R*O*C*K in the USA: Trying to find a way to kill those Red Raider football blues? If you are able, you might want to make your way out the United Spirit Arena to catch some Texas Tech roundball. Nobody's claiming Billy Clyde's crew is quite ready to storm the Big 12, but this basketball team has some spark to it. They hustle, they scrap on defense, they do a good job on the glass, and they're just fun to watch. So if you've been benumbed by the Pat Knight years, break out of your trance and give this team a chance. I think Billy Clyde's got something to show us.
A Pretty Salty Win: Most people will look at a five-point home win over North Texas and be unimpressed. The Mean Green are not the Blue Devils, and a win in Lubbock is not quite the same thing as taking one in the Phog. But do not be deceived by surface appearances. North Texas is a program that has gone to the NCAA tournament recently, and don't be surprised if they return again very soon. The Mean Green are a well-schooled team with some real talent. And they fully expected to beat the Red Raiders. When all is said and done we will look back on this one and mark it as a quality win.
Give Pat Some Credit: Pat Knight didn't make much of an impression in the win column during his Tech tenure, but the record will show that he certainly drew blood with his final recruiting effort. Jordan Tolbert, Terran Petteway, Toddrick Gotcher and Kevin Wagner, Knight recruits all of them, are players. Tolbert is a physical, relentless player who will be a glass cleaner. Think of him as a mini Wes Unseld. Petteway is a long-armed specimen who will create defensive havoc on the perimeter and force lots of turnovers. Gotcher is a complete player who can do a little bit of everything. And Wagner is a guy who can pass the ball and shoot the rock effectively. If these four freshmen stick together, they will do great things in scarlet and black. They could be Tech's best freshman group since Lenny Holly, Koy Smith and Jason Sasser.
Pitch and Catch: This team's biggest strength right now is passing the basketball, and its biggest weakness is catching it. There are numerous players on this club—Jaye Crockett, Kevin Wagner, Ty Nurse, Terran Petteway chief among them—who can dish the rock beautifully. Unfortunately, there aren't many players on the roster who are capable of catching those passes and converting them into points. Some of this is bad hands, and some of it is lack of awareness. Either way, it is the explanation for why this team turns the ball over so much.
A Danger Sign: NTSU freshman point guard Chris Jones singed the Red Raiders with 31 points on nine of 21 shooting and 12 of 13 from the charity stripe. The vast majority of Jones' hoops came off of right-side penetration leading to layups. Billy Clyde tried several defenders on Jones and all were equally ineffective. Tech's on-the-ball defense simply must improve because there is no shortage of quick point guards in the Big 12. And until the Red Raiders prove they can stop dribble penetration, the opposition will cram the orange down the lane until Tech adjusts or succumbs.