Being clutch when the pressure is on is a hard skill to learn. When I say that, what I mean is the clutch gene is either something you have or you don’t, there’s no in-between. I highlighted earlier in the week that some of the team’s solutions could be solved with former players’ ability to rebound. I argued that two former players (Malik Ondigo and Josh Mballa) would help the Red Raider frontcourt when T.J. Holyfield isn’t playing up to snuff (like he did last night).
That’s just part of it and now I think I’m seeing more of the picture after the performance last night. Tech doesn’t have any of what I like to call PTPs or Pressure Time Players. A PTP is someone who can be clutch down the stretch or can get the team back on track when it’s in a slump. Essentially, someone who can lead a team to a win when it seems that nothing is going right is a Pressure Time Player.
Texas Tech has been blessed with two GREAT Pressure Time Players in the last two seasons. Keenan Evans and Jarrett Culver were the definitions of Pressure Time Players. Anytime this program needed a bucket, they stepped into the spotlight and delivered.
Evans did this time after time in 2017-2018 with clutch shot after clutch shot. From the dagger against Texas to the comeback performance in the NCAA Tournament against Stephen F. Austin, Evans had a very memorable senior season and led the Red Raiders to the Elite Eight.
This team is lacking PTPs, and it has been very evident over the last week. Davide Moretti missed a free-throw that would have put the Red Raiders in the lead and most likely won them the game. While I do not blame Moretti for the loss, (great article about that here) his miss in that clutch moment is one of the reasons that I don’t think Moretti will ever be the alpha dog on this team.
Earlier in the week, this team lost to TCU and it was mostly due to the inability to overcome a run early in the second half of that game that put the Red Raiders down by almost 10. The team almost seemed to shut down after that and no one could step up and get this team back in the game.
Nick Richards for Kentucky is a great example of what a Pressure Time Player looks like. he isn’t a great free-throw shooter but last night when his team needed him the most, Richards stepped to the line time and time again and hit shots that ultimately lifted his team to a win. He raised himself to the level of the competition and shined in a moment that was a pressure situation.
The noted absence of players that can make clutch plays in clutch situations will plague this team for the remainder of the season. I honestly thought going into the season that either Davide Moretti or Jahmi’us Ramsey would turn into Pressure Time Players for the Red Raiders. Neither have, and it’s going to doom this team in the later stages of the season if the Red Raiders can’t find someone to consistently step up their play in pressure situations.