The Rise of Texas Tech Basketball: How the Red Raiders went from Nothing to a Final Four Team

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When you think of Texas Tech, you probably think of football and state pride. While the school has been known for these things, its been known as an afterthought for basketball. They were one of the best teams in the country in the 1995-96 season, but players didn’t meet academic requirements and weren’t allowed to play in March Madness. Texas Tech had Bob Knight as their head coach from 2001-2008, but they only made the sweet sixteen once and were at best an average program under Knight. They didn’t make any noise in March Madness or in college basketball until the hiring of Chris Beard.

Image via Texas Monthly

Beard was a former assistant coach at Texas Tech for 10 years to Bob and Pat Knight before leaving to become a head coach. He was hired as the head coach of Arkansas-Little Rock. In his only season there, he lead the team to a 30-5 record, won the Sun Belt tournament, and clinched an automatic bid into March Madness. His team was awarded the 12th seed and were able to knock off the 5-seed Purdue in the first round. He won the Sun Belt Coach of the Year award and his efforts lead him to landing a job at Texas Tech. What he has done for the program since is absolutely incredible.

Image via Texas Tech Athletics

After Beard took over, results showed as Texas Tech has now made 2 March Madness appearances in his 3 years as head coach and they have their only 2 appearances in the elite 8 and final 4 in school history. He also took home Big 12 Coach of the Year award this season and lead them to the top of the Big 12 standings with a 14-4 record in conference play and 26-5 overall record. This swayed the selection committee to give them a bid into March Madness.

Texas Tech is a defense-oriented team as they have the top-rated defense in the country according to ESPN and have only allowed 58.7 points per game this season. The play of Jarrett Culver has lead them to the Final our this season as he is averaging 18.9 points while grabbing 6.4 rebounds and dishing out 3.8 assists on 48% from the field in 32.1 minutes per game. His play lead him to winning the Big 12 Player of the Year award and is now regarded as a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Image via Harry How/Getty Images

The play of Texas Tech this season has also lead them to getting top recruits for the next upcoming season. They were able to sign 2 4-star recruits in Jahimus Ramsey and Terrance Shannon, who are both regarded as top 100 high school players in the nation according to 247 Sports. These 2 recruits rose Texas Tech all the way to having a top 15 recruiting class and number 2 in the Big 12.

Beard put out his remarks on the recruiting process and said that “Recruiting here is not hard. We’ve got one of the best universities in the country. I kinda laugh when people talk about location. Location’s what makes Lubbock in my opinion one of the all-time great college towns in our country. We’ve got a great academic institution, we have caring fans, we have great facilities. I mean this is what we should be doing. We should be involved with some of the best recruits in the country and that’s what we’re striving to do.”

Overall, the optimistic energy of the athletic department and the coaching staff in Texas Tech shows that they are able to get to the next level and will become a basketball powerhouse in a couple years. These past runs in March Madness and their upcoming recruits are showing us that other powerhouses like Duke and North Carolina should be afraid of what the future holds for Texas Tech and what they’ve done so far is just a start.

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