An infernal defense and a top 5 of the draft: that's the Red Raiders

Texas Tech inspires terror for its rivals thanks to the work of Chris Beard, a disciple of Bob Knight. Jarrett Culver points to NBA star.

Texas Tech came to March Madness as seed 3 of an extremely tough West. Gonzaga and Michigan landed ahead, and Florida State also seemed to have more arguments to come out alive on that side of the table to the Final Four of the US Bank Stadium in Minnesota, where it was finally the Red Raiders who arrived. The earth is for the one who works it. There, his hobby bustles to the beat of Old Town Road, Lil Nas X's single adopted as a war song by this public university of Lubbock (more than 38,000 students from 50 states and 100 nationalities) because his trainer, Chris Beard, considers that melts his world with that of his players: country with hip hop. The very Billy Ray Cirus has come out to defend the pedigree of the subject against the purists of the country and, incidentally, has recorded a remix with Lil Nas that went straight to the number 1.

Si other teams had more reasons to see in the Final Four, Texas Tech had one: its defense. A, in addition, historically good. A machine that causes short circuits that terrifies the hearts of its rivals. In the Northern Kentucky tournament they got 57 points in the first round. After Buffalo 58 but averaged 85 (18 attacks went without putting a basket in the second part), Michigan 44 with a 1/19 in triples and 8 losses at halftime when he had averaged 8.8 during the season. Gonzaga, the best attack of the country and at full speed in the tournament, reached only 69 and Michigan State stayed at 51 in the semifinal last night. During the season, only Oklahoma State scored 80 points against them, and it was in a game with overtime. They started the season 10-0 with six games in which the rival did not reach 55, and then cayerocn (69-58) against the Duke of Zion Williamson. They were finally the first of the Big 12, ending a 14-year dictatorship in Kansas, and had their bad afternoon at the start of their Conference tournament, 74-79 against West Virginia. They have not had another then.

Texas Tech, a Jewel of the Southwest where football is much more than basketball, came for the first time to the Elite 8 last year. But it was considered a day-long, one-hit wonder, when were four starters and five of the first six scorers, among them Zhaire Smith, a forward out of nowhere who finished in number 16 of the draft (plays in the Suns). But the Red Raiders have not only doubled but have improved the formula: their defense was fourth in the country in ranking adjusted last season and has been first in this. What was Smith has been surpassed by Jarrett Culver, a second year player who goes straight to the top 5 of the draft even though he was not even a top 300 in the country when he was recruited by Texas Tech. Intelligent, good defender, generous and with scoring ability, is the absolute referent of a team in which are also decisive Tariq Owens as an anchor and the shooters Davide Moretti (a player from Bologna who went totally unnoticed in his first season) and Matt Mooney, who arrived in his fifth year following his footsteps by the Air Force and South Dakota, in the same way that Owens (23 years old he, 24 Mooney) had been in Tennessee and St John. Recycling and optimization of players, an exterior turned into a reference with the ball in the hands, good marksmen, a center that sweeps everything over the hoop and a hellish defense. Again, the same formula. But now so perfected that it is 40 minutes away from the national title.

Y the person in charge is Chris Beard, a trainer who five years ago was in the second university division and who in 2016 decided to sign for Texas Tech even though he had committed to UNLV because his three daughters live in Lubbock (he's divorced) and because in that university he took his first steps on the benches next to a historic like Bob Knight, the legend of Indiana. Before this colossal adventure, he took the tournament to Arkansas -Little Rock in his only year at this university (2015-16) .

Beard, however, capes the new arrival fame and points to the "most important guy in the Final Four that nobody knows": Mark Adams, his defensive guru and a veteran who was out of business after graduating four decades ago at Texas Tech and training in almost every corner of the country. Adams is the father of the kill drill, the exercise in which a defensive unit has to achieve three stops in a row against attacks that change players before they can rest. The goal is perfection, and of course they have achieved it: the Red Raiders break the central pick and roll, they send the rival attacks to the laterals or the baseline, they carry help with schemes of other times (when the triple does not was a weapon of constant use), they change and adjust with the precision of the best NBA defenses and they get to tap (at least) all the pullss exterior. If your defense is historic by numbers , each opponent you have faced says afterwards that it is not really what it seems by numbers: it is something much worse.

Important, intelligent, competitive and athletic players. Commitment and collective sense embodied in what is, nevertheless, a very clear star, a Jarrett Culver already elevated to the altars of the 2019 draft. A crazy hobby, a song like a war cry that is a single hit throughout the United States ... and one more match to become, for the first time, the king of university basketball and culminate what is being a work of art by Chris Beard (46), a technician who earns just over 3 million dollars and in the that the great universities have already set their sights on. It only remains for his Red Raiders to finish the job against the Cavaliers of Tony Bennett in what will undoubtedly be a tremendous duel of survivors.

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