Jaye Crockett played one of the best first games I have seen from a freshman. He was outstanding on both ends of the floor … something that is going to be huge for this team all year. His performance wasn't the only one by a freshman though; Javarez Willis and Jamel Outler both notable efforts as well. All of the young guys have talent but most importantly they can all play defense on the court. Defense is what I like the most, because it can carry this team to where they want to be at the end of the season. It is exciting to see this kind of youth on the floor.
The returnees also played really well. Mike Davis and David Tairu were part of a key stretch in the second half that let the Red Raiders catch up and eventually take the lead in the game. I was impressed with Brad Reese; he played aggressively on the boards and looked for his shot on the offensive end.
Overall, for a first game, it was good all the way around. The game had a close first half with back and forth lead changes; this is great for a team early in the year. It builds character for the team and will make them a more cohesive unit. I am excited about the amount of athleticism that we saw on the floor Friday. I think we are all finally getting to see the kind of players the Coach Pat has been striving for. With a successful first game behind them, now it is on to play at the Super Pit of North Texas.
This could be a difficult game to play away. The Mean Green of North Texas has a group of great players that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year. It will be a good test for this Raider team; they will have to play together for all 40 minutes.
This will be a game where all of those seniors will have to lead the team with their experience from past seasons of playing on the road. I do know that for Tech to win this game it will be on the defensive end of the floor. It was easy to see Friday that Tech is at its best when they are playing good aggressive defense and rebounding the ball.
Rebounding will be an issue for this team, but I think they can hold their own. They will have to focus on the block-out and then use their length and jumping ability to go and get the ball. If they can continue to get in passing lanes and steals, the rebounding part of the game will come naturally. Once they can secure the rebound, this team is off to the races to play in the open court better than any team Tech has had in years.
From the first game of the year, I am taking away high expectations for this team. They surely are an exciting team to watch. This next game will be a tough one, however if they repeat the second half of the first game, I believe they can get a huge win for them at the Super Pit.
As always, tune to any of the stations on the Texas Tech Sports Network to listen for Mark Finkner and me call the game as the Red Raiders go for their second win of the year ... and the first of many to come on the road.