Tubby Smith enters the 2014-15 season in year two of rebuilding the Texas Tech Red Raider basketball program. Last season, Tech finished 14-18 (6-12 in conference) and when the Big 12 released its preseason rankings earlier this month, they were once again picked toward the bottom of the league.
That said, they were able to pull off some major upsets along the way, defeating then 19th rated Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma a few days later, and defeated Texas at home.
Smith’s teams have finished in the op three in their conference in field goal percentage defense every year throughout his coaching career.
The Red Raiders lost three starters from a team that finished second to last in the league in scoring offense during conference play (64.5 points). However, Tech did have the top ranked defensive scoring team in the league holding opponents to just 68 points per game.
Gone are starters Jaye Crockett, DeJan Kravic and Jordan Tolbert who combined for more than 60 percent of last years total team production in points, rebounds, steals and blocked shots. Also leaving the program during the off-season was junior guard Dusty Hannahs who transferred to Arkansas last spring, and sophomore Patrick Strake is not listed on the 2014-15 roster.
Those returning include starters junior Toddrick Gotcher and senior Robert Turner who finished third in the league averaging 1.5 steals per contest during conference.
Mar 5, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Robert Turner (14) drives to the basket against Kansas Jayhawks guard Frank Mason (0) in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports1
Tubby Smith will have 7 new players on his roster this winter at his disposal. Including freshmen; Keenan Evans, a 6 foot 3 guard out of Texas who was TABC First Team All-State shunning offers from Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia and others. Justin Gray, a 6 foot 5 guard out of Tampa. Zach Smith, 6 foot 8 forward from Plano, Texas, chose the Red Raiders over offers from Kansas State, Marquette, Nebraska and others. Isaiah Manderson is a 6 foot 10 forward who had originally committed to Oregon State before their head coach was released. He had offers from UCLA, Kansas State, UNLV among others. And 6 foot 9 forward Norense Odiase. Odiase averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds a game last season in Delray Beach, FL and weights 265 pounds.
Also joining the team is a pair of transfers from JUCO Missouri State – West Plains; Devaughntah Williams and Justin Jamison. Williams’ is a guard who averaged 17.8 points last season and Jamsion a 6 foot 9 forward weighing 260 pounds who averaged 10.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a year ago.
Looking at the schedule
The Red Raiders won’t be tested much during the non-conference schedule. Coach Smith will look to build some confidence within his squad before the conference season begins as they only leave Lubbock twice in 2014; a November 18th matchup against LSU, and traveling to Las Vegas as part of Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic where they will play either Loyola (Ill) or Boise State/Houston. What they lack for competition in November and December will surely be tested once they enter Big 12 play as they will play host to Texas to open Big 12 play on January 3rd and then go on the road to play at Kansas a week later.
Overall, this could be another difficult year for the Red Raiders, only returning two starters, and having to rely on a lot of new faces and young bodies this season. However, with a league full of offensive fire power and built on scoring (The Big 12 had 5 teams finish in the top 25 in scoring offense last season), coach Tubby Smith has gone the opposite way and relied on his ball-line man to man defense. Smith’s teams have finished in the top three in their conference in field goal percentage defense every year throughout his coaching career. We will see if he has the players to score as well.