Texas Tech tries to regain momentum, opens vs. North Florida

NCAA

The start of new season brings anticipation for every player and coach, but there is a little more attached to the start of the 2021-22 campaign for Texas Tech’s Mark Adams.

The 65-year-old Adams takes over as the Red Raiders’ coach after a four-year stint as Chris Beard’s right-hand man — which included an NCAA championship game appearance in 2018 following an Elite 8 berth the previous year.

Texas Tech begins the season at 7 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts North Florida in Lubbock.

Adams hasn’t been shy about describing his new position as a “dream job.” A West Texas native and Texas Tech graduate, Adams has been a head coach at Clarendon Junior College, Wayland Baptist, West Texas State, Texas-Pan American and Howard College with success at every stop.

This is different, though, as Adams slips behind the wheel of a Power 5 program that has soared in the five seasons under Beard in the deep and competitive Big 12 Conference.

“This has always been the job I wanted,” said Adams, who was hired after Beard bolted for Big 12 and in-state rival Texas. “I’m honored and excited to be given this opportunity.”

The Red Raiders wound up a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big 12 last season and lost to Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. With the coaching change, graduation and the transfer portal swirling together, only three major contributors return: Terrance Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar, and Marcus Santos-Silva.

Those are the Red Raiders’ three leading returning scorers at 12.9, 10.6 and 8.3 points, respectively, and Santos-Silva was Texas Tech’s top rebounder with 6.4 a game.

That trio will be called on to anchor a roster that features seven Division I transfers and high-profile junior-college newcomer KJ Allen of Netflix’s “Last Chance U” fame.

Kevin Obanor (Oral Roberts) and Bryson Williams (UTEP) are the two most heralded newcomers and both are likely to start in the frontcourt for a deep team striving to quickly establish chemistry.

Texas Tech went through the paces in closed scrimmages against Wichita State and New Mexico State the last 10 days.

“Having the first two scrimmages has been good,” said the 6-foot-6 McCullar, who will be counted as a lead guard, although that isn’t his natural position. “Kind of build the team camaraderie. We’re still a work in progress. We’re just going to have to keep working every day to get better by March.”

The North Florida coaches and players can relate.

Under 13th-year coach Matthew Driscoll, the Osprey will field seven freshmen, five sophomores and a junior after a rocky 8-15 season in 2020-21.

The junior is Carter Hendricksen, who had a team-high 14.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season. He, with sophomores Jose Placer (14.5 ppg) and Emmanuel Adedoyin (8.6 ppg, team-high 94 assists) give UNF solid building blocks.

Second-year freshman Jonathan Aybar is also expected to be a presence in the paint with his 6-9, 183-pound frame. He accounted for 7.3 points and 5 rebounds a contest last season and led the Osprey with 28 blocked shots.

“Obviously, coming in here as a freshman, you get to learn a lot,” Aybar said. “You’ve got to let the game take you, you can’t rush into it.”

–Field Level Media

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