Red Raiders off to Impressive Start

Texas Tech is off to a hot start in 2009, winning their first six games of the season and snapping an on- the-road losing streak that extended into early 2008. RaiderPower.com evaluates the season so far and breaks down what it will take for the Red Raiders to continue their success on the hardwood as the schedule gets more difficult.

Under first year head coach Pat Knight's leadership last season, the Red Raiders men's basketball team struggled, finishing next to last in Big 12 standings with a dismal 3-13 conference record. While they did manage to pull off a few upsets, most notably beating a Kansas team that eventually made it to the Sweet 16, they also struggled with lesser opponents like Lamar and Iowa State.

Tech especially struggled on the road and finished the season 0-11 when playing on their opponent's home court.

Although it is still early in the season, things are looking up for the Red Raiders, who are 6-0 and recorded their first true road win since February of 2008 by beating Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches on Tuesday night.

While there are no doubt still many questions to be answered, the 2009 Red Raider squad is more athletic and has improved tremendously, and they should be able to put together a much more successful season than 2008-2009.

Forward Mike Singletary is leading the team with 15 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. His presence in the paint has taken much of the pressure of the guards, who accounted for the majority of Tech's offense last season.

JUCO transfer David Tairu has also looked promising early, averaging 10.8 points per game. Tairu must improve his assist to turnover ratio, which is a dismal 1 assist for every 2.3 turnovers, but as his decision making improves, he should be a very solid asset for the Red Raiders.

Perhaps the most improved player for Texas Tech thus far is small forward D'Wayln Roberts, who is averaging 10.6 points and 7 rebounds per game after averaging only 4.9 points and 3.6 boards last season. D'Wayln, who leads the team in rebounds, is playing with more power than last year and seems to have finally found a good balance in his game, playing in control but still utilizing his amazing athleticism.

The season only gets more difficult from here on out for the Red Raiders, as they will face #14 Washington next week and then play tough out-of-conference foes including TCU and New Mexico on the road. To continue their success, the team must play in control and not allow themselves to get down by large deficits.

It is imperative that junior point guard John Roberson take on a leadership role on the court and be a scoring threat to take some of the defenses' focus away from Singletary. In addition, the Red Raiders will have to decrease their turnovers per game, which now stands at 14.4.

The Red Raiders have been fairly successful in limiting their opponents' scoring opportunities and have only allowed more than 60 points in two games. Head coach Pat Knight has put a heavy emphasis on solid defense, and if Texas Tech can continue their defensive dominance as they face tougher opponents, they have the firepower on offense to beat a lot of teams on the schedule.

As the Red Raiders get into the meat of their non-conference schedule, fans are anxious to the true colors of the team. If they can continue to play gritty defense and make good decisions on offense, this team has the potential to surprise a lot of in-conference opponents.



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