LUBBOCK, Texas — After Texas Tech lost its first two games against high-major competition last week, Chris Beard isn’t panicking.
The Red Raiders got off to a 5-0 start against lesser competition before losing 72-61 to Iowa on Thanksgiving and 83-76 to Creighton in overtime the next day.
The defeats knocked Texas Tech out of the AP Top 25 on Monday, and sparked some questions about the team. But Beard doesn’t think the sky is falling.
“My message to our young team, especially our freshman is yes, the sun’s coming up tomorrow and we’re doing really well and I’m proud of you guys,” Beard said.
While the start hasn’t been what the college basketball world expected of Texas Tech, its two recent losses are an opportunity for the team to grow.
Last year’s squad lost three straight to Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas State but rallied to make the NCAA title game. The Red Raiders won 11 of their next 12 games after that losing streak.
Perhaps this year’s team is just having a similar stretch at a different juncture of the season.
“Good teams have the ability to learn and grow and improve after wins and certainly the same thing after losses,” he said. “Our trip to Vegas was great in a lot of ways.”
In both losses last week, Texas Tech showed fight and resolve down the stretch. The Red Raiders got behind big in both games, but fought back to make them one possession games late. From there, they just weren’t able to close.
Beard knows how close his team was to winning, and how the narrative would be different.
“We’re two plays away from being the front page of the paper, but now we’re the third page of sports,” he said.
The trip to Las Vegas obviously ended in disappointment, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have some use in the long run. There are ups and downs in every college basketball season, and the Red Raiders’ real test will be how they bounce back from these losses.
Texas Tech’s schedule gets no easier in the coming weeks as it takes a trip to Chicago to face undefeated DePaul before taking on No. 1 Louisville in Madison Square Garden. Depending on how those games turn out, the Red Raiders could look much better, or worse than they do now.
Whatever happens, Beard has coached for a long time, at different places and different levels. He knows that several early season games will not make or break a team.