Texas Tech basketball: We must let Grant McCasland do things his way
It’s been a few weeks since the Texas Tech basketball program handed the keys of the castle to Grant McCasland. Since then, developments within the program, at least those that have been made public, have come slowly. That is unless you count the departures of players such as Jaylon Tyson, Elijah Fisher, and Daniel Batcho, developments that many might perceive as negative.
Sure, Tech has added a couple of promising guards from the transfer portal in Grand Canyon transfer Chance McMillan and Nevada transfer Darrion Williams while also being able to retain guard Pop Isaacs and forward Robert Jennings, two players who both made impacts this past season as true freshmen. However, it isn’t hard to get the sense that Red Raider fans are hungry for more, and with each day that passes without major developments, a sense of worry and skepticism becomes even more pronounced within some factions of the constituency.
The simple reality is that this program needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. While it wasn’t in shambles, the foundation had begun to crack due to the egotistical actions of the previous two head coaches, each of whom had put themselves before the program and whose actions had undermined the culture that had carried Texas Tech basketball to the grandest stage the game has to offer.
While some may look at the fact that Tech has been to the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five years and surmise that all was well in Raiderland, that’s far from the truth. In fact, given recent statements by former players, it is quite stunning that the 2021-22 team managed to survive the toxicity within the program and reach the Sweet 16.
Tuesday, a podcast featuring Elijah Fisher, who is now in the portal after spending last season as a Red Raider, saw the former blue-chip recruit from Canada drop some eye-opening accusations about how he and other players were treated by former head coach Mark Adams including claims that Adams once threw a water bottle at one of the players.
These tidbits from Fisher, who also supports previously revealed allegations that Adams poorly handed an incident in which he supposedly spat on a player unintentionally, are in line with what has been rumored about Tech hoops for the past few months and they only add more fuel to the fire that has been burning around the culture (or lack thereof) inside the basketball program.
In addition, a comment below the Fisher video from a poster who uses the name “Marcus Santos-Silva” suggested that Adams’ behavior the previous season was erratic and questionable. (Whether or not that post actually came from the former Red Raider forward is not substantiated.) If that comment is from the actual player who spent 2021-22 under Adams, then it is further proof that something was rotten in the program from the start of Adams’ reign.
Thus, it is imperative that McCasland be given complete autonomy to rebuild this program as he sees fit. The problem for some, however, is that he’s doing it in an unexpected way.
The former North Texas head coach has flown a bit under the radar since taking the job. For instance, he’s sent out only two original Tweets since he was hired. There have been no fireside chats or click-bait attempts at garnering attention, tactics that many coaches might use to generate buzz and create enthusiasm in the early stages of their tenure at a new school.
McCasland also chose not to hire any of the popular former Texas Tech assistant coaches. Many fans pined away for the return of Berret Peery, who is now an assistant at UNLV after one year on Adams’ staff. Others were vocal in their desire to see Al Pinkins retained from this past year’s coaching staff.
Instead, McCasland has hired three coaches who were with him at UNT, Matt Braeuer, Achoki Moikobu, and strength coach Andrew Wright. Additionally, the lack of any more assistant coaching or support staff hires has caused a bit of hand-wringing from fans. And when you combine that with the fact that the only players McCasland has added to the roster are two guards from non-major conference schools who averaged between them last season just around 18 points per game, some are leery of what’s happening in this critical time on the calendar when basketball programs now annually rearrange their rosters as quickly and as easily as a Vegas card dealer shuffles his deck.
Here’s the reality though; we must have the patience and the foresight to let McCasland be McCasland. He isn’t Chris Beard. So we aren’t likely to see any great press from industry insiders like Jeff Goodman who was cozy with Beard and who, in exchange for inside info from the Beard staff, sent plenty of press Tech’s way.
McCasland also isn’t Deion Sanders, the all-about-himself head football coach at Colorado who has made a circus of his program since the day he arrived all in an attempt to get people to notice a program that has been irrelevant since Bill Clinton was in the White House.
That’s not who Texas Tech hired. Nor is it who Texas Tech needs. Instead, this university needs another Tim Tadlock who garnered national attention not by displaying attention-getting antics, befriending reporters, or exhibiting a wild personality but rather by winning. Likewise, this university needs another Joey McGuire who has found instant success because of the authenticity of his character rather than the cache of a famous name.
Texas Tech has never been about flash and style and when we have tried that, it hasn’t worked (see the Kliff Kingsbury era of the football program). Instead, just about everyone who has ever won big in Lubbock has done so by grinding away and by staying true to who they were.
So if McCasland doesn’t want to keep a guy like Jaylon Tyson who some have suggested isn’t a great culture fit for the new coaching staff, so be it. Likewise, if he wants to play things close to the vest and do his work out of the public eye, then that’s how he should.
McCasland wasn’t hired because of any national titles on his resume or because he’s known throughout the sport as a flashy guy with tons of swagger. Rather, he was hired because he builds programs with the type of backbone that is required for winning. He was hired because he has shown that the culture he manifests within a program leads to success on the court. He was hired to be Grant McCasland and nothing else.
So though it may be tough at times to wait patiently for him to show his hand, that’s what we must do. After all, it’s far better than continuing down the path this program had been on before his arrival.