It’s no secret that Texas Tech’s decision as to who will lead the men’s basketball program going forward is very important. In some ways, Mark Adams’ resignation on Wednesday night is guaranteed to be the end of an era. Between Adams and Chris Beard, the Red Raiders have been led by a pair of small-school superstar coaches that ascended the ladders together and brought the once-dormant program to prominence. Unlike when Beard left for Austin, there is no doubt that the next chapter of Tech basketball will need to come from a different book as opposed to merely being a continuation of the previous regime. What happened this year is unacceptable, and it’s critical for the program to turn the page towards a new era, with a (mostly) new staff and a new identity.
Having said that- there can still be similarities. The formula that allowed Beard and Adams to win games involved tough defense and a culture of fighting for every second of a game. Those are identities that would be accepted anywhere in the country, and fortunately for Texas Tech, there’s a feasible candidate for the Head Coach position that has built an identity off of those very things less than 300 miles away in Denton. Here are the three main reasons why Grant McCasland is the right man to lead Texas Tech Basketball.
Defense. Defense. Defense.
The biggest calling card for McCasland in his tenure at North Texas has been his defense. The Mean Green have been top 35 nationally in defensive rating per T-Rank over the last two seasons, and they’ve done it with a formula that is eerily similar to what Texas Tech has done in the last five years. McCasland switched to a no-middle defensive philosophy after the 2021 season, and the fundamental goal of forcing drives baseline and preventing opposing actions from initiating in the middle third of the court is the same as what Mark Adams has preached. What makes McCasland’s defenses look even more impressive to me is that they do not rely too much on ball pressure and aggressive hedging to make things happen. Instead, their main strength comes from switchability and positional discipline. They are better at not giving up open threes than Tech has been as of late, and their risk-averse approach to gambling does not allow for many total breakdowns. With the style of offense that McCasland has employed (more on that in a second), having a conservative, yet ultra-effective defense is super valuable.
McCasland’s teams play so slow that they make Chris Beard’s Texas Tech teams look like the 1980s Denver Nuggets, but aside from the raw scoring numbers being down, the actual efficiency has not been that bad. McCasland has produced four consecutive years with a top-five offense in the C-USA, which is no easy feat considering the resources that the school has. Their approach may be boring and it does limit fastbreak opportunities, but the effect of slowing the game down and maximizing each possession is that it forces opposing teams to consistently play disciplined, which has value. The Mean Green also does a nice job generating open catch-and-shoot looks, and even though it’s a motion offense at heart, there’s reason to be optimistic about the quality of shots that McCasland’s teams have created at North Texas. I’m not sold on going extremely slow from a tempo standpoint (UNT was last in the nation in tempo, averaging only 58 possessions a game), but it is zigging while everyone else zags, which has value in itself.
McCasland has built North Texas into a machine in the Conference USA, as they’ve won 25 games in back-to-back seasons and have finished in the top three in the conference for each of the last four years. As a D1 coach, McCasland has won at least 20 games in six of his seven seasons, with the one blemish being a 28-game COVID season in which the Mean Green still won an NCAA Tournament game. He won at the JUCO level at Midland, had two really strong seasons at Midwestern State, and since then has built himself into a proven winner. He’s dealt with roster continuity, high levels of roster turnover, and all kinds of different rosters, yet in every circumstance, he continues to shine.
He might not be a sure bet because, at the end of the day, hiring coaches is always a crap shoot, but the ability to replicate success is very important, and none of the other coaches that Tech has been linked to can say they’ve been as consistent as McCasland at so many levels. He might not be the flashiest option, but Grant McCasland has done nothing but build programs and win games at every level. There’s nothing to suggest that he cannot do the same at Texas Tech.