It’s just a moment, but it is a moment that seems to have had quite a profound effect. I actually had this idea for a post and kept waiting for that moment helped turn this season and I had a feeling that it was going to happen against Texas. I tend to think about the catastrophic moment moreso that the one singular moment that changes things, but I think that win changed quite a bit with the program.
There were at least four or five recruits and/or commits at the game. They all got to see an arena filled to the gills with fans cheering on their Red Raiders. We know that DeVaughntah Williams, Justin Jamison, Zach Smith and Norense Odiase were all in attendance.
Williams has already committed as has Jamison and Odiase committed before the weekend. Smith has already signed with Texas Tech. Williams and Jamison were targets of this program and they were almost a necessity with the graduation of Crockett, Kravic and Tapsoba. Jamison's and Odiase's commitment is going to help a frontcourt that desperately needs some additional size and scoring punch. With Williams, he offers the skills of a combo-guard, a guy that can play both the point, shooting guard and small forward, and this is something that Texas Tech very much lacks.
Of course, saying that it was all because of one moment dismisses the hours and hours and miles and miles that this coaching staff traveled to recruit these players. It didn’t happen in just one win, but it happened that day. It felt like a culmination of a year of travel and hard work.
Winning One for the Program
Texas Tech has had a rough go at it against Texas over the past few years. The last time that Texas Tech beat Texas in football was that fateful day in 2008 that everyone remembers and in basketball, it's a distant memory.
Things can change over time, but you have to have something that upsets the cart a bit and I hope this is it. Texas Tech isn't anywhere even close to the talent that's had the time to accumulate at Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma St., but some way, some how, Texas Tech beat all of those teams this year. I was almost reserved to beating TCU and maybe one or two other teams, but that's not what happened, this year. Jaye Crockett was name to the third team All-Big 12 team and that hasn't happened since Martin Zeno. That was six year ago, in the 2007-08 season. That's the last time that a player received any significant post-season honor.
This program wasn't just about a single notch in the win column, it's about overcoming that seemed impossible before the season started. Winning more than a few games against some poor talent. But in less than a season, Tubby Smith has transformed this program from laughing stock of the Big 12, to a team that no one wants to play. Not only that, I am sure that Big 12 teams were counting wins before playing Texas Tech and they were mostly right last year and the year before, but this year, it's different.
Twenty More Minutes in this Gym
Sometimes we wonder whether or not the right or correct message is being preached in the lockerroom. If you were ever uncertain, Jaye Crockett’s message after that game should tell you that Coach Smith is doing it the right way.
I was just telling the team, especially the second half, that we only have 20 minutes. Especially the seniors, we only have 20 minutes left in this gym. You just have to give it your all and have confidence with the shots. They were just falling for me.
And Crockett acknowledged that the failing at the end of games is something that Smith knows that they need to finish the games:
It was huge because Coach is always telling us at the end of the game that we can’t just play for 35 minutes or for 39 minutes, you have to play for 40 minutes. I think we did that tonight. That’s when you need everybody to come together and play hard in that last five minutes of the game. You just have to buckle down and give your all because you don’t get these games back.
This was a culmination of all of those close losses and tight games that didn't go Texas Tech's way. It's about learning from those mistakes. It's a culmination of learning from all of those moments that didn't go Texas Tech's way to earn something that hasn't been possible for quite some time.
Smith is very much coaching in the moment, but read his quotes after the Oklahoma St. loss, Smith is honest about his assessment of the program. Smith was asked if the last month changed the season overall and the answer was clear. No.
No, it doesn't change. We knew it was going to be a process. We knew it was going to take time, but we expected to win more games, obviously, and we had -- we were giving ourselves a chance even in the tough losses against Kansas, Kansas State at home, West Virginia, Iowa State. We were in a lot of those games, but then the last -- but we really never learned how to execute in late game situations. And when that happened, we lost a lot of our confidence. And I think we've been heading in the right direction. Obviously, the loss at Kansas and then the loss here really didn't -- I don't think it really is indicative of how hard our kids have played and how they've overachieved in some ways. Having said that, I'm excited about the future and I think some of the returning players are going to have to really step it up and improve in order for us to be competitive in this league. With the new players we have coming in, I think we're going to be okay.
Smith isn’t satisfied. Not at all. Smith is excited about where the program is headed, but he’s not at all satisfied.