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Red Raider Hoops | 2010-11 Texas Tech Basketball Preview - The Backcourt

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PROBABLE STARTERS

John Roberson | 5-11/168 | Senior | Point Guard

Last Year | Not quite the leading scorer last year, averaging 14.5 PPG, but was the second leading scorer. Roberson's biggest problem, after struggling a bit with his assist-to-turnover ratio as a sophomore, is his shot-selection. Roberson started off in a slump for the most part, shooting below 40% for a good part of the first month, but once conference play started, his shooting percentage leveled off in the 40% to 45% range. That's not awful, but I think he's a better shooter than that. In fact, in the 2008-2009 season, he shot 46% from 3-point range, and maybe it's a side affect of having to be one of the go-to scorers on the team. As mentioned above, Roberson did improve his assist-to-turnover ratio and Roberson is always going to be a shoot-first point-guard rather than a pass-first point guard.

Expected Role | Much like Singletary when we talk about making an impact this year, it's up to Roberson to be this team's leader. Although I'm expecting Roberson's trend to play just about every minute of every game, I'd still like to see him get 15 minutes of rest each game. I really want a fresh and ready to go Roberson if the game is on the line, but if he's having to play the entire game, that doesn't help. I don't necessarily think that Roberson's scoring average will increase this year, in fact I'd be okay with it dipping a bit. If there are other more efficient scorers on this team, then I'm fine with letting them take more shots rather than Roberson who is struggling to hit 40% of his shots. This is Roberson's team and it's his year. There's a lot riding on this season, including the idea that if this team can't get to the NCAA Tournament after advancing to the NIT, then there's a pretty good chance that his head coach, Pat Knight, might not return next year. A lot is riding on these seniors if PK is to return.


David Tairu | 6-3/ | Senior | Shooting Guard

Last Year | Tairu literally burst onto the scene last year, with his first game out of the gate scoring 17 points and playing 28 minutes. By the end of the season, the shine wore off a bit as Tairu averaged 9.2 points a game on 47% shooting. Tairu is your classic hot-and-cold shooter. When he's on, he doesn't miss, but when he's off, then it's ugly and can't hit a thing. Tairu is your classic shooting guard. He averaged only 0.5 assists per game, but he does mix it up inside, average 2.94 rebounds a game. Pretty good for a guard and better than SF Brad Reese.

Expected Role | I'm completely guessing as to whether or not Tairu actually starts and could see PK starting either Tairu or Reese. I'm going to go into this in another post, but Tairu is an okay scorer, but he's a pretty good defender and gives effort each and every game. That's not necessarily true for the rest of the starting five. Roberson and Singletary are pretty bad defenders, with Singletary bordering on awful. I think PK would be smart to balance it out a bit with a defender that isn't going to lock down his opponent, but does give maximum effort defensively. And given the fact that Tairu might be well served as being the jack-of-all-trades sort of player. A little offense, a little defense, some outside shooting, some rebounding, etc.

More after the jump.

BACKUPS

Mike Davis | 6-2/200 | Sophomore | Point Guard

Last Year | As a true freshman, Davis saw backup minutes to Roberson, although I'm not sure he keeps that role. Davis entered into the program as a scoring guard from the Houston area, although the one thing that bothered me the most about Davis' game was that he struggled to score. Davis' game was uneven at best. He made effort defensively, but offensively he was a liability, shooting 39% from the field and 21% from the three-point line.

Expected Role | Davis might be a bit behind this year. I thought that Davis would be a water-bug type of scorer that could beat his man off the dribble. I have to remind myself sometimes that he was a true freshman and so struggling is to be expected. But Davis may be a guy without a position or much playing time this year. I don't think that Davis is a point guard and I think Willis (described below) eventually gets those backup minutes. And I don't see Davis as a scoring guard, at least right now, especially with the potential ability of Brad Reese and Theron Jenkins having the ability to swing to the big guard. It wouldn't bother me in the least to see Davis redshirt this year and work on his shot and work on his ability to score.


Javarez Willis | 5-11/171 | Freshman | Point Guard

Last Year | Willis played high school at Pinkston in Dallas and then spent a year at Christian Life Center, a prep school in Humble, last year before arriving at Texas Tech. And it's hard to find any statistics on Willis and what he did. Even his official bio page has little to no information. Now we guess.

Expected Role | Willis is touted as being one of the best, shooters coming out of the 2010 class. It's almost a shock, but Willis was the 74th best player in the country in the 2010 class. If you haven't been keeping up with recruiting, Texas Tech is not getting nationally ranked recruits. And recruiting experts say that Willis can shoot the ball and that he's a scorer:

Look out for Javarez Willis, who will be at Texas Tech next year. Wills, a 5-10 guard from Humble (Texas) Christian Life Center, just might be the best shooter coming into college basketball next season. In Pat Knight's motion offense at Tech, Willis could be lethal coming off all those screens.

If Willis can take away 10 to 15 minutes away from Roberson, I not only think that Roberson gets better by playing fewer minutes and if Willis can actually be a legitimate scorer for this team, then I'm all for it.


Wally Dunn | 6-4/194 | Senior | Shooting Guard

Last Year | Dunn saw little to no time last year. Played in only 10 games and had little impact on the team.

Expected Role | If there's a situation where Texas Tech needs someone to come in and just shoot, then Dunn is your guy. Not expecting Dunn to get any significant time this year.

REDSHIRTS

Marshall Henderson | 6-2/160 | RS Sophomore | Shooting Guard

Last Year | Henderson is the transfer from the Utah Utes, played last year as a true freshman. Henderson is a volume shooter and isn't afraid to take any shot, but he did average 11.8 PPG on 37.4% from the field and 33.5% from the three-point line. Henderson also avearaged 0.86 APG; 2.53 RPG and 0.73 SPG. But Henderson doesn't come without some baggage. He was the guy that shoved/hit a BYU player last year and was suspended for a game. When Henderson transferred, a Ute beat-writer had some good and bad things to say about his game and attitude:

It's sad to see so many local folks saying "good riddance" to Henderson and making light of his 33 percent shooting percentage. After covering him for a season, I found him to be a good kid, very engaging and one of the best interviews on the team and he seemed well-liked by his teammates. He did have a talent for shooting, but he hasn't learned what a bad shot is yet. In fact in an interview for a feature story late in the season, he admitted he never saw a shot he didn't like and vowed to shoot a 40-footer in a game before his career was over. That kind of attitude, along with a few off-the-court issues, weren't going to cut it under coach Jim Boylen.

I wish Henderson the best in Lubbock. If he can acquire more of a team mentality and continue to improve his defense, he could turn out to be a pretty good college player.

Henderson could be fairly invaluable, especially considering that Texas Tech will lose Roberson, Tairu, Reese and Jenkins after this year. In order to succeed, PK has to have some scoring options available next year and if Willis is everything he's cracked up to be, then I'm thinking that you're looking at your future backcourt in Willis and Henderson.

Expected Role | Henderson will sit out this year because he's a transfer.


Jamel Outler | 6-2/178 | Freshman | Shooting Guard

Last Year | A true freshman from Bellaire in Houston. Outler played on a very good Bellaire team and averaged 16 points a game, which was 4th on the team in scoring. Here's the ESPN profile on Outler:

Outler is a true shooting guard that attacks from the wing in transition and in the half court. He runs the floor and can beat his defender off the dribble for an acrobatic layup. Outlet can get to the rim and elevate over smaller defenders and score with his good athletic ability and length. He goes to the defensive glass and can initiate the fast break as well. He is a good mid range shooter off the catch or dribble but must be more consistent from beyond the arc. Outler must work on his shot preparation. He seems to always be straight legged when he catches the ball and is open to knock down a jumper off the catch. He is a good on ball defender and plays with energy and effort. He is a good ball handler that can help break pressure from the wing or attack from a ball reversal pass against the press. One to watch to see how much he will improve his game this summer.

And Gonzaga blog, The Slipper Still Fits, interviewd the Chron's Sam Kahn about Outler's game:

Slipper Still Fits: What kind of role does Jamel play for his Bellaire team? Does he have the ability to be a go-to scorer and takeover games?

Sam Khan: It looks like to me that Outler has been a spot up shooter and secondary scorer for Bellaire. He's not their go-to scorer - that is their sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan. I think he does have the ability to be a go-to scorer but Bellaire has so many options that he doesn't have to be. That, and I don't know if he's consistent enough to be a go-to guy.

SSF: How would you describe Jamel on the offensive end of the court? What are his greatest strengths and weaknesses on offense?

SK: Jamel is a guy that can score inside and out. His strengths are his outside shooting (his jump shot in general is pretty good) and driving to the hoop - he can finish. As far as weaknesses, I haven't seen a lot of deficiencies skill-wise, but I would like for him to be more consistent.

Expected Role | I think that Outler can play, but I don't think that he should. He's probably perfectly capable, and seems like a similar player to Tairu, but I'd hate to burn Outler's redshirt just for him to play 10 games this year. There's a lot of depth on this team and a lot of experience. Just seems like that Outler would be better served with redshirting and working on his game (i.e., look forward to CF Jaye Crockett when I take a look at the frontcourt).