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March 23, 2019
THE MODERATOR: We are open for questions for the players.
Q. Jarrett, what stands out to you about CJ Massinburg as you watch and prepare to matchup with him?
JARRETT CULVER: He's a great player on both sides of the ball. He can score at all three levels. He plays with a lot of heart from what we've seen. He's going to be great to play against him and his team.
Q. To follow-up on that question, any of the players. Jeremy Harris has been CJ Massinburg's reinforcement. How do you prepare for Buffalo's depth at guard?
TARIQ OWENS: They get out and push it and, you know, Jeremy is a good shooter, good scorer, so you know just something we got to prepare for getting out for them to run in transition.
Q. Just for all the players. Y'all had a little bit of time to get over yesterday's win, move forward. What are some of the thoughts about the Buffalo matchup.
Matt, start with you.
MATT MOONEY: Yeah. We're happy we got away with a win yesterday, but we're locked in here on Buffalo. They're a really, really good team, really well-coached. They were in the tournament last year and won. They're not complacent with getting a win in the tournament. They only lost three games on the year. It's a really dangerous team that shoots the 3 well, gets up and down in transition, and they're scrappy. We're ready for a battle.
THE MODERATOR: Tariq, go ahead with that question as well.
TARIQ OWENS: Yeah, like Matt said, they're a really aggressive team, get up and down. You know, it's going to be a great battle as we play them, you know. They're a really tough, tough team. So just looking forward to playing them.
Q. Tariq, I just wanted to ask you about Nick Perkins, obviously a big guy, strong guy, plays big. Can you talk a little bit how well-equipped you guys are to deal with somebody that plays that way?
TARIQ OWENS: Yeah, definitely going to be a team effort. He's really good in the post, you know. He's got some moves down there. Really aggressive. So, you know, we'll stick to our principles and stick to playing how we play. You know, just take the team approach to it.
Q. Does this Buffalo team remind you of anybody y'all played this year, Davide?
DAVIDE MORETTI: They're unique and really good players and really talented. We just be focused on them because I think they played really hard and we're tough. We're just trying to be focused on them and on our side of the floor, trying to play defense and stay together all the way through the game.
Q. This question is for Jarrett. Where do you think your team's advantage is against a team like Buffalo and where do you think your team's disadvantage is?
JARRETT CULVER: I mean, I won't say really advantage or disadvantage, but, I mean, we try to stick to who we are. And I mean, we'll see how the game plays out. I mean, you really see the advantage and disadvantage after the game.
Q. For Matt. We know Buffalo likes to run. We know that you guys can run but probably don't like to as much as they do. How important will controlling the tempo be?
MATT MOONEY: Yeah. We want to play March basketball. So it's taking good shots, having good possessions, taking care of the ball, and trying to limit them running. Definitely they're really, really good at it. But we want to try to limit that as much as possible.
Q. For Matt or Tariq. Because you guys are kind of new to the program, where does the defensive attitude and intensity come from? How much did you feel it from the day you walked in the door, and how hard has it been to kind of learn to play up to the style of defense that's been so successful?
MATT MOONEY: Yeah. Defensive intensity comes from our coaching staff. I've told this story a couple of times, but I just remember like the first game of the year, came out of the game two, three minutes in the game, and Coach Adams was on me.
He said, "You got any steals, you got any deflections, you know, what have you done?"
In my head, it's only been two minutes. That's what they expect out of us. They challenge us everyday. For us guards, we try to get after the ball and get into it because we know we have great help like Tariq and Norense down low, ready to block shots. It's something we work on every day and the coaches challenge us.
TARIQ OWENS: Yeah. Like Matt said, the intensity really starts at the top with our coaching staff. Since I got here day one, it's always been an emphasis just being aggressive and intensity on defense. And me coming in, that's just the kind of player I was. I'm a defensive player. Something I bought into, and it's just an attitude that our team takes has taken on, just a mindset that every guy on the floor takes on playing defense and locking in. It's something we really enjoy doing as a team.
Q. Tariq, what is your specific approach coming into the NCAA Tournament and into this game?
JARRETT CULVER: For me, just last year got a little experience, got a taste of going to the Elite 8 in the tournament. I'm relying on my experience, and you got to be mentally and physically ready each and every game. You get a one day break between the four game tournament we're playing and taking care of your body and get mentally and physically ready every game is my approach. I feel that's the team approach as well.
Q. Matt, so I'm intrigued by what you were talking about the first game. Without casting aspersions on any previous team you ever played on, how different is that approach? And then secondly, how different do you think that approach is from different opponents you guys have played all year in terms of the defensive intensity being so, I guess, intense?
MATT MOONEY: So you said you were intrigued what I was talking about the first game?
Q. Yes. Talking about the difference in defensive intensity. Not just the first game, but that was a good anecdote. How different is that than anything you've ever been a part of before, and how different do you think it is based on what you've seen with a lot of the opponents you play?
MATT MOONEY: Yeah. So, you know, in my previous schools I wasn't challenged as much defensively as I am here at Texas Tech. That's kind of our DNA. When I was getting recruited, if you go there, you'll have to play defense. I was like okay. I think I can play defense, but, you know, everybody has to play defense or you won't play. Everybody on our roster plays D.
And then as far as our defense compared to other teams, it's hard for me to say. I just know that's something that when people talk about Texas Tech, usually the word "tough" and "defense" is going to come up, and we take pride in that.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the gentlemen from Texas Tech? Okay.
Gentlemen, you are excused. Thank you very much. The head coach will be up at 1:55 sharp.
Head coach of the Red Raiders is with us, Chris Beard. We'll have Chris open up with a statement on this day between games and go to questions.
CHRIS BEARD: It's the best time of year for those of us involved in college basketball. You try live for another day. Certainly yesterday not only winning the game but getting to go back to the hotel and continue to work, never take it for granted, you know.
Here in a few hours there will be 32 teams left; is that right? 32? 32 now? Just trying to get to the 16. So, just enjoying being around these guys. We don't want it to end. Love these guys with coaching, they're working hard. Tomorrow a very challenging game. Buffalo team we have a lot of respect for. You don't win 30-something games in the season if you're not really good.
To us, we told our guys this is a Big 12 game. These players could play in the Big 12. Coach does a great job. They have an identity with how aggressive they are, explosive offensively. These are really, really good players and great coach and great team. Like we always say, we have to play our best game of the year to advance.
Q. Wondering what your impressions are of Jeremy Harris, and I believe you were involved recruiting him out of junior college. Maybe of some your recollections of him back then and what he's become in the last two years?
CHRIS BEARD: Jeremy is a guy that played for Jay Powell at Gulf Coast Community College at Panama City Beach, Florida. We did recruit him when we first got to Texas Tech. So you always kind of pull for those guys. I loved his family, his parents, and remember the official visit and really tried to watch Buffalo every chance I get, you know, because of Jeremy.
Not only him. I'm a former junior college coach, so how Buffalo has used junior college players to make this run and build this program has been very, very impressive. See those guys out on the road on the circuit and always congratulate them when they sign good players. Had a great team last year and even better this year.
I'm happy for Jeremy and his family. It's worked out great for him. Not looking forward to coaching against him, but I am very proud of him and the college experience that he's had.
Q. Coach, Buffalo's guards, they got guys who can shoot it, drive it, guys who can drive it and shoot it, and a bunch of them.
What's the key going to be to basically try to contain those guys?
CHRIS BEARD: You're scaring me with that question, man. Anything else they can do we got to worry about? No, really good players. Like I started, these are some of the best players in college basketball. These are guys that would not only play in the Big 12 but would succeed. A really good team. One of the top teams in the country.
So, you're not going to stop great players. You've got the try to take away something, got to kind of pick and choose your times. Certainly with Buffalo, an explosive 3-point shooting team but also equally good with the drive and they have a real inside game.
We can't stop these guys one-on-one. It's going to be team defense. It's going to be 40 minutes of focus. We'll have to win possessions.
Q. You mentioned these guys can play in the Big 12. You know, Massinburg scored 43 against West Virginia. Obviously he can produce at that level. What stands out most to you about him?
CHRIS BEARD: He's fearless. Looks to me like a guy that's, you know, thinks he's the best player on the floor. That's how all the great ones do. I watched that double-overtime game, watching it in the office. I don't think we played that night, so we're always watching games. On the side laptop, we've got the Big 12 games on and come up for air.
We watched the last eight minutes and two overtimes. I think that was kind of -- those of us in college basketball knew how good Buffalo was going to be, but that was kind of the opening deal nationally. These guys are good. Got them in the top 25 where they belonged all year long. Him specifically, I just think he's a fearless kind of guys. Would love to coach him. Competes and scores on all three levels.
Looks to me like he's got a little bit of chip on his shoulder. Familiar with him being from Texas, and so he's a guy that we have a lot of respect for, dynamite player.
Q. Chris, as basketball, especially in the NBA level, has evolved towards analytics and 3-point shooting, movement and things like that, your defense seems to have gotten better. You took players -- up here were just now talking about the intensity that you guys play with and the standard that's here. Is it easier to coach guys to buy into selling out for defense, or is it easier to go into the analytics and find 3-point shooters?
CHRIS BEARD: Yeah, I don't think coaching has really changed in my time. Good players want to be coached. I think what's kind of changed is society and social media and all this. But the actual player wants to be coached.
We had 90 minutes out here a second ago. Those seniors are looking at me, lighting my eyes, "Coach, help us."
Good players want to be coached hard. In recruiting college basketball, you get to coach the guys you recruit. That's why I've always had so much respect for successful high school coaches who have done it over time, because for the most part, they don't choose who they get to coach. We do.
For us in recruiting, we get guys that want to play defense, want to be coached at a high level, and go from there. I think tomorrow's game, I put Buffalo -- I know we get a lot of attention for our defense, which we appreciate, work hard, but Buffalo is just as good.
This is this is a defensive team to me. They get a lot of credit for their offense and talents. These dudes guard and play hard. Coach makes them play hard. It's going to be a great college basketball game.
With the analytical part of the question, it just only helps. These are things we always used to dig up, but now you can get it by a point. Back in the VHS days, watch tape and let me see every shot this guy has taken this year.
Me and pat, we look at coach and VCRs hours and hours. Hit the button and it's there now. I think a lot of analytics are out there for everyone now, but those of us in coaching, we've always kind of had those numbers.
Q. I see your daughter sitting here in front you right now. Notice Margo at a practice on Thursday shooting layups with the team. What is it like having them on the road here with you and just also seeing the team rally behind them at practice out there shooting with the guys? What is all that experience like for you?
CHRIS BEARD: March is such a special time, especially with us because kind of tie into the girls' spring break from time to time, whether Big 12 tournament or national tournament. So just a chance for them to be part of this. Pretty cool.
We talk a lot about family in our program. One of many things why I respect our players so much is how they treat other people. My daughters will be at the top of that list. So we got a special group of guys, and character is a part of who we try to be and I appreciate how they treat my daughters and just cool to have them around this time of year.
Q. Going back to Jeremy Harris, what you've watched of him and scouted for Buffalo so far, what do you think it is that's really made him so productive in the post-season? He's averaging in double figures over the last 6, 7 games.
CHRIS BEARD: I'll go back. First, I think he's been coached -- lot of times he's getting coached at a high level right now at Buffalo, obviously. Jay Powell did a great job with him at Gulf Coast in Panama City. He's a guy we reached out to. That's arguably the best junior college league in the country, one of them.
With Jeremy he's always been skilled, size. He can do it all. Not a big, not a guard, just a player. Plays without the ball. Good defensive player, good athlete. He made a great decision because his coaches are using him about as well as you can use a player. They put him in great situations to be successful.
Q. Buffalo has aggressive defensive guards. Curious your thoughts on them and philosophically how important ball pressure is to a good team defense?
CHRIS BEARD: This is two of the best defensive teams in the tournament playing in the second round. I think both of us rely on different parts of our defense, but seems to me ball pressure is important to both of us.
We've watched a lot of tape last night and this morning. We understand it's not going to be easy to just to come down and run our offense. They're going to try to take us out of things, but we're prepared for these moments. In the Big 12 we play a lot against some of the best defenses in college basketball and aggressiveness. I think it's going to be a great second round game. I'd much rather be watching this game as a fan than having to participate in it because I think Buffalo is really, really good. But this is what this tournament is. With each game it's going to get more difficult and certainly the case with us.
Q. Jarrett Culver, what has he learned in his time at Texas Tech about playing on a big stage and high level? He said preparation was really important. What else has he learned kind of in this path coming back to the tournament?
CHRIS BEARD: You would have to ask Jarrett that himself. From my perspective, I've seen an overall growth, obviously physically, weight room, mentally embracing competition, one possession at a time, valuing possessions. He's worked on his game. He's gone from a top, non-top 100 recruit to one of the best players in college basketball.
As much as myself and everyone in Lubbock would love to have him in Lubbock next year, there's a real possibility that won't happen. I said we would give him two lockers next year and three sets of practice gear and whatever he needs.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the head coach of Texas Tech? All right. Thank you very much. Good luck.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports