Men's Basketball Practice Report

Friday was the first practice for the men's basketball team and was there to take in all the action. How did the 8 newcomers look at their first practice? Is Charlie Burgess, the Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, as good as advertised? We have answers to these questions and much more. Come inside to read the most in-depth practice report available.

Practice Outline 

  • Shooting drills- guards and forwards, 5s not in gym
  • 2-on-2 half court- guards and forwards separated
  • 4-on-4 half court- emphasized defense (especially staying in the passing lanes) and rebounds- guards and forwards separated
  • 4-on-4 half court- emphasized driving to the basket- guards and forwards separated
  • Free throws
  • 4-on-4 half court- 1 dribble
  • 3-on-3 with post inside
  • Free throws
  • 5 on offense, 4 on defense- half court- 3 possessions each
  • 4-on-4- half court- coaches call out rules (one dribble, drive, etc.)
  • Free throws
  • 5-on-5 full court- players called an offense or coaches called them out
  • Free throws


Projected Starting Lineup

G Jarrius Jackson
G Charlie Burgess
G Martin Zeno
F Darryl Dora
C Esmir Rizvic

First guys off the bench:
Guards: Benny Valentine and Alan Voskuil
Forwards: Damir Suljagic and Jon Plefka

Impressions from Practice:


The new players seemed to fit in very nicely with the team.  It was obvious that the new recruits have spent some time playing with the older players during the off-season.  There is a cohesiveness about this group that is very mature for this early in the season.

Rebounding still needs to improve.  The big men often tried to out-jump each other for the rebound instead of finding a man and blocking out.

The tempo, especially during 5-on-5 was very fast paced.  The guards pushed the ball and created lots of fast breaks.

The guards did a very good job of handling the ball.  The guards will be our strongest unit on the floor and must lead for the Red Raiders to have a successful year.

Compared to last year, Texas Tech looks more ready to compete.  Overall, there were fewer mistakes and the players seemed to understand their individual responsibilities.

The coaches are looking for team leaders.  The coaches encouraged players to call out offensive sets and take charge numerous times during the practice.  Coach Knight specifically told Jay and Tanner to step up and be leaders.

Individual Players

New Additions:
Charles Burgess was impressive.  He has outstanding ball handling skills and is very fast.  He and Valentine both hustle and seem to add a spark to the team that we were missing last year.  Burgess looks like he already fits in with the team and didn't hesitate to speak up when team members weren't playing up to their potential.  He definitely looks ready to compete in the rigorous Big 12.

Benny Valentine is very fast and pushed the ball a lot.  He is a scrappy player and has a good shot.  He has great court awareness and threw some amazing assists. Coach Knight encouraged him to shot fake more often.  He looks ready to play and was vocal when out on the court.

Esmir Rizvic looks to be the first true center we have had in a while.  He has great feet around the basket and is able to finish plays strong.  On numerous occasions, Coach Knight chided the guards to get the ball down low to Esmir.  He is great at establishing position, but needs to work on sealing the defender off when the guards feed him the ball.  One aspect of Esmir's game that really stuck out was his ability to make good passes while in the lane.  This will be vital to our success against teams that like to throw a zone defense out at Coach Knight's motion offense.

Esmir's teammate at Gulf Coast Community College, Jay Mitchell, is also a force to be reckoned with at 6'8" and 235 pounds.  Jay is a great screener and has a nice touch around the basket.  His most vital contributions when he's in the game will be defense and rebounding.

Decensae White is the only true freshman on the team this year.  What stuck out most about Decensae's play was that he did not seem nervous or tentative, especially since it was his first official practice for Texas Tech.  He is quick and handles the ball well, but he looks like a great candidate for a redshirt season to give his body time to fill out.

Trevor Cook transferred in from Texas State and will have to sit out 1 year per NCAA transfer rules.  At 6'8 and 220 pounds, he moves extremely well for his size.  Having this year off will help him adjust, and he will be ready to play by the 2007-08 season.

Tyler Hoffmeister, who earned a spot on the team by beating out some stiff competition in ESPN's Knight School, participated in his first real practice as a Red Raider.  At 6'6" and only 200 pounds, his size will be a limiting factor.  However, Tyler made up for his lack of size with outstanding effort and obvious knowledge of the game.

Rogdrick Craig was at practice but did not play due to a medical condition.

Jarrius Jackson picked up where he left off last year.  He is clearly the most skilled player on the team and is shooting very well.  Jackson looks to benefit from the addition of Valentine and Burgess of their ability to push the ball and create fast break opportunities.

Damir Suljagic played aggressively and with a lot of fire.  His knee seems to have fully recovered, and he doesn't play tentatively or seem concerned about getting bumped around in the paint.  He looks stronger but needs to work on finishing plays.  Coach Knight complimented him for good play but also got onto him for taking bad shots.

Martin Zeno is extremely fast and still has that quick first step to get around his defender.  He did a good job of attacking the basket, but he still needs to work on his jump shot.  Martin seemed frustrated when he or other players on his team made mistakes.

Darryl Dora is still Darryl Dora.  He has great range on his shot and moves really well for a big man.  The difference this year is that we now have a legitimate low post presence in Esmir Rizvic, which will allow Dora to move more freely and play the type of game he is best at. 

Alan Voskuil shot really well and played good defense.  Voskuil is one of the best pure shooters on the team.  He did a good job of shot faking and getting his defender off of his feet so he can drive around the defender and pull up for an open jump shot.  Alan needs to improve on driving to the basket and making it more difficult for defenders to key in on his shot.

Jon Plefka is still the most aggressive big man that we have on roster.  He is not afraid to bang down low and looks to have improved on his rebounding ability.  He has a tendency to settle for the mid-range jumper as opposed to taking the ball strong to the basket. 

Michael Prince looks stronger and more filled out compared to last year.  He played intense and aggressive and was always hustling.  He looks to have improved his mid-range jumper and will be an effective spark for us when he is on the court.

LucQuente White is still the tenacious defender he has always been.  The best thing about having LucQuente on the floor is his ability to make good decisions and avoid mistakes.

Tanner Ogden shot lights out when he got an open look from the 3-point line.  He had a few turnovers during 5-on-5, but he was always giving 100% when he was on the court. 

Justin Wilkerson wore a face guard because of a recent injury, and it seemed to bother him all practice.  He made a really good move in the post against Trevor Cook, which showed he has the speed and quickness to be an effective forward.  The jury is still out on Justin, but as he gets more experience at the Division 1 level, he can be a solid contributor to the Red Raiders.

Quotes from Coach

"We better play defense, cause we can't shoot worth a damn," watching players during 2-on-2 half court play.

"I'm not going to watch one guy walk out here all year.  If you want to run, then we'll … run."

"The ball is talking to you when you're on defense… Listen!  The ball is telling you where to go."

"Are you sure you graduated from high school?" to Prince after a mistake during 4-on-4 play.

After the practice, Coach Knight talked to the audience.  He stated that they we should be able to tell that they are not happy with last year's performance.  (He brought up last year multiple times when correcting players' mistakes or reprimanding the team for poor play.)  He said that the players and coaches are working hard to ensure that they improve and that they need fan support.  "Just come.  You don't have a ticket, we'll get you in… just come." Knight said.  "I'm tired of these seats being empty."

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