I was fortunate enough to go to Showtime Friday, a pep rally for the basketball teams, and get a preview of what the 2014-2015 season has in store for the Red Raiders. They had many events there, including performers, a 3-point contest, Dunk Contest and scrimmages by both the men's and women's team. Here's a little review of what went down and what to expect from the newcomers.
The event started off with performances by the band and drumline, playing pieces that they usually play during the basketball season. That was followed by a performance from the pom squad, who danced for the crowd. Then was a performance from Dancers with Soul, which performed multiple hip-hop dances to various songs, even the Nae Nae. After another performance from the pom squad, two greek organizations I don't know (nor care about) came out and performed a country dance for the crowd. The performances were nice, but the only problem I had was the fact that it took an hour to an hour and a half before they started playing basketball.
Then, after all the groups performed, the players came out on the court, but not the way they usually do. They brought out the Red Carpet and came out in style, dressing up as some of their favorite actors and characters portrayed on the big and small screen. I don't remember who everyone was, but here is my best guess at who everyone was:
|Superman (Superman) - Said that he's been working on his shot in the gym
|Tyler Perry (Madea movies) - He stated that his favorite comedian was Martin Lawrence
|George Jefferson (The Jeffersons) - He started doing something called the "Shmoney" dance. Recently popular due to a song I can't say on this website.
|Mr. Smith (Mr and Mrs. Smith) - Don't remember what he said
|Mr. Big (Sex in the City) - Said that his nickname was "The Show"
|Darth Vader (Star Wars) - Don't remember what he said either.
|Jack Dawson (Titanic) - Screamed "I'm the King of the World", and said the biggest difference between Lubbock and Tampa was the dry heat instead of Humid heat.
|Wolverine (X-men) - Don't remember what he said
|Norense Odiase & Isaiah Manderson
|Popeye & Bluto (Popeye) - Zach Smith wouldn't tell the audience what he was planing for the dunk contest. Manderson said he looks up to LaMarcus Aldridge in the NBA.
|Ross (Friends) - They asked him if Jordan was the best player ever. He said yes (he's from Chi Town) but stated that LeBron is getting close. Kevin Durant is his favorite player.
|Peter Parker (Spiderman) - I believe he was the one who asked how it was like to be coached by Tubby in one word, and he said "Blessed".
|Qunicy McCall (Love & Basketball) - Don't remember what he said.
|Luke Adams & Clark Lambert
|Batman and Robin (Batman) - They said that Batman and Robin were the best duo and that Jordan and Pipen were the best duo ever (they should've went with Stockton and Malone, but that's just me).
|Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) - She came on the floor from riding down a rope from the top of the arena.
|Shaft (Shaft) - Came onto the court riding a motorcycle. When trying to stop it, he crashed the bike on the floor (oops). Luckily he walked away unharmed. He said that's why he doesn't ride motorcycles.
Finally about an hour after introductions and groups dancing, the show began. The match-up was between Luke Adams / Kelsi Baker against DeVaugntah Williams / Minta Spears. The girls went first, with Spears scoring 8-10 buckets and Baker scoring 5-10. Then the men went, with Williams scoring 3-10 and Adams scoring 6-10. They were all tied up at 11, creating a sudden death shot between Spears and Baker. Baker sunk the 3-pointer with Spears falling short.
This is the first time we were able to get a first look at Williams shooting ability, and it didn't impress me much. He had a hitch in his shot and couldn't seem to find his stroke at all. I hope it was just a bad shooting night for Williams, because Tech is in need of a 3-point threat and Williams seems to be our best option right now.
This was the event everyone came to see. The contest was between Justin Jamison, Alex Foster, Justin Gray, Zach Smith and Robert Turner. Jamison started off with a dunk that didn't really get the voters attention (The Homecoming Court), and got fairly low grades. Foster was next with an off the glass dunk that got better grades, but not great ones. Next was Gray, who tossed the ball up, caught it and ended with a windmill. It got positive reviews from the judges. Zach Smith was next, performing the best dunk of the night as he dunked over Norense Odiase. He has hops folks. Finally, Turner ended the round by going off glass and putting it in (I don't remember this dunk, but I think it was something along that line). Him and Smith would advance to the final round.
In the 2nd round, both Smith and Turner were given two dunks. Smith started it off by trying to catch the ball of the side of the backboard and go between his legs. He was running out of time and ended up catching it off the side of the backboard and dunking it two handed. Turner was next by tossing the ball up and going reverse on a dunk, getting batter grades. Smith has a simple dunk for his final attempt, and Robert Turner ended the contest by tossing the ball, catching it one handed and tomahawking the ball into the rim. Turner came out winning the dunk contest.
I don't know much about the women's team, but I did watch their scrimmage and learned some things. Spears, Battle and Baker look to be the best players on the Texas Tech team. There was a lot of sloppy play on the women's side and they missed some easy baskets and rebounds. The women's team still has a ways to go. However, they can't do much worse than last season and should be able to improve on their record this season.
The final event of the day was the men's scrimmage. They split up into two teams and had 10 minutes to play. Here's how the teams were set.
|Aaron Ross (DNP, injury)
|* = Starter
The game started off on a 6-point run by the Red Team, with Onwuasor scoring under the bucket, Turner draining a mid-range shot on the sideline and Gray scoring on the top of the key. This was followed by a 9-0 run by the Black Team, in which Odiase scored twice in the paint, Gotcher made a tough lay-up and Adams drained a 3-pointer from the corner. The Red took the lead shortly after with Onwuasor making a lay-up on a foul, Gray putting back a missed shot and Gray draining a mid-range jumper from the top of key again. But the black team caught up with Lambert scoring on a lay-up, Gotcher making a shot and the black team making another basket. Gray tied the score after running down the court on a turnover and dunking the ball. Finally, with time running out, Gray puts up a 3-point shot that is rebounded by Mays and put back in to put the Red team up 17-15 with 1.8 seconds left. Smith fired the ball down to Odiase with that time left, but Osiase missed a desperation shot with time expiring.
We saw a lot of minutes from the new players, and here's how I think each one of them did:
|Jamison was a reserve during the game and played alright, but not great. He didn't grab a rebound as I recall, and took a 3-pointer at the top of the key that was just off the mark. But he did do pretty well at setting picks for the guards. Jamison wasn't as good as I was hoping he would be, but he seems like he could be valuable forward/center until Aaron Ross comes back from injury. I see Jamison sharing time with Ross as a back-up to Alex Foster in the rotation.
|DeVaugntah Williams couldn't get shot going all game and couldn't really generate any offense. He had good pressure defensively, but wasn't eye popping on the defensive side. I was really hoping that Williams could be a 6th man for the Red Raiders, coming in as an outside threat for Gotcher, but I haven't really seem get it going from deep yet. Hopefully he just had an off night and I'm wrong about this.
|Zach Smith played a low amount of minutes and didn't really get a lot of playing time. He touched the ball once on offense and didn't do anything with it. He guarded Foster / Jamison defensively, but neither of them really touched the ball while he was on the floor. I don't think we'll see a lot from Smith this year, because he's raw and Tech has five guys they can play at forward and five guys they can play at guard. It'll give him time to develop and turn into a good player for Texas Tech
|Keenan Evans started a PG for the black team and played alright. On offense, he facilitated the ball well, finding Adams open on the corner and not allowing a turnover. He also went in for a lay-up at one point and drew a foul from the Red Team's forwards. He did a pretty good job containing Turner on defense, but did allow Turner to attempt a few jumpers. Keenan looked promising on offense and showed a lot of skill, but I'm not sure if he score the ball yet. He didn't take any shots and got fouled on a lay-up attempt while being blocked on another. I think him an Onwuasor will share time at PG this season.
|Odiase exceeded my expectations and looked ready to compete in the Big XII. There were questions about who would start at Center for Texas Tech and I would say Odiase would start at this point in time. He grabbed some crucial rebounds over Manderson, drained a shot from the top of key and worked Manderson in the paint, scoring of a hook shot. On the defensive end, he shut down Manderson and blocked a lay-up attempt. He looks like a young Cameron Ridley at this point in a time and looks a lot better than I could've imagined. Don't be surprised if he starts the season in the starting line-up
|Manderson is a lot more athletic and quicker than I thought. During warm-ups, he was moving quickly and dunked one handed off a pass off the backboard. Impressive. He was a threat of the defensive end, blocking a couple shots, and didn't allow any Red Raiders to make a real impact in the post (with the exception of one play from Odiase). He forced the black team to shoot from the outside. Now he wasn't a huge factor rebounding the ball and didn't make an impact on the offensive end (although he did set some nice picks), but he did show that with practice and hard work, he could be the best player on this team. I think he becomes a valuable back-up center, becoming a great player down the road.
|Justin Gray not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded expectations. Everyone was worried about offense generation after Crockett graduated, but Gray made me forget about all those worries. He was able to create his own shot on offense, working defenders on the top of the key and draining it from the top of the paint. He also hustled throughout the game, getting rebounds and putting shots back up on the glass. When the Red Team got a turnover of the defensive end, Gray was racing down the floor, catching the long pass and throwing down a dunk. The missed shot he had was a 3-pointer that was just off the mark. On the defensive end, he was giving his man trouble and blocked a shot attempt near the basket. He brings intensity and athleticism to the line-up and could be one of the top performers for the Red Raiders this year. I'd be surprised if he doesn't crack the starting line-up.