NCAA East Regional Semifinal | Boston, Mass.
#3 Texas Tech Postgame Statements to CBS/Turner
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Texas Tech Head Coach Chris Beard, student-athletes Justin Gray, Zach Smith, Keenan Evans, and Jarrett Culver. We’ll begin with an opening statement from Coach, and we’ll open it up for questions. Coach, your thoughts on the game, please.
CHRIS BEARD: It was a hard-fought game, we expected first half. I thought both defenses were really hard to score against. Our offense opened up a little bit at the end of the first half. I think that was the little bit of a cushion that we needed.
Then the second half, I thought we did a better job offensively spreading the floor.
First, I just want to congratulate Purdue on a great season. You know, I hate to see great players not be able to play late in the season. So we’ve certainly had our share of adversity with injuries. So we feel for Purdue not being full strength. But I think you’ve got to give our guys a lot of credit. We made just enough plays to beat a really good, well-coached, talented Big Ten Purdue team. So I’m really proud of our players.
Q. First, Coach, for you and then whoever wants to take it from the guys, maybe Keenan. 93 years of Texas Tech basketball. This is the first time they’re ever in the final eight. Coach, the guy who runs the ship, what does it mean for you to be in this moment? And then for the guys, what does it mean to earn this moment on the court?
KEENAN EVANS: Winning never gets old. So it’s just amazing. It feels, like I said, amazing to share this moment with these guys and this coaching staff. We don’t want it to end. We feel like we have more work to do, and we’re going to do that work.
CHRIS BEARD: Yeah, I respect the question. We’ve got great basketball tradition at Texas Tech, starting kind of in my lifetime with Coach Myers, but I knew Coach Robinson’s history before and Coach Bass. I grew up going to Gerald Myers’ basketball camp. He was a championship coach in the Southwest Conference days. Then Coach Dickey had a great team that made the Sweet 16. And certainly Coach Knight, and I’m really proud of my association there. With Pat and Tubby getting the team.
So I respect the tradition, but when questions are asked like that, I’ve only coached these guys for two years. To me, we just made the — what’s it called? The Great Eight?
KEENAN EVANS: Elite.
CHRIS BEARD: The Elite Eight our second year together, and it’s just Culver’s first year. So why shouldn’t we? We’ve got a great university. We play in the best league in college basketball. We’ve got really great players. We’re blessed to be here, but I think we’ve earned the right to be here.
Q. Coach Beard, congratulations. Just to piggyback off that question, being that you cut your teeth in coaching and in the game of basketball in the state of Texas, from high school to being an assistant coach at north Texas, to your long tenure as an assistant coach at Texas Tech, is it extra special to take a team from the state of Texas that has a really good history in basketball but hasn’t made it this far, to lead Texas Tech this far given your long history in basketball in the state of Texas?
CHRIS BEARD: It’s special for a lot of reasons, and that’s certainly one of them. We all have a lot of pride from where we’re from and where we go to school, and we respect everybody that came before us. So I certainly would agree with that.
But the main reason it’s special by far, not even close, the number one reason is these players. These guys have come together, and we started our first year and were close. This year it’s nice to get over the hump in a lot of ways. These guys have worked extremely hard. It’s one of the most unselfish teams that I’ve ever coached. It’s one of the best practicing teams I’ve ever coached. We have great senior leadership. And we have great young guys that come in and have allowed themselves to be led.
So it’s a great thing for a lot of reasons, but to me the story is the players. It’s these guys to my left and the other guys in the locker room, they’re the story of this successful run.
Q. For Chris and for Keenan: With seven minutes to go when Keenan hit that 15-footer, before that, he was 1-for-6. I think he had six points, ten points down the stretch. You’ve seen that before. Keenan, what’s your level of confidence in those situations? And, Chris, even though he was struggling a little bit, what’s your level of confidence in Keenan?
KEENAN EVANS: My teammates, my coaching staff, they instill confidence in me even if I’m 1-for-9, 1-for-10. Those moments they need me to step up, and so once I hit one shot and seen it go through the net, it kind of helped, and then I got to the line and made some free throws. And my teammates just getting me the ball and helping get me open has done a lot, and them just instilling the confidence in me has helped a lot in those situations.
CHRIS BEARD: First of all, with the six shots, that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job coaching and get our best offensive players shots, and Keenan is certainly one of those players.
The confidence to me comes from preparation. Confident people are the ones that know they do the work. It’s like when I was in school, when I studied for a test, I walked in there with a pretty good swagger. “I’m going to kill this thing.” When I didn’t study for a test, I was nervous, hoping the fire alarm would be pulled.
So with Keenan Evans, I’m confident with him because I know what this guy does with the process, along with all the other players. He makes 300 shots a day. He’s in individual workout every day. He’s in the film room every day. Takes care of his body. Gets sleep every night. So my confidence comes from the day-to-day process with Keenan. He’s earned the right to be here in these moments.
Q. Coach, you’ve knocked out this Purdue team now two times in three years. What was it today, a totally different game plan? What was the approach for beating this team again like that?
CHRIS BEARD: Completely different game, different teams. Today we were just very fortunate. I thought we played very good defense today. Our offense opened up in the second half. We shot 50 percent. We had a low-turnover game. We outrebounded Purdue. And we had four or five guys in double figures and a sixth guy around that mark. It’s our formula. It’s not a secret.
When we can get balance on offense, rebound the ball, and take care of the ball, we’re a good team.
Q. First for Keenan, then for Zach: You guys really found your shooting stroke in the second half. You’re putting in points. Going into Villanova on Sunday, any one of them can score, like from anywhere on the court. How are you guys going to be able to take how you played the final 20 minutes tonight and apply it for a full 40 on Sunday?
KEENAN EVANS: Just being urgent with whatever we do, but getting out there on shooters, making it tough, making them uncomfortable, and just rebounding the ball to finish the possession.
ZACH SMITH: Like he said, try to make them uncomfortable, try to instill a lot of pressure, pressure defense, and play our defense.
Q. Chris, one of the numbers that stood out was the 33-6 in bench scoring that you guys had. What kind of luxury is it when you’re bringing guys off the bench who contribute like that? And especially what kind of lift did Zach give you, especially not only this game, but in the Tournament, with the way he’s come back from the injury?
CHRIS BEARD: Justin, you want to answer that about our bench?
JUSTIN GRAY: Yeah, I think we have the best bench in the entire country. Any one of those guys can start for any team, and everybody knows their role. That’s one of the best things about our team. Everybody has a role and accepts it, and they do it well. When you have a team that has accepts their role and comes in and is ready to embrace those moments, obviously, you see the results, and we play for one another. So our bench is great, great energy.
CHRIS BEARD: Somebody ask our freshman a question, man.
Q. Coach Beard has talked so many times about how this is a group that just loves to play basketball from the coaching staff all the way down to the freshmen on this team. Can you just speak to that and the difference that that makes on the court and how much fun you guys have while you’re enjoying playing.
JARRETT CULVER: It’s awesome. This experience is awesome. The freshmen and some of the other younger guys, we just look up to the seniors, and they led us a long way. We just try to follow the best that we can and play our role so we could get wins. That’s what we try to do.
THE MODERATOR: Texas Tech, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Purdue is here. We’re joined by head coach Matt Painter, sophomore Carsen Edwards, senior Vincent Edwards. Coach will begin with an opening statement, and we’ll take questions for Coach and the student-athletes.
MATT PAINTER: Congrats, obviously, to Texas Tech. For us, we really played in spurts today, just really never got that consistency. We’d make a couple positive plays, and we just couldn’t get that consistency on both ends. Some of those empty possessions really hurt us where we weren’t getting a shot at all, and that was probably the hardest thing for us, where they were getting in transition, getting the layups and the dunks. That’s what we really talked about was trying our best to prevent that, making them earn baskets outside of the paint.
They’re a very talented team, very athletic team, very well coached, good defensive team, and they obviously got the best of us today. So congratulations to Texas Tech.
Q. Coach, Carsen hit some big tough shots in the second half, but it seemed like you guys were having some trouble finding looks. What was Texas Tech doing well defensively, especially around the perimeter?
MATT PAINTER: They just swarm the basketball. They make it hard on you to get the ball in the paint. Carsen did a good job of breaking them down and getting in the paint, and it wasn’t that we weren’t at other times. We just couldn’t finish some plays. We had a couple good looks, and then we just tried to be on the same page, just pass it and catch it.
They’re a very good defensive team. If you look at their numbers, they’re one of the top four or five teams in defensive efficiency in the country. So it speaks for itself coming from a league as good as the Big 12.
Q. Vincent, you guys got it down to one there early in the second half. What stifled the momentum for you guys, and what was that big run to break things open?
VINCENT EDWARDS: Just like he said, empty possessions. We had to take care of the ball and didn’t do that. Some miscues and not really connected as a team. Just some things didn’t go right — had too many turnovers, got them out on transition. They were able to get dunks, layups. So I think that’s what changed the momentum right there.
THE MODERATOR: Purdue, thank you for your time. Congratulations on a great season.
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