MINNEAPOLIS — Coaches love to preach the concept of sacrifice to their teams. If enough guys sacrifice themselves for the good of the team, it can reach its goals.
For Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, whose team faces Michigan State in the Final Four Saturday night at U.S. Bank Stadium, he is forgoing something sacred.
“Me this year, it's no beer, no desserts, no candy,” Beard said. “I haven't had any ice cream, candy, cake, beer, since the first day of practice.”
While it is a lighthearted subject, Beard voluntarily drew the comparison between sacrificing his sweet tooth and libations to the demand he puts on his players.
“There's guys on our team that have given up social media,” he said. “There's guys that have given up fried food. You basically have to sacrifice something. In our culture, if you say you're going to do it, you'd better do it, or you're about to get roasted.”
The Red Raiders are known for their tenacious defense, ranking first in Ken Pomeroy’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency rankings — they shut down Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen, holding the Wolverines to 1-of-19 shooting from three-point range in a dominating 63-44 win. Sophomore Jarrett Culver was asked if the Red Raiders can repeat the defensive performance against the other power from the Mitten.
“We’re going to try to,” he said. “We try to go out and play our best defense every game, so we know it’s going to have to be one of our best defensive games this Saturday, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Beard has used Michigan State as a model program in the course of building his own — this year marks Texas Tech’s first Final Four appearance in school history. The Red Raiders call one of their rebounding drills the “Michigan State” drill.
“In a lot of programs you hear people talk about Michigan State and coach Izzo’s program has been the idea of toughness for as long as I can remember watching basketball,” senior forward Tariq Owens said. “We always know they are going to rebound. It’s been a war for any team that they play, they know they are going to get to the glass and rebound. We know coming into this game that’s going to be a major emphasis and that’s going to be a staple in this game.”
Matt McQuaid, a senior guard for MSU, is a native from the Dallas suburb Duncanvile, Texas. Beard talked about the pride in seeing a Texas kid (Beard is from The Woodlands, a suburb of Houston) succeed on a national stage.
“He's turned himself into a great defensive player,” Beard said. “I think earlier in his year what might have been perceived as a weakness is now a strength. He's very, very competitive. He's got good foot speed, in my opinion. He can contest shots. He takes charges. He's one of the best defenders I think I've seen all year on film.”
The Spartans and Red Raiders tip off at 8:49 p.m. EDT Saturday night. The winner of that game faces the winner of the early game between Virginia and Auburn for the National Championship on Monday night.