Texas Tech basketball is about to start the season soon and I know that I am really pumped about it. I like what Coach Walker is doing with our team, and how he is showing genuine interest in making our team have an up-tempo game play style this season. If you want results when playing the up-tempo game on the court you have to have guys that are very physically fit, and extremely athletic. It takes 4 guys that can run, gun, and shoot well with an athletic big man that will be running from basket to basket all game. The up-tempo "run and gun" style is very fun to watch, you don’t want to even look down to take a bite of your hot dog for fear you will miss something when the game is in play. It starts with stifling defense that puts pressure on the other team to force turnovers or quick shots that fall into your team’s hands. Once you have the ball you hit the quick outlet pass to the open player. He will see if he can take advantage of driving himself, or look for the next open guy to run your team set. If there is an opening to be taken advantage of it will be without hesitation. Attacking is everything with up-tempo style play. But the thing that can happen quickly is you can start playing sloppy and reckless and that’s when the game can go downhill rapidly.
Coach Walker recently took trips to watch New Mexico and Louisville practice. He has ties to both schools, as he in the past was an assistant coach under Steve Alford for New Mexico. He is a friend of Wyking Jones who is an assistant coach at Louisville under the legendary Rick Pitino. Coach Walker obviously was taking notes from two of the best teams in the nation on making opponents speed up play and force bad shots. Both the Lobos and Cardinals tied for #6 statistically in opponent’s field goal percentages at 38.4% last season. Both teams make others speed up play, get nervous, and jack up a shot that they cannot make. These teams are better at it than almost every other college basketball team that plays in Division 1. This is a way to get the ball back and start the run and gun game.
Another thing at Louisville he might have been studying up on was Pitino’s 2-2-1 press. It is different from the traditional 2-2-1 press in how it is meant to pressure the ball instead of staying in a zone to take away the pass. Louisville is going to be one of the best teams in the nation, and has a chance to win it all this year. This is because of good coaching, but also because it has stellar athletes. Because Pitino has the luxury of having quick athletic guards they don’t have to stay in a "zone" but can over-commit and swarm the ball as it is dribbled or passed in the backcourt. They rattle their opponents by completely smothering them as they are trying to get the ball over half court. This leads to another key for the run and gun game to work, steals. Louisville was ranked #7 in the nations for steals per game last season, and I think it can be mainly attributed to their press defense. I believe the Tech guards this season are very athletic, and Walker is looking at how to run a press that creates steals to get our style play the way he wants.
Whichever way the season goes for our Red Raiders on the court it should be fun to watch. These games are going to produce some big plays, power dunks, and hard fouls by frustrated teams. Get ready for press defense, get ready for run and gun offense, get ready for Texas Tech basketball.