THE RESULT | A GOOD START | I keep saying this, maybe because I want to enjoy the season and I think that if I get caught up in wins and losses, that I'll eventually be disappointed, but I'm not expecting any sort of post-season play and I'm okay with that. I'm even more okay with that after seeing the team last night. That was a really nice effort and it obviously could have been better as the game was closer than I'd like, but I saw a lot of encouraging things and I saw a coach who was excited after the game and what looked like, fired up to be a part of the program.
BACKCOURT | I've already mentioned Nurse and he was by far and away the best player on the floor yesterday for Texas Tech. PG Javarez Willis was also efficient, with 15 points on 5 of 9 from the floor, 4 assists and just 1 turnover. I'd also add that the point guard duties were really shared between Nurse, Willis and Deshon Minnis as they all took turns bringing up the ball. Minnis displayed the type of game that I think this team lacked, which was a tough guard player that could drive to the basketball and get a foul. Minnis isn't going to shoot many three-point shots, but he will drive to the hoop and he will get fouled. He's also big enough (6-3/19) in that he can finish at the rim. SG Toddrick Gotcher was quiet for most of the game, only taking 4 shots and making 3, but was solid on defense and I like his emotion. Troy pressed the entire night with man-to-man pressure and the guards seemingly had a tough time getting open to receive the ball, especially in the second half. I'd like to see a better job of breaking the press and it not being such an escapade to throw in the ball after the opponent makes the basket. And truthfully, the guards didn't really turn the ball over during the press, but I think I'd just like to see a bit more control. Defensively, I thought the guards did a nice job of running out and challenging each shot, however, this created some easy buckets for Troy as they were able to drive to the basket and get back in the game with better shooting and getting to the line and making their free throws. The help defense in the interior suffered as a result, but this team is working hard defensively and that's incredibly encouraging.
FRONTCOURT | A really short bench means a really short review of the frontcourt players. C Robert Lewandowski was in foul trouble most of the second half and that limited his effectiveness. Lew scored only 8 points on 9 shots and had only 4 rebounds. After the game, Lew said he and Tolbert needed to do a better job of rebounding and that's probably my biggest complaint. I'd also say that Lew needs to do a better job of making himself available in the post. Yes, he was flustered a bit inside by the Troy double-teams, but he has to accept the ball into the post to create open shots for his teammates, which happened in the first half. PF Jordan Tolbert has a Big 12 body as a true freshman and its only a matter of time before he figures it out. As mentioned above, he needs to be better on the boards, but if he can figure out just a bit of an inside game, then he'll be quite a player. SF Terran Petteway was erratic, but he really has a game that translates well to the transition game and he does scrap and fight on both ends of the floor. I thought that SF Jaron Nash would have seen more minutes, but he played only at the end of the game when the team was desperate for some inside presence.
COACHING | It was interesting to see Gillispie after the game as he quickly shook hands with the Troy staff and players and excitedly went up into the crowd to high-five the fans that were in the stands. And this wasn't an emotionless high-five, Gillispie was truly excited and I immediately thought of two things: Gillispie missed coaching and he wants to build something in Lubbock. He was so excited. Back to the game, where Gillispie had a short bench as SF Jaye Crockett, C Kader Tapsoba and PG Kevin Wagner are all out with injuries, none of them are season-ending, all sat out. I think that you'll see a completely different team when Crockett is ready as he is debatably this team's best player, he certainly has the most potential. Gillispie did have the team playing tough man defense, I liked Gillispie's use of timeouts to try to calm down an inexperienced team and I thought that the team consistently attacked Troy's zone defense, which means to me that this team was well-prepared.
MVP | PG Ty Nurse | Nurse was on fire for most of the game and just couldn't miss as he had 29 points on 9 of 13 from the field and 6 of 9 from beyond the arc. Nurse was plagued with turnover problems, as did the entire team during the exhibition, but Nurse only had 3 turnovers for the game and was incredibly solid.