Plan 9 from Outer Space: The Red Raiders remain winless on Big 12 play and are still enmired in a lengthy losing streak, but let it not be said that Billy Clyde Gillispie has thrown in the towel on this season. In a gallant if Quixotic road effort against No. 2 Missouri, Gillispie jettisoned much of his traditional offense and altered the very style of the team in hopes of pulling off the upset. Alas, the dream went up in smoke, but Tech may have played its best game of the season in the losing cause.
Gone—for the most part—was the high-low post offense that had failed miserably for much of the season. In its place was a slow-down attack featuring an array of back cuts and a spread configuration with three players spaced near midcourt and two along the baseline. The idea—and it was a very good one—was to defeat suffocating pressure defense by quick cuts to the basket, precise passes, and milking the clock in hopes of avoiding turnovers.
The results were much the same as previous conference encounters with the Red Raiders turning the ball over 21 times and scoring only 50 points, but Tech also lost by "only" 13 points and was within seven points of the Tigers with 2:36 to play. Given that a 40-point loss seemed a distinct possibility coming into the game, this was a very good result.
Ultimately, Tech's new offense, which is not terribly unlike what Gerald Myers' teams ran, should be easier for the Red Raiders to operate and may better suit its personnel. Additionally, it will allow the players to conserve some energy on offense that they can then expend on defense.
It's too late in the season for the Red Raiders to make any noise in Big 12 play, but Gillispie's new approach does at least provide a ray of hope that this team could eke out a victory or two before the season ends.
Disaster Averted: Give it up for the heart that this team showed, and give it up for Luke Adams while you're about it. The Red Raiders looked well en route to the humiliation most expected as Mizzou jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead. But just when it looked like Tech was going to get blown out of the joint, in came the little guard from Big Spring, Jordan Tolbert hit a jumper, and from that point on the Red Raiders gave the Tigers all they wanted.
Wagner Solid Again: Kevin Wagner started his second straight game at the point and looks to have solidified his grip on the starting post. He connected on only one of four shots from the field, but did snare five rebounds, and hand out four assists while committing three turnovers in 35 minutes of play. That's a decent stat line for a true freshman point guard playing the nation's No. 2 team.
Wagner's primary problem right now is his size. Or lack of it. And I don't mean the fact that he's only five-foot-eight. No the real issue is his slight build. He just doesn't have the body to ward off physical defenders and is easily rerouted and disrupted by physical man defense. If he can put on 10 to 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason it will do him a power of good.