Beard On Izzo: "I Grew Up Studying His Teams"

Chris Beard respects Tom Izzo so much that he named code words after him. Seriously.

Tiki and Tierney
April 01, 2019 - 7:17 pm
Chris Beard Texas Tech Elite Eight

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Texas Tech, like a lot of college basketball programs, uses code words during games. Coaches will say a word that has a hidden meaning or message for the players on the court.

Well, don’t be surprised if Chris Beard screams Michigan State or Tom Izzo during the Final Four this Saturday in Minneapolis. 

“When we say Michigan State, it means rebounding, and when we say Tom Izzo, it means toughness,” Beard said on Tiki & Tierney. “So if you see me during the game yelling Tom Izzo, I’m not yelling at coach; it’s just one of our code words for mental toughness.”

Why those words? Because Beard, 46, has tremendous respect for Izzo, 64.

“I grew up studying his teams,” Beard said. “One season, I actually watched every game they played. I tried to take one team a season and take their journey with them. When I was in Division II, I took a trip with Duke one year. I took a trip with Michigan State. I’m not talking about a physical trip. I’m talking about where I literally watch every game they play throughout the year. I have so much respect for Coach Izzo. I actually had a chance to talk to him today on the phone, which is super cool. He was very complimentary of our team.”

It’d be tough to find someone who isn’t. One year after leading Texas Tech to the first Elite Eight in program history, Beard led the Red Raiders to their first Final Four. He became head coach at Texas Tech in 2016 but was on staff under Bob Knight – and Pat Knight – from 2001-11.

“Those years were instrumental in my coaching career,” Beard said. “It was like getting a Ph.D. every day in coaching. I have so much respect for Coach and Pat and how we went about things. Everybody associates Coach with Indiana basketball, which is understandable, but people don’t remember how many games he won at Tech.”

Knight went 138-82 at Texas Tech, leading the program to four NCAA Tournaments and one Sweet 16.

“We were really good in those days,” Beard said. “I think I learned so many things from coach. There will be things that we try on Saturday against Michigan State that are Coach Knight-based, but at the top of the list is the idea of preparation. We tell our guys every single day, ‘There’s not one player in the country that doesn’t want to win. Everybody wants to win. But there’s only a few people that are willing to want to prepare to win.’ That’s a big part of who we are. We try to be the most prepared team in the country.”

In other news, Beard was asked about the mini-controversy surrounding Izzo’s confrontation with freshman Aaron Henry in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Beard had no problem with it – even though many around the country did.

“I can’t speak for the rest of the country,” Beard said, “but at Texas Tech, here in Lubbock, if a guy doesn’t run back down the floor, it’s not like we give them a cup of lemonade. We try to tell the the truth as well. It’s called coaching.” 

Click below to listen to Beard’s interview in its entirety.