Shooters. What a great equalizer. There’s a great Zach Lowe article in Grantland about the increasing reliance on the three-point shot because it’s such an easy shot and when teams shoot them in volume, they can pull themselves out of almost any deficit and/or make a furious run. I watch a lot of NBA and you can watch just about any NBA game and a team can go on a 20 point swing in a matter of minutes and it can happen for both teams within a given game every night in the NBA. Generally speaking, this is in large part due to the three-point shot. Yesterday afternoon, Arizona’s St.’s ability to hit the three-point shot is what turned this game from a close game for most of the first half to what felt like a blowout, even though Texas Tech was within 9 or so by the end of the game. It was out of reach, but IF Texas Tech were to hit a few shots, then anything could happen. That’s a big if.
Star of the Game | F Jordan Tolbert: I gave Tolbert a tough time for his play against LSU, for shrinking a bit when the competition is tough and Tolbert came out and was a man among boys, scoring 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds and he was just terrific yesterday afternoon. The frustrating thing is that I know this is in him and I wish he would play this way every game.
1. Shooters: I wrote that Texas Tech was within striking distance IF they could hit some shots. It was frustrating to see ASU’s Jermaine Marshall go 7 for 10 from the three-point line because he scored a ton of points for ASU and helped the Sun Devils pull away, but more than that, his shot-making made me realize that Texas Tech lacks quite a bit as a team, in particular the ability to make three-point shots. Texas Tech has just one guy that’s a three-point threat, Dusty Hannahs, and even then, he hasn’t been lighting it up. Toddrick Gotcher is just okay and so is Robert Turner. The idea here is that Texas Tech can do a lot of things, but they can’t shoot themselves into any game because they just don’t have any shooters to speak of. I would guess that every team that Texas Tech plays from this point forward will have a better eFG% than Texas Tech because Texas Tech is forced to grind out so many 2-point buckets that they don’t really get the benefit of being able to make shots from deep. Texas Tech signed just two players in the early period, but if I had to guess, I’d think that Texas Tech is really going to focus on some big guys and some guys that can shoot from deep.
2. Rebounding Advantage: Texas Tech had a huge rebounding advantage, 45 to 32, but of those 45 rebounds for Texas Tech, 18 of them were offensive rebounds, which means that those there at least 18 missed shots and that Texas Tech was crashing the boards. Lots of those shots missed were put-backs and should have been made. Of those 18 offensive rebounds, Texas Tech only scored 18 second-chance points. I don’t think that’s a high enough rate. I would shudder to see a shot-chart on this game as I think Texas Tech missed more than a dozen easy shots around the rim where they couldn’t convert. Make those, and this game is even closer. Texas Tech did crash the boards offensively, however, the biggest thing that this team has to guard against, which is something they just can’t afford to do, is if they crash the boards on offense, they must get back on defense and guard against transition points. ASU only had 6 fast-break points, but it seemed like they scored quite a bit in transition, a few of those three-point shots. Again, crashing the boards is fine on offense, but this team can’t afford to give up easy baskets on defense.
3. 1 for 13: Want more evidence about if a team can make or miss the three-point shot, it will help that team get into a game or leave them behind? Texas Tech was 1 of 13 from beyond the three-point line. The only make being from Tolbert, who went 1 of 2. Texas Tech missed all 7 three-point shots in the first half and was 1 of 6 in the second half. Meanwhile, Arizona St. went 3 of 10 in the first half, when the game was close, but made 7 of 9 in the second half and the biggest reason ASU won by 14. Have to get some guys here that can make some shots.
Charts: Thanks to the good folks at StatSheet.