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Preview: Texas Tech v. Arkansas, Part II

LAJ's Jeff Walker has some really nice quotes and insight to the state of the team after last week's Centenary victory.

Surprisingly, the team is not going to go home for Christmas:

"They're not going home for Christmas. They're going to stay and try to get more cohesive and I think that's going to be big for us next month," Pat Knight said after Tech's 98-64 win over Centenary on Saturday. "We're going to try and do more things together, take them to movies, take them bowling together, just do a lot of things as a team. We're going to eat together, we're going to have Christmas dinner at Coach's house. We won't be singing Kumbaya around the camp fire or anything, but we'll be doing a lot of things to get these guys more molded into a team before the Big 12 season starts."

Walker then details that Jackson isn't really the team leader, but instead is Zeno.  I find it interesting Zeno is the vocal team leader because I've never really seen Zeno be that vocal player, and come to think of it, you don't really see any one person be a vocal leader.  It's not that I don't think that there isn't a vocal leader, but the fact that the camera constantly follows Knight and Knight is such a dominating personality, you don't really see players speak up on the court.  Here you get into why Zeno is the team leader:

"Jay's a great player and he had Ronald Ross a couple of years ago and Ronald was a great vocal leader so Jay could just play," Pat Knight said. "Last year, that really hurt us because we didn't have a vocal leader. ... We pulled Zeno aside a couple of weeks ago and said, 'Z, you've got to take over leadership' and he has."

Zeno being a vocal leader:

"He'll walk up to guys during free throws, he's talking to guys in the locker room and it's got to come from him," Pat Knight said. "He has the players' respect this year. Last year, he had a down year, but this year he's playing like the Martin Zeno of his freshman year. He's scoring, he's rebounding, he's getting assists, he's going to the free-throw line and so guys respect him."

And now we find out that Knight had enough of  the lackluster play of the frontcourt after the December 3, 2006 game against Stanford.

"Anything's better than what they've been giving us lately. They've got to rebound and screen. They don't have to score, we get a lot of scoring from our perimeter," Pat Knight said. "They've got to guard the post, I mean front the post, be assertive in the post and not like a wet rag inside. I mean, I could post them up inside sometimes. It's just frustrating sometimes. You're not going to play if you don't guard in the post.

"(Rizvic) struggles offensively, but if you look at help defense and getting in front in the post, he does a really good job with that. Damir is starting to do that. We're really not looking from an offensive standpoint, but from a defensive standpoint and attitude and personality. Marquette was so good and I don't know how much their two big guys scored at all. They did the little things - they rebound, they block out, they set screens and they're tough on post defense. ... We didn't play them (much against Centenary) and we're just going to try and get through to them some way. Usually, the only way to get through to a kid is to take away playing time so that's what we're going to do until they show us they can do it."

Taking playing time away from a kid is the best way to get a kid's attention.  Heck, it's the best way to get almost any player's attention.  There is no doubt that Knight had had enough with the lackluster play of Plefka and Dora and I believe that Knight will go with Decensae White and Michael Prince, despite the fact that they aren't really suited to play the much bigger players in the Big XII, just to show that he will not tolerate playing defense and blocking out.  In Knight's pre-game show on Saturday before the Centenary game he spent 5 minutes talking about the concept of blocking-out.  Knight will not tolerate anything less.  

It will certainly be interesting to see if Knight allows them to play any more that bit parts the rest of the season.