Grant McCasland speaks about young players after Texas Tech falls to Baylor in Waco

Following his team's loss to Baylor in Waco, Grant McCasland spoke about what he saw from the young players who were unexpectedly pressed into action.
Feb 6, 2024; Waco, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Grant McCasland on the sidelines
Feb 6, 2024; Waco, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Grant McCasland on the sidelines / Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

No one was surprised to see the Texas Tech basketball team fall to Baylor 79-73 on Tuesday night in Waco. After all, the Red Raiders entered the game as significant underdogs and that was before it was learned that starting big man, Warren Washington, would not play due to illness.

However, what was unexpected was how close the Red Raiders were able to keep the game despite being severely outmanned in the post. That was because young players like sophomores Robert Jennings and KyeRon Lindsay and true freshman Eemeli Yalaho stepped in to play admirably. Following the game, McCasland spoke about the way his underclassmen performed.

Grant McCasland says his young post players kept Texas Tech in the game

When asked about Lindsay, and Yalaho, McCasland said that they did what the team needed them to do by giving the Red Raiders a chance to win the game down the stretch.

"We needed them both, in a game like this," he said. "They both got in foul trouble so I think they were trying to figure out how to play the game without fouling but still be physical at the same time. For the most part, you feel like, if you can just keep the game within reach, maybe you can find a way to win it at the end for the most part, I thought those guys did that for us."

Neither Lindsay nor Yalaho was able to make the difference for the Red Raiders. They combined for just three points and one rebound. However, they did provide enough resistance for their team to be within a possession or two for most of the second half outside of one big Baylor run that essentially sealed the game.

Certainly, to win, Tech would have needed more from its post players (including Jennings) but what they provided was sufficient enough to keep the game within reach and that's about all one could ask of such inexperienced players. McCasland intimated that what his young players need is just more practice time to get to a point where they can make a meaningful impact.

"The hard part about game prep is, we just need to practice and you really don't get many opportunities to practice this time of the year so...for them to step into a game like this and contribute was a positive for us," he said.

It was clear that McCasland was trying to nurse his young post players through the game all night long. In fact, when Baylor went on its game-clinching run, he even used his final time-out with over six minutes left to play. He explained why he made that unusual decision.

"We just had so many guys who haven't played that many minutes in these positions," he said "and so with [Robert Jennings] having to play more tonight and with KyeRon playing and then we went small, I was just trying to give those guys as much as I could."

Regardless of the outcome, McCasland seemed proud of his entire team. He implied that there is another level his team can get to with more practice time.

"I didn't like the things we did over the course of the game but that last three-and-a-half minutes, you know, just the fight that it takes to put yourself in the right position, it shows the character of this team and the more we get time to practice, I think you see, kinda this team can really open the floor up and can score in transition. It's a fun team to coach. Just wish we were tougher rebounding the basketball, and I think we can get there, we just need more practice."

McCasland will get only three days of preparation time before Texas Tech returns to action Saturday afternoon at home against UCF. Then, there is only one day until the Red Raiders face off with Kansas on Monday in Lubbock.

Therefore, the practice time will be limited over the next week. That's why the growth of these young players will likely come more from the experience they gained on Tuesday night than anything that happens in the practice gym. Hopefully, the lessons learned in the defeat in Waco will prove to be useful and meaningful for Tech's young players because there's always the chance that they could be called upon again at any moment.