After quite a few seasons of instability within our basketball program we finally kept a coaching staff intact for long enough to move forward into Year #2. There was still more roster attrition than I would have preferred with our better players Jordan Tolbert (transfer to SMU) and Dusty Hannahs (transfer to Arkansas). But, even with the loss of a couple good players and a crop of seniors we still had more stability in the program over the past offseason than we have had in 3 years. That makes me happy because we can actually start talking about defining a successful season, and we can track progress towards that goal.
Here are my keys to having a successful 2014-15 campaign -
1) Gain strength and depth on the roster. Our frontcourt will be exceptionally inexperienced and young, while our backcourt will be leaned on to carry the leadership role. The current roster is a mystery as to who will step up and who will fizzle out. But, I will expect the backcourt to come out strong in the beginning of the season and ride out the year with better ball-handling and less turnovers than last year. Toddrick Gotcher and Robert Turner need to do the heavy lifting to help the new guys learn their roles on the roster. To define success at the end of the season I will expect our roster to solidify into having a clear-cut starter and reliable backup at every position. There is a lot of uncertainty who will play what position, and who will be the starters. We need to have this established by Year #3.
2) Keep the excitement for basketball in the United Supermarkets Arena trending up! Last year Tubby Smith was about as spirited as any basketball coach I’ve seen rally around the fans and students to get butts in the seats. He bought lunches for students before the Baylor game and from there kept the momentum going for home games. When the head coach starts pushing for promotions to happen… it happens. Texas Tech saw an incredibly increase in coach and player interaction with the community and it showed in the fan attendance at games. While I am thrilled that we had such a dramatic increase in men’s basketball fandom on campus last year, I do not want that to take a plunge this season. I think we need to keep promoting Tech basketball, and Coach Smith needs to keep pushing to get fans and students to the games. Right now the program does not need to worry about making money off every little thing at basketball games, give tickets away for free if needed… do what it takes to make people interested in getting out to the USA and cheering on our Red Raiders. I’ll feel we had a successful campaign if we can keep getting big crowds out to our home games on a regular basis.
3) Most importantly, get the close fought wins and stop the heartbreaking losses. There were multiple games when it stung to be a Tech fan at the buzzer. The first thoughts that come to mind are the loss to LSU on a missed three at the buzzer; OT loss against WVU and missed three at buzzer to force 2OT; missed jumper in Austin against UT to win the game; and a loss against Kansas from a Andrew Wiggins layup with 2 seconds left. That is 4 heartbreaking losses that could have been 4 humongous wins to fuel our confidence. We need to learn how to close out and finish games when they go down to the wire. I also believe we need to be victorious in general more this season with our overall record than last year to say this season is successful. After looking over the schedule, we need to win 15+ contests with at least 7 Big 12 wins to feel that Tech took some big strides and made major progress. We have not won 15 or more games since the 2009-10 season, and have not won 7 Big 12 games since 2007-08. It is time to make it happen!
Also, I wanted everyone to know I do not think we need to make the postseason to have had a successful season this time around. But, if we did make the postseason I would take that over everything else I said above. We will be there soon enough... Wreck 'em Tech!