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A Review of the Program: Texas Tech Basketball and Pat Knight

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I've really been mashing my teeth about the state of the basketball program. I'm not going to lie, I really want Pat Knight to succeed. Perhaps it's because I see him as the type of guy that wants to be in Lubbock, or that I think he's a pretty intelligent guy who's willing to ask for help.

With that being said, the point of this post is to try to spin this season in the most positive light possible. I probably should have done this at the beginning of the season, but at this point, I really wanted to take the time to look where we are, what's on the way and perhaps where Pat Knight is taking the program.

Up first, the following is a list of players who have committed, except for Tairu, who has given his verbal commitment to Texas Tech, but not signed a letter of intent.  The numbers are almost entirely accurate, except for Jaye Crockett, simply because I just couldn't find any good information on him, but was able to piece together some stats that may not be entirely accurate.

Who's Arriving

Player Ht/Wt Position Year School Pts Rb Ast Stl Blk
Aaron-Mike Davis 6-3/190 G H.S. Wheatley (Houston) 24.30 4.60 2.52 3.52 0.48
Jaye Crockett 6-7/190 F H.S. Clovis (New Mexico) 32.20 10.00 - 2.00 4.00
David Tairu 6-3/177 G JUCO South Plains C.C. (TX) 17.29 4.52 1.94 0.76 0.11
Brad Reese 6-6/200 F JUCO Gulf Coast CC. (FL) 17.72 5.54 1.59 0.86 0.50
Theron Jenkins 6-6/211 F JUCO Itawamba C.C. (MS) 13.00 5.20 1.33 0.93 0.06

Who's Leaving

Next is a list of players who we know are either graduating or have left the team after this year. I wouldn't expect any other defections from any of the remaining players.

Player Ht/Wt Year Position
Rogdrick Craig 6-6/217 Senior F
Tyree Graham 6-0/190 Freshman G
Michael Prince 6-7/208 Senior F
Esmir Rizvic 7-0/262 Senior C
Damir Suljagic 6-9/250 Senior F
Alan Voskuil 6-3/181 Senior G

The biggest loss for me is the loss of Graham simply because I think he's going to be a pretty good scorer, he would have done well in his offense and he was part of the rebuilding process. Next year, we'll miss Voskuil's outside shooting, but I think we've got some guys along the way that should help things, but the reality is that other than Voskuil, the seniors are role players at best.

Part of the reason why Pat Knight may be struggling now is that this year's seniors aren't the contributors that you'd expect them to be as seniors to the program. These five seniors are averaging a combined 22 points a game 10 rebounds and 5 assists, 14 of those points almost 5 of those boards and a little over two of the assists come from Voskuil alone.

That's four players where you're virtually getting absolutely no productivity.

Who do you fault Pat Knight or Bob Knight?

What about the fact that none of the seniors are really Big 12 athletes, capable of competing night-in-night-out with other Big 12 teams?  Again, is this Junior Knight's fault, or does RMK need to share in the blame for the way that this team was constructed?  Having five seniors, only one of which is a contributor, is an awful success rate.  And just by looking at the guys that Pat's already recruited, it's pretty easy to tell that he's got guys on the way that are athletic create-your-own-shot scorers, something that Prince, Suljagic, Rizvic, Craig and Voskuil are not.

Join me after the jump to take a look at each position going forward and my thoughts on Pat Knight as well as his Big 12 coaching contemporaries.

 

Point Guard

Year Starter Backup Backup
2009 John Roberson, So. Nick Okorie, Jr. -
2010 John Roberson, Jr. Aaron-Mike Davis, Fr. -
2011 John Roberson, Sr. Aaron-Mike Davis, So. -

Roberson is absolutely vital to the continuing success at Texas Tech. I'm hopeful that he can slow his roll on turnovers and continue what he does best, which is score. Roberson's biggest fault is forcing plays, whether it be in transition or in half-court where he tries to do too much. I'm hoping that with a year of slowing it down, he'll be a team leader as a junior and senior as Davis learns his role and he looks to be a similar guard to Roberson in that he's a scoring point guard, but the advantage that Davis has over Roberson is size, where Roberson may be 5-11, but he's probably smaller than that. If Davis is a legitimate 6-3, then this is an added dimension, size, that the point guard position has lacked for some time.

Shooting Guard

Year Starter Backup Backup
2009 Alan Voskuil, Sr. Nick Okorie, Jr. Mike Singletary, So.
2010 Mike Singletary, Jr. Nick Okorie, Sr. David Tairu, Jr.
2011 Mike Singletary, Sr. David Tairu, Sr. Jaye Crockett, So.

As mentioned above, I think the loss of Voskuil hurts real bad, but I'm hoping that with a year under his belt, Okorie gets a feel for the game and doesn't force so many shots. Singletary is here because I think this is where he's got to be going forward, which means that he's got to develop an outside shot to complement his inside play. There's just too many forwards on this team for Singletary to get minutes elsewhere. If Singletary can develop an outside shot there's not doubt that this is where he should be because he's got ideal size, it's just a matter of whether or not he develops his overall game. Tairu is supposed to be an absolute stud shooting the ball and I could see a situation where Tairu starts if Junior Knight goes to a 3-guard offense, but in addition to that, Tairu offers size that Okorie does not. Crockett is the wild-card. Crockett was initially listed at 6-6, but I think he's still growing and right now, I think he's an inside presence for Clovis, but I'm hoping that he can easily transition into a really big shooting guard. Crockett committed as a junior and if he can transition his game to an inside-out type of game, I think he's got the athleticism to play either the shooting guard or small forward position, but I think there's going to be a small glut at small/big forward for the next few years and as a result, shooting guard may be Crockett's best position going forward.

Small Forward

Year Starter Backup Backup
2009 D'Walyn Roberts, So. Michael Prince, Sr. -
2010 D'Walyn Roberts, Jr. Brad Reese, Jr. Jaye Crockett, Fr.
2011 D'Walyn Roberts, Sr. Brad Reese, Sr. Jaye Crockett, So.

I've got Prince and Roberts both at small forward, but I think these two guys start the rest of the way, unless Cook gets the call. I love Prince's hustle, rebounding and overall effort, but he's limited offensively. Roberts has already displayed the ability to be great in transition, but he needs to round-out his offensive game. This is the position that I'm least worried about because there's potentially some real talent here. As mentioned above, I think Crockett swings between the shooting guard and small forward position during his time at Texas Tech. Reese is supposed to be a special player, can go inside and outside and could see Reese at the shooting guard position as well. Junior Knight has lots of options here, and at the end of the day, he's going to have a lot of options at the small forward and shooting guard position, which is a good thing.

Power Forward

Year Starter Backup Backup
2009 Trevor Cook, Jr. Damir Suljagic, Sr. Darko Cohadarevic, Jr.
2010 Trevor Cook, Sr. Darko Cohadarevic, Sr. Theron Jenkins, Jr.
2011 Theron Jenkins, Sr. Corbin Ray, Jr. -

Both of the forward positions are the most worrisome for me. I like Trevor Cook and he's been somewhat inconsistent at his time at Texas Tech. He does offer something that Texas Tech doesn't have, which is a big forward that has the potential to rebound and bring his man outside. Suljagic and Cohadarevic are both fillers for me. They both have their limitations. Suljagic is the team's best post defender, but he's limited offensively. Cohadarevic is still learning the Big 12 game and really struggles offensively. I was hoping that Cohadarevic had a little more being a Euro and I could see Ray moving past Cohadarevic next year if Cohadarevic doesn't develop some competent offensive moves. I like Ray's ability to rebound and shoot from the outside and although a little undersized, I think he's got a nice game. I know very little about Jenkins and is probably the least-hearalded of the JUCO recruits. I'm also not sure that he's truly a power forward, but I just don't see where he gets any time unless it's here and he's going to be needed to step up next year, especially if Cohadarevic doesn't develop.

Center

Year Starter Backup Backup
2009 Robert Lewandowski, Fr. Esmir Rizvic, Sr. -
2010 Robert Lewandowski, So. - -
2011 Robert Lewandowski, Jr. - -

I'm absolutely in love with Lewandowski and I could see that Lew center-piece of this team next year and for the next few years. Risvic should provide a few minutes off the bench this year, but this is the position that bothers me the most and I'm hopeful that Junior Knight has a post-player in his sights to round out this class. You're probably thinking that there's no more scholarships available, but since Cook gave up his scholarship for Graham, I'm hoping he does the same thing next year, which would allow for 14 players to be on the roster and I'm crossing fingers that Knight can pull get another post player

Coaching

This is obviously the biggest point of contention for most Texas Tech fans. Personally, I'm willing to give Knight at least three full years. That's probably more time that most folks want to give Junior Knight, but let me lay out why I think we need to give him at least three years.

Scott Drew, Baylor

Scott Drew took over an abysmal Baylor program. It was left in shambles after the Dave Bliss fiasco. Drew went 8-21, 9-19, 4-13 and 15-16 in his first four years as Baylor's head coach. It took him four years to completely revamp the roster and in his fifth year he finally turned it around, going 21-11.  This is not a criticism of Drew, but Drew has gone the route of hiring an AAU coach as director of player personnel at Baylor, Dwon Clifton, in the hopes that his pays off with recruits.  I would imagine that it will, and right now, Pat Knight has only hired true basketball assistants.  Moral to the Story -- Drew was given four years to turn around a bad program.

Mike Anderson, Missouri

Anderson came from UAB where he had an excellent track record to Missouri in 2006 where he went 18-12 (7-9) and 16-16 (6-10) in his first two season at Missouri where he took over for Quinn Snyder that almost ruined that program. In conference Anderson has struggled a bit. I'm not sure where Mizzou fans sit on this, but he's been given time to at the very least try it his way and I think that this year or next year will be the defining time for Anderson.  Moral to the Story -- Anderson has been given three years to turn around a bad program.

Jeff Capel, Oklahoma

Capel was the head coach at VCU before coming to Oklahoma and much like the two head coaches before, he struggled his first year, going 16-15 (6-10) but with the arrival of Blake Griffin in 2007 his fortunes changed. Griffin may be the best player in the country and is without a doubt the best player in the conference and that alone is what may separate Capel from the other two coaches in that he's been able to recruit some very good talent to Norman where freshman guard Willie Warren is becoming a star and making Griffin better.  Moral to the Story -- Recruit the absolute best.

Pat Knight

As much as we may say that Junior Knight's only experience is under his father isn't necessarily true. After graduating from Indiana, Pat went on to cut his teeth with the Wisconsin Blast of the IBL and the Columbus Cagerz of the USBL. Junior Knight went to be an assistant coach with his father at Indiana and then followed his dad to Texas Tech, which is where we are today.

I realize that at some point, I won't be able to defend Pat Knight if the winning doesn't happen soon, but the key is how much do you fault/credit Junior Knight for the recruits of his father and the lack of difference makers on this team that are seniors. I wish I could find the link, but I think one of the reasons why Bob Knight left coaching was the recruiting aspect of college basketball. He had simply had enough and given his age I can understand that, but the question is when did he lose that passion to recruit good players?  If the current group of seniors is any indication, it may have been 4 years ago and two years ago, RMK handed all recruiting duties to Pat.  

I'm sure that Junior Knight had something to do with the current roster, we'd be foolish to think otherwise, but I cannot believe that the current roster is entirely his doing. If we can take anything away from the current group of commitments, it's that there's certainly a push towards junior college players and Pat Knight is certainly in somewhat of a difficult position.

Pat has got to win now, to appease those of us who want to see a winning program and the easiest way to do that is to recruit top-notch JUCO talent, which I think Tairu, Reese and Jenkins are all highly ranked JUCO players. Knight knows that he's got a relatively small window to win and keep the fanbase happy, but he's got to build for the future as well. That's the rub.

As mentioned above, it's a tough balancing act. Here's my goals for Junior Knight for the next three years are as follows:

  • Recruit Texas High Schools: He's got to make a dent in Texas high schools and make sure that talented high school players commit to Texas Tech.
  • Lessen Dependence on JUCO Players: I understand that Knight wants to be good now, but the 2010 recruiting class will be telling and I'm hoping that there may only be 2 players (Okorie and Cohadarevic). Knight needs to hit a homerun with two outstanding high school recruits in 2010 and I think six scholarships available in 2011 (Singletary, Roberson, Roberts, Tairu, Reese, and Jenkins).
  • Find His Game: Right now I think that Knight is struggling a bit to find what he wants to do offensively and perhaps it starts with Davis being his point guard of the future, but Knight needs a good balance of a transition game while continuing the pressure man-to-man defense that his dad started.