Dunks to Airballs: Kansas Yeager Shots

Joe Yeager weighs in on the Red Raiders loss to the Jayhawks.

Dunks to Airballs: In Tech's recent victory over TCU, I lost track of the amount of dunks the Red Raiders converted. In the 79-42 loss to Kansas, I lost track of the number of airballs Tech shot.


The point is not as glib as it seems. Specifically, when teams are playing well, dominating, they shoot a high number of shots right around the basket. Some of them will be dunks. When playing poorly, getting outclassed, they settle for jumpshots, some of which may miss everything.


Once Kansas found its groove, the Red Raiders were reduced to jacking up long bombs, hardly the team's strong suit. And at that point, the expected disaster materialized.


No Respond-Ability: Tech got creamed on Senior Night at Phog Allen Field House by a likely number one tourney seed that starts four seniors and a lottery pick. No real shame in it. The Red Raiders are still very young and are simply not equipped to deal with that sort of an environment. Heck, few teams are. Nobody would have beaten the Jayhawks tonight, and precious few teams would have kept the final deficit in single digits.


Nevertheless, Tech started the game very respectably, and managed to defer Jayhawk gratification for a solid 12 minutes of play. But a key marker in this defeat—and it has been a constant all season long—was the inability to respond well to a steep deficit. This Red Raider team, when it falls behind by say eight points or more, simply cannot battle back. What is really a manageable margin (eight points is only three scores, after all) inevitably snowballs and builds to something insuperable. This team just is not capable of coming back.


Ultimately, the lack of respond-ability comes from a lack of confidence and composure. This Red Raider team does not come back because it does not believe it can. The squad that ultimately lost by 37 points to Kansas was the same team that trailed by only three points with eight minutes to play in the first half. But when a battered psyche is falling under punches, all it can do is attempt to cover up and limit the hurt. Whoever rights the Tech ship will have to confront this problem just as surely as the talent and experience deficiency.


Caving Kravic: In the preceding installation of this column, I mentioned Dejan Kravic's inconsistency, and that observation certainly rang true against the Jayhawks. Kravic pretty much had his way against TCU, but could do nothing right against Kansas. He went 0 for six from the field in Lawrence, and most of those misses were the same easy, point-blank attempts he converted against the Horned Frogs. Jeff Withey certainly makes a difference, but if Kravic is ever to be a real player for the Red Raiders he simply must become more consistent and develop some mental toughness.


The Crockett Solution: Chris Walker saw the problems Kravic was having and inserted Jaye Crockett for Kravic in the high post. The combination of Crockett and Jordan Tolbert is one we haven't seen much this season, but it showed promise. Crockett made some very nice entry passes and Tolbert converted manfully. I'd expect to see this duo on the floor quickly against the University of Texas if Kravic gets off to another slow start.




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