The wait is finally over.
After several months of downtime, and time to reflect on missing out on the NCAA Tournament, the Texas Tech men’s basketball team got back to work Monday afternoon for its first official practice inside United Supermarkets Arena.
“The basketball bouncing, the squeaks of the shoes, whistles blowing and even coach (Chris) Beard yelling,” Texas Tech senior guard Justin Gray said, cracking a smile. “Everyone is excited to play together again. It’s basketball season, and nothing beats that. Nothing beats the first day of putting on the practice jersey and going at it.”
The Red Raiders, who finished with an 18-14 overall record and 6-12 mark in Big 12 play, began their journey to their reach one of many team goals, including a return to the NCAA Tournament under second-year head coach Chris Beard.
“The goal has always been making the NCAA Tournament,” said Gray, who helped Texas Tech reach the NCAA Tournament back in 2015 — snapping a drought going back to 2007. “But this year, not only making it, but making a run and winning a national championship. That’s the ultimate goal. … Anything below that is not acceptable.”
While there were plenty of familiar faces who helped engineer that special run, including Keenan Evans, Justin Gray, Zach Smith, Norense Odiase, the Red Raiders have also added some new names — through graduate transfers, junior college transfers and freshmen recruits — to the group.
With a year under his belt, Niem Stevenson — a transfer from Seward County Community College — is looking to increase his offensive production in the motion offense.
Transfers Brandone Francis (Florida) and Tommy Hamilton (DePaul) are looking to become mainstays in the lineup after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer regulations. South Plains College’s Josh Webster and Trinity Valley Community College guard Hyron Edwards are also hoping to find their niche with Red…