ODDS AND ENDS | SB Nation had a bad morning yesterday morning and as you'll note, the FanPosts still aren't there (they're supposed to be restored shortly). You can still find FanPosts here, but they're just not on the front page right now.
LAJ's David Just has a good article on Marsha Sharp and her new role with the athletic department, who was named associate athletic director in charge of professional development and community engagement by Kirby Hocutt and I am very thankful that she is more involved in the athletic department. Here's Hocutt:
"I see her affection and I see her commitment to not only our university but to our regents and to our city," Hocutt said. "And I see someone who has built tremendous relationships and someone who has demonstrated that you can win at the highest level at Texas Tech. She has committed her entire career to Texas Tech University and to West Texas."
CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT | CBS Sports Brett McMurphy reports that West Virginia and the Big East are close to a settlement and a buyout of $20 million, but that's contingent upon WVU finding a 7th football team. No problem . . . in other conference realignment news, Mountain West Connection notes that the MWC and Conference USA will merge going forward. Next year, what will have the better football conference, the merged C-USA/MWC or the Big East?
A big reason for the Big 12’s recent success is the stellar pitching it brings. The conference features three pitchers who were on the 2011 USA Softball Women’s National team, and another who was on the 2010 USA National Futures Team.
"You better have some good arms that can keep you close in the games and put some zeros up," coach Hays said. "Not only do these teams in the Big 12 have great pitching staffs, they have great lineups as well. I think the Big 12 is the big conference in the country this year and our pitching proves that."
Opposing batters going against the Red Raiders will face returning starters Kelsey Dennis and Brittany Talley. The two left-handed pitchers tallied a combined record of 27-12 and a 2.81 ERA.
RED RAIDER BASEBALL | DMN's Mike Graham has a bit on DH Scott LeJeune. LeJeune missed all of last year for "personal reasons" and now LeJeune is back and says that the reason he missed last year was because he has general anxiety disorder. Glad that he's back and hope he has his life back.
TTURed has some more detailed photos of the Rip Griffin Park renovation. Excellent as always . . . the official site notes that three Red Raiders were named All-Big 12 by Perfect Game, CF Barrett Barnes, 2B Jamodrick McGruder and UTIL David Paiz. Congrats to the three of them! . . . the official site has your 2012 media supplement.
TEXAS TECH BASKETBALL | LAJ's Nick Kosmider writes about the injury situation and I am waiting for someone to blame the strength and conditioning coach. Right now, Toddrick Gotcher and Kevin Wagner are out for the year and Javarez Willis could all be out on Saturday. Gotcher has been out for quite some time, but losing Wagner hurts right now. Here's head coach Billy Gillispie:
"The best way to beat pressure defense is by penetration, and we definitely weren’t able to get around their guards," Tech coach Billy Gillispie said. "Wagner was able to get around them the first time we played, and he’s out with an injury. Then (Willis) going down early, he’s a guy that can usually get into the gaps a little bit, so that definitely hurt us. But we still can’t turn the ball over like that like we did.
"We have to do a better job of screening for each other and passing the ball. We had some opportunities for high-low (passes) and we threw the ball out of bounds. When we did get opportunites, we didn’t finish plays close to the basket."
TEXAS TECH FOOTBALL | Another preferred walk-on! Per the Abilene Reporter's Marc David, Cisco College RB Jamal Nero will be a preferred walk-on at Texas Tech (Rivals | Scout | YouTube | Hudl). For last year, Nero had 680 rushing yards on 146 carries for a 4.65 average and 5 touchdowns to lead Cisco. JCFootball.com had an update on Cisco players in December and had this on Nero:
RB Jamal Nero - "Through five games when he was a freshman back in 2010, he was leading the nation in rushing, but then he injured his knee and he was out for the rest of the year. He still had a great year, but there were times when you could see he wasn't fully back to 100% health and that is probably why some teams haven't offered him yet. I know that the Texas Tech coaches have talked to him and there are a few other schools looking at him, but he can move on right now and we want to find him a place where he can help someone out right away."
LAJ's Don Williams has your updated spring depth chart for the receivers. I'll make you go to the LAJ for the full depth chart, but here is offensive coordinator Neal Brown on IR Javarez McRoy:
"Javares has great straight-line speed," Brown said, "but his best attribute is his ability to make people miss in open space. He’s a dynamic guy, probably unlike any inside receiver we’ve had since I’ve been here. He’ll stick his foot in the ground, make the first defender miss and he’s really versatile in that he can play receiver and also go in the backfield."
And OC Brown on IR Tyson Williams:
"He was very productive at WT, and he gives us a confidence at that position, a little bit of bravado," Brown said. "He’s a talented kid and he’s hungry to show he can compete and produce at the highest level. ... He’s a tough, physical guy."
And WR Javon Bell:
"We want Javon to push for that starting spot," Brown said. "We thought he was the best junior college receiver last year, a kid we recruited for about a year and a half. He averaged 26 yards per catch in a fast JC league. I fully expect him to compete for immediate playing time. He’ll push Darrin Moore."