We are less than three weeks away from the start of the 2023-24 Texas Tech basketball season. With Big 12 media days taking place this week, it is time we start to get geared up for the beginning of the Grant McCasland era.
Arriving off of a successful six-year run at North Texas, McCasland is bringing to Lubbock the best resume any Red Raider head coach has arrived with since Bob Knight in 2001. Many fans might not be aware of that, though, given that North Texas isn’t top of mind to most people in West Texas (or anywhere else in the state for that matter).
The Eagles have been playing basketball since 1921. Only 13 of those seasons have seen the program amass 20 or more wins.
Interestingly, five of those seasons were led by McCasland. That includes last season when the Eagles set a program record with 31 wins as they won the N.I.T.
Making what McCasland did in Denton even more impressive is that he took over a program that had gone five seasons without a winning record. However, by his fourth year on the job (2020-21), he would help guide UNT to its first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament, a 78-69 overtime upset of No. 4 seed Purdue.
Throughout his career, McCasland has been known for producing elite defensive teams. For instance, his team ranked 18th in the nation in the KenPom.com adjusted defensive efficiency rating. That’s a metric that analyzes a team’s defense by averaging how many points a team allows per every 100 possessions. Using that formula takes variables such as pace of play out of the equation and gives a clearer and more honest look at how teams play defense.
Last year, UNT allowed 94.0 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, Texas Tech was only 60th nationally allowing 98.7 points per 100 possessions.
The year prior, when Tech led the nation in that metric at 85.0, UNT was also excellent sitting at No. 22 in the country (92.8 points per 100 possessions). In other words, McCasland seems to be a good fit for a Texas Tech program that has been built on the strength of its defensive prowess.
Of course, McCasland isn’t the only new face in the program this year. Now in the era of the transfer portal, every team in the country is remade on an annual basis and that’s especially true of those that make coaching changes.
Counting KyeRon Lindsay, a transfer from Georiga who arrived for the spring semester last season but who had to redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules, there will be eight newcomers on the team with six of those players being transfers from other Division-I programs.
That leaves only five players returning from last season’s disappointing and turbulent ride. So let’s start to familiarize ourselves with this revamped roster by taking a look at which players might be X-factors this season in the sense that we aren’t really certain what they will provide. Each could have an important role to play for McCasland and how well they perform could be what determines whether or not the new man in charge will get off to a positive start in Lubbock.