Texas Tech won its season opener against Northwestern State in convincing fashion, 73-49, Monday night at United Supermarkets Arena.
Red Raider fans didn’t have a great deal of clarity as to what exactly this team would look like in the opener, from how Adams would distribute playing time to how some of the newcomers would perform.
Below are some of the questions we had entering the matchup, in addition to the answers we were provided after watching Monday night’s win.
Who’s going to crack the starting lineup?
This, of course, is subject to change and likely will multiple times throughout the course of the season for any variety of reasons. However, the starting lineup on the opening night gives us a sense of what Mark Adams thinks about his roster going into the season - who he wants on the floor at the same time, who he wants providing a spark off the bench.
Ultimately, Adams felt the following rotation would give his team the best chance to win the game:
G - De’Vion Harmon
G - Pop Isaacs
F - Jaylon Tyson
F - Kevin Obanor
C - Daniel Batcho
The obvious surprise here was freshman Pop Isaacs getting the nod over any number of possibilities, but that’s the catch about this Texas Tech roster - we just don’t know what we have with so many new faces.
Isaacs did play well and I’d expect him to get another shot to start in Thursday’s matchup against Texas Southern.
Are the rumors about Daniel Batcho’s unprecedented improvement true?
All offseason long, we heard from copious sources Daniel Batcho evolved into a completely different monster. The 6-11 Frenchmen hardly was involved as a freshman last year, but evidently improved so significantly he was going to force his way not just into the starting lineup, but into “best player on the team” conversations.
After a somewhat sluggish start, Batcho got into a rhythm late in the first half and continued to play aggressively for the remainder of the game. The sophomore scored a career-high 12 points with 10 rebounds for his first-career double-double, and put his athleticism on full display against a clearly inferior NWSU frontcourt. He also dished out an impressive four assists.
It’s not clear whether Batcho will lead the team in scoring, but the improvement he’s made over the last couple years is self-evident. Either way, Tech will lean on him heavily throughout the grind of the Big 12 schedule and beyond.
Which freshmen will stand out?
It was quite a haul for Adams, signing four freshmen - three of which were four star recruits, one a three-star - and with an additional five transfers coming in, we all wondered how difficult it would be for the freshmen to command any playing time.
Isaacs conveyed his pure shooting form with a couple of threes - one from beyond NBA range - but did turn the ball over five times. Fisher, who we’ll get to later, was relatively quiet. Lamar Washington made a few heads-up plays and displayed a keen feel for the game as a playmaker. Robert Jennings chipped in a couple of buckets in very limited action.
Can Elijah Fisher make a pronounced, immediate impact?
Fisher didn’t see a ton of playing time, which was surprising considering he was the most prized recruit of this class. He did show flashes of brilliance, including a come-from-behind blocked shot against that backboard on a Northwestern State fast break, but he was mostly non-existent on the offensive end of the floor.
There’s little cause for concern - after all, it is just the first game of the season - as Adams continues to play with the puzzle pieces in these early-season tune-up games. I can see Fisher becoming a key part of the offense as the season progresses.
Tech did what it needed to do in the opener, and there wasn’t much to complain about beyond the 20 turnovers (somewhat understandable in a season opener with a lot of young guys) or that one fluke possession where Tech gave up five consecutive offensive rebound before committing a foul and surrendering a 3-pointer. Minor mistakes in a decisive blowout.
We still don’t have a great indication of who the leading scorer and “go-to” guy for the team will be. Typically, the teams that make the Final Four rely on elite guard play, and right now, Tech’s strength is in the front court. Ideally, the Red Raiders will have a guard or two and perhaps a wing emerge as consistent, reliable scorers by the time we reach the postseason.
For now, we’ll focus on the positive - Tech is 1-0, and full of potential.