MINNEAPOLIS, MN (KCBD) - It is known as the agony of defeat for a reason, and on Monday night in Minneapolis, the Texas Tech basketball team felt it firsthand.
The Red Raiders, known for their emotional play all season, lost the 2019 NCAA National Championship to the Virginia Cavaliers 77-85.
Understandably, the team was visibly upset as they made their long walk to their locker room under the watchful eyes of nearly 2-dozen cameras, including one broadcasting their pain as part of the game’s broadcast.
A number of players, including Norense Odiase, looked stunned. Others, including Brandone Francis, leaned on coaches and grad assistants as they walked in.
The pall sitting over the locker room was a much different feeling than what the team felt just two days ago following their historic win over the Michigan State Spartans.
Shortly after the game, while the Virginia Cavaliers celebrated their win on the court, Coach Chris Beard, Odiase and Jarrett Culver spoke from the podium about the game.
The generic questions about the game received generic answers from the stunned Odiase and disappointed Culver, who was non-committal on if Monday’s game was his last in Scarlet and Black. But it was Beard’s statement on this team that have made Red Raiders across the country fall in love with their coach. “These guys will go on to be great pros, fathers and husbands," Beard told the gathered media.
He choked up when asked what he told players at the end of the game. He said he loves them and that their relationships are just getting started. Beard said he would be at the players’ weddings, and would be there when their kids are born.
He talked about his commitment to his men, and that he would help the team process this loss the same way he always does. “We’ll continue to tell them what we always tell them, college basketball is the best education you can get... this is just another time to get mentally tough.”
The Red Raiders are set to return home to Lubbock on Tuesday, and despite the loss will likely receive a heroes welcome as Fearless Champions.