Texas Tech men's basketball team wants to win for fired coach

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 11:06 p.m. CST; updated 4:35 p.m. CST, Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Texas Tech coach Pat Knight will lead the Red Raiders at this week's Big 12 tournament and then will step down.

KANSAS CITY — He stood near the edge of a basketball court in the Sprint Center answering questions.

"To me there are two types of coaches: those who have been fired and those who are going to end up getting fired," Pat Knight said.

The Texas Tech men's basketball coach lost his job on Monday, but his time on the sideline will last as long as his team's run in the Big 12 Conference Tournament. The end could come when No. 11 seed Texas Tech plays No. 6 seed Missouri on Wednesday.

Pat Knight says Wednesday's game is not about him, but he remains the center of attention.

Empty seats surrounded the basketball court in the Sprint Center on Tuesday. The few people who turned out to watch open practices were able to lean back and stretch out. Pat Knight seemed just as comfortable standing before the group of reporters.

He was in this same building in October. Even then he knew there was a chance he could be fired. During the Big 12 preseason media day, he called his third full year as the Texas Tech men's basketball coach a "get an extension, or get fired" type of year.

Then the season started. His Red Raiders won 13 games and lost 18.

"I look at it this way: At least I'm a lot better off than Charlie Sheen right now," Knight said.

He smiled. Reporters laughed.

For someone who just lost his job, he was remarkably composed. He was approachable and amiable, qualities not often attributed to the Texas Tech coach who preceded him. But Pat Knight mentioned that coach, his father, when he talked about his own disposition. Thanks to Bob Knight, Pat Knight understands the coaching business.

He said he will coach again. Hopefully it will even be next season. He doesn't want to go back to being an assistant but could be happy at a smaller school. He will be on the sidelines again soon. Life will move on.

Pat Knight says Wednesday's game is not about him, but the Missouri men's basketball team doesn't believe him.

At the team's media day on Monday, everyone said they expect to face a motivated Texas Tech team.

"I'm sure they want to win for him," Missouri junior forward Laurence Bowers said. "That's just going to put some more fire under them."

"People on the outside don’t know, but you spend countless hours with your players, your coaches, your team," Missouri junior guard Marcus Denmon said. "That’s your family. I’m sure they want to try to rally around their coach and send him out in fine fashion."

Even Missouri coach Mike Anderson said Texas Tech is in a "let's win one for the coach" situation.

Pat Knight says Wednesday's game is not about him but that it is about the seniors on his team. 

"I'll coach again, but this is the last time for some of them to play basketball," Knight said.

With seven seniors on the roster, Texas Tech has more than any team in the conference. One of those seniors is Mike Singletary. The 6-foot-5 forward said he was shocked when he heard the news.

"We were getting ready to go to practice, and all of a sudden you see all over the news and get text messages from people talking about 'Your coach just got fired,'" Singletary said.

Singletary wishes he and his teammates would have won more games for their coach. He wishes some of this season's close losses could turn into wins.

"This year we are 13-18 and he still has our back, and he’s trying to get us motivated to play this game. He is a great coach," Singletary said.

Pat Knight says Wednesday's game is not about him, but Singletary said the opposite.

"We all want to play for Pat."

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