We learned from Krista Pirtle on Monday after the WVU game that Justin Gray was injured and would not practice this week...
Freshman forward Justin Gray played only six minutes Monday night against West Virginia.
Coach Smith said his tendinitis, that Gray has in both knees, has flared up bad.
"We're going to have to shut him down," Smith said. "I'm afraid he might do more damage to his knees. It really hurts because he's a 6-foot-6 guy that can play the three and four."
By "shut him down," Gray won't practice this week. Smith said they would see how he is at game time.
Gray is a starter that has been struggling over the last few games with this tendinitis issue. Before the Houston game he was playing 20+ minutes and getting points. He had a stretch of scoring 18, 13, and 17 points before that game. In the game with the Cougars he only played 9 minutes, and I thought it was because of picking up a 3rd foul early from a quick 2nd half whistle. He scored 0 points in the match-up. Since that game he has only scored 8 points combined over the last three games.
This injury is significant because we do not have a lot of guys that can carry us on the offensive side of the court. Before the tendinitis flared up Gray was able to get buckets. He was not a three-point threat, but he could hit mid-range jumpers and score on drives in the paint.
Being able to play Gray at the 3 spot in the starting lineup gave Tech the ability to play with a bigger starting lineup. Without him in the starting lineup (like against UT) we usually go with a 3 guard offense. From what we have seen this season so far, we are not a good enough shooting team to play with 3 guards. The opponents stack the inside and it is hard to get the ball down in the post. We can't spread the other team's defense because nobody can knock down a shot.
Basically, Gray being out is a huge loss for the dynamics of this team. The Red Raiders strategy that Tubby Smith uses against other teams is changed when Gray is not on the floor. Same can be said about Zach Smith, he helps hold down the 4 spot really well (more so on the defensive end).
Let's hope for a speedy recovery for Justin Gray. The team should not rush it, let him get healthy and feel good enough to start scoring points again. He needs to come back when he's close to 100%.
After loss to Texas...
"We didn’t quit and I thought our youngsters, our young players, freshmen really battled. That’s not something to take away from Rob, Toddrick, Randy and the other guys. I thought Zack and especially Keenan really battled. Isiah is getting better every day. We probably should’ve gone with a bigger line up maybe and find our way. When Jonathon Holmes is at that three-spot it creates a real problem for us. Last year we were starting Jaye Crockett at the three spot and we were able to match up better size wise. That’s why they just annihilated us on the boards. I’m impressed with them (Texas) and how physical and big they are." -Coach Tubby Smith
Jaye Crockett was a huge asset to the team for many years, and the loss of his presence on the court has caused a huge setback to our current team. I miss Jaye.
On what was tough about Texas..."Just their frontline is huge. They start at 6-8, 6-9, and 6-11. It’s just a long frontline, it’s hard to see around them and they did a really good job protecting the paint." - Robert Turner
Tech is going to have trouble against big frontcourts until we can consistently hit our mid-range jumpers and outside shots. Opponents will stack the inside and dare us to make outside shots. We need to be able to stretch their defense outside of the paint.
On the last four minutes of the game...
"You know we just wanted to win and determination to win. Everybody tried to play harder in the last couple of minutes." - Isaiah Manderson
The Red Raiders should play with a sense of urgency from right when the ball is tipped-off. We always find ourselves playing the comeback role.
After loss to West Virginia...
"It takes a while at this level to understand one false step, one false move, it's going to cost you... Good teams and good players are going to take advantage of you. It happened to us consistently" - Coach Tubby Smith
WVU was congratulated on being a good team. As stated before, Tech cannot afford to fall and come from behind against good teams.
"They were running everywhere... Some people were nervous. I was nervous at some points." - Devaugntah Williams
That just about says it all right there. The full-court press from WVU rattled the squad and caused our guys to play out-of-control. Out team is young and they will learn how to handle pressure better as the season goes forward.
I'm not going to harp on it anymore... just look one more time at our free throw percentage. 65.2% and ranked at #279 out of 351. We must get better!
Tubby Smith making an appearance at Shakopee's game against Lakeville S. Steffon Mitchell is the reason for the visit pic.twitter.com/FOI3freyTz— Ren Souvannasoth (@rensouth) January 7, 2015