I know that we still have at least one conference tournament game before the season ends, but I have a ton of thoughts running through my head that I somewhat wanted to flesh out now rather than later. None of these items are in any particular order, so just bear with me.
Seniors: Going out we have Charlie Burgess, Tyler Hoffmeister, and Martin Zeno. As much as I love these guys, I think that their points and production are replaceable. Zeno will obviously be the toughest to replace, but so long as the players who are returning make improvements, it's certainly within the realm that Zeno's 16 points and 4.6 boards can be made up by the rest of the squad.
Burgess is just to darn inconsistent to be a significant loss. Burgess was never a decent perimeter shooter, somewhat of a necessity for a NCAA point guard. That being said, everything else that Burgess did, handling the ball and not turning the ball over, he did well. I would have liked to have seen Burgess get to the rack more often, but it was more or less a matter of teams completely playing off of him and giving up the jump shot.
Hoffmeister was a non-factor. A nice story and probably a good kid, but not a contributor to the team.
Dead Weight: A harsh term, probably, but it's true. There's a ton of it on this team. The number of players who will significantly contribute next year you can count on one hand (Roberson, Singletary, Voskuil, Roberts and . . . ). I think Pat Knight is faced with some tough decisions next year. I'm sure he's watched his dad enough to know that he cannot stand around and be nice to these guys, it's either them or him, and as nice as he is, it's time to seriously upgrade the talent at Texas Tech. We'll take these guys in order of least likely of being gone next year.
The four mentioned above are here, hell or high water, at least in my opinion - Roberson, Voskuil, Singletary and Roberts. This is your core group of guys. Roberson, Singletary and Voskuil we know about. Roberts has got to get bigger and stronger in the offseason. He's one of the few athletes in the program and I like the fact that he's got long arms and a good outside shot. If he can get a little bigger, he's going to have a significant role on this team.
Cook and Suljagic probably stay. They are incredibly inconsistent and for the most part are ineffective rebounders and if I had to be honest, they are marginal Big 12 players. There's nothing special about them. I do like Cook's athleticism and shooting ability and that could be a real advantage for him, but he's going to have to work his ass off over the offseason and improve his shot and the ability to get on the glass. Suljagic is right now Texas Tech's best post defender and for that alone, he stays. Suljagic has had days where he looks like he's really progressed and then he absolutely disappears. Again, they both need to work on rebounding.
Rizvic will be here on a part-time basis. We all know that Rizvic gets an extra semester of eligibility, but here's the problem. He's got to choose between the first semester or the latter. The obvious choice is the latter, but there's something to be said for continuity and Rizvic won't be in game situations until after the first of the year. Granted, Rizvic does add something on occasion, but he gets over-exposed when he plays too much and is not an offensive threat.
De Bem, Craig, and Prince are the odd men out. I have no idea what Pat Knight is going to do here. On some level I think he probably believes in these guys, but Knight has got to know that his window of opportunity is somewhat limited. He's got to produce results on the basketball court in order to stick around. I think that Pat Knight must completely overhaul this team in the offseason by adding as much talent as humanly possible. It's certainly going to be interesting to see what Pat Knight will do and it will be something to watch, especially for these three players.
New Recruits: So we have Zeno, Burgess and Hoffmeister graduating. Pat Knight will also have the scholarship of Decensae White available. That's 4 scholarships right there.
As of right now, PK has recruited Tyree Graham, a 6-2 scoring guard. Can probably play some point as well as a small off-guard. Nick Okorie, a 6-0 JUCO point guard, who is more than competent at putting the ball in the bucket. From just looking at his stats, he can shoot the ball, and will be a threat to score, where Burgess was not. For the year Okorie averaged 16.3 points per game (led team), shot 46.81% from the field, 38.1% from 3-point range, 3.2 boards, and 2.8 assists (2nd on team) per game. Corbin Ray is a 6-8 forward, and I hope he's a forward who doesn't mind mixing it up inside. I don't know much about Ray and what I've tried to look up on the interweb has been less than helpful. My hope is that he's a more consistent scorer than Cook. Obviously not quite as big as Cook, but he's got a summer to get bigger. He's got to be able to score inside as well as out and if he can rebound, he's going to play. Robert Lewandowski is a 6-9 250 player from Kansas, and all I need from this guy is to take up space and rebound. I'd love for PK to just tell Lewandowski that all he has to do is rebound and he's going to get playing time. Any offense that he provides is just gravy.
That's 4 spots right there and the wild-card, if there's another scholarship available, should go to Darry Ashford, if he's available. I'm not sure what the rule is on JUCO's and I think he has to receive his JUCO degree, but I'm wondering if because he spent a full year at a preparatory school (last year), perhaps he received enough hours at Jacksonville College (this year) to be eligible to play next year for the Red Raiders. If Texas Tech can get this kid, that would be outstanding. Ashford averaged 16 points a game (led team), shot 46.48% from the field, shot 32.76% from 3-point range, grabbed 6 boards (2nd on team), 2.27 assists (3rd on team) and 1.8 steals (led team) a game. That's a guy Texas Tech can use, immediately.
The Gameplan: How does this all come together? I see Pat Knight doing something similar to what Baylor is doing and to a certain extent what Texas is doing. Getting great guards is a priority. Getting guys who can put points on the board, an area where Texas Tech was not efficient at all, is a key. Graham, Okorie, and Ashford can all score. These guys in combination with Roberson and Voskuil set up to be a pretty nice backcourt.
The frontcourt is a little more tricky. Talented big men just aren't as available as we'd like for them to be. I'd love to have a Michael Beasley, a Darrell Arthur, or a DeAndre Jordan (who I think is still a project) or some other big man who can dominate the glass and the frontcourt, but those guys are rare. Take a look at some of the post players and most of them are projects. Aleks Maric, Connor Atchley, Dexter Pittman, Darnell Jackson, Josh Loomers, Mamadou Diene, Jiri Hubalek, and Leo Lyons are all big men that took time to develop. The key of course is that most of these guys are contributing significantly to their teams while it's been quite some time since a Texas Tech forward has even be so much as mentioned as a league leader in rebounds.
The problem of course, as discussed above, is that Pat Knight just doesn't have a ton of time to find frontcourt help. It's got to start with Lewandowski and to some extent, Roberts and Singletary have got to improve significantly, while Ray could expect to see some time as well. I'm not forgetting about Suljagic and Cook, but I'm not depending on them either. I've been disappointed too often by those two throughout the year and I'm ready to let some new guys play and see if they can't figure it out. An athletic big body would be a bonus and am curious if PK is going to find another guy who can fit that bill.
Comments:I'd love your thoughts and comments. How do you right the ship?