An Inchoate Team: With a new coach and a slew of new players, the Red Raiders are much what you would expect. They are a team that is nowhere close to gelling. Indeed, sometimes they barely resemble a team at all. Rather, this group often looks like a collection of talented schoolyard ballers who gathered at Rucker Park for a pickup game.
How far this team goes will depend entirely on how quickly Chris Walker and his staff can form it into a cohesive whole. It will require much bonding and chemistry-building before these Red Raiders are ready to withstand Big 12 competition. A sound, precise team will quite frankly take them apart. But there is plenty of time for the transformation to occur if the players listen to their coaches and don't sweat the bad losses that are inevitable.
Bi-Polar: Has any Red Raider ever been more effective on defense and less effective on offense in the same game than Josh Gray? His shooting eye was miserable as Gray went four of 17 from the floor, and many of those heaves didn't even come close. Gray did contribute four assists, but they were negated by four turnovers.
Defensively, however, he was a sight to behold, collecting seven steals. Gray's hand quickness is incredible, but what makes him such a defensive force is his anticipation and feel for the opponent. Gray seems to know where the ballhandler is going with the ball before he does. He reminds me of former Tech guard Wendell Owens (from Queens, New York), but has the potential to be much better. At least on defense.
Uniform Disappointment: Color me disgusted. Texas Tech's new uniforms, regardless of their aesthetic merits, have no place on the Red Raiders. The university's school colors are scarlet and black (with necessary allowance for white), not chartreuse, puce, magenta or gray.
School colors exist for a reason—they identify the players and fans who represent that school. To the extent that The Powers adulterate school uniforms with alien colors, the university's identity is diffracted. Tech's basketball team might as well have been Oklahoma State based on the uniforms.
But we all know that catering to the whims of consumers and the greedy pursuit of filthy lucre are speedy destroyers of tradition and identity. Until athletic directors (or chancellors) step in to stop these uniform debacles, they will multiply. Then again, I suspect the ADs and chancellors are usually behind this nonsense to begin with.
I'm a Crockett Man: When all and sundry were getting giddy last year over phrosh phenom Jordan Tolbert, I was convinced that Jaye Crockett was every bit his equal. Now, in Crockett's junior season, it is readily apparent that the guy from Clovis is easily the best player on the team. Unlike the other Red Raiders (with due deference to Jamal Williams and Dejan Kravic), Crockett's game is polished and well rounded. He passes, he handles, he finishes, defends reasonably well, and he now shoots from anywhere on the court. And he also has cleaned up his biggest weakness from last year—turnovers. Crockett is also the leader of this team.
Body Language: Daylen Robinson needs to buck up more and pout less. Trency Jackson needs to pay less attention to the officials. Jamal Williams and Toddrick Gotcher, on the other hand, seem to have the right attitude. Williams is intense and focused, but doesn't let the small stuff get to him. He just keeps going on about his business. And I love Gotcher's positive energy. His skill level remains to be seen, but regardless of how his talent pans out, I believe he brings some nice intangibles to the court. He reminds me of a Duke basketball player. And I mean that as a compliment.