MINNEAPOLIS -- Texas Tech coach Chris Beard is a psycho. Or maybe a psychic. Maybe a little of both.
Don't believe me, just ask senior guard Brandone Francis.
"He's psycho," Francis told CBS Sports after Texas Tech's 61-51 victory over Michigan State in the national semifinals on Saturday. "I mean psycho as in, like, sickly competitive."
Beard had to be a little crazy to dream as big as he did in Lubbock, Texas, a city almost a quarter of the size of Austin, Texas, home of the University of Texas. He took over a Texas Tech program in 2016 that had never advanced to an Elite Eight. Now he's got two on his resume. Oh, and a Final Four appearance. And now a title game appearance, which will come Monday night against No. 1 seed Virginia for the title.
"His vision was to make the Final Four," senior big man Norense Odiase told CBS Sports. "He knew we had the talent, he believed in himself. Matt [Mooney] called him a psychic earlier; he might be a psychic because we're here."
Beard sold the players on this polished roster on winning big, on winning championships. That vision has driven him to stardom in the coaching ranks and Texas Tech to heights it has never reached.
"When Chris Beard came in and told us his vision for the school, I saw a hard-working, passionate guy ready to win, and win early," Odiase said. "You have to stick with him. He's a tough, gritty guy; it's almost sickening how competitive he is. We fed off him and he's led us to this point."
Beard has turned the Red Raiders into one of the winningest programs over the last two seasons in a flash. He scouted well. He recruited well -- both with his coaching staff and his players. Those players tell of a coach who can crack through their skulls in ways that have translated to the highest level of success.
Sure, the roster is perfectly constructed, a blend of graduate transfers, upperclassmen and talented youngsters, and a credit to Beard's voracious recruiting. Beard's key to breaking through, though, is his message on the court and off, at practice and in games.
"He's a motivational juggernaut," Odiase said. "He's sick in the way he conjures up things to motivate us and get the guys rallying around him and his vision. He's just unique, unlike anyone I've been around. He's infectious with his energy."
Texas Tech's roster has turned nearly all the way over since he took the reins of the program in 2016 from Tubby Smith. Only Odiase remains from the first roster he mostly inherited from Smith. To capsize a program's roster that quickly requires a vision, requires a drive to recruit, requires an ability to sell those recruits on that vision. It doesn't happen overnight, but it happens quickly. To do it successfully in this amount of time is virtually unheard of.
Beard's infectious personality made that task a cakewalk. Never mind the long flights, the late nights, the early mornings. "He wants to win so badly, he'd do anything," freshman guard Kyler Edwards said.
If it's a motivational tactic, a fortune-telling or a tinge of crazy sprinkled in, Beard's willing to go the distance. Now, he's nearly ran the race. Beard is one game away from again ticking off a never-before-done box for Texas Tech.
"He's one of my favorite people of all time, because he doesn't like to lose, and I don't like to lose either," Francis said. "He's just a great coach. He's a motivator, a psychologist. He's a future Hall of Famer."