The Result :: Disappointing, But Lots of Fight: I didn't get to watch the game (I think you could only watch if you lived in Kansas) but losses are going to happen, but the difference between last year's version and this year's version is being competitive each and every game. Nothing would make me happier than to see a win each and every game, but that's not likely to happen with this team. Through the first nine games last year, this team had already lost to Sam Houston St., Butler and Centenary. Granted, there's a lot to play for with Stanford and New Mexico being the next two games, but the lack of a bad loss (and I would not include a loss to Wichita St. at their place as a bad loss) thus far this year is at the very least encouraging.
Follow me after the jump for storylines, stats and some video highlights of the game.
The Storylines ::
Singletary = Turnover Machine: The one stat-line that jumped out at me was SF Mike Singletary's 9 turnovers in 37 minutes of play. To get to the nitty gritty, Singletary had a turnover rate of 56% which I think means that of every possession by Singletary, he's turning the ball over 56% of the time against Wichita St. To put it nicely, Singletary was a complete liability last night and the fact that he got 37 minutes while players like Brad Reese and Theron Jenkins each received less than 12 each. It would be one thing if Singletary was scoring at a high rate, but he only had 7 field goals for the entire game. I know that Singletary can be this team's best low-post scorer, but he can also be this team's biggest liability. As of this morning, Singletary has 25% of this team's total turnovers. At some point, PK will have to make a decision about Singletary being so careless with possessions.
The Difference: Looking at the team statistics for the game, it seems like this game should have been a win. Texas Tech out-shot WSU (47.5% to 42.6) were close on rebounds (35 to 40) and were overall close on turnovers (17 to 16). The difference in the game was the free throws, where Wichita St. got to the line 34 times and made 28 free throws (that's 82.4%). The Red Raiders on the other hand only got to the line 25 times and only made 18, good for 72.0%. Perhaps this is a situation where a key player doesn't the turn the ball over as much and the team makes one or two free throws and you're talking about a different game, perhaps even a win. Free throws and turnovers make just about every coach, player and fan go crazy.
Where's the Bench: One of the big reasons why the Red Raiders were able to upset Washington was because of the play of the bench, in particular Brad Reese, David Tairu and Theron Jenkins making impacts and receiving significant minutes. Tairu did make an impact, scoring 11 points on 5 of 8 from the floor, but it seems as if PK is relying less and less on his bench as this team gets closer to conference play. I understand PK wanting to rely on the guys that have been around the program like Roberts and Singletary, but Reese and Jenkins are significant upgrades in talent and athleticism and on Saturday night they only got 11 and 12 minutes during the game, scored a total of 5 points and had no rebounds. I think this is going to need to be a two-way street, but Reese and Jenkins must be better at the small things, like rebounding, playing good defense and not falling in love with the 3-point shot. On the other side of the street, PK must learn to trust his players and there's no reason why Singletary can have 9 turnovers in a game and still be rewarded with 37 minutes.
We're Still Okay: Despite my complaining in the previous three paragraph, I'm still pretty happy with this team. Sure there are things to fix, but that's true with just about any team. The Oklahoma St. Cowboys have lost by 20 to Tulsa; the Missouri Tigers have lost to Richmond, Vanderbilt and Oral Roberts; the Iowa St. Cyclones have lost to Northwestern, Northern Iowa and California; and the Oklahoma Sooners have lost to Virginia Commonwealth, San Diego and Houston. Those are just some examples of some of our Big 12 brethren. Obviously, teams like Texas and Kansas are the head of the class and teams like the Kansas St. Wildcats, Texas A&M Aggies and Baylor Bears are playing about as well as Texas Tech. Right now, the Red Raiders are still in the top quarter or third of the Big 12 and this isn't an exercise to make anyone feel better, but the truth of the matter is that this team is still playing good basketball, but must keep up the good work this week.
Four Factors, Player Impact and Game Flow: I love these graphs from StatSheet and I hope you do too:
I didn't get to see the game, so this is just based on observations from the box score.
The Offensive MVP :: PG John Roberson and SG Nick Okorie: John Roberson led the team in scoring (24 points, but he had to take 16 shots to get there). He also had 5 assists and 5 turnovers. As goes Roberson, so goes the team. Also nice to see Okorie finally get on track a bit as he had 16 points and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes on 13 shots.
The Defensive MVP :: G David Tairu: Tairu has been especially solid this year and he's also shooting lights out, 59.5%, despite playing a guard position. Seems like he should get more shots. For the game, Tairu only had 11 points, but he also had 9 rebounds, which included 7 offensive rebounds, 2 assists and no turnovers.