One of the most miserable basketball seasons in Texas Tech history has come mercifully to a close. But with an intriguing recruiting class set to arrive in several months, there is much hope and expectation for a better future. Before bidding the previous campaign a not so fond adieu, however, a post partum of sorts is in order. Grades for the individual players will tell the story.
Jordan Tolbert: Pat Knight's final recruiting class was unsung, and Jordan Tolbert may have been the most obscure player in that class. He also turned out to be its most pleasant surprise.
Tolbert hit the hardwood running and was a terror in Tech's non-conference schedule. He returned to earth in Big 12 play, but still had several good performances in conference.
Tolbert finished the season averaging 11 points and six rebounds per contest, while shooting 51 percent from the field. Those are good numbers, but look for them to improve dramatically as Tolbert gains experience and Billy Gillispie surrounds him with better talent.
Ty Nurse: Despite playing the point when he should have been playing the two, Nurse was one of only two Red Raiders (Kevin Wagner was the other) who had more assists than turnovers. He shot 39 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. Nurse was also one of the more mature and tough players on the team.
But Nurse was not quick enough to beat opposing guards off the dribble, and consequently pushed off a great deal, which put him in frequent foul trouble. Despite his limitations, however, Nurse was a solid contributor.
Jaye Crockett: Whereas Jordan Tolbert's play deteriorated once the conference slate began, Jaye Crockett's improved. In Big 12 play, Crockett led the Red Raiders with 11 points and six rebounds per game. He also shot 48 percent from the field whereas Tolbert shot 39 percent against Big 12 opponents.
Crockett is a more versatile offensive player than Tolbert, and he's also capable of contributing defensively with steals (he led the team in that category) and blocked shots.
Crockett's chief problems are that he's not consistently physical on defense, and doesn't deny interior position well. Crockett's concentration and effort are not always what they should be either. But he is a legitimate Big 12 talent and proved it last season.
Javarez Willis: No player on the team was streakier than Javarez Willis. When he was on his game, he could score against anybody. But when he was off, he couldn't do much of anything right. And that was the problem—you never knew what you were going to get from Willis. You couldn't count on him.
Willis' inconsistency was mysterious because outside of Kevin Wagner, he was the quickest player on the team and also its most creative player with the ball. Be that as it may, inconsistency was Willis' hallmark, and that is not good.
Robert Lewandowski: Big Lew was the team's only senior and the only player to start every game. On the whole—a horrendous stretch early in conference play notwithstanding--he had a decent season.
Lewandowski played very good interior defense. He led the Red Raiders in blocked shots, and he altered many others. He also had several good scoring nights and was a good leader on the court.
Luke Adams: The walk-on from Big Spring is, improbably enough, Texas Tech's most famous player. He gained renown and respect by overcoming deafness (and shortness) and playing basketball in one of the toughest conferences in the land. And for a freshman walk-on with very real limitations, Adams played fairly well.
Adams' primary value was his three-point shooting ability (he connected on 37 percent of his trifectas). He also garnered 18 steals in fairly limited action.
But at the end of the day Adams' was a rather severe defensive liability. He lacked the height to bother opposing jump shooters and was not quick or strong enough to deny them the ball.
Terran Petteway: The team's only true swingman started 11 games, which was fifth most on the team. But by and large, Petteway was a non-entity. There was just no area in which he excelled. Petteway shot 38 percent from the floor, 32 percent from three-point country and 46 percent from the charity stripe. He averaged two boards per game and committed more turnovers and he dished assists. Petteway's only real utility was playing defense at the top of the zone where he could bother shooters and hamper entry passes.
Clark Lammert: Texas Tech's other walk-on was a pleasant surprise. Lammert played in only 17 games, but gave tremendous effort every time he hit the court. Lammert also shot 56 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point range and 76 percent from the free throw line. He provided some energy off the bench as well.
Like most players on the roster, however, Lammert is limited. He doesn't have the heft to bang inside and won't wow anybody with his ball-handling.
DeShon Minnis: DeShon Minnis finally had a breakout game on offense. Unfortunately, it came in the last game of the season.
That 10-point eruption aside, at this point in his young collegiate career Minnis does not have an offensive game. He has no confidence in his jumper, has a terrible time finishing at the cup, shoots free throws poorly and is a turnover machine.
Minnis' best hope at this point is to develop a midrange game and become a stopper on defense. If Minnis accomplishes this, it will probably be with a program other than Texas Tech.
Jaron Nash: Nash, who shot 28 percent from the free throw line, was out of his depth in D-1 basketball. Hence, his assist/turnover ratio was one-to-10. And that is why he played nine minutes per game, least on by far the worst basketball team in the Big 12.
Toddrick Gotcher: Because Gotcher did not play against a single Big 12 opponent, nobody can say with any certainty what the Red Raiders have here.
Kevin Wagner: Right at the moment Wagner was showing signs of developing into a serviceable point guard, he was kayoed by injury. Wagner is quick and he's a pretty good ball handler. Beyond that, the jury is very much still out.