I was extremely worried when Jordan Tolbert decided to leave the Texas Tech basketball team this offseason. He was the one guy on the roster that could play down low as an undersized center and hold things in check. When he left, also so did our only PF/C that would play approximately 26 minutes per game while averaging almost 11 ppg & 6 rpg. There was no replacing that with a true freshman; or so I though.
In comes Norense Odiase (a true freshman) who for the first three games averaged about 28 minutes per game and about 14 ppg & 8 rpg. Odiase has looked raw to start the season, but has something that Tolbert didn’t. He is aggressive and not afraid to get in the paint and fight for the ball. Odiase doesn’t have the finesse that Tolbert possessed, but he has a grind it out workmanship style to his game. I like that quality in a player.
Others around the league are starting to recognize that Odiase is a special player. Even the Big 12 voted him as the conference newcomer of the week.
Odiase is garnishing so much attention from other teams that last night the Northwestern State team actually shifted their plays to get Odiase out of position. He was welcomed into college basketball as a spotted opponent that Northwestern State had watched film on, and he needs to get used to this. It did not go well as they pulled him away from the basket and got him semi-rattled as he was out of his comfort zone. That led to some quick early fouls and Odiase having to be benched for most of the 1st half.
Last night in the 2nd half he started to get into more of a groove, but still he only finished the game with 6 points and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes of play. The frontcourt struggled at times, but they have all season long. There are flashes of greatness followed by moments of inexperience. I think Odiase (along with the other young frontcourt guys) are going to develop into monsters as time goes on. They may take some bumps and bruises throughout this season to shape them up, but we really do have a bright future with this young squad.
I decided to go back and check out some stats to do a comparison of Tolbert in his freshman year to Odiase so far in this early season. Tolbert averaged about 12 points and 6 rebounds his frosh season in a Texas Tech jersey. But, Tolbert never progressed after that 1st year and kept his averages around the same for the next 2 seasons. This is where I believe Odiase will be different, I know Odiase will just keep getting better every year. It makes the loss of Tolbert a little less discouraging. The development of Odiase looks more promising than I had ever imagined. Wreck ‘em Tech!