With seven new players in the fold, the Red Raiders fully expect to implement a new style of play – up-tempo, free-flowing basketball which utilizes the speed and agility of the guards and the sheer athleticism of the forwards.
While the previous season’s accomplishments, such as defeating ranked opponents like Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas at home or going toe-to-toe with major powers Kansas and Kansas State, are something to be admired and duly lauded, the new season brings a focus and a change in culture among Tubby Smith’s Red Raider team.
Among the previous season’s scorers, Jaye Crockett, Jordan Tolbert, and Dusty Hannahs have all left the program. In their place lies a stable of young talent from the high school and junior college ranks, who should get a run for playing time right away. Wednesday’s presser was a sneak peek into what the 2014-15 season should hold for the Red Raider basketball program.
Texas Tech plans to get in transition and run a lot more than previous years, thanks in part to the departures of plodding big men such as Jordan Tolbert, Dejan Kravic, and Kader Tapsoba.
Tech players have glowed at the chance to get their run-‘n-gun style implemented.
“We can really move up and down the floor now,” Toddrick Gotcher said. “We have a lot of athletes. Last year we slowed it down. This year, we’re very fast, throwing lobs. you won’t see a lot of layups, it’ll be a dunk-fest this season.”
The Kids Are Alright
As mentioned earlier, seven new players will take the floor for Texas Tech this season. They run the gamut of avenues to Division I, from junior college transfers (two) to the traditional high-school route (five). Coupled with Robert Turner, who was a juco guy himself entering last season, there will be much to learn and gel as a team.
Both Turner and Toddrick Gotcher have high hopes for their newfangled bunch of athletes. For example, Turner spoke on the development of Isaiah Manderson, a 6-foot-10 freshman center, and the learning curve for him. “He’s a very hard worker and picks up on things very well. If he forgets something, or a play as far as freshmen go he plays hard, which replaces everything," Turner said. "That’s what you want from him. He’s hungry to get better every day after drills, he comes to me and asks, ‘What can I do better?’ And that’s something that blows me away that a young guy comes in and asks me that every day.”
If any other players step up in practice, it will be up to them to lean on the experience of players such as Turner and Gotcher.
INTERESTING STAT: Of Tech’s top six leading scorers in 2013-14, only Turner and Gotcher are still on the team. Two of those players graduated from school, while two transferred to other major programs.
Moreover, Turner averaged 9.7 points a game last season, while Gotcher had a 7.3 average.