Chris Beard talks a lot about ‘rat poison.’ Not the actual stuff you use to poison rats, but those things that can become distractions to his basketball team.
To Beard, who met the media at Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City on Wednesday, paying any attention to the Preseason AP Top 25, where the Longhorns are ranked No. 5, is exactly that — rat poison.
“I really spend zero time, zero, concentrating on anything like that,” Beard said.
Now, that’s not to say that Beard isn’t aware of the ranking. He admitted that on Wednesday. But he’s not standing in front of his players going ‘Look at us!’ either.
It speaks to the narrow focus that Beard brings to the job in his first year at Texas. It also speaks to the narrow focus that he has brought to all of his coaching jobs. Oklahoma coach Porter Moser — who is new to the Big 12 — has known Beard for years, as the pair came up the coaching ranks as assistants at the same time.
Moser said Beard hasn’t changed who he is, and he said that many coaches do change who they are over time.
Changing into something you may not want to be is one thing. But you have to evolve, too. And Beard has evolved. And, at times, he’s been forced to.
One of those evolutions has been on social media.
“A few years ago I didn't even have social media and all that,” Beard said, something that he would likely say falls into the ‘rat poison’ category. “When I was coaching at Angelo State, I couldn't even tell you the preseason rankings and all that. At Little Rock, the (athletic director) made me get Twitter. In the early years in Lubbock, my daughters were firing up the social media.”
Beard now has Twitter, of course, and he and his colleagues at Texas used it to help lure a transfer class that Kansas coach Bill Self called “perhaps the best in the country.” That class included forward Timmy Allen and guard Marcus Carr, both of which represented the Longhorns at Media Day.
It was a curious choice, considering the Longhorns return a pair of seasoned veterans in the backcourt in Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey.
Beard addressed that at the top of his time with the media.
“Personally I wish we could bring more than just two guys because we have so many stories on this year's team, so many players I would like to connect with the national media sooner than later,” Beard said.
The connection between teammates will be key to whether the Longhorns live up to that preseason ranking that Beard seems to hold little stock in. He talked about his “4-8-3 model” on Wednesday — four returning players, eight transfers, and three freshmen.
This team doesn’t lack for experience, thanks to the transfers. But the majority of his team hasn’t played a game in a Longhorns jersey, and that makes for perhaps the most interesting chemistry experiment of Beard’s Big 12 coaching career, including his five seasons at Texas Tech.
He’s dubbed this team “experienced/inexperienced.”
“Our team is a work in progress. We have a lot of experience,” Beard said. “I think that would be the identity of our team. But we're the first to tell you we're really inexperienced playing together, so it's kind of like experienced/inexperienced if that makes sense.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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