When the previous coach left Texas Tech last spring, many, including myself, thought well there goes the golden era of Texas Tech basketball. Then, as most reading likely know, mark adams declined to get on the plane headed to Austin and threw his hat in the ring for a promotion from assistant to head coach. An outpouring of support from former players commenced and eventually athletic director Kirby Hocutt chose Adams.
It would prove to be a wise decision.
Adams went to work assembling a quality staff, retained key veterans such as Kevin McCullar, Terrence Shannon and Marcus Santos-Silva, then hit the transfer portal hard where he found accomplished, experienced players who fit his vision. The result was despite being unranked in the national polls and picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 in the preseason, the Red Raiders exceeded everyone’s, even the most optimistic among us, expectations.
Texas Tech challenged for the Big 12 title by sweeping Baylor and Texas and splitting the season series with Kansas, beat a ranked, quality team in Tennessee at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic, made it to the Big 12 tournament championship game for just the second time in program history and finished undefeated at home.
Despite all those accomplishments had Tech been upset in the first two rounds, especially in the first round by Montana State, this season would have been thought of as a disappointment. Instead, the Red Raiders crushed Montana State in the first round, edged Notre Dame in the second and then gave mighty Duke all they wanted in the Sweet 16 before gracefully bowing out of the tournament.
It was one of the best seasons in the history of Texas Tech basketball, but more than that, the Red Raiders, who made it to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four NCAA tournaments, planted its Double-T flag as one of the top programs in the nation and cemented the notion that Adams is the man to lead them into the future. Again, perhaps one of Adams’ players said it best following the loss Thursday night.
“Coach Adams, he is the greatest coach in the country. For him to be able to pull a group of guys together who were all the man at their previous institutions and just get us to buy in and believe in the team and make us love playing defense, I mean, that’s special,” said senior forward Bryson Williams. “Also, I would like to say that Texas Tech, this is the institution to love and the support and just the way the fans and everybody was just behind us and everybody that’s involved with Texas Tech, I mean, it’s just amazing. I mean , it was a blessing to be here.
“I’ll remember these guys for the rest of my life. I’ll remember Coach Adams for the rest of my life, and everybody on that coaching staff, every manager, every GA, even the janitors that work at Texas Tech, I ‘m going to remember them. It was just a blessing to be here and we fought hard. That’s all we’re going to do always is fight hard.”