Coach Beard: Expects Texas Tech to "win immediately"
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Chris Beard doesn't want a grace period for winning at Texas Tech.
There's no two- or three-year plan for the 43-year-old first-year coach to make the Red Raiders more competitive in the Big 12.
He's brought in six new players, including three graduate transfers.
''We expect to win immediately,'' Beard said. "We do have a lot of pieces. The challenge is to try to put this together quickly. That's the challenge in trying to be successful year one.''
Last year, Beard led Arkansas-Little Rock to its best season in school history, guiding the Trojans to an 85-83 double overtime thriller over No. 12-ranked and fifth-seeded Purdue in the NCAA Tournament.
In April, he was hired to coach in Lubbock, where he'd been an assistant for 10 years under Bob Knight and Pat Knight. He had accepted the job at UNLV in late March and jilted the school after learning that Texas Tech was looking for a replacement for Tubby Smith, who left to coach Memphis.
Beard said Smith elevated the program in his three years with the Red Raiders, calling the Hall of Fame coach's time in Lubbock ''legendary.''
The Red Raiders haven't had a winning Big 12 record since 2006-07, when Beard was an assistant under Bob Knight. Texas Tech finished seventh in the Big 12 last season (19-13, 9-9). They lost in the first round of the NCAA to Butler.
Beard's aim is to lift the program in the Big 12 standings and beyond.
''We'd like to join the top half of the league,'' he said. ''Then we would like to join the top tier of the league. We want to be in the conversation for championships. To do that is a process, but you have to start by being willing to talk about and I won't shy away from that.''
Here are some things to know about the Red Raiders, who open their season at home Nov. 11 against Houston Baptist:
MESHING PLAYERS AND MATURITY
Getting the six new players - three graduate transfers and three junior college players - on the same page has gone well, Beard said. ''Even though we're an inexperienced team playing together, we're an experienced team with different parts,'' he said. ''And so hopefully our identity is going to be our experience, our maturity and these six seniors.''
The Red Raiders have five players 6-8 and taller. Two of them, 6-9 center Norense Odiase and 6-8 forward Zach Smith, are returning starters. At 6-8, forward Aaron Ross came off the bench, and Matthew Temple, a 6-10 senior forward, didn't play a lot. The newcomer is 6-8 Anthony Livingston, who is graduate student who played last year at Arkansas State.
The Red Raiders finished ninth in the conference last season at just 34 rebounds per game and hope to improve on that. The taller players will help but there has to be a willingness to get to the boards. ''I think our rebounds will be better than last year, said Smith who averaged 7.3 rebounds per game last season to finish sixth in the Big 12. ''It won't be as problematic.''
Beard spent almost a decade learning the motion offense from Bob Knight. He'll use that and plenty of pick and roll that he learned coaching in the ABA and the Swiss national team during a summer off while he was coach at Angelo State in 2014. ''It's just a unique style of play, so we feel like we have the best of both worlds,'' Beard said.
Odiase loves the combo offense: ''We know that it causes a lot of problems for the defenses.''