Experienced Texas men’s basketball roster focuses on building chemistry this summer

Ross Fisher, Sports Reporter

Chris Beard looked for help from other programs this offseason to make up for the departure of last season’s stars — Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Kai Jones and Greg Brown — and signed six of the top 31 transfers in the portal.

Now that he has talent and experience at his disposal, the challenge for the new Texas basketball coach and his staff is building chemistry among a team of transplants.

Beard intends on building a championship-contending team in year one by harnessing the experience of his group, allowing his players to build relationships this summer and by playing a “positionless,” fluid brand of basketball.

With the exception of Kentucky transfer Devin Askew, who still has four years of eligibility left, Beard believes the other five newcomers, not including Texas Tech reserve transfer Avery Benson, have already proven themselves on the collegiate stage.

“(The six transfers) have already put their stamp on college basketball individually,” Beard said in a press conference on Wednesday. “We’ve got all-conference guys, starters, real stat lines, NBA interest in this year’s draft, so I don’t think any of these guys have anything to prove individually. Now it’s all about, ‘can we put this group of talent together and make a run at a championship?’”

According to Beard, this group of transfers has already amassed, “757 Division I games played, and close to 8,000 points (and) 3,000 rebounds.” Beard mentioned that getting veteran guys was part of the team’s strategy on the recruiting trail.

“I think we’ll be one of, if not the most experienced team in college basketball, and that was by design,” Beard said.

So the challenge for Beard and his coaching staff becomes taking all of this talent and building a successful product on the basketball court. Beard believes his guys have the talent to make this happen, regardless of position.

“We like ‘positionless guys.’ We like guys who can dribble, pass, shoot, play defense, finish — and I think one of the things about this first Texas team that we’ll put on the floor here in 97 days is … you’re going to see that,” Beard said. “You’re going to see some different lineups, and some different combinations we can play with. So we got a lot of guys who can dribble, pass and shoot, for us, that’s what we try and recruit.”
The former Texas Tech head coach knows he has the talent, flexibility and experience on his roster, so the challenge for him and his group of guys who haven’t played a lot together is building chemistry.

Much of the emphasis this summer has been placed on building relationships between the four returning players, the seven transfers and the two incoming freshmen.

“Instead of ‘Grab your food and go,’ it’s ‘Hey everybody grab a chair, let’s eat together,’” Beard said. “Instead of, ‘Hey have a good weekend,’ it’s ‘Hey let’s go bowling on Saturday afternoon so we can spend some more time together.’”

Creating a bond among this talented and experienced roster will be the difference come March, according to Beard.

“Talent won’t be what differentiates us — I think we’ll have enough talent on the roster to make a run — it’ll be the other things, chemistry, relationships, cohesiveness, culture, but I think with talent, we’re willing to put our guys up against anybody in the country,” Beard said. “It’s just all the other things that have to come together.”