Forward Toward February: Look at TT

Forward Toward February: Look at TT
February 3, 2013, 12:00 pm
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It’s that time of the year again for men’s college hoops fanatics. The calendar rolls over from January to February, and with that roll over comes the heart of the conference schedules.  The top teams aim to touch up their résumés, while bubble teams look for a key victory to put them over the top.  Let’s take a look at how the season has unfolded thus far and what is next for some of the teams that are dear to the hearts of Houston residents…

Texas Tech Red Raiders:

Record as of Feb. 2: 9-10, 2-6 in Conference Play (eighth in Big 12)

Key Wins: Jan. 23 vs. Iowa State

Bad Losses: Dec. 16 vs. McNeese State; Jan. 26 at Texas

Season To Date: The Red Raiders made headlines over the summer before the season with the antics and absence of Head Coach Billy Gillispie.  

Chris Walker has filled the coaching role on an interim basis. Tech has been rather mediocre this season as a squad. None of its nine wins have been overly impressive.  Jaye Crockett’s play at the forward position has been something for the Red Raiders to lean on all season. He is averaging 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

The performance of sophomore Jordan Tolbert has been especially disappointing. Tolbert’s numbers are down across the board. His scoring average has dipped by 2.5 points, which can partially be attributed to his struggles at the free-throw line. Last season Tolbert shot 72 percent at the line… this season that number has fallen to 62.

For Texas Tech to make any noise moving forward in the Big 12, Tolbert needs to find his form from freshman year.  One thing that stands out about the Red Raiders is their three-point shooting… it is just plain brutal.  As a team, Texas Tech connects on only 26 percent of its threes.

Looking ahead: Feb. 9 at Baylor; Feb. 25 at Kansas St.; March 9 vs. Texas

Analysis: The Red Raiders are more likely to be playing the role of spoilers this season, with a shot at a bid in the NIT tournament. Knocking off NCAA hopefuls in Baylor and Kansas State on the road would be a nice résumé builder for Tech and would certainly throw a wrench in the tourney hopes of their opponents.  

The March 9 meeting with Texas is simply about pride. Rarely does Tech get the chance to stick it to their in-state rivals… if ever there was a year, this is it.

Team MVP so far: Crockett…Where Tolbert’s struggles have been apparent, Crockett’s success has been just as evident. The junior forward is undersized for his position, but nonetheless is effective. He is a relentless rebounder who looks for contact. However, his rebounding numbers have fallen off a bit in Big 12 play. He has recorded more than eight rebounds only once in the last eight games. In order for the Red Raiders to make a push for the NIT, Crockett needs to get back to being a force on the glass.

Player to watch: Dejan Kravic…The 6-11 center from Canada is still a relative unknown.  In his first season of action with the Red Raiders, Kravic is averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Kravic only plays 20 minutes a night, which can be attributed to his lack of game awareness at times and his inability to stay out of foul trouble. The skills are there for Kravic… it’s just a matter adapting to the speed of Big 12 play.

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