Texas Tech has benefitted greatly from Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens in Final Four run, but grad transfers could soon face severe limitations


MINNEAPOLIS – Maybe no team in college basketball this season has benefitted from graduate transfers like Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders are in their first Final Four in part because of the significant roles played by guard Matt Mooney, an all-Big 12 defensive pick; and shot-blocker Tariq Owens.

But grad transfers could face severe limitations soon. The New York Times reported that the NCAA’s Division I Council will vote on a measure that could cost schools use of a scholarship for a season if a graduate transfer does receive his degree in one year.

Never mind that many grad transfer programs routinely require two years to finish.

Nor would Tech be the only school impacted. Graduate transfers have become routine in college basketball. Baylor got a lift this past season from Yale graduate transfer Makai Mason, who wouldn’t have been allowed to play under Ivy League rules.

“I don’t see why would they do it,” Owens said. “Some guys have to take their fifth year because they’ve been injured. Or some people do transfer because situations don’t work out.

“We’re here to go to school. We’re student-athletes. But grad school is often times harder than undergrad. … I’ve gotten my degree. Now I have a year to get another degree?”

Mooney was an all-conference guard at South Dakota. Then coach Craig Smith left for Utah State, which caused Mooney to reconsider his options.

“If your coach leaves, gets a better job, get fired, whatever happens, I think you should be able to grad transfer,” Mooney said.

Mooney has a degree in innovation and entrepreneurship; Owens in sports management. Each said they are taking master’s courses in interdisciplinary studies to augment their undergraduate degree.

Tech sacrifices: Before the season began, Tech coach Chris Beard asked his players and assistants to give up something near and dear to them.

He made the same sacrifice himself, giving up beer, candy and desserts, although with a bit of an asterisk on the last item.

“Did you know a Pop-Tart is not a dessert? It’s a breakfast,” Beard said. “I’ve eaten a lot of Pop-Tarts, man, since October.”

Containing Winston: Mooney acknowledged that he would probably be going guarding Michigan State standout Cassius Winston as part of Tech’s game plan.

Winston averages 18.9 points and 7.6 assists, accounting for about 34 points a game. Mooney pointed to Winston’s performance in the East Region finals against Duke.

“He just knows how to play,” Mooney said.”When a point guard can shoot the ball, you can’t just sag off and try to contain him like some of the guys I’ve guarded. … At the same time, he can drive it and has really good court version. He has it all.”

Mahomes in the house: Former Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, now a star for the Kansas City Chiefs, plans to attend the Final Four. 

“When he was at Tech, we were friends,” Tech forward Norense Odiase said.”He’s just been a great guy, ambassador for us and our school.”

Twitter: @ChuckCarltonDMN

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