What are 3 “keys to the game” for Texas Tech to beat Pitt on Monday night at the Legends Classic Tournament in Brooklyn, New York?
kevinkinsler - 1) Strong Defensive Rebounding – This starts with the guys down low always getting a body on forward Derrick Randle. This 6-9 junior is 21st in the country with 4.7 offensive boards per game, a big part of Pitt’s 33rd best 15.3 O-boards a game. If we can keep that down to 10 or less, I think those missed second-chance opportunities helps keep us in the game. Dejan Kravic and Jordan Tolbert will have their hands full with this task, and I hope they’re up to it.
2) Deny the ball – Pittsburgh has the 23rdmost assists in the country, with 17.7, so they’ve been doing a good job of finding an open man. If we’re in zone, then we’ll need to be quick to transition towards movement without losing track of those away from the ball. In man-to-man, I’d like to see us pressure the ball-handler better so that he can’t easily see the court to check his open men.
3)Find ways to attack the basket – As we saw against Alabama, some of our perimeter shooters had difficulties getting off high-quality shots and our offense suffered. Dusty Hannahs especially seemed to have difficulty pulling the trigger with someone athletic getting in his face. This led to grinding down the shot clock and either giving it away or putting up something ugly. If he can keep his dribble-penetration on the upswing as it was against Texas Southern, and Robert Turner and Jaye Crockett can find ways to do the same, we should have better scoring opportunities than we did against the Tide.
Seth C - 1) Pittsburgh is an offensive rebounding machine and they grab half of their rebounds on the offensive end, which means that Texas Tech is going to have their work cut out for them in keeping the Panthers off the glass.
2) Pitt hasn't played much of anyone, the toughest opponent being Fresno St. and beat them by 20. Texas Tech has shown the ability to not back down and although Pitt has been traditionally an excellent team, but Texas Tech could surprise Pitt as they might be over-looking the Red Raiders. Texas Tech does have some excellent athletes up front.
3) KenPom has Pitt rated just right ahead of Arizona, which means that Texas Tech really does have a tall task in front of them as they play the Wildcats later in non-conference play. Pitt has a top 20 offense and defense according to KenPom and it will be vital for Robert Turner to get the offense going and play outstanding on-ball defense.
SARR - I think we'll have to find a way to keep a body on Freshman Talib Zanna. He scored 23 points and had 14 rebounds on Tuesday and he's a big kid at 6'9" and 230. The good news is that some of our more athletic guys can expose him a little on the defensive end as he's still really green on that end of the court. Hannahs needs another big game from the perimeter and I want to see Crockett and Tolbert perform well on a big stage. Should be a great game.
MikeTTU- 1) Stop Pittsbrugh forward Talib Zanna. He is averaging a team high 15.3 points per game, a team high in FG percentage at .783% and another team high 9.0 rebounds per game (1/3 of those are offensive rebounds). Jordan Tolbert (my X factor) will need to have good game defensively shutting him down, and on the board grabbing those rebounds so Zanna doesn’t get another chance at the basket. The better we can keep the ball out of the paint defensively, the better chance the Red Raiders will have at getting a W and move on to the finals.
2) Make your damn three’s. Texas Tech has had an atrocious 3-point percentage of .319%, higher for a team that’s been shooting a lot of threes (with the exception of last night). Even though Tech has a good .512% FG percentage, some of those easy buckets down low won’t be available against a taller Pittsburgh squad, so guys like Dusty Hannahs, Robert Turner and Jamal Williams need to step their game up at the 3-point line. If we do this, it will pressure Pittsburgh to defend the perimeter and give our guys easier buckets.
3) Don’t allow 2nd Chance points. Texas Tech cannot allow Pittsburgh to have a 2nd shot at putting points on the board. It takes the energy out of the Raiders and gives them a free possession. This is a game where Tech probably won’t get a lot of offensive rebounds, so they can’t let Pittsburgh get any either. Too many times this happened last year (along with turnovers, but that has died down so far), and was one reason why we fell behind. If Tech can limit these, they’ll have a better chance at a victory.
DanSwany - 1) Stop the Seniors Talib Zanna & Lamar Patterson – We need to shut them down if we are going to stay in the game. Zanna will beat us inside if we give him room, he scores 15.3 ppg and grabs 9 rpg. Patterson is deadly when he gets hot from the outside. Tech always has to keep an eye on these two guys and figure out who will be on them like glue throughout the entire game.
2) Downtown Threat – We need to have Dusty Hannahs or Rob Turner hot from the three point line this game. Even if we have some help by other guys hitting the long ball, we need our primary downtown threats to be on fire to help open up things in the paint for the game.
3) Score over 60+ points- Not one team this season has scored above 58 on Pitt because the Panthers have dominated the games. We are going to have to be strong and not let them push us around. This is where we need to see huge fight in our team, and show some aggression on the offensive side of the ball to get those points.