Notre Dame's Sunday opponent Texas Tech is really good, and not many may know it
SAN DIEGO – Notre Dame senior guard/captain Cormac Ryan may have said it best following his career game Friday against Alabama when he scored 29 points and basically drove the No. 11 seed Irish to the second round.
There, Notre Dame (24-10) faces No. 3 seed Texas Tech (26-9) on Sunday at 7:10 p.m. eastern time (4:10 local).
“I don’t know, what’s better than a dream?” Ryan asked following arguably the best game he’s ever played. “It’s a great feeling.”
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One that Ryan and his teammates and coaching staff still want to ride, at least for one more day and then see where it takes them. They’ll get that chance Sunday, their third NCAA Tournament game in five days. There’s something about this Irish team, their mindset, their belief, their will. It may have been a big dose of Ryan on Friday, but it runs through the whole program. From the sure and steady senior to the head coach, right down to the team managers.
“It feels special for us,” Ryan said. “And it’s our time.”
Here are five facts about Texas Tech heading into Sunday’s second-round matchup.
Texas Tech takes its basketball seriously
Really seriously. Go to the men's basketball page on the school’s athletic website and click on the roster tab for proof.
There, you’re greeted by a team picture of the 2021-22 squad. A very LARGE team picture. There are 47 individuals in the photograph. Forty-seven. That includes the standard 15 players, one head coach, three assistant coaches and one director of basketball operations.
Then it gets interesting. Texas Tech also has an advisor to the head coach, a chief of staff, a director of scouting, TWO directors of player development, six graduate assistants and nine student assistants.
Texas Tech doesn’t need one floor of a hotel when it travels. It needs the whole hotel.
Mark Adams can coach
Not many outside West Texas, or the entire state of Texas, really knew what the Red Raiders were getting when Chris Beard lit out for Austin and his alma mater at the University of Texas after last season.
But if you’ve been around basketball, especially lower-level basketball in the state, you know the name Mark Adams. The 65-year-old spent the previous five years on Beard’s staff as an assistant coach/associate head coach. He also spent 23 years as a head coach and racked up 554 wins at such schools as Clarendon College, Wayland Baptist, West Texas A&M and Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Adams is regarded as one of the brightest defensive minds in the game. Teams just don’t score much against his guys. Like, ever.
"He is a fabulous defensive coach," said Irish coach Mike Brey.
How did the Red Raiders fare statistically in the Big 12?
In the 10-team conference, Texas Tech led the league in field goal percentage defense (.384), was second in scoring defense (60.4 ppg.) and scoring margin (12.1), third in scoring offense (72.4 ppg.) and field goal percentage (.475), fourth in steals (8.11), fifth in rebounding (36.3), turnover margin (2.31) and blocks (3.51) and sixth in 3-point field go percentage defense (.313), free throw percentage (.698) and assist/turnover ratio (1.00).
Texas Tech also was second – only behind Kansas – in overall attendance (13,973).
"Red Raider Nation, they travel," said super-senior guard Adonis Arms. Wherever we go, however far we go, we'll have Red Raider Nation with us."
It’s truly a collective team effort
Looking at the team’s individual statistics, none of them really wow you. Like, whoa, this guy or that guy is going to be a problem. The Red Raiders don’t rely on one or two or even three main guys to beat you. They’re all main guys. They’re all problems.
They're all motivated to prove people wrong, people who told guys who started out in junior college or Division II schools that they weren't good enough to play big-time, high-level college basketball.
"We pretty much all have been a nobody at some point in our careers," said super-senior guard Davion Warren. "Now we're starting to become players inside of this college basketball world."
Super-senior forward Bryson Williams leads the team in scoring at 13.7 ppg. He’s one of only two players who average more than 10 points a game. The leading rebounder, senior forward Kevin Obanor, averages only five per game. Ten different Red Raiders average double figures for minutes, and nobody plays more than 29.9 per game. Nine different players have started at least one game.
No Red Raider has at least 100 assists, but eight in the rotation have at least 30. Anyone who’s on the floor can make a difference with little letup once the starters sub out.
It will be a tough scout for the Irish.
The Atlantic Coast Conference
may as well be on the moon
College basketball knows Texas Tech, which advanced to an NCAA Tournament regional final in 2018 and lost to Virginia in the 2019 national championship. But outside of the Big 12, the casual ACC fan likely knows little about the program.
Other than the required conference trip to West Virginia, or the occasional early season conference tournament in say, New York, Texas Tech doesn’t cross the other side of the Mississippi River during the season. Especially not to play against the ACC.
The Raiders are 9-24 all-time against the ACC, with a winning record against zero opponents. The best the Raiders have done is 2-2 against Boston College 3-3 against Georgia Tech.
It last played the league’s two blueblood programs – Duke and North Carolina – in 2018 and 1996.
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI