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Pulse of the Team :: Volume 1, Report 6

The "Pulse of the Team" is a weekly or whenever-I-get-to-it post about the state of the team, what's going well and what isn't. The Pulse of the Team looks at the week that was, the week ahead, what's trending up, what's trending down and the current player impact, courtesy of StatSheet.

Last Week:

Friday, January 1, 2010
McNeese St. Cowboys: W : 76-75 : Box Score

Sunday, January 3, 2010
UTEP Miners: W : 86-78 : Box Score

This Week:

Saturday, January 9, 2010 
@ Oklahoma St. Cowboys : 8:05 p.m.

Conference play starts this week, and this week's Pulse of the Team will focus more on what's trending up and down for the entire non-conference portion of the schedule with what I hope the team can improve upon. I'm excited about the prospect of

Only Two Losses: If you would have asked be prior to the non-conference portion of the season what this team's record would be and I could have realistically seen four or five losses for this team, especially considering how this team played last year. Amazingly, lots of folks are giving credit to the JUCO players, but I think this has really been about the maturation of two players: PG John Roberson and PF D`walyn Roberts. You were probably expecting me to throw in SF Mike Singletary and he's improved to a point, but the biggest issue I have with his play thus far has been playing with consistency. There are too many games where he doesn't have an offensive impact on the floor and if he's not having an offensive impact, then I think there are other players that could make a defensive difference. But back to Roberson and Roberts, Roberson isn't shooting head and shoulders above what he shot last year, but he's shooting 43% from the field and his assist to turnover ratio is now 2.1:1, a steady improvement over his career. Roberts has been an incredibly steadying influence inside and a rebounding force. Roberts' biggest contribution this season has been his ability to stay on the floor. Last year, Roberts only averaged 16 minutes a game, but this year, he's receiving 24 minutes a game. This doesn't really even consider that Roberts has doubled his rebounds per game, from 3.5 to 7.4 and his averaging 1.4 blocks per game.

Other Surprises: I think credit needs to be given to a couple of players that have had a fairly significant impact that I wasn't so sure was going to be the case. I honestly thought that PF Darko Cohadarevic was a lost cause after watching him last year. I don't think he's great, but he's been much better than I would have expected as he's averaging 7.6 PPG and 5.3 RPG. I think Darko's defensive presence has been better than I remember last year, although he is foul prone. The other player that I think has been terrific is G David Tairu, who's averaging 12.2 PPG, shooting an incredible 56.5% from the field (from a guard!) and 3.6 RPG (again, not bad for a guard). I'd still like to see Tairu get more minutes (only 22.9 per game) but this team has quite a few guard options, including Nick Okorie, who can put up points with anyone in the league if he gets the minutes.

Defensive Pressure: Pat Knight talked about better defense early in the year, and early in the year there was a noticable difference between the defense the team played this year versus last year. However, the team has slowly but surely dipped to 90th in the nation in eFG%. I'm not sure that this team has the ability to keep that sort of pace, especially when it appears that PK isn't willing to play his more athletic and better defensive JUCO players to his veterans. Again, it's tough to complain much with this group and I think if this team can win 20 games for the year that they squeak into the NCAA Tournament, which is a marked improvement over not even being able to get into the NIT last year.

It Gets Tougher: The Big 12 conference schedule for Texas Tech isn't going to be an easy ride. The Red Raiders open up on the road against UTEP, at home against Missouri, and then travel to Kansas. That's not exactly a walk in the park. The most inconsistent of that group is Oklahoma St., but the truth is that the Cowboys are capable of beating just about any team, but aren't quite meshing very well. And despite me saying that the Cowboys have been inconsistent, they've still only lost two games, just like Texas Tech. The truth of the matter is that there's really not a break in the schedule, and it's going to test this group. It will be interesting to see how Pat Knight manages this group, whether he leans on his veterans allows some of the JUCO's to make more contributions that what they have currently done.

Courtesy of StatSheet: