Texas Tech coach Pat Knight opened with a joke, and said whatever was on his mind. He didn’t need to hold back how he felt after coaching his final game from the Texas Tech bench.
“If anybody is looking for a house in Lubbock, I know seven of them that are available,” Knight said after Missouri pulled out an 88-84 victory over Texas Tech in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament.
“That’s my opening comment.”
Knight finished his three-plus years as head coach of the Red Raiders with a 50-61 record, including a 13-19 mark this season. He started at Texas Tech in 2001 as an assistant coach under his father, the legendary Bob Knight.
In 2005, Pat Knight was designated coach-in-waiting at Tech. And, when his dad retired in the middle of the 2008 season, Knight took over.
His lone winning season came last year, when the Red Raiders finished 19-16 and made the NIT. This season, Tech began with hopes of making an NCAA Tournament run. That never materialized, though, as the Red Raiders lost their first four Big 12 games after a disastrous showing in nonconference play.
Still, Knight seemed satisfied with what he had done at Tech.
“It was a great chapter in my basketball career,” Pat Knight said. “This is a little different situation than Indiana. It’s not like we will be rooting for them to do badly. We want them to do well. I just wish we had won more games. I got no regrets. I love it there, and I’ll never have a problem coming back.
“It’s nice ending this way.”
Of course, Bob Knight had a well-documented, nasty split from Indiana in 2000.
Asked what his dad thought, Pat Knight smiled and said: “He’s not as understanding as I am. But I’ve talked to him, and that’s father-son stuff. It’s probably more tough on him than it is for me.”
Knight also went off on how he felt Oklahoma State treated his friend, Sean Sutton. Similar to Pat Knight, Sean Sutton took over for his legendary father, Eddie Sutton, at Oklahoma State in 2006. Sean Sutton coached the Cowboys for two years before agreeing to resign.
“Sean got screwed,” Pat Knight said. “They didn’t give Sean enough time. I think it’s a travesty how they treated Sean there. I feel good I can say it now. It was wrong what happened to him.
“It’s tough to follow two guys like our dads, but you can’t turn it down. They give you an opportunity to coach at two Big 12 places, you’ve got to take it. At least we tried.”
Knight tried to go out with a new look, too, wearing a pinstripe suit and red tie instead of his usual attire of a polo and khakis.
“If I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out in style,” Knight said. “I might as well look good.”
The team didn’t look too bad, either.
The Red Raiders were down 82-69 with 5:32 left, but rallied to pull within one-possession.
Trailing 87-84 with 22 seconds left in the game, Red Raiders guard John Roberson tried to get a quick two-pointer, but his layup attempt ricocheted off the backboard.
Missouri’s Laurence Bowers grabbed the rebound, and passed it up to Marcus Denmon. Denmon made the back end of his free throws to seal the Tigers victory with 1.7 seconds left.
“These kids never quit,” Knight said. “These guys played all the way until the end tonight, and they’re not quitters. I’m proud to be associated with a group of guys that doesn’t quit.
“I gave it everything I had, and to me that’s all that matters. I’m at peace with it. I did everything I could. I really have no regrets. It made me a better coach, and it made me a better person.”
-- Drew Davison