Texas Tech basketball head coach Chris Beard spoke to the media for the first time this year. Below is a non-transcript (I had to work quickly because I didn’t have time to back-up the video because it was around 25 minutes).
[Opening comments] Unselfish culture, by understanding how lucky we are, including how lucky he is to coach at Texas Tech, and be at this level . . . good offseason, Justin Gray was able to play for the Virgin Island, David Morretti, played for the Italian team . . . 100% participation this summer, this is the 6th workout this fall . . . return of Brandone [Francis] and Tommy [Hamilton], Josh [Webster] and Hyron [Edwards] as well as the seven freshmen . . . season tickets are ready to break 5,000, very appreciative of those that renewed and had a lot of loyal people stick by the program, and appreciate those new . . . multi-event will be at the Basketball Hall of Fame, but will be in a casino resort in Connecticut, a single game against Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden, and play Rice at the Coliseum, an old Southwest Conference foe, very proud we’ve been able to pull it off and respect the coaches before him, honoring all of the past players . . . we’ll have a reunion game before the game . . .
. . . [How the two transfers have looked] Been pleased, it’s a process, hard to sit out a full year is hard, there’s a lot of tough times, I give our staff credit, developing them as basketball players and people, lot of credit to John Reilly, and staff did a great job, Tommy is down to 258 after coming in at 300 and Brandone has re-worked his body as well.
. . . Been a real professionalization, our returning players embraced the idea that we have to get back to work and when the new players came in, they have brought a lot of enthusiasm, and leadership. We understand how tough it is to take that next step in the Big 12, as we try to take that next step, these steps are difficult. There is a level of positive, but the reality is that we have to prove it on the scoreboard.
. . . [lean on senior group] We value that senior group for so many reasons, the captains might be a sophomore more junior, but it’s a special group, Keenan, Zach, Justin and I’ll include Norense, as well as Niem and Tommy, they are very loyal, I like them as people, I have a lot of respect for these players and look forward to getting back to competition.
. . . [Project what will seem from Niem this year] Has a lot of confidence, had some real honest conversations with Niem and his family and support group, has embraced challenge and adversity as well as any player as he approached the summer, his grades, but trying to get Niem to understand is the next level of discipline, but there are only a select number of people who can do it consistently, by all indications, he’s off to a great start.
. . . [On Norense Odiase] has done well, we took our time, right now he’s full speed, Chris our trainer, and our team doctors, particularly Dr. Scovell, Norense deserves most of the credit, just not playing, and the feel of the game is a process.
. . . [On Jarrett Culver] had shoulder surgery, he was released 3 weeks ago, both guys are back on the court, just knocking the rust off.
. . . [How this team will take challenges] First thing about this team I like how this team lives in reality, how they have kept their eye on the big target, want to get into the tournament each year, nice balance of a positive energy, kept the bar high, one of the more powerful things in sports is the urgency of this is it, they understand this is their last go-around, and they have had a nice balance of daily work and what’s ahead.
. . . [Lesson from international experience] I love it and I would put Zach in the same category, I like it, I think it’s a great tool, have a lot of respect for international basketball, a lot of our processes is patterned after professional basketball, with Justin, Zach, and Morro we talk about how things are but they come back and talk about with their teammates about, and Zach came back a different guy as well.
. . . [Whole lot of guys at the 1-3 spots] It’s everything, it is impossible to compete to practice at this level, no greater motivation other than competition. I think he has the chance to be one of the best ever, but we do have guys competing at every spot. Malik has made Tommy and Norense better. They have individual moments. I think this year’s team will have an advantage with depth.
. . . [Year into the process, how far ahead from last year] I don’t know if we’re further ahead from basketball, but the culture has been set, less time talking about culture and more on basketball. Last year, winning 18 games and being competitive, but with the culture being set, here we go. Excellence has to be the culture, now that we’re here in year two, hopefully we see the results in year two.
. . . [On Davide Morretti] He is a special person, he is a great guy and very likable, he is that kind of personality, basketball he is a proven player, the adjustment from European is physicality, he’ll have to change his body, and Morro to do that, I think he’ll end up playing 15 pounds heavier, he has the ability to be one of our best shooters.
. . . Temple, have to be careful, it’s been a frustrating process, he has gone through another NCAA appeal to get an extra year, I hope the right thing is done and they give him the chance to be a part of NCAA athletics, kinda putting Matt’s life on hold, he is enrolled in grad school classes right now, and we’ll help Matt.
. . . On walk-onAvery Benson] will be a fan favorite, he was the first player we offered a scholarship to, when we transitioned to Texas Tech, we ended up not recruiting him, things kinda circle back, Avery had a real interest playing for us, these 7 freshmen are all players and he will be on the court, he might be the toughest player in the program, pound-for-pound he is a tough kid and that is something he has always valued.
. . . [What was he trying to get in recruiting class] Above all talent, will recruit everywhere and will have a base of high school players, with this, ultimately with Morrow and Z and Culver and Malik, these guys are talented enough to help us. We’ll go the junior college route, we had a need at point guard, international we’ll look at that, we hope that with Morrow, that opens more avenues, you need players that can play at this level, have a lot of respect at this competition, it starts by looking at some of the players that other teams have signed I think players we beat some big schools for these players, that’s another indication that we’ve got the right players.
. . . [Tommy Hamilton’s transformation] I would say that’s unique, I’d run through a wall for John, but for Tommy, it’s hard to lose 50 pounds, the black and white, to go from 300 to 260, what he’s trying to do with his family, I have a lot of respect for him. I’m excited for him, ultimately he has to get on the court, he needs to be sitting next to me after a win, we have him going in the right direction, he has a lot of good family pulling from him.