It's time to switch gears a bit and give a little bit of love to the basketball team. Practice has started and I thought I'd add my 2 cents and give you a chance to add yours. I've broken down the positions by guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers. Let's delve into each position:
There shouldn't be any question that Charlie Burgess returns as the starting point guard. Although I thought he was uneven at times last year, he was still solid. As I remember, I would have liked to have seen Burgess drive to the hoop a little more and get out on the break and create some easy buckets for himself and his teammates, but overall, I thought he did a nice job. In retrospect, it's a good thing Burgess is here, otherwise we might have seen Roberson attempt to run the point as a freshman and that might have been very difficult. That being said, Roberson should see plenty of time as at the point. I'm not a huge fan of Voskuil at the point, he's steady but not creative.
Zeno is listed at guard and will start hell or high water. Depending on the matchup last year, Knight would start Voskuil or White at the other guard/forward position. Starters aside, Zeno is one of my all-time favorite Red Raiders to watch. Zeno's biggest downfall is his turnovers and mental mistakes, but he rarely makes a physical error. If Zeno has developed a consistent 3-point shot over the summer then teams should take notice.
Voskuil is one of those kids who can make any shot no matter where he is on the floor, the problem is getting him to shoot the ball. There were numerous times last year where he ended up deferring and he's got to take charge this year and be willing to take more shots.
Roberson should see some time at the backup point guard position. Early in the summer I thought that Roberson would be well suited to see 10 minutes a game, but how much playing time he receives will be dependent on how he practices now and what he's able to do in non-conference play.
The solid and emerging play of Decensae White last year was really something to behold. He played early in the year, picking up garbage buckets and not really showing any sort of offensive game. By the end of the year he stretched out his game somewhat by showing some 3-point range. White may be one of those players who may never be a star in this conference, but he's going to be a really good player because he's got great work ethic (he's willing to do the small things and he's got talent.
Michael Prince was perhaps one of the more frustrating players last year. I loved his play in non-conference play, but he regressed after teams realized that he struggled shooting the ball and deferred more than Voskuil did in his offensive game. Prince can be a valuable defender, but I hope that he's added to his offensive game over the summer as I think he has a place on this team.
D'walyn Roberts may be my new favorite player once Zeno leaves. Roberts has very long arms (I'll be referring to them as Kevin-Durant-arms during the season and you'll soon see what I mean) and can be a terror defensively. Blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and playing excellent man defense is a big part of Roberts game. Not to mention he has a pretty sweet outside stroke. He's not a complete player, but he could certainly see time this year just because he can be such a force defensively.
Watching Mike Singletary during the summer you realize that he's going to be a pretty decent player for the Red Raiders. Singletary is bigger than Zeno, but not as quick. He's also got a nice outside jumper and has a decent mid-range game. Singeltary can be a beast on the glass and isn't afraid to mix it up on the inside. Singletary may be this year's version of White, who will eventually blossom into more than just a role player. One other note, I get the feeling that Singletary is a natural leader and it wouldn't surprise me that he will be a team leader much sooner rather than later.
There's only one part of this equation that I know what to expect and I'm not real juiced about it. Last year Damir Suljagic struggled with anything other than a layup, but he was good defensively, especially when the opponent had a big man inside that was difficult to stop. Last year I thought Suljagic was Texas Tech's best post defender, but his offensive game is severely lacking.
I have no idea what to expect from Trevor Cook, but I get the feeling that he's going to be better than expected. Cook played his freshman year at Texas State and walked-on at Texas Tech. Going off of memory he had decent numbers for a freshman, 8 points and 5 rebounds sounds right, but he also blocked quite a few shots. Cook may be the surprise of the season and he'll be needed both defensively and it would be nice if he had a low post which would take some of the pressure off some of the perimeter players.
Rogdrick Craig is also a mystery. Craig, the son of former 49er's running back Roger Craig, sat out all of last year with a heart ailment. The doctors have cleared him to play, but I'm not sure what we're going to be getting. I hope he's like his dad, which would make him one hellacious and athletic 235 forward. In my mind, I'd love it if if Craig were a version of UT's Damion James.
Esmir Rizvic will play his senior season, this season, and he gets back half of a year (most likely the conference portion of the season) as his orbital bone was shattered last year against OU and the NCAA granted him an additional half year of eligibility. I think Rizvic is one of those players that intrigues Knight and likes him on the court, but I envision Rizvic as one of those guys that you don't want out there too much, otherwise teams start to expose him. Rizvic is great at forcing opponents think twice about coming into the lane and he has a decent offensive game, however, he is extremely slow and if there is more than one other Red Raider who is offensively deficient (Prince and Suljagic) then the entire team struggles offensively. The long and short of it is that Rizvic can be an asset and I think he'll make a contribution this year.
Ricardo DeBem is another one of those players where I'm not sure what to expect. DeBem had pretty good numbers at Western Nebraska CC putting up 17 points and 7 boards a game, but I have no idea what type of game he'll bring to Lubbock. My wish is for a better than average low post game and good low post defense.
If you've had the opportunity to see any of these guys play or practice on campus, please feel free to leave your own scouting report.