Winning feels great! Tech has played some nice ball in their first two games against Houston Baptist and Northern Arizona. Our big battle on Thursday is when we go to Tuscaloosa to take on a damn good Alabama team that will be steaming from a loss to our Big 12 counterpart OU. All of us will be ready to prove the haters wrong and show Tech can hang with any team, especially one in the upper half of the SEC. Don’t miss it at 8pm on ESPN2!
Below are five things trending with the Red Raiders basketball team this week…
- Limiting Turnovers | For the past few seasons we have been really bad in this category. Turnovers are what can make or break a team. When the team gives back chances for points it is a formula for disaster. I applaud the players and coaches in these first two games for working on creating a system offensively that limits the turnovers. In the first two games Tech has had 10 turnovers each game, and their opponents only had 11 points off turnovers in each. I have not seen the offense have to really struggle to get the ball where they were directed. It has been weak competition, so Thursday against a quality opponent like Alabama will show if the squad will have difficulties forcing the ball in this offense.
- Downtown Threat | Knocking down treys and being dangerous from the outside is my favorite quality in a team. It creates so many opportunities on offense by daring the defense to leave you open or stretch the game out to open up the inside for looks around the rim. Tech was horrid from downtown against Houston Baptist going 3-17 (17.6%), but against Northern Arizona shot terrifically hitting 12-22 (54.5%). Starting PG Rob Turner and SG Dusty Hannahs were 0-5 against HBU, but shot lights out against NAU at 9-13 from beyond the arc. It makes the game so fun to watch when they are both on fire. If we can consistently have at least one of those guys hot from three-point range each game I am extremely excited about our chances to win the contests.
- Challenging our Defense | The first two games haven’t challenged us to see how tough our defense can play. Tech has been the bigger, better, more athletically gifted team on the court. I have to admit, it is great to watch us be the dominate team against units without Big 12 caliber players. We had 3 blocks with 5 steals against HBU, and 4 blocks with 5 steals against NAU. Tech won the boards battle in each as well. On Thursday we get our first challenge defensively. It will be key to watch the frontcourt and backcourt battles. There will be frustrations and pains, but I am hyped to see who rises individually to the challenge. I am also anticipating seeing how Coach Smith and crew react to certain match-up problems and what switches defensively they will make throughout the game. It is going to be exciting!
- New Faces | Our starting line-up only has one new face to Tech fans and that’s PG Rob Turner. He has been a great addition and is quickly adapting into the role of floor general on the court. Turner had a better second game than his first. We have witnessed that he can make shots, distribute the ball, and is aggressive on defense. It makes the loss of Josh Gray so much easier to handle when we get a guy to replace him like this. Alex Foster and Randy Onwuasor are still learning the step from high school ball to college. They look to have tons of talent that just need to be developed. Aaron Ross has flashes where you can tell he will be something special. He looks as though he is a step slow and plays cautiously, but I have to remind myself he is coming back from a nasty injury. It will take time for him to get comfortable playing full speed again.
- Crowd at the United Spirit Arena | To those of us that have witnessed the upsets and rushed the floor of the USA it is a place we cherish. To the students currently at Tech it is just a place where basketball is played. It has been years since the house has been rocking and Tech cranked it up in there. Attendance at the games has been dwindling since Pat Knight sunk the program into a hole, but some of our loyal fans still show up. The crowd had officially recorded 5,295 and 4,415 in the first two games although if you looked around the stands in the arena it was realistically much less than that. The only way to get Tech students and fans excited about basketball is to win games. Tubby Smith will do this, and the USA will be the place to party soon enough. It just may take some time for the buzz to reach all the fans and students. But, if we start rolling in the victories… the USA will be packed once again. Wreck 'em Tech!