It has been rough over the past few games for the Red Raiders, and now the losing skid has hit 5 games in a row. It should not be a time to give up on the team because of the recent struggles. Texas Tech has accomplished a lot more than most others thought possible this season. The game tonight in Kansas could get ugly, but Texas comes to Lubbock on Saturday for the regular season finale. Also, the Big 12 tournament starts next week and it should be a wild one.
- Offense slumping | Similar to the beginning of the season we are again seeing a Texas Tech team that is not running crisp set plays with the motion offense. Tubby Smith had done a terrific job of teaching the squad how to run a slow-tempo offense. It minimized the chance of getting into a run-and-gun style mentality. It seemed to be working throughout most of conference play. We were getting off the shots we wanted while minimizing our opponents scoring opportunities. Over the last few games I have noticed a weaker offense that is not getting off the shots we want and having to settle for jump shots that this team is not so good at. We are a pound it down inside the paint team, and we need to get back into that mentality. It all starts with the backcourt setting up the plays, and they need to start getting back to running the offense the same way we were about a month ago. The chart below will show you the recent drop off in our offensive production.
- Jaye Crockett Injury | With tendonitis in both knees for Crockett, it has really slowed him down over the last few games. He has less than 10 points in the last three games. Crockett is the guy that has been the consistent leader and star on this team. It shows how much we rely on him when he is struggling and nobody else can step in to fill his shoes. I would guess that it is Crockett’s choice to pick if he wants to be limited in the final games of the season or play through the pain. I know how much he wants to win and lead our guys on the court, but my opinion is he should rest for the Kansas game. His last game as a Red Raider in Lubbock is against Texas and I would like to see him as healthy as possible to help kick some Longhorn butt. Below is a chart showing Crockett’s game scoring and playing minutes, you will notice his offense starts to decline significantly around the time we heard when his knees started to bother him.
- Sloppy Play & Turnovers | This item could go along with the offensive slump blurb above, but we need to get into how ugly our play has been over the past few games. It seems that other teams have studied our offense and are getting into the passing lanes to block our entry passes. Opponents are moving their feet and guarding the path where our guards want to push the ball. Going back to the Oklahoma State loss we had 15 turnovers, then 14 against K-State, and 12 against Baylor. I feel like the guards are forcing the passes that are not there. This is due to the lack of experience on the team, but you have to use your basketball IQ and know if the other team is anticipating your moves. If you can sniff out that they are overplaying where your set plays are going then hit them with something different. I’m sure Tubby Smith has given the guys a lecture on this. It can be difficult to watch us throw the ball away or get stopped up in a trap because the opponents know our set plays. It’s time for our team to use a few tricks that opponents have not seen from us yet and not force the ball.
- Big 12 Tournament | We are going to finish the season as the 9th place seed for the tournament. Based on how other games turn out we will be playing either Baylor, West Virginia, or Oklahoma State as the 8th seed. This conference tournament should be very entertaining and wild throughout all the games. I honestly believe Tech will have a chance to win more than one game, but I can say that about every single team in the tourney except TCU. Starting next Wednesday through Saturday you can track the tournament here on VTM as I will write daily previews and give updates about all the games. The first game to kickoff the tourney will be the Red Raiders game next Wednesday at 6pm (#8 Seed vs #9 Seed). I love the month of March!
- Regular Season Finale in Lubbock vs Texas | After the game tonight we can shift our focus to Texas. It will be the last home game ever at Texas Tech for seniors Jaye Crockett, Dejan Kravic, Kader Tapsoba, and Jamal Williams. No one on our roster has ever beaten Texas on the court in their entire college careers. None have waited longer than Crockett who has been beat by UT every game for his 5 years as a Red Raider. The last two years that UT has come into the United Spirit Arena the games have gone to overtime; only to be lost in heartbreaking fashion. The Saturday match-up is already starting to generate a buzz, and the USA should be rocking again like it has for our latest home games. If you think we as fans want to get a win in our regular season finale, the players and seniors want this one more than we can fathom. Don’t miss the game on Saturday. It’s going to be real special. Wreck ‘em Tech!