Few people expected Texas Tech to be playing in the NCAA championship game, where the Red Raiders lost to Virginia 85-77 in overtime Monday night.
For the Cavaliers, it was their first national championship, and it was well deserved. While they barely survived their Final Four matchup with Auburn, they had been a top-five team throughout the year.
But the Red Raiders won a lot of fans for their gritty defense, their hard-nosed play and their coach, Chris Beard.
After the game, he was all class in his interview with CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson.
“I’m so proud of our guys fighting back and sending the game to overtime,” Beard said. “We had a chance to win it, then we get to overtime and we hit the first shot, but then we just couldn’t get stops.”
He proceeded to heap praise on his opponent.
“Let’s talk about Virginia — Coach Bennett is one of the most class guys,” Beard said. “You talk about a team of destiny, I just think they’re really, really good, you know, the poise, and they just find ways to win.
“So I want to congratulate them, their program. It was just an honor to compete with them on this biggest stage on Monday night, and I have nothing but respect for their program.”
He then got emotional when talking about his players, how they are not just good on the court but in life.
“I’m just so proud to be these guys coach.” 🙌
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 9, 2019
“In terms of my guys, I’ve never been more proud in coaching,” Beard said. “This is real life. We’ll bounce back.
“I’m just so proud of those guys. We’ve got good future fathers in there, good future husbands — these guys are legit. There’s a lot of emotion in that locker room right now, but I’m just so proud to be these guys’ coach.”
Wolfson then asked what he told his players in the locker room.
“Thank you. Thank you for those four seniors, believing in us when we were picked to not even be relevant in our conference and here we are on the last Monday night and sending the Virginia team to overtime,” Beard said. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for the program.
“And for the young guys, the returners, let’s do everything we can in the next 365 days to try and get back.”
He also fought back tears during the postgame news conference when asked what he told his players.
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard had to hold back tears when talking about his players after the Red Raiders’ heartbreaking loss. pic.twitter.com/rW5lx36RfA
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) April 9, 2019
“I just told them I love them and our relationship is just getting started. I’ll be at those guys’ weddings one day, hopefully when their kids get born. … I just love those guys.”
What a coach.
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