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Davide Moretti, child no more

How the Italian sophomore became one of the most reliable players in Chris Beard’s system

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The first article I was asked to write when I joined Viva the Matadors 18 months ago was about a young Italian basketball player who had decided to accept Chris Beard’s offer and commit to Texas Tech. I am from Italy, too, so I saw this as something that could bode well.

If you are interested, the article is here.

Towards the end of that article I wrote:

Historically, the biggest weakness of European players (and Italians in particular) coming to American colleges is the lack of physicality. Despite the above mentioned improvements, Moretti still has some problems on the defensive side of the ball, where he struggles against bigger players and, in detail, can have trouble defending the pick and roll, where often he cannot overcome the screens.

I have to recognize I wasn’t totally wrong, and Davide’s first season wasn’t spectacular.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

He mainly was Keenan Evans’ backup and closed his freshman season averaging 3.5 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 12 minutes per game. But it’s not a simple matter of points. Davide was thin and probably not confident in his abilities, leading to a marginal role. He mainly functioned as a 3-point and free-throw shooter.

Defensively? Nonexistent. He suffered the athleticism of American point guards and was one of the most targeted players on this part of the court. I remember (and I think Davide does, too) how former West Virginia and current Memphis Grizzlies point guard Jevon Carter victimized him in their two meetings.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Oklahoma Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

And we come to this season. With Keenan and Zhaire Smith gone there were plenty of positions to fill. Davide prepared the entire offseason, adding 10 pounds of muscle, and became ready to play a major role.

Coach Beard immediately trusted him, and now we can see the results. Moretti more than doubled his time on the court (27.6 minutes per game), almost scores 10 ppg (9.4) and improved every other stat he could.

And also here, we’re not only talking about numbers. We can see Davide is more confident in his abilities, he attacks the rim, offers solutions to his teammates and is more involved in every offensive action. Maybe this means some turnovers more (and this year he’s having some more than last year, five against Kansas State), but I think this is a problem he can handle and solve.

But most of all, Davide is showing a ton of grit. He fights on every ball, and he performs with intensity. I don’t think it’s randomness he had his best performances against USC, West Virginia, and Kansas State, three of the top teams the Red Raiders faced so far.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Duke Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

And now, the future.

Unlikely Davide will become our next Keenan Evans or John Roberson. Maybe he’s not even asked to. He has to be a reliable player who involves his teammates in the game, takes the shots he has to take and leads by example a core of young players who are coming to Lubbock.

But if we consider all the improvements he had done in this offseason, I think we can only say:

Bravo, Davide!