrimmage or have exhibition games with other programs to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
“I think one of the many, many challenges this year in college basketball will be how to get through these 30 practices with no outside competition,” Beard said on the lack of exhibition games. Still, he kept a positive and excited tone surrounding the beginning of practice.
Tech’s season ended unexpectedly last year as the Red Raiders were taken off the court while warming up to face the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 Tournament. The Big 12 Tournament was soon canceled due to fears of COVID-19 exposure and spread.
“We were excited to play, we were prepared to play, then all of a sudden it’s just over,” Beard said on the sudden ending of last year’s season.
Despite facing a multitude of unexpected adversity, Beard mentioned that his team came out of it with a lesson.
“I think it’s fueled players, coaches and everybody not only to have the best year you can have -- that’s every year -- but I think really to appreciate the journey,” Beard said. “If you ask me the number one thing I think that college basketball people take from the adversity of the COVID is just an appreciation of the game and being apart of the game.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also forced the team to not be able to practice in their gym and limited contact between players and coaches to virtual platforms, Beard mentioned. Edwards mentioned he had been running outside and playing on outdoor hoops to stay in shape.
As practice begins, Beard mentioned his goals for the first week to were to build the team’s chemistry. This years roster consists of seven newcomers and seven returners, according to Tech Athletics.
With the NCAA season set to begin on November 25, Beard mentioned the team’s schedule was “days to a week” away from being announced.