LUBBOCK, Texas — Chris Beard isn’t going to let Texas Tech’s early season losses change his process, even with a tilt against the No. 1 team in the country looming.
The Red Raiders have now fallen to Iowa, Creighton and DePaul consecutively. Next up is No. 1 Louisville, which is fresh off a win over No. 4 Michigan.
In some ways, the Red Raiders and Cardinals are polar opposites. Texas Tech returns just one starter while Louisville’s entire talented frontcourt of Jordan Nwora, Steven Enoch and Dwayne Sutton are back from last season. The Red Raiders are 0-3 against high-major teams; the Cardinals have not lost.
“They have all the ingredients of a championship team,” Beard said.
The game’s venue is also special. Texas Tech is playing in Madison Square Garden for the third straight season, including a duel with No. 2 Duke last year.
The arena is called “The Mecca” for a reason. The players grew up watching games there, and it carries a different feel from the average gym.
“Any chance you get to play in one of the biggest games in college basketball, in New York City, in Madison Square Garden, it’s a great opportunity,” Beard said.
With that being said, Beard isn’t changing his approach. He’s always preached sticking to his process, and a top-ranked opponent or world-famous venue won’t change that.
“This is the next game on the schedule, which to us is the most important game of the season,” he said. “That’s always been our approach.”
The fourth year Texas Tech head coach isn’t letting his own team’s swoon change the way he does things either.
“We’ve been in three really close, one possession games,” he said. “A basket here, a stop there, our record looks a lot different and our mood feels a lot different. To me, stay the course. We could be sitting here 8-0, 9-0 versus three, four losses. We’re really the same team.”
Jahmi’us Ramsey’s health will also be an important factor in the game. The freshman was leading the Red Raiders in scoring before going down with an injury against Iowa.
Without Ramsey in the lineup, different players have taken bigger offensive roles, with mixed results. Fellow freshman Terrence Shannon scored a career high 24 points in his hometown against DePaul, but Davide Moretti shot just 1-10. Without Ramsey’s scoring, it becomes much harder to survive such a night from a key player.
Beard is still not sure if Ramsey will return for Tuesday’s game.
“Day-to-day continues,” Beard said. “He’s started to do more of what he’s doing to rehab… We won’t know probably until the morning of.”
With or without Ramsey, Louisville will be a monumental test. The eyes of the college basketball world will be on this game, watching curiously to see if the Red Raiders can get back on track against perhaps the best team in the country.
To Chris Beard, it’s just the next game on the schedule.