Below are five things trending with the Red Raiders basketball team this week…
- 3rd Place at the Legends Classic | The thing we learned in this tourney is that Pitt is underrated. They whipped us on Monday night and then they smoked Stanford last night 88-67. The bashings like against Pitt will happen this season, we need to hold our heads up and move forward. When it comes time to play teams like Arizona, Kansas, and Oklahoma State we are probably going to get smacked to the ground and the games will get ugly. Tech showed at the Legends Classic that they can pick themselves up after a beat down, dust off, and go out to fight another battle on the court. Houston is a good team that Tech came out on top of from tip-off. The team got to end the tournament finishing with a win in Brooklyn. That’s encouraging!
- Points off Turnovers | It shows when Tech plays stiffer competition that they are still learning Tubby Smith’s offense. Pitt and Houston had better defenses than any team the squad has faced besides Alabama. In the Pitt game we allowed 20 points on 17 turnovers, against Houston we gave up 14 points on 14 turnovers. Even against Alabama we had 16 turnovers that led to 19 points. The main focus is that when we play teams with talented defenses we are having trouble with running our offense efficiently. This is something to track over the course of the season when we play top tier teams to see how much progress is being made learning Coach Smith’s system.
- Free Throws | Through the first few games Tech had been shooting poorly from the charity stripe. It is extremely frustrating to see a team miss free opportunities to put points on the board. All it takes is more practice to work on your aim and touch from the same open spot on the floor. Tech has showed outstanding work to improve on this minor detail of their game that can make or break a team in close contests. In the last three games we have been 13-15, 10-13, and 18-22. That’s for a total of 41-50; making the free throw percentage for the last three 82%. I am pleased with a mark like this and if Tech can maintain a high percentage for the rest of the season it will be clutch in tight games.
- Jaye Crockett & Jordan Tolbert | When Crockett and Tolbert are dominating the paint together we are a much harder team to beat. While Dejan Kravic is an offensive specialist and Kader Tapsoba excels on the defensive end of the floor we still will rely heavily on Crockett and Tolbert for all aspects of the game. Pitt contained Tolbert to 7 points and 2 rebounds. They took out one of our star frontcourt players and this destroyed our chances to stay in the game. We need both frontcourt stars to keep up with strong teams. When we get into the brawl with Arizona on Tuesday we need Crockett and Tolbert to dominate if we are going to have any sort of chance to hang around in the game. Other players on the team like Rob Turner and Dusty Hannahs are extremely important to getting a win, but the struggle for power down in the paint depends on Crockett and Tolbert.
- Looking Forward | Before the season started I predicted that the team would be 5-2 at this point after the first seven games. We have an easy game against UTSA (1-5) on Friday that will be played in the United Spirit Arena. Hopefully some of the fans around Lubbock over the Thanksgiving break will come out to cheer on the Red Raiders. It will be a nice warm-up to the showdown in Tucson against Arizona. Right now Arizona is playing in the NIT Season Tip-off Tournament where they have knocked off Rhode Island. They take on Drexel tonight, and with a win will make it to the Championship to take on Duke (or Alabama). It will be an entertaining week of basketball to come, don’t miss it. Wreck 'em Tech!