Hello basketball fans. You may not remember me since Dan's been doing such a great job of killing it on basketball for the entire offseason, but Dan's out there trying to make a living and so I'm filling in for the day.
Right before the school year started, Texas Tech received a commitment and letter of intent and the enrolling of center, Isaiah Manderson, a 6-10 center from Florida, who was also the highest rated player of Texas Tech's 2014 recruiting class. I was texting Dan a week or so ago, considering how Manderson really does change the complexion of this team, not just this year, but moving forward.
First things first, I think it's important to understand just how dire things appeared before Manderson committed. At least for me, I was greatly concerned about the overall lack of a real post player, a guy that would sit on the block and be able to create his own shot. Right now, I think Texas Tech really only has one of those in Justin Jamison and I actually think he's going to be better than most people suspect. His maturity as well as some of the other things will hopefully make him an immediate impact sort of player for Texas Tech and could see him averaging double-figures right out of the gate. He's got a patience to his game that you don't see from a lot of players. "Old man patience" for those of you who play pick-up games.
Without Manderson, Texas Tech was only going to have five scholarship post players (I'm not counting Justin Gray as he's more of a swing player and I'm talking about true post players). From a tactical standpoint, this would have likely forced Texas Tech into a handful of three-guard offensive sets and would then be pretty light on the frontcourt. Especially considering that Aaron Ross is recovering, yet again, from knee surgery. That's only four post players to start the year. That's really thin.
With Manderson, Norense Odiase and Zach Smith, Texas Tech now has a trio of freshmen big men that could eventually develop into low post guys without the pressure of needing to do this for two years. It seems strange to think that adding just one additional player, now six scholarship post players, makes a difference, but it just feels better. Add to that, and I think you have a very useful player in Alex Foster, who I don't think really ever tapped into what he can do offensively as he just wasn't needed as a post player with Jaye Crockett, Jordan Tolbert, Dejan Kravic and Kader Tapsoba manning the paint.
Manderson gives you a true center, something this team had none of and was, most likely, going to have to go the JUCO route. Manderson, provides that legitimate size and potential high school big man that just doesn't make his way to Texas Tech.
Oh, and you should also know that Texas Tech and this team is already being written off, perhaps rightfully so.
Texas Tech: In his first year, Tubby Smith managed to double Texas Tech's conference win total. The problem Smith faces, (exacerbated by Texas Tech's current basketball reputation), is that he is no longer an elite recruiter. When his team loses a star like Jaye Crockett to graduation, when his team loses quality players like Jordan Tolbert and Dusty Hannahs to transfer, it is very hard to replace them with recruits ranked three stars or lower.
Texas Tech did lose a ton of talent last year, but give me the coaching ability of Tubby Smith, the eye for talent of Tubby Smith and his ability to make it work year after year to beat those expectations.