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Texas Tech Red Raiders Basketball Trending - End of the Season

My thoughts on how the Red Raiders were trending to end the basketball season.

Jamie Squire


Frontcourt | The frontcourt of our team this season had one key ingredient missing, a dedicated 5 position down low. I think that Jordan Tolbert is a great post player. He sometimes showed flashes near the end of the season with some more aggressive play, but we are in need of a guy that can play smash mouth offense and defense all game long at the 5. Tolbert would play the 4 and 5 position depending on who was in the game. He was a 5 with Jaye Crockett at the 4 position in the game, and that is when we played our best ball. Dejan Kravic would usually start the games at 5 and Tolbert would start at 4. Kravic is not a typical Big 12 5-man. The team really needs to find a dedicated 5 position to solidify the overall frontcourt and give it some depth on the court and on the bench. I thought that our rebounding was not that good down low in the post, overall rebounding per game we were #9 in the Big 12 & #279 in the country. But, when we did well in the frontcourt and had lots of points in the paint our games were much tighter with the opponent down the stretch. I was disappointed that Kader Tapsoba saw such few minutes throughout the season. He never developed into the player I thought he could be, because he was in my mind the type of player that could really help at the 5 position. Jaye Crockett rocked at the 4 position, and that is where he is most comfortable. It was very encouraging to see him extend his game beyond the three point arc as he was hitting a lot more threes than the previous season. Aaron Ross would have really helped our frontcourt depth, since we essentially had no chance in the game when Tolbert, Kravic, and Crockett got into foul trouble. Also, Ross might be that key ingredient we need to play smash mouth ball at the 5.

Backcourt | At the beginning of this season I had very high expectations for our backcourt. I was disappointed that we didn’t play at the level that I had thought we would with our guards. Josh Gray made freshman mistakes over the course of the season, but did a really nice job at running the point as he matured. He needs to work on his mid-range jumper, along with his outside shot and he will be a star in the Big 12. Dusty Hannahs was a great downtown threat, but had trouble putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim. Trency Jackson had mad defensive skills and some freakish good ability to get to the hole, but he transferred in the middle of the season because of academic issues. I like Jamal Williams, and thought he did a fine job as a starter to try and get his job done but he is not ever going to be an all Big-12 team pick. Our starting lineup at guard at the end of the season was the best we had, but I was frustrated at the lack of athleticism that I had expected from the beginning. It was very hard for our guards (besides Gray) to handle the ball and set anything up on offense by penetrating the defense. All the backcourt that was on the bench tried to help out when they were brought into the games, but nobody dazzled to stick out and be a great back-up at the 1, 2, or 3 guard position. Our three-point shot was pathetic… shooting the worst in the Big 12, and almost the worst in the nation ( #333 at 28.8%). I hope we pick up some valuable guards this offseason, and work on our outside shot.

Offense | We worked with what we had. Coach Walker saw that the run and gun offensive style wasn’t going to work as our offensive strategy as we got closer to Big 12 play. We didn’t have superior athletes compared to anybody in the Big 12. Walker was smart in implementing the one thing that throws more athletic and talented teams off their game, slow the ball down and control the tempo of the game. It was a strategy that worked better than letting teams have three times the opportunities to score off our missed shots or turnovers. We finished second to last in the Big 12 in points per game, and #233 in the country at 65.4 ppg. Our assist to turnover ratio was tied for last place in the Big 12 at 0.75, and we were #308 in the nation. Our offense needs some major work done this offseason.

Defense | I again had high hopes for the full-court press defense that gets teams rattled and gets our offense flying high off grabbing turnovers from the opponents. Coach Walker figured out this team, and realized he didn’t have the right personnel on our team to run the press defense correctly. When we tried the other teams seemed to easily break our efforts and get easy buckets. I did like the man-to-man D he ended up throwing out on the floor all game long. Our guys were playing up in your face defense and tried mightily against everybody they faced. We always moved our feet, and tried to get the better position. You can coach players that have heart, and our guys always played as hard as they could. It was just frustrating to see our guys get crushed on the court going up against more gifted talent basketball-wise. We did finish the season ranked #1 in the Big 12 in steals per game (#40 in the nation) at 8.2 spg. We were feisty and always had our hands up. Our defense might not have been the stifling press defense that I had hoped for that is exciting to watch, but we did do the best we could on the defensive side of the ball with the roster we had playing.

Season Record | We finished 11-20, that is trending up from last season. The only out of conference loss that I was really angry at was McNeese State. Going 3-15 for the regular season Big 12 is better than last year, and getting a win in the Big 12 tournament was a definite plus. We now know that we are not in the basement as the worst team in the Big 12 (thanks to TCU joining the conference), and we knocked off a really great Iowa State team that almost made the Sweet Sixteen this week (I think they got screwed on the call in the NCAA tournament game against Ohio State, just like in the Kansas game in the regular season). The heartbreakers this season were the missed three by Gray to win the game in West Virginia, and the OT loss to UT in Lubbock. Only one shot differently in both those games would have made us 5-13 for the Big 12 season. We won a Big 12 conference tournament game for the first time in a few seasons. Overall we are a better team than we were last season, and that translated to a few more wins this year. I do think we have much room for improvement, and I think that we could do that with gaining a few key recruits like Keith Frazier (who will announce his decision on Thursday), and Wannah Bail. I know everyone is worrying about who will be head coach next season. I have always thought Chris Walker was and is the right man for the job and I still do. He improved the team this season and will do so next year once he is named head basketball coach and signs the contract that Texas Tech needs to give him. Wreck ‘em Tech!