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Five Things // The Disappearance of the Defense

Five Things is a handful (i.e., five) of thoughts about a single topic. Hopefully, discussion ensues.

The Disappearance of the Defense

1: Being More Offensive

At the beginning of last year, Pat Knight made it clear that he wanted his team to be able to run a little more freely, get some easy buckets and push the ball up the court. In theory, this is a great idea, but the problem with the actual implementation of this plan means that the defense suffered, considerably last year. What I actually saw was a team that was willing to run, but struggled to do so, mainly because of turnovers or just poor play that eventually led to a team that was looking for easy buckets, but it simply wasn't happening.

Last year, Pat Knight helped his team go from an adjusted offensive efficiency of 107.4 (97th in the country) to 108.5 (70th in the country) (stats via KenPom). In fact, I think it could be argued that even with less talented offensive players (i.e. no Zeno) it was quite an accomplishment to go up almost 30 spots when there was no clear-cut scorer on last year's team.

Year Off.Adj.Eff.
2009 108.5 (70)
2008 107.4 (97)
2007 112.4 (55)
2006 104.5 (119)
2005 111.7 (43)
2004 112.2 (37)

2: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

So Pat Knight did a pretty good job offensively last year, but looking back at the defensive statistics, the defense was a sieve last year, ranking 138th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. Hide the small children:

Year Def.Adj.Eff.
2009 99.8 (138)
2008 95.0 (71)
2007 97.3 (101)
2006 97.1 (99)
2005 90.9 (26)
2004 91.1 (29)

Traditionally, Texas Tech has been better than average (BTW, 2004 is the earliest these statistics are provided), having some decent defensive teams in the past, despite some rough moments in 2009, 2008 and 2007. I think it's also important to point out that in 2009 in the Big 12 conference 138th ranks 11th, with only Colorado worse. In conference in 2008, it was 9th, still good for an overall winning record (16-15), 2007 it was 10th, but Knight had a pretty efficient offensive team, in 2006 7th with a losing record overall, in 2005 6th in the conference winning over 20 games and in 2004 Texas Tech was 5th in the conference, again winning over 20 games.

Who else is noticing a trend here?

3: Defense Breeds Success?

I hardly think that I'm one to speak to a coach whose father is the all-time winningest college basketball coach in the history of ever, however, it's painfully clear to me that being good offensively will only get you so far, at least if you're Texas Tech, but being in the top half of the conference defensively means that Texas Tech is probably playing in the NCAA Tournament. Despite what everyone's expectations are in regards to success at Texas Tech, my simple definition is to at the very least make the NCAA Tournament. That's my very simple definition of success.

Putting all the figures together, it's pretty clear, at least to me, the direction that Pat Knight needs to take moving forward, save and except the 2007 season that we will merely chalk up to an aberration or the outstanding play of Andre Emmett and Martin Zeno on the offensive end of the floor:

Year Off.Adj.Eff. Def.Adj.Eff. Record
2009 108.5 (70) 99.8 (138) 15-17 (6-10)
2008 107.4 (97) 95.0 (71) 16-15 (7-9)
2007 112.4 (55) 97.3 (101) 21-13 (9-7)
2006 104.5 (119) 97.1 (99) 15-17 (6-10)
2005 111.7 (43) 90.9 (26) 22-11 (10-6)
2004 112.2 (37) 91.1 (29) 23-11 (9-7)

4: Being Your Own Man

I don't think I've ever thought, despite some fairly famous tirades that Pat Knight is at all like his father, Bob Knight. PK seems personable and a decent fellow. I'm not advocating that PK be at all like RMK from a personality standpoint, but what I am advocating that rather than focus on the offense at the beginning of the year, let's spend all of that time teaching defensive perfection. The motion offense isn't rocket science and running for the sake of running isn't going to improve this team by leaps and bounds. The concept of a motion offense is relatively simple, but teaching a team to be defensively dominant may be immensely more important to the future success of Pat Knight than any else that he may do while coach at Texas Tech. Or perhaps it's more appropriate to say that it may be more important for Pat Knight to teach, again and again, as well as reward players with minutes on the court, the importance of man-to-man defense in the concept of the team game rather than being more adept offensively.

5: Heading that Direction

We've already talked about how Pat Knight has recruited some long and lean wing-athletes and I'm hoping that part of the reason for this is that he saw last year, the mis-matches that the Red Raiders faced last year. I wish I had a nickel for every time that an opposing player was able to drive and get to the bucket against a defender with little or no help. As mentioned above, there's going to be competition for minutes, no matter how you divide them, and if that's the case, then it's my hope that PK rewards players who are outstanding defenders. My dream team consists of guys that are competent offensively, but tremendous defensively. And the offense is able to revolve around guys who are bigger than their counter-part and as a result, is able to get an easier shot as a result.