TCU Yeager Shots: Walker Bolsters Resume

Joe Yeager weighs in on the Red Raiders victory against the Horned Frogs on Saturday inside the USA.

Walker Bolsters His Resume: Chris Walker is now on the good side of the bubble. His team's very solid performance in what was likely a litmus test against TCU, gives the Red Raiders three conference wins (two more than last year) and lends Walker's candidacy greater plausibility.


Tech will next face Kansas on the road (a close game at halftime is the best Kirby Hocutt can reasonably expect) and draw Texas at home to conclude conference play.


I suspect that, following the victory over the Horned Frogs, Hocutt has drawn up a contract. If Tech manages a win in the remainder of the season, he will present it to Chris Walker in the victorious locker room. Should the Red Raiders lose out, Hocutt will have a very tough call on his hands, but if he does still decide to offer Walker the full-time job, nobody can reasonably object. He is a credible head coach.  


Gunslinger's Floor Game: Josh Gray is most famous for his ability to penetrate at will and get to the rack. But that was not part of today's game plan. Walker and his staff clearly wanted Tech's guards, Gray included, to pound the ball inside to Jordan Tolbert and Dejan Kravic. The Red Raiders executed that game plan fairly to a tee as Tolbert tallied 22 points on nine of 10 shooting and Kravic chipped in 16 points on seven of 11 from the field. Gray's one-on-one play and the hesitation blow-by were conspicuously absent. But Gray was all the more impressive because of it.


Today he shed his lead guard cloak and busted out the true point guard habiliments. In short, Gray's floor game was tremendous. He played with poise and control (resembling Jason Martin somewhat), dishing out six assists, committing only two turnovers, and garnering his customary three steals. The cross-court dime to Ty Nurse for the trifecta as the first half ended was a thing of beauty.


Gray's game is proceeding by fits and starts, but the development is clearly there. And it's coming in tandem with maturity and unselfishness—the essential traits of a real point guard.


Kravic Also Has Floor Game: Folks will look at the stat sheet and be impressed by Dejan Kravic's 16 points and 11 rebounds, but the real take-away from his performance against TCU is the three assists. Kravic's point and rebound productivity is wildly inconsistent, but his ability to pass the rock is a constant. At six-foot-11 he can easily survey the court, and he has a very nice touch indeed on his passes. Regardless of who is coaching the Red Raiders next season, that coach simply must incorporate Kravic as a high-post point forward in the offense. The Red Raiders shot 62 percent against TCU and Kravic's floor game was a significant reason why.


Doctors of Dunk: Honestly, I do not remember the last time a Texas Tech basketball team authored so many highlight reel plays. The dunks, the gorgeously timed ally oops, the pressure packed three point shots—I felt like I was watching the 1980 Louisville Cardinals with Jordan Tolbert acting the part of Darrell Griffith. It was a fun game to watch and the largish home crowd certainly enjoyed every bone-rattling, spine-chilling, blood-boiling throw-down.


Zone Au Poivre: Hats off to the Red Raiders for carving up TCU's ineffectual zone defense like a grain-fed filet mignon. Tech repeatedly found Kravic in the middle of the defense where he scored and dished with equal effectiveness, and Tolbert on the baseline where he scored almost at will. This was very fine execution.


Taking a Dive…or Not: Late in the game Josh Gray poked the ball away from a Horned Frog guard and Jaye Crockett fumbled the loose orange out of bounds. Gray gently admonished Crockett, "Dive for it!" Gray was right; Crockett needs to learn to sell out in those situations.

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