The Skills that the Five (or Six) Returning Texas Tech Basketball Players Must Improve Upon

Mar 7, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Jaye Crockett (30) drives between Oklahoma State Cowboys guards Cezar Guerrero (1) and Keiton Page (12) during the first half of the first round of the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

"Five" is a series of five things, players, thoughts or whatever I think will fill a post.

1. Toddrick Gotcher (6-3/190) | Gotcher was actually a pretty well-rounded player in my opinion. I think one of the reasons he played so much during his true freshman year was because he was an excellent defender, could stay in front of most Big 12 shooting guards and was actually a better than average passer and rebounder for his size. I also didn't have much of a problem with his ball handling and Gotcher also had a good idea of when to shoot the ball and when to defer. The one glaring thing that stood out to this entire team was the lack of outside shooting and Gotcher wasn't necessarily part of the problem, but can be a big part of the solution if he can significantly improve his outside shot and become a true threat from beyond the three-point line.

2. Jaye Crockett (6-7/200) | I have detailed how the small forward in Billy Gillispie's high-low offense must be a proficient outside player. Crockett played the high post spot last year, but if Crockett is going to play further in his career, he must be a more complete player. That includes the need to be a better ball-handler to be able to take opponents off the dribble, being able to pull up and shoot and even be more proficient beyond the three-point line. Crockett will not only further his ability, but he will also help make sure that this team is having to rely on a true freshman in Wannah Bail that might not be ready for prime time.

3. Jordan Tolbert (6-2/210) | Tolbert was the low post threat last year and at 6'7", he was probably too small to be effective over the course of an entire Big 12 season to be a dominant low post player. But he got his feet wet and from everything that we read last year, Tolbert is a hard-working individual who is ready to improve. I think that Tolbert stays in the post, but he becomes a much bigger threat if he can shoot from the free throw line and is adept at throwing the ball into the post. I think that with all of the additional height, Tolbert is going to need to be able to not just play around the block and he will need to have a more discerning eye as to whether or not the pass inside is smart or to kick it out to the wing.

More after the jump.

4. Ty Nurse (6-1/180) | I don't know if it was just me, but I think that I had too high of expectations of Nurse really controlling the game and being a floor leader. That's not what he really was. I didn't think that Nurse was really a floor leader and my biggest problem with his game was that he jus couldn't stay in front of Big 12 point guards. He is just not that gifted athletically. Nurse ended up being a poor shooter overall, despite having a very hot start, and like everyone else that returns, he has to be more proficient from the outside. I think he is fine with an open jump shot, but it would be nice if that this was his best trait that he be incredibly accurate.

5. Kader Tapsoba (6-10/215) and Dejan Kravic (6-11/230) | Because there are six players returning, I had to shoehorn Tapsoba and Kravic into one item and since we haven't really seen them play, I hope you can live with that. Tapsoba is going to be this team's defensive presence. He was not an offensive threat at all in JUCO and I think one of the lessons learned last year is that it is unrealistic to think that a player is going to be something significantly more than what their stats reveal. Instead, I think that with all of the offensive oriented players arriving, it is a good thing that Tapsoba can focus on just being a shutdown defensive presence in the middle. My hope that with his year redshirting, he has worked on his offensive game to develop just a shot that is decent enough to be credible. That's it. With Kravic, his video showed to be a guy that he has a lot of perimeter oriented skills, but there are other times whe he looks out of control. Kravic has to harness those skills and players always talk about how once the game slows down, they become better players. I hope that the game has slowed down for Kravic as he sat out last year. If Kravic is a 10 point scorer from the post, that will go a long ways with this team having significant success next year.

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