I would like to ask DanSwany if I can change my choice for MVP to head coach Tubby Smith. Texas Tech won that game yesterday, behind some terrific play from Jaye Crockett, Robert Turner and Dusty Hannahs, but for me, head coach Tubby Smith stole the show. Last night was the first game that I've watched in quite some time where I thought that Texas Tech won the game because of a coach. Maybe I should say that the coaching decisions really stood out to me. We'll get to that in a second. A really fun game that ended up being a lot closer than I wanted, but a pretty good win for this team.
Star of the Game | Dusty Hannahs: I thought this game turned on Hannahs ability to hit the three-point shot and drive and create. Seriously, it happened and it looked okay. Can't wait to see if it happens in conference play. Hannahs finished with 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, and 1 steal. Hannahs just kept kept after it in the second half, scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half. He really was just terrific offensively.
1. What a Coaching Move | There was 5:12 left in the game and Hannahs makes a three point shot, assisted by a terrific cross-court pass from Toddrick Gotcher. A timeout is called and even the announcers think that it's TSU who is calling the timeout as it was a huge shot by Hannahs, putting Texas Tech up by 4 when the game had toggled between 1 and 2 points for a good part of the half. The timeout isn't called by TSU, but by Tubby Smith. Smith had Texas Tech playing man-to-man for almost the entire game, and the reason to call the timeout was to get Texas Tech organized for a 2-3 zone that they jumped out to and Texas Southern never really adjusted, at least not enough to make a serious move. It was really just a terrific move and it was one of those moments when I remembered the time on the clock and the chess move. TSU would end up scoring 14 more points the rest of the way while Texas Tech scored 19. Coaching in basketball is sometimes subtle and this seemed like definitely one of those times, where a simple switch to a zone defense out of a three-point shot seemed to really turn this game.
2. Doing the Small Things | It sure didn't seem like it, but Texas Tech did all of the little things to win this game. Hannahs sure did help, but Texas Tech out-scored Texas Southern, 42-24, from points in the paint, out-scored Texas Southern, 13-3, in second chance points and out-scored Texas Southern 27-0 from points off of the bench. Texas Southern could have won this game had they hit their free throws, but they missed 12 of 20 in the second half. It sure did seem like in the first half that TSU was just getting way too many calls, the refs would have done a good job of putting their whistle in their pockets for some of the fouls, both ways. Texas Tech didn't win the rebounding battle, 37-34, but they did hold TSU's best player, Aaric Murray to just 8 points and 4 rebounds. The play of C Kader Tapsoba was instrumental in defending the rim, as he had 4 blocks and played some terrific defense. And the defense overall, was really good for Texas Tech, as the team registered 12 blocks on the night.
3. Big Nights for Crockett & Turner | That sounds like a cop show, Crockett and Turner. Anyway, SF Jaye Crockett missed a couple of bunnies, but he still finished with 21 points, leading Texas Tech, and also had 7 rebounds along with a block as well. And Turner was just terrific too, scoring 15 points, getting to the rim at will, 2 assists a block, and 2 steals. I don't know whether or not to credit Turner or Tubby for this, but last night, this team had 5 turnovers. That's just not something that happens with this team last year. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Jordan Tolbert, who only had 11 points and had some foul trouble. Maybe I'm reading the situation wrong, but I think that Tubby wants Tolbert to be great and Smith is working on that. I think Smith is really pushing Tolbert, not in a bad way, but in a good way to be as good as he can be. There is no doubt that Tolbert is this team's most gifted player athletically and I think that Tubby is trying to tap that consistent and player that's always in the game.