New head coach Chris Beard begins men’s basketball culture rebuild

Ross Fisher, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the July 6 flipbook.

The Texas men’s basketball program appeared to be heading towards a total rebuild one week after being crowned Big 12 Tournament champions.

A heartbreaking upset loss in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament to No. 14-seed Abilene Christian combined with the impending departure of numerous key players put a murky outlook on the Longhorns’ potential heading into next season. But while the program’s momentum stalled after the sixth year of the Shaka Smart era, new head coach Chris Beard has injected energy into the team with fiery press conferences and an aggressive approach in the transfer portal.

The overarching characteristics of Beard’s approach to coaching are instilling toughness, relishing pressure situations and embracing adversity, all of which were on display when he took Texas Tech to the 2019 NCAA Tournament championship game as a third-year coach. The Longhorns have lacked a mentally tough approach in recent years, resulting in the lack of postseason success.

To change that, Beard defined exactly what he wants his team to be: strong in the face of adversity, hard working and confident but also humble.

“We’re disciplined. We believe in toughness, physically and mental(ly),” Beard said during his introductory press conference April 2. “We have a confidence about us where we respect everyone and we don’t have entitlement, but we fear no one either. No one is better than us. We are the University of Texas.”

As a Texas alumnus, Beard feels compelled to restore the winning history and tradition of the program. To do so, Beard said he wants to welcome back former coaches, players and staff to practices and games in order to foster a community between the old guard and the current team.

“We’re going to get everyone under the same umbrella,” Beard said. “The power of the program is undeniable when we do that.”

Beard has already added former Texas assistant coaches Chris Ogden and Rodney Terry to his new coaching staff. Both Ogden and Terry were assistants under former Texas head coach Rick Barnes, who was at the helm for Texas basketball’s most successful era that featured a Final Four run in 2003 and 16 NCAA Tournament appearances.

For Rodney Terry, who left his post as head coach at UTEP, coming back to Texas was all about the opportunity to work with Beard.

“The one thing that really attracted me to come back was having the opportunity to come back and work for Chris Beard,” Terry said during a May 5 press conference. “He’s the kind of guy who’s going to come back here and win a National Championship.”

Hearkening back to the winning tradition instilled by coaches like Barnes and drawing inspiration from other successful Texas head coaches like Eddie Reese, a 15-time National Champion Men’s Swimming and Diving head coach, Beard embraces the weight and expectations placed upon him to live up to the Texas standard.

“I understand the standards of the University of Texas. I understand where our men’s basketball program is going to be, and needs to be and deserves to be,” Beard said. “Those expectations and standards don’t scare me. Don’t get it twisted — it’s the reason that I am here today, is the expectation and the standards of where this program needs to be.”

In summer workouts, Beard and his new unit have been seen sporting t-shirts that read “culture” on them. Perhaps the shirts are a sign of what Beard hopes is a new era for Texas men’s basketball.

“To me, life’s about opportunities,” Beard said. “I intend to make the most of this one.”