Takeaways: Beard, Benson talk charity game, progression and more
As we enter the middle days of October, college basketball is slowly moving towards the center of attention as the season approaches.
Only three players return from Texas Tech’s national championship team last season and look to fill in a huge leadership role in the newcomers.
Head coach Chris Beard and redshirt sophomore Avery Benson met with the media Wednesday afternoon to talk a little basketball before the Red Raiders head to El Paso for a Saturday charity exhibition game against the UTEP Miners.
Opening Statement from Chris Beard
“…the most important part of Saturday’s game is to raise money for a great cause. I have a lot of respect for UTEP’s tradition. Of course, growing up in Texas, UTEP was the basketball school, the only school in the state of Texas, I think, to win a men’s basketball national championship. A program that we really look up to. (Rodney Terry) is in his second year there. He’s one of the best guys in college basketball. As what he did as an assistant speaks for itself, and then at Fresno State, immediately an NCAA tournament team. It’s great to have Rodney back in the state of Texas, where he’s from. Not going to be great to compete against him, but I have so much respect for him as a coach. We’re going to raise some real dollars for this, the El Paso Strong Fund, and we’re honored and excited to be a part of the game that’ll raise money for a great cause. Again, that’ll be Saturday night, 8 o’clock our time. Looking forward to the first step in our journey in terms of outside competition, but much, much more important than the basketball game. I appreciate Rodney asking us will we play the game, and we’re honored to do so. We hope to make a lot of money for a great cause, and Texas Tech fans should come out. It’s not too far of a drive down to El Paso, and we hope to see some red and black there raising money for such a great cause.”
Beard also informed of the season starting with a two-game homestand on November 5th against Northern Illinois followed by another game on the 9th against Bethune-Cookman. There will be special giveaways such as Final Four replica banners and more.
Beard then talked about the team and how the offseason has been since the team’s tour to the Bahamas over the summer. “We just continue to be a work in progress, but proud of our leadership so far. Today was our ninth or tenth practice, so the objective around here just continues to be to get better everyday.”
Benson is back
Remember when the crowd would explode as a Tech player outhustled the other team? Yeah, that was Avery Benson, who saw little play time due to the lineup and talent that already existed.
For Benson, this season looks to be different as he is among the veteran players on the squad as he, Kyler Edwards, Davide Moretti, and Kevin McCullar (who enrolled in the spring and sat through the NCAA tournament run) look to lead the load of young bucks.
With the Red Raiders heading to El Paso this weekend, Benson wants to see a lot of energy out of this young Red Raider squad.
“Kind of put in place what we’ve been working on this whole summer, in the Bahamas,” Benson said. “Just come out, energy, everything we believe in and what coach believes in. Have fun obviously. It’s a game we love. Just work together, work towards our common goals to achieve a win. So, that’s all that we really want to do is come out, just like we know we can, and doing them and win.”
Benson said there was no doubt he was going to return to the team although more than half the team left for the pros or transferred.
“Me and coach Beard have an amazing relationship,” Benson said, “along with his coaching staff. He’s trusted me since day-one, since I’ve stepped on campus, and sat in here. He’s my guy. I wouldn’t leave and play, restart for somebody else. That’s not who I am, really. I’ve also known he’s going to make me a better man on and off the court. These guys, great group of guys. We seem to get a lot of guys that have awesome personalities and like to have fun, also come here to win ball games, and that’s really what we’re about.”
The team’s summer was highlighted by the trip to the Bahamas, which included the relaxation and fun as well as a 44-point game from freshman guard Jahmi’us Ramsey, a Duncanville (TX) product and state champion.
Since the tour, the team has been hard at work fixing the little things to get back to championship form. Beard explained the way the team has been working and getting better.
“All of our players have gotten better,” Beard said, “that’s for sure. The Bahamas was kind of the first step with our team playing outside competition. Saturday will be the next step (playing outside competition). Again, all these guys have shown the ability to contribute now. They’re all over my mind right now as I start thinking about this year’s team. Obviously, this exhibition game, our scrimmage coming up, and these continued practices as well as some of our early games. This could be a team this year when the rotation is not necessarily set. It’d just be where guys have to wait their time and get some opportunities, but I’m sure, like every team, as the season continues, we’ll kind of fall into a fold where we have the rotation. But all of our guys, again, they’ve shown the ability to play this year.”
As far as an early season starting lineup, Beard said there isn’t a starting lineup yet for Saturday’s exhibition game against UTEP.
“We might put a fan-poll on Twitter,” Beard joked. “We’re not even there right now. We’re trying to figure out what guys can do and who can play together, rotations and stuff. It’s awful early to be playing a game, but again I don’t want to speak for Rodney Terry at UTEP. We basically came together, and this was the weekend it would work.”
Beard continued to praise UTEP and the cause the game is going to be played for as that is what is the most important thing coming out of the first game of the basketball season.
Other notable topics include Joel Mtambwe’s waiver still being processed by the NCAA. Beard said all they can do is wait on word from them.