Date: Monday, November 3rd
Time: 7:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Bad Guys: SE Oklahoma Savage Storm
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, TX
Radio/Stream: Broadcast Affiliates and TuneIn App
Here we go. I’m really excited about the season as there are a ton of new parts to the team and of those new parts, there’s going to be more athleticism than there was in previous year.
The biggest question mark for me is how is this team going to score and the players have intimated that they’ll be pushing the ball a bit more to try to create some easier opportunities at the rim. My hope is that this team will focus a bit more on shooting the three-point shot as this team had a heck of a time scoring from that aspect.
This of course means that the guys that are on this team now will need to have improved their game, including Toddrick Gotcher, Robert Turner and Randy Onwuasor. They all need to have improved their shot for this team to be better.
Of course, Texas Tech also lost a ton of points in the paint, with the graduation of (and the lone transfer of Jordan Tolbert) the entire two-deep in the frontcourt. Without a doubt, the players that play in the post this year will need to be talented and they'll need to be productive relatively quickly. At least with the guards, there is some continuity, but with the frontcourt, there's almost zero returning minutes, other than Alex Foster and the currently injured Aaron Ross.
Here are things that I hope I see: I hope we see Turner and Gotcher with improved three point shots; I hope we see Alex Foster with an improved offensive game inside. I hope we see the athleticism of Zach Smith and Justin Gray. I hope we see the steadying hand and mature games of Devaunghtah Williams and Justin Jamison and they are ready to contribute immediately. I hope we see the slick ball-handling skills of Keenan Evans on display. I hope we see a better mid-range shot from Randy Onwuasor. I hope we see the quick return of Aaron Ross. I hope Isaiah Manderson is a smooth operator in the post and can defend the rim. I hope Norense Odiase can be a player that will develop into a tough guy to move off the blocks.
Three Keys to the Game:
1. Scouting the Storm: This is the first of two preseason or exhibition games. The next game, against Texas A&M-Commerce is also an exhibition game. From what I know, admission is free to this game and TAMU-Commerce. SE Oklahoma is actually picked to finish 8th in the conference, so the general thought is that they may not be that talented of a team. Just wanting to make sure that you all somewhat take that into consideration if this game turns out to be a blowout. Teh best player returning for SE Oklahoma is Taylor Smaller (5-9/140), who averaged 11.9 points a game last year and dished out 4.1 assists. Smaller shot 41% from the floor and 39.5% from the three-point line. That's not bad. Smaller also did a good job of protecting the ball as he had better than a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. That's pretty good. Inside, Darius Harris (6-8/215) averaged almost 9 points a game and near 7 boards. I have no idea how much this guy will play, but SE Oklahoma has a 7-2 center from Spain. Whoa. Also on the roster is a guy that's 7-0, but weighs 185 in John Bootz. That has to be a typo because that would seemingly be physically impossible. SE Oklahoma did sign three JUCO players, so that should help quite a bit. Antonio Ferreira, Sami Bzai and Nathan Jackson. Ferreira is the best player, on paper, as he averaged 16 points a game at Massasoit CC in Boston, which is a JUCO I have never heard of.
2. Let's See What We Have: I think the fans, more than anything else, are really excited about the new players and what they bring to the table. I hope we get to see a bunch of the young players and see how they can contribute. With Smith's first class of Robert Turner and Randy Onwuasor, smith was desperate to sign just a few pieces to help the process, in particular the point guard position. With a full year to recruit and find some players, you see that the coaches put together a really fine class, lots of very good players that had some pretty good offers. None of these players were stars in the sense that they were in the top 100 players, but they were all very good. The thought that teams can only compete with big-time and star players in this conference or anything of the sort just isn't true. Lots of teams can and do compete with players just like the players that Texas Tech recruited. It can be done.
3. Be Patient: Hey, you have probably seen me write about being patient before, but please be patient with this team. Tubby Smith really did a terrific job of recruiting a ton of solid players, five of which are true freshman. The future is really bright with this team and this program. The 2014 class is the sort of class, if they can all stick together, is something that can be special in a few years. Of course, I don't think Tubby Smith is going to be patient. I think he's not used to losing. Still, I think with this group, you're going to be rewarded. this is a team that you'll need to watch grow and become big time players in the Big 12. It's going to happen. I believe. Just give them a bit of time.
* The LAJ's Krista Pirtle writes that SG Toddrick Gotcher he hopes that this year's team is more high flying and the fans should take note:
"(The fans) are going to be up in their seats this year," the junior guard said. "It's going to be a dunk fest. We have athletes who can get out in transition."
Tech has a variety of players that can play above the rim.
One of those athletes is freshman 6-foot-8 forward Zach Smith and his 45-inch vertical.
"Zach Smith is No. 1," freshman guard Justin Gray said. "He's done some freaky stuff. It makes you drop your jaw because you can't believe how high he's jumping. It's going to be exciting."
* The official site has your official preview.
* The DT's Diego Guytan writes that the team is ready for the season to start and we have newcomer SG Devaughntah Williams and PG Robert Turner:
"We're trying to see how far we came since practice started," Williams said. "We're going to go out there and execute and get a win."
Turner said he has new responsibilities as a second-year player under Smith's tenure.
"I played a lot last year so therefore there's a leadership responsibility on my part," Turner said. "Being comfortable here and knowing his system is really big for me."