Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
What's trending with the Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball team.
Before the tipoff of the first official game Friday for Tech, I’d like to write about a few trends that I will be following this season. Some of these predictions may not even be close to being right as this season is a mystery right now to most. Still, as always, I believe Tech fans will be happy when the season ends. The new coach, and the new players should be a pleasant surprise to all our fans and give us hope for the next years to come in Tech basketball. I really believe Tech will be a high-energy fun team to watch most games, but not all games, this season.
TRENDING FOR TEXAS TECH
Backcourt | Last season we didn’t have the type of guards it took to run a team and win games in the Big 12 conference. We never found the leader on the court with the guards that stepped up to hit shots when they were needed. Our guys seemed to have trouble with passing the ball to the right teammate, and trouble defending their opponents. I remember seeing our guys get physically ran over by bigger, faster, more athletic opponents. This season we are bringing in guards that are athletes that have some real talent. They might be young and inexperienced, but I think they have the strength and quickness to play Big 12 basketball. Toddrick Gotcher looked to have some flashes of being the leader we needed on the court at guard but just a few games into the season last year he went down with an injury. We now have him back this season, and bring in Josh Gray, Dusty Hannahs, Trency Jackson, Daylen Robinson, and Jamal Williams. These guys might struggle in the early games this season but should learn quickly from their mistakes. Last season the guards never seemed to get any better as the season progressed. I have faith that these guys are more talented and will get better with every game played. It could be sloppy to start with this season, but I really think a lot of people in college basketball have underestimated how good our guards will be playing at the end of the season.
Frontcourt | I was extremely disappointed in the way Lewandowski played last season. He was great at being an off the court locker room leader for our team, but he wasn’t a gifted basketball player. He didn’t get aggressive or attack the basket the way we needed to get wins, offensively or defensively. I did think he was physically built to be a more traditional center. And I’m thoroughly scared about not having a true center on this team this season. Big 12 teams are going to have at least one huge guy down low when we play them. I’m assuming our 6’7’’ 225 lbs forward Jordan Tolbert is going to take the brunt of having to stand up to the Big 12 centers. On our roster we only have players listed officially as forwards or guards. There is no center listed. I was excited to have Aaron Ross on the team as he is listed 6’8’’ 235 lbs and could have helped Tolbert with being an enforcer down low. But Ross went down with an injury and is out for the season. I know we have taller guys on the team, but I don’t know if they are the type that can go toe-to-toe with some of the Big 12 big-men. Our style of play for offense might not need a huge center down low, but we are going to have to rely on our press defense to produce steals and not let other teams get the ball down low on us. If an opponent gets the ball inside down low on us and keeps pounding it inside it’s going to be a long game to watch. But, at least we have athletic forwards like Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert returning to be the leaders in the frontcourt. I just think we will need these two playing the 4 and 5 positions at the same time just about all game to stay competitive.
Steals | I love this press defense that Coach Walker is bring to the table this season. It is going to be hard to implement the press defense and run it perfectly against good teams with a great press-break game, but it does speed the game up. Speeding the game up creates turnovers and steals. Last season Texas Tech was tied for #292 in the nation for steals per game at 5.2. This number will definitely go up this season. The press can be run by teams that have quick players, like the ones we should have on the court this season. I don’t think you saw much press defense last season because the fears of having the opponent run straight past us and around us were high. Now this is different in we want to try to get the steal to set up a fast-break offense every time we get the opportunity. In our exhibition game against UTPB we had 18 steals. To get the run-and-gun game going you need steals, and I think we will have a lot this season.
Turnovers | Our biggest and most frustrating thing last year was our turnovers. Last season we were fifth most in all Divison 1 college basketball (347 teams) with 17.1 turnovers per game. I still think this is the main cause for all our losses last year. You cannot give the ball to the other team over 17 times in the game and expect to score more points then them in the end most of the time. The sad thing is right now with all the inexperience on our team and having an up-tempo style game I think there is a chance we have a lot of turnovers in the first few games. The thing is we might be able to afford it against some of the smaller schools from our non-conference schedule. I just hope as the season goes on our squad learns fast and stops throwing the ball away. I do have hope, like I wrote about above with the backcourt that these guys will learn quickly and adjust to not make the same mistakes they will make when this season begins.
Coaching | We were all excited about Billy Gillispie last season, and happy to get such a high profile coach that we were willing to forgive his past in hopes of getting a changed man to rebuild our basketball program. I don’t even need to go into the details anymore on what happened as we all know it turned out much uglier then anyone would’ve thought. The one thing I do think is that many of the fans were able to disregard Gillispie’s bad first season, and even probably disregard a second bad season as long as it looked like the basketball program was just making progress to being better. Coach Walker doesn’t have this luxury of building the program the way he would like. He is going to have to piece it together the best he can right now and get wins if he expects to be named head basketball coach of Texas Tech at the end of the year. I hope this run-and-gun offense and press defense really does work out for our team, and I hope Walker is named the next head basketball coach of Texas Tech. I like him so far in all his interviews and I like the way the players talk about him. He knows he can’t sit back and relax with this team, it’s his shot to prove something and I am one that really wants to see him exceed the expectations of everyone.