According to Krista Pirtle of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the Texas Tech men's basketball team is working on free throws and turnovers. Which is a very good thing...
"Every time we get a water break, Coach says make five free throws before you get water," senior forward Clark Lammert said. "After practice, the other day we had to make 50 free throws before we left the gym. Coach is really good at making adjustments and trying to figure out why we missed those free throws. We’ve put in a lot of work to fix that."
This is music to my ears, because I was horrified that we were going to lose our last outing against Auburn because of misses from the charity stripe. We went 17-31 (54.8%) and could have easily had a nice lead over Auburn at the end of the game had we sunk a few more free throws. Making about half our free throw shots is completely unacceptable. With the way our team has to fight to win games, we need to be more around the 75% mark. In the 19 point comeback win against Air Force we were 17-22 (77.3%), and it was free throws that kept us in the game. Texas Tech won the contest by 1 point on a Rob Turner free throw. I cannot stress how important it is to make foul shots.
Right now we currently sit ranked nationally at #256 (65.3%). The players need to keep working on this and move up drastically before Big 12 competition starts. I would aim to raise the average to at least 70% by January.
Another gruesome stat causing trouble is our turnovers...
Throughout six games, the Red Raiders are averaging 14.5 turnovers a game.
Smith is working in practice to remedy this issue as well.
"We put up all the balls on the rack except for four of them," Lammert said. "Every time we turn it over we put it up. We have four balls and once we have none, we have to run. Coach has been getting creative. It’s one of those things that helps us out."
Before practice Tuesday afternoon, Smith said his team was going to go back to using that drill because the day before his players turned the ball over more than he liked.
"I guess that gets their attention," Smith said. "No one wants to run sprints and play without a basketball. That can be pretty hectic."
We average 14.5 turnovers per game, and that is in the top 85 for most per game by a team. Teams like Wisconsin and Duke average less than 10 a game; West Virginia and Iowa State average less than 11 per game. I think it would be a reasonable goal for the team to drop their average down to at least 13 per game by January.
Old school tactics, that is what it's all about. Coach Smith is putting into practice what needs to happen. Free throws and turnovers are things that only get better with practice and experience. Our young team needs to learn these lessons quick and get them tightened up. We can win some close match-ups this season with a few tweaks to our gameplay in the correct direction. It just takes a little more dedication and a few more laps to be ran in practice. Wreck 'em Tech!