Year In Review: Best of 2011

The Staff is taking time as the year wraps up to reflect on what was the year 2011



Thomas Lott: Overtime Thriller


Though Texas Tech Soccer may be the forgotten sport in Lubbock, they may have had the best games on the season. A 1-0 win over Missouri was one of the most physical games on the season and a marquis win for the Red Raiders. The 2-1 loss to Hofstra in the Red Raider Classic saw the first overtime game of the year, and the 1-0 victory over the Rice Owls was a preview of things to come in the season opener. But the game of the year for Tech Soccer and all of Tech sports was the home finale with the Longhorns of the University of Texas. The Red Raiders were coming off several lackluster performances including a loss to a Kansas team which left the Red Raiders in dire need of a win if they had any hope of making the NCAA Tournament. The game was back and forth as each team traded blow for blow as Regulation ended at a 2-2 tie. No goals were scored in the first overtime, but in the second, the Red Raiders moved the ball up the field methodically when Tiffini Smith made one last pass to a sliding Jessica Fuston who put the ball in the back of the net to give the Red Raiders a 3-2 victory in Double Overtime. The win essentially gave the Red Raiders the 4th seed in the Big 12 Tournament where they lost to UT in the rematch, but the final game of the year in Lubbock is what every Tech Soccer fan will remember.


John Baucum: Lady Raiders Games in Tournament


Though it won't technically be in 2011, the best game(s) will be Lady Raiders' run in the NCAA tournament. Currently undefeated and ranked 13th in the latest AP poll, it's fair to say that Kristy Curry's bunch has been a pleasant surprise thus far.


Joe Yeager: Sooners Upset


Tech's defeat of Oklahoma in Norman is the obvious answer. The Red Raiders had never really come close to beating the Sooners at home, and they weren't the only program with that legacy of futility—OU was riding a 39-game home winning streak.


Joshua Koch: Lady Raiders Roll Bears


Anytime the students have a reason to rush the court, which usually means it was a game to remember for the ages.

For a program that has been slowly getting back to its glory days, the Lady Raider Basketball program, an upset of the top team in the country would definitely put them on the map.

No.1 Baylor rolled into Lubbock looking to take down the Lady Raiders for the second time in one season, but the second time would not go well for the Lady Bears.

Tech came out with a chip on their shoulder and took a lead into halftime, which they would never give up and take down the No.1 team in the land.

It was a great game and a statement for Kristy Curry's program that she has been trying to bring back to national prominence and with a 12-0 start to this season looks like the Baylor upset was a huge launching point.







Thomas Lott: Don Flora for Volleyball


The Lady Raider Volleyball team was forgotten. It was a sad joke in a school that is often laughed at in the Big 12. But when Texas Tech hired coach Don Flora, things changed. The energetic and experienced coach lit a fire under the Red Raider Volleyball team, getting them off to a 13-1 start with their only loss coming to a TCU team that only lost one game in the first half of their season. They only won one game in conference, but they took several teams down to the wire including then  25th ranked Oklahoma where they were one point away from victory and Texas A&M who they took to a fifth set and gave them everything they could want. Tech may have won only one game in conference, but Flora will continue to improve this team and bring the Red Raiders back to relevancy in the Big 12.


John Baucum: Future Defensive Coordinator


Let's be honest here. Football drives a university's national publicity as well as its athletic department funding. As a Red Raider fan, the best coaching hire of 2011 ought to be the yet-to-be-named defensive coordinator.


Joe Yeager:  Billy Ball


It's still very early, and the results in the won/loss column are unimpressive so far, but I like what I see from Billy Gillispie. He's motivated his very young team to play with great effort, and he has generated sufficient interest that home attendance has been pretty decent. If this team improves more rapidly than confidence erodes following some inevitable ugly losses in Big 12 play, the Red Raiders could be good by the end of the season.


Joshua Koch: Hello Hocutt


He might not be a coach, but to me the best hire of 2011 was a young and upcoming Athletic Director in Kirby Hocutt to replace Gerald Meyers.

Hocutt so far has hired Billy Gillispie and we will see how that works out, but also the advancement of facilities has been nice to see.

The baseball stadium is getting a facelift right now, the softball field is getting seats added to put the total available there is over 1,000 which could mean the possibility of an NCAA Regional being hosted here in Lubbock.

Hocutt has a vision for Texas Tech athletics and we will see where it ends up but so far so people should be happy with what he has done thus far.

2012 will be a fun year for Hocutt to see what he can do.






Thomas Lott: Lady Raider Time


In a 2011 year where many of the seasons turned out to be disappointments, (see Texas Tech football), the Lady Raider Basketball team proved to be a model of consistency and a reason for hope in the Red Raider fan base. After a strong showing in 2010-2011 and an NCAA tournament appearance, the Lady Raiders picked up right where they left off by coming out firing starting the season 10-0 and taking down the then 15th ranked Penn State Lady Lions in the United Spirit Arena. They can do it all with Kierra Mallard on the inside, racking up double-double after double-double, Casey Morris on the outside who should never been left open beyond the arc, and Monique Smalls wreaking havoc in the Lady Raider's dominant defense while being one of the most efficient guards in the country hardly turning the ball over at all. The season is just beginning, but the Lady Raiders have clearly been the best team in 2011.


John Baucum: Run Raiders Run


The best team of 2011 had to be the women's cross country team. Rose Tanui led a solid group and had an outstanding individual season, finishing 35th at the NCAA Championships to earn All America honors.


Joe Yeager: Making History


Track team. Combined men's and women's teams finished ninth in the NCAA outdoor national, which was second best in school history, trailing an eighth place finish in 2004. 


Joshua Koch: Softball Making Moves


The Texas Tech softball team made it back to the NCAA Tournament, but was unable to reach the first superregional in school history.

Despite falling short the Red Raiders finished the season 42-16, which marked the second most wins in school history.

A 10-2 loss to Arizona is what finished off the Red Raiders, but the squad does return the entire squad as there were no seniors on last season's squad.

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