— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) December 16, 2018
The 11th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders are taking a clear-eyed view of their 10-0 record leading into a Thursday night game in New York against the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils.
Asked late Saturday night how he will “coach emotion” in preparation for Mike Krzyzewski’s perennial ACC powerhouse, Red Raiders coach Chris Beard said it won’t be a problem.
“It’s kind of a non-issue with us because we got these seniors,” Beard said. “These four seniors, they know that 10-0 doesn’t mean much.
“We’d much rather win our last 10 games. That means you’re going to win the Big 12 tournament and the national championship.”
The Big 12 regular-season schedule starts in January, and Tech is expected to be a contender in the conference race.
But until then, the Duke game promises to be a topic of discussion locally, as well as in the biggest media market in the nation.
Conversations on the game could very well spin off into issues, such as:
1) Whether the Red Raiders are as good as advertised. After all, they lost a lot of talent from last year’s Elite Eight team, and their best victories this year, thus far, have come against Southern Cal, Nebraska and Memphis.
2) Whether they can guard Blue Devils freshmen RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, already considered as NBA lottery prospects.
3) Whether they can deal with the hype of a game played in the biggest media market in the nation.
As a coach, Beard seems much more concerned about how he will deal with the Blue Devils’ talent, and not so much the intangibles.
Tech seniors such as Brandone Francis, Matt Mooney, Norense Odiase and Tariq Owens seem to instill confidence in the coach.
So does sophomore Jarrett Culver, who scored 30 points Saturday night in an 82-48 victory over Abilene Christian.
No doubt, Beard has some swagger about him.
“With some younger teams, I’d worry about things like (a big-game atmosphere),” Beard said. “But with these four seniors leading this team, and (with) Jarrett Culver being a best-player type guy …
“You know I got a lot to worry about, with the next game on the schedule (against) a Hall of Fame coach, and NBA (caiber) players. I don’t worry much about our guys not being focused,” he said.