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Texas Tech battled almost the entire game and stayed with in striking distance, but wasn't able to steal a win in Morgantown against West Virginia.
I really thought that this was one of this team's best games. It stinks to come up short and there's only so many times in a season that you can write about a team coming up short and not prevailing, but this was a really good game. I really liked how the team fought yesterday. Normally in tough games against tough opponents, this team would not fair well, but this team didn't back down from the fight. This team got whipped in the first half on the boards, but they sure as heck fought back. They don't quit. They didn't back down from a street brawl and those are all good things in my book.
Let's get some of the bad things over. It's tough watching Dejan Kravic be a black hole on the offensive end (if it goes to him, he's going to shoot the ball), especially when I know he knows better. I think he's still figuring out his basketball sense. I get the idea that he's a smart person. You get the idea that Walker is at the end of line with Kravic and Kader Tapsoba. I feel like Walker plays them out of necessity more than anything else. I think that if Walker could just go with Tolbert and Crockett for the entire game he would. I think that's about to be the next thing that happens with the lineup, but Walker also knows that this team gets killed on the boards with two guys that are almost 7-0 tall. It could be even worse with just Crockett and Tolbert.
Josh Gray's turnovers are somewhat maddening as he hasn't quite figured out when to push the ball and when to pull things back. Sometimes that works fantastically, but more times than not, Gray gets rushed and forces a bad pass. Gray does push himself out of his comfort zone and I think that this is one way to make yourself figure out what you're capable of doing. Dusty Hannahs on the other hand almost never gets out of his comfort zone and he's made himself into a one-dimensional player. There's a happy medium there that both players need to find.
On to the good. I thought that Jaye Crockett and Jamal Williams had their best games that I can recall. Crockett kept this team in this game time after time, especially in the secon dhalf. Williams looked really good, although I'd love to see him focus more on his mid-range game and not focus on trying to hit off-balance three point shots (which he did at least once). And Hannahs making 4 of 8 from beyond the three point line sure does help this team and they've figured out a pretty good offensive set for Hannahs to find an open shot. I do like that
Perhaps the prettiest play was at the end of the first half with Gray running a pick and roll at the top of the three-point line with Tapsoba. Gray drops the pass off to Tapsoba and Tapsoba dunks the ball. I think that Gray does have good instincts, but he needs space. Heck, this entire team needs space. The thing about that last play was that everyone else was beyond the three-point line and I think that you had in there Williams, Luke Adams and Dusty Hannahs. WVU had to stay on their man. That's the play that can really only be run at the end of the half with this team. Adams is a liability on defense, but he's a really good shooter. We know about Hannahs and Williams is a threat at the very least. This team just needs more space and I think that with Walker working so hard to get Keith Frazier on board, that's the eventual idea. Get at least one or two more outside shooters like Frazier, an athlete like Wannah Bail that can do things like Crockett can and a guy like Aaron Ross, a big man that can handle the ball on the perimeter. If you want to know what the hopeful vision is, I think that's it.
I don't really need to write about 41 to 18 (this is the free throws for West Virginia and Texas Tech), but I'll let head coach Chris Walker do that:
Just do the math, it's a huge key. Every single time we are trying to be physical and play hard. I'm not going to blame it on that. We had more than enough opportunities to do what we needed to do. It certainly makes it tougher, but we had more than enough opportunities to make plays, we had a shot at the end of the game, and that's all you can ask for. We had an opportunity, I don't want to sit here and blame it on that. There's enough offensive rebounds that we gave up, there's enough 50-50 balls that we could've gotten, we are not going to make any excuses as a program, of that being the reason we lost the game.