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March 29, 2019
THE MODERATOR: We will start off with an opening statement from Coach Beard here from Texas Tech.
CHRIS BEARD: I speak for everybody in our program how much respect we have for Gonzaga. In our third year of building the Tech program we talked a lot about consistency and we used the word program a lot. We don't just want to be an organization as really one good season are one good team, we want to be a program. That word means everything in college basketball and I think Gonzaga has done this over many years with not consistency, the roster changes. But the level of excellence has the same kind of program that we're trying to build a lot of respect for them. Simply stated we think they're one of the best teams in college basketball. We think we have to build one of our best college basketball of the year that's our objective.
Q. Norense and Jarrett, last year you were at this stage against Villanova. What do you remember about that experience? How much has that motivated and you what have you learned from that over the last 12 months?
NORENSE ODIASE: I remember what a tough team they were. When you get to the Elite Eight every team is good, every team is great. We just know that this year is going to be different. We've been here before. Preparationwise we will be prepared as always. We know what to expect at this level, relaying it to the new guys, just bringing that fight and that toughness that fueled us this summer from day one when we started looking at the Villanova loss and everything we did. We changed a lot of things schemewise, just trying to get better from that loss and it's gotten us to this point. So we have to keep on those principles that got us here every day, the work, the toughness, the day-to-day process that has got us here has to continue.
JARRETT CULVER: Everything Norense was saying and just having that feeling in the locker room of getting so close to the Final Four and losing and we worked for it all summer not to have that feeling again. So I mean we're at the point where we're back to the Elite Eight, and I mean, it's great. I feel like we don't want to have that feeling again of losing.
Q. Coach and any of the players who want to take this one as well, I don't know how much you've seen of this, but Brandon Clarke past couple of games has had a couple of good ones. I know you guys, obviously your defense was strong and shutdown Michigan down low and a lot of other places, too, how much have you seen of Brandon Clarke and any idea how you will stop him with the momentum he's currently got going?
CHRIS BEARD: We've seen a lot of him. He's one of the best college basketball players I think to say he's just an athlete is incorrect. He does a lot of things on both ends of the floor. We told our guys this morning he's great basketball player, so we face guys like this in the Big 12. We will have to play well against them. If you don't mind we will keep that to ourselves and hopefully have a chance to talk to you about it after the game.
Q. For Chris and Matt, most efficient offense versus the most efficient defense, in terms of Gonzaga, can you compare them to any teams you've faced this year?
MATT MOONEY: Yeah, they're really good offensively and we're really good defensively. So we will see who wins out. I don't know who to compare them to. I know Duke played really fast and I know Gonzaga plays really fast, so we're going to have to get back on defense for sure.
Q. Jarrett, I know you changed your shot mechanics over the last year. I was wondering what went into that decision making and what was that process like to adjust to a new shot?
JARRETT CULVER: Just to be more efficient on my shot and the coaching staff and a lot of the GAs and people have helped me come a long way with my shot. I mean, I just got to work with it over the summer. I started way back in the summer, just working on technique and just to be a better shooter. It's always ways you can improve on your game and that was one of the ways I improved.
Q. Coach, we mentioned kind of the efficiency that Gonzaga plays with on offense. What makes that offense so dangerous and so difficult to go against?
CHRIS BEARD: Two things: One, the talent, you know, several NBA players on this roster, obviously. They're really good. So for us, that's what it's like every night in the Big 12. You're playing against NBA players, not a lot of one-dimensional guys either, guys that can do different things; and two, great coaching. A lot of teams around the country that have great players and they're watching these games on TV.
There's a lot of really good coaches around the country that are also watching the games on TV, but when you combine the two like Gonzaga does, a Big 12 coach and great players, NBA talent, then you're one of the last teams standing.
Q. Coach, talk about the process after a game last night. Obviously you're used to playing games when you're in the conference, but a game last night at this level what do you and the coaching staff do to get ready for tomorrow's games?
CHRIS BEARD: We try to stay true to who we are. We find ourselves in the wings a lot in the Big 12 where we will play a Saturday game and then a big Monday. So we call it a one-day prep.
We also schedule these type situations to put our guys in different situations, whether it be back-to-back or one-day preps or two-days. Really we just stay true. We get back, immediately try to hydrate and feed the guys, get some rest. We spend a couple of minutes talking about the last game, kinda putting that to sleep, the good things, things we gotta do better and then we try to bruise the next opponent, personnel plays first and then start getting into game plan. It's hard to believe that we're really doing the same things we've always done. We recognize that we're on the biggest stage and we're having a lot of fun here, but we've got to be who we are. That's really important I think is to continue to be who we are.
Q. Coach, obviously when you get to this point in the tournament obviously the media increases and it comes, you know, with the territory. How do you balance the media obligations that you have to do on your one day to prep for a chance at the Final Four and still stay focused at the task at hand?
CHRIS BEARD: These guys to my left, they're all veterans. These are experienced people. I don't worry about that one bit, this team led by Norense and our other three seniors have embraced the idea of eliminating distractions from day one, whether it be social media or turning your phone off at night or a girlfriend from time to time. Is Moro still in love?
DAVIDE MORETTI: Nope.
CHRIS BEARD: Family and friends. We spend a lot of time talking about eliminating distractions, ultimately what successful people do, not just basketball, successful people know what's important and they can eliminate the things that aren't important. So with the players I don't have any concern on that. Me personally I do what Wes Bloomquist our SID tells us to do. Wes is a DII guy, some people didn't think he could handle this stage, but I think he's doing a pretty good job his first year. What do you guys think, man?
MATT MOONEY: Great.
Q. Coach, or anybody, Jarrett last year played a pretty big role but wasn't the Big 12 Player of the Year. I'm curious where you have seen the biggest jump in his game?
CHRIS BEARD: Did you want to take that Moro Culver's improvement from young to middle age Culver?
DAVIDE MORETTI: I think every time he try to do a shooting competition with me and he always lost, so he tries to improve me wrong every time and he's trying to get some more shots up every practice, so I think he's getting better.
TARIQ OWENS: Nah, since I got here, Culver has been great. He puts in a lot of work. Can vouch for the losses in the shooting drills, I'm just saying. But Culver puts in a lot of work. He's not earned all the accolades he's getting now. He's earned every bit of it.
Q. Chris, I wanted to go back to something Norense said after the Villanova game maybe was there some sort of taking stock in how you played at all or changing the way you played maybe in subtle ways?
CHRIS BEARD: Yeah, I agree with Norense, we were always trying to learn from victory and defeat. A lot of the things we do in our program are from different people.
From the Villanova game we try to get the Villanova jump shot we thought Brunson was the best we ever saw in person, spent a lot of time on that. Culver added that to his game, Moro, Matt. So we absolutely talked about that game all season just like we're still talking about the West Virginia game where we got beat in the Big 12 tournament. We always try to learn from every success and defeat.
Q. Chris, after viewing the film of last night's game. Do you think that's one of the best defensive games you guys have had this season?
CHRIS BEARD: Yeah, I would agree with that, one of. As coaches we strive for perfection. I'm never satisfied. These guys to my left understand that and the best thing about coaching these guys is they share the same thing. I've seen us play really, really good games before and Norense will be getting on guys during timeouts. We have a standard and we try to play for the scoreboard or even the result we try to play each possession the best we can. Last night, I will say this, the guys were dialed in. The seniors had the team ready to play. I think it was from our respect of Michigan. We were fortunate they missed a lot of shots they normally make. But I think you gotta give our guys credit for challenging those shots and making those shots contested. But there is no doubt about it, we played well last night, obviously. I tell the guys all the time, it sounds like captain obvious, but you've got to play well. You've got to play well to win games in this tournament. So here is the next step, Gonzaga, the best team we have played this year. No disrespect to anyone else. We will have to play our best game.
Q. Matt, you're wearing the t-shirt that says, "Never Lose the Chip," you have the mantra, The Secret is in the Dirt. Behind the cliches, what is the deep down identity of this team, and how does that come about over the course of the season when you have so many new players?
MATT MOONEY: I think we have a lot of guys who aren't five-star guys, coaching staff and Coach Beard who came from a mid-major and started out coaching random teams and has worked his way up and a lot of our guys are the staple way. We try to embrace that, you know. We weren't the highest recruited guys, but that not doesn't mean we can't compete with the best of the country. We just try to work at it every day. Don't Lose Your Chip represents that. Secrets in the Dirt represents that. Working for it every day.
Q. For Tariq and Matt, you weren't here last year, but how much were you guys motivated to get back to the Elite Eight or both of you guys were in your first NCAA Tournaments, but the motivation that the team had to get back to this level, what was that like and what was it like for you buying into that process?
TARIQ OWENS: Just the fact that knowing coming in, knowing where the team before had been was major for me. I knew I had never played in a NCAA Tournament and the guys here just experienced it, I knew it was big coming in and we were going to have to work for it. But it was something I was willing to dedicate myself to and doing it with these guys, these guys coming in, I seen how dedicated they were and how hungry they were to get back to the point they were and go further. It just meant a lot to them and it means a lot to me.
MATT MOONEY: Coming in after they went to the Elite Eight last year they told us stories and talked about how good of an experience it was and how fun it was to get to the Elite Eight, and it made us want to experience that as well. And then we want to leave our legacy, too, you know. Just being here for one year, we want to try to win the whole thing.
Q. Tariq, you have a degree in sports management, right?
TARIQ OWENS: Yes.
Q. Would you hire Coach Beard and why?
TARIQ OWENS: Would I hire Coach Beard? Yes, of course, I would hire Coach Beard. Since I've been here everything he told me would happen has been true. As a person, I am, how I was raised, I really like people who tell the truth. I take pride in being a truthful person. That's the biggest thing for me. Coach Beard lives by that and also how hard he works, his work ethic is unmatched. I've never seen anybody work as hard as him and his staff on this level of basketball and that's the main thing that attracted me here. He just works so hard. He's a workaholic and I appreciate that coming from a head coach because I know how hard I'm willing to work to be successful and he's willing to work even harder.
THE MODERATOR: With that we're going to let the student-athletes go back to their breakout rooms.
Q. You talk about four-minute games, 40-minute games that you guys play. I know you were at this point last year but how do you manage your team to not let them get too high, knowing that they're that close to the school's first every Final Four?
CHRIS BEARD: Stay with your routine to try to be who you are. Ultimately you gotta trust your players. As a coach you can only do so much. We're led by these four seniors. We have the experience. We have the maturity, but it's like that fine line, next game on the schedule, but you've also got to live in the reality that you're playing, you're forty minutes from a Final Four.
I think ultimately you rely on your players, the leadership of your players, the voice in that locker room and for me I sleep well at night these days because these four seniors led by Norense it's the best leadership I've ever coached.
THE MODERATOR: Would you like to introduce our guest?
CHRIS BEARD: This is my youngest daughter, Margo. She is good at questions. She has been around it her whole life.
Q. One follow-up, Coach, I noticed Jim Rome posted you with a bowl of Lucky Charms is that a pregame meal or a superstitious deal or number one on the cereal hierarchy?
CHRIS BEARD: Starts with my relationship with Jim Rome. I love college basketball and listen to the Jungle, and we're at Little Rock and had a special team, a championship team that won 30 games and won game in this tournament and I get a chance to be on the Jim Rome Show. I told our SID at Little Rock, Patrick, I want to eliminate all distractions. I don't want to do any of this stuff and the next day he came in and said I know you don't want to do anything, but Jim Rome and I was like, yeah, I'll do Jim Rome and I basically told him a story that he didn't remember. There had been a Final Four at Phoenix. I was a junior college coach, DII, we just got down there and crash on guys' couches and things like that and we were at this hotel just looking for a free buffet or something and the elevator opens and it's Jim Rome and we're in the elevator with him and we kind of give him smack for what he was talking about the day before on this show and great dude he was like where y'all from we told him the story. We're at the Final Four we had given all night. We were looking for something to eat. He said, hey, man, I'm on the top floor. Do not go in my room and there is a concierge up there. He said, go up there and hit the concierge. I will never forget it. They had prime rib sliders and water and bars. We killed it, man. So eight, nine years later I'm on the Rome Story and he vaguely remembered it and that's where our relationship is. But the whole idea with Lucky Charms I've spent my whole life staying at the Courtyard, and they have the plastic thing that comes down and you and I both know that cereal is stale, man. But at the Elite Eight they have the Tiffany's bowl and the silver spoon and I told Jim that the other day and somehow he got a picture of it. But I love Lucky Charms, big-time cereal.
Q. I'm curious if you could trace your lineage of your defensive philosophy, where that comes from, who are the key people that have helped you along the way and who have been your mentors?
CHRIS BEARD: I played for great coaches, two high school Hall of Fame coaches in the state of Texas, Mike Kuustadt and Terry Priest. I was never a great player, so I had to guard. If any man scored I wasn't playing. Growing up in Irving we played outside at Northwest Rec and in the Woodlands we played at the W in Falconwing Park and you get out there and call. Next game you might be three deep and if you get beat you're done and if you win you stay and you gotta play defense and you can't win on a fall. So that last position gets down to where you're guarding and foul if you have to, and I've worked for great coaches, Tom Penders with a pressing style defense. Danny Kaspar, one of the best coaches in the country, currently at the Texas State and Shannon Hayes and Vick Trilli and with Coach Knight and Pat we guarded at a high level and then I get hooked up with Mark Adams on our staff who deserves a lot of credit. He is one of the best coaches I've every known and he is one of the best defensive coaches I've every been around. But he has great way of teaching. He's an aggressive guy himself and he's done a great job for us at Little Rock and here at Texas Tech.
Q. When you get this job three years ago how do you go about installing that mentality? Does feel like this team embraces that to the Nth degrees?
CHRIS BEARD: First it's about recruiting. We recruit guys that understand you are going to play defense, we're going to hold you accountable, do a lot of listening and recruiting and players will tell you what they want and guys that are talking about me, me, me and shots and ball, not so much with us, they don't really succeed. But guys that want to win and guys that want to guard and guys that understand, great example of that. Zhaire Smith goes from top 100 recruit to the 16th pick in the draft. He didn't get drafted because he can't guard. I thought was the best perimeter player in last year's draft. It's just who we are, our DNA. I don't think we're any different than most contenders. Gonzaga plays defense, man. It might not be their identity, but they are hard to score against, so many late shot clock possessions. You gotta go get a basket if you're going to beat Gonzaga. I think we guard, but I think a lot of other people do, too.
Q. Coach, there was a little exchange last night when some players were talking about not wanting to deal with Coach Adams if they don't play defense the right way and you referenced Michigan State and I was wondering what your philosophy is on coaching hard what last week in some corners seemed to get criticized?
CHRIS BEARD: I think all great players want to be coached. I've never coached any player than didn't want to be disciplined, didn't want to be told the truth and didn't want to be coached. I think in today's world somebody might get a clip of one isolated thing, but they don't know the relationship the coach has with that player, the trust, bond, love, and the expectations. Where I'm at my lowest as a coach it doesn't happen often but when a player is like, Coach, you okay today? You bringing it? That's when I'm at my lowest. I want my guys to know we bring it every single day and this morning I was tired. We worked hard last night, but this morning I had to pop myself around made sure the guys understood we're here. Let's go guys. We're doing this. I'm pretty sure all around the country guys are getting coached at a high level and I think things get caught in one isolated incident is my personal opinion.
Q. Do you think it's mandatory that you have NBA caliber talent on your roster to keep getting this far every year?
CHRIS BEARD: Yes, yeah. In the Big 12 especially it's a talented league. You've got to get guys that can play. I think there's different ways to get that talent. I think obviously, you know, some people can just recruit it, other people have to develop it and we all have to evaluate it.
But we don't shy away from that. Our goal is to have a team at Texas Tech one day where every guy on the team is an NBA player, I think if we can do that we will be eating Lucky Charms and hanging out with you on a regular basis, but no doubt about it to play on this stage you have to have pro's and you've got to evaluate and recruit and develop.
Q. You knew Texas Tech well. You had chances to coach elsewhere, but Texas Tech had never made it at this level and now two years in a row. Did you think that this program could get to this level and if so what led you to believe that?
CHRIS BEARD: Yes, I did. It's a great university. It's a great college town. It's got great basketball tradition, maybe not so much on the national scene lately but there was days when Coach Myers coached and played that you couldn't get a seat at the old Coliseum, great players and coaches have come before us, certainly my lifetime James Dickey had a special team with Tony Battie, Darvin Ham, Lance Hughes, Sasser, nearly broke the backboard against North Carolina, big-time coach. With Coach Knight, three tournament runs, NIT, had a great game against Gonzaga one time in Arizona, round 32 game and then Coach Smith, Tubby Smith, can't speak enough of him, the foundation we inherited, the discipline, the defense, the character in the program. But absolutely, I believed that Texas Tech could be a part of the fight every year, and that's what we're trying to do. We just want to be a part of the fight. If you're in the fight long enough eventually you're going to win it.
Q. Your players gave a little insight into Jarrett this year, but I wonder where you have seen him make the most strides to being the Big 12 Player of the Year?
CHRIS BEARD: Threefold, he's continued to change his weight and change his body, basically has a pro body and spent a lot of time in the weight room and conditioning. No. 2, just his skill development. He's a great passer now. He can beat you with the pass or the shot or the rebound, added some things to his game. That's what great players do, right? In my lifetime, Jordan comes in the league. Slasher, leaves the league, best 3-point shooter in the league. Kobe, LeBron, great passer, not just shooter. Culver has done that. He thinks had he as a ceiling and I agree with him. Thirdly, he studies the game. He knows a lot about his opponent, about hits, he knows a lot about what's going on in the NBA. Wouldn't surprise me if he seen Gonzaga play on his laptop 10 or 15 times this year. He loves the game, loves it.
Q. Margo, what do you think about your dad?
CHRIS BEARD: How do we feel about Gonzaga?
MARGO BEARD: We respect them a lot. They're one of the best teams in college basketballs and it's going to be one of the best games in college basketball history.
CHRIS BEARD: Yes.
Maybe one of the best games in this year's tournament, maybe not history, but this year's tournament.
MARGO BEARD: That's what you said.
CHRIS BEARD: I like it.
It's been great, coaching standpoint you just want to live another day. I'm so excited. We're about to practice again. This time of year you get scared that you might not get to coach these seniors against. I'm going to enjoy the next hour more than I will enjoy the game tomorrow just coaching these guys again.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports