The Night Texas Tech Basketball Made me a Believer

We Will Remember 

I tend to be a fair-weather fan. I’m not the one that has season tickets even in the slump years. I’m not the one that watches the games on T.V. every game night. If my team isn’t doing well, I’m not watching. I can’t handle it. I can’t handle losing. I’m not the one reminiscing over “the good old days” or “that time we won or almost won.” I can’t contribute to those conversations — I couldn’t in the past, anyway. 

Texas Tech has had two very successful seasons in men’s basketball, so I’ve been steadily watching more than I’ve ever watched before. I want to tell you what I’ve seen. I think Coach Beard and his team need to know what he’s done for this town and for the bandwagoners and fair-weather fans. 

TTUMBB Made Me Believe
I believe in the program. I lived and died by every point and play in the NCAA tournament. I screamed and hopped around and had a sore jaw the next morning from clenched teeth. I don’t do that normally. I don’t care enough. I did this year, because Beard’s program is THE TEAM. It’s not one player. It’s not one showy star with “sexy” offense, whatever that means (it’d be great if the commentators and reporters could clarify their sexy basketball statements). If one player has a bad night, it’s ok, because another player will step up. There was no “one star” in this NCAA tournament. Each and every individual picked up any slack that occurred. Every player had their “star moment.” 

TTUMBB Wasn’t Pretty
The tournament play from TTUMBB wasn’t what I would call pretty. It wasn’t fully in control and smooth. It was honest. It was grit. It was fight. It was “I’m going to throw myself into a wall if I have to for the defensive stop.” I honestly thought Tariq could’ve paced himself on the all-out moments in the MSU game, but that’s not how any of these guys play. They lay it out. They’re laying it out for each other. They’re laying it out for Beard. They weren’t trying to secure their “NBA future.” They dug deep and even when they weren’t controlling the moment, they never gave up till they got that control back. I told my family the entire tournament, “It doesn’t have to be pretty and it doesn’t have to be smooth. They just have to win.” And the winning made it pretty. 

TTUMBB Put Texas Tech on the Map
We’re often referred to as the “best kept secret” in this town and this place and this school. People who attend school here and live here love it and know how amazing Lubbock, Texas, is, but the rest of the world doesn’t have much respect for this dustbowl town. They don’t know what we have here. TTUMBB showed them what it’s like to be from and live in Lubbock, Texas. Our basketball program brought the state together, too. Longhorns, Aggies, Horned Frogs, everyone pulling for us and pulling for us hard. It was an incredible moment to be a Texan and a Lubbockite. 

TTUMBB Will Be Remembered
The team is convinced that second place won’t be remembered. That no one will remember the “Cinderella Team” with the chip on its shoulder that was slated to be last in the Big 12, predicted to lose to Buffalo State, lose to Michigan, lose to Gonzaga (1stoverall), lose to MSU. And maybe the nation won’t remember you guys. Maybe your names will be forgotten. 

But this consistent “fair-weather fan” will always remember Matt Mooney sobbing in the locker room propped up by Brandone Francis after laying everything on the line and coming up short. I’ll remember Tariq Owens helplessly watching from the sidelines after fouling out, feeling like it’s his fault that his ankle wouldn’t hold up for his team – that weight on his shoulders will never be forgotten. I won’t forget Brandone Francis carrying the team in the national championship, refusing to let TTUMBB leave the fight. I’ll never forget Norense Odiase effortlessly making two free throws that we needed most when he’s never been known for making free throws. He was determined to carry his team and make those buckets for them and the family he’d lost earlier in the year. I’ll never forget how Jarrett Culver fought and NEVER LOST HIS COOL when he was pummeled, grabbed, held down without a single foul called. I’ll never forget Davide Moretti and Kyler Edwards switching on defense and guarding those huge posts like it was nothing, not giving them any room to be big men. 

I won’t forget what TTUMBB did for their town and state in the 2019 NCAA tournament. I will be 80 years old (Lord Willing) talking about that championship game. And now I know what it’s like to love a sport and team like I was actually on it. You made me feel like I belonged. You made everyone feel like they belonged and we won’t forget. 

We will remember.