Big 12 Summer Update: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by dnspewak on August 6th, 2012

In an effort to remind you that college basketball does in fact exist during the summer, Big 12 microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) will roll out three summer updates per week during the next month. The goal is to compile every bit of news and information from the summer months for each team and package it into neat, easy-to-read capsules for your convenience. Next on the list — Texas Tech. 

2011-12 record: 8-23, 1-17

Billy Gillispie knew he had a major reclamation project on his hands at Texas Tech when he took over prior to the 2011-12 season. The program, which has always traditionally lagged behind the rest of the Big 12 in attendance and overall support, had slowly faded from a perennial NCAA Tournament team under Bob Knight to a cellar-dwellar under Pat Knight in just a few seasons. So when Gillispie landed in Lubbock after Knight’s firing and brought in a boatload of junior college transfers and freshmen, it was no surprise his team finished with eight victories and showed almost no signs of life in his first season. Apparently, that did not sit well with half the team, since six players decided to transfer during the offseason. Gillispie had originally oversigned with his 2012 recruiting class, so it’s not certain what exactly transpired this spring, but it wasn’t strong publicity for Gillispie. Before you accuse him of losing control of his program, though, look at the actual defections that occurred. He’s not losing his entire team by any means. Only one starter (Javarez Willis) transferred. That’s not good, obviously. But the others? As harsh as it sounds, they’re replaceable. And the fact is, Gillispie’s best player and leading scorer returns for his sophomore year in Jordan Tolbert, and he inked eight — yes, eight — newcomers, a class with decent potential on paper. There are still roster questions and other potential defections to worry about this summer, so much that the team hasn’t even officially published its roster online yet. But minus Billy G’s tumultuous tenure at Kentucky, the rest of his track record affords him the benefit of the doubt at Texas Tech. It might not be all that pretty in 2012-13, but the rebuilding process has entered its critical first steps here. Now, we just need to figure out who’ll actually play on the team next year.

Billy Gillispie’s Program Can’t Go Anywhere But Up

Summer Orientation:  As much potential as this Class of 2012 may have, it already lost one member when juco forward Rodrigo Silva left the team this summer to pursue a pro career in Brazil. It’s important to note that the move isn’t yet official, but the word around Texas Tech circles is Silva’s father is ill, and his family has serious financial needs. Understandable. On the court, it’s difficult to lose a 6’10” forward with the largest frame of any recruit in the class, and he’s not the only one who might not make it back to Texas Tech. Fellow forward Wannah Bail, one of the most highly-touted freshman in this bunch, had problems in the classroom this summer and had to temporarily go home. Gillispie said he expects to see him on campus for the fall semester, but this situation poses a serious problem for everybody involved. Bail, a 6’8” tweener and a top-150 prospect, needs to add considerable strength but has the athleticism and defensive potential to log a lot of minutes in his first season– if he plays. That’s why this is such an important development for Gillispie right now. He played high school ball with Michael Carey, who also committed to Tech in February but may not qualify. To be quite frank with you, we’ve attempted to look into Carey’s status for the 2012-13 season, but it appears completely unknown at this point. We know he signed, and we know there’s questions about his eligibility, but that’s all we know. Again, that’s a trend this summer. Who in the heck will really play for this team this season? Here’s another example: Blake Nash, who did officially transfer to Texas Tech but may or may not play in 2012-13. The former South Florida guard wants a hardship waiver after logging decent minutes as a backup during USF’s NCAA Tournament run in March. If he’s eligible, he’ll likely find his way into the rotation in some capacity for Gillispie in his first season and will help stiffen that point guard battle in off-season and fall practice even more.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 02.15.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on February 15th, 2012

  1. It’s easy to forget that Michael Dixon does not start for Missouri. The point guard may play second-fiddle to Phil Pressey at times, but he’s as important as any player on Frank Haith‘s team. Embracing his role as a reserve, Dixon still cracks the rotation with major minutes and has emerged as a go-to option down the stretch in close games. Known for his confidence and swagger, Dixon’s play has made an impression on Haith in his first season. “I love him,” Haith told the Columbia Missourian. And that pretty much sums things up, folks.
  2. In the aftermath of TCU’s upset win over UNLV last night, perhaps the future of Big 12 basketball isn’t so bleak after all. ESPN’s Andy Katz takes a look at next year’s league, which will lose Missouri and Texas A&M while gaining TCU and West Virginia. Katz makes an interesting observation with regards to the Mountaineers’ travel time, considering the school is located in an odd geographic area compared to the rest of the conference. Coach Bob Huggins said he’s not worried: “we’ll just charter in and out,” he told Katz.
  3. Kansas may not have played particularly well in a win over Kansas State on Monday night, but it did what it needed to do to secure a road victory in a difficult environment. One blog investigates some of the statistics behind the win, and as you can imagine, a lot of the credit needs to go to center Jeff Withey. Without a typical Thomas Robinson performance, Withey carried the team with his double-double and nine blocks. As a team, the Jayhawks did not rebound very well, but they got to the free throw line and held Kansas State’s offense in check with a gritty defensive effort.
  4. Want to talk about another gritty effort? Look no further than Texas A&M last night. The Aggies limited Texas Tech to 38 points in a victory in Lubbock by dominating the boards and stifling the young Red Raiders. The stats are ugly in this box score: Tech made zero free throws, allowed 15 offensive rebounds and shot 38.6% from the field. Only reserve Jaye Crockett broke double figures. A&M actually shot worse from the field and finished with more turnovers, but its rebounding got the job done.
  5. Unlike college football, redshirts in basketball are a little rarer. It does not take freshman as much time to acclimate to the Division I level from a physical standpoint, so you don’t see programs utilize the redshirt nearly as much. At Oklahoma State, though, two redshirt freshmen are making an impact in their first season. With injuries and transfers limiting Travis Ford‘s roster, Michael Cobbins and Brian Williams have made the most of their opportunities. Much has been made of Cobbins’ muscle gain and improved play, but Williams has also been a very nice surprise as a swingman averaging about 25 minutes per game.
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Big 12 Team Previews: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by dnspewak on November 2nd, 2011

Projected Finish: 10th

2010-11 Record: 13-19, 5-11 (11th, Big 12)

Head Coach: Billy Gillispie, first season

Key Losses: John Roberson (14.1 PPG), Mike Singletary (12.7 PPG), Brad Reese (11.5 PPG), David Tairu (10.0 PPG)

It’s a fresh start at Texas Tech this season in every sense of the phrase. The school fired Pat Knight after a run of mediocrity, and the roster now consists of one returning starter from the 2010-11 team. The top four scorers are gone, and the program hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since Bob Knight led it there in 2006-07. So why the sense of optimism right now in Lubbock? It’s all for one reason: the hiring of new coach Billy Gillispie. After successful tenures at both UTEP and Texas A&M (and a decent two years at Kentucky that most other schools would accept), Gillispie is tailor-made for this job. At this point, his roster is bare: nine freshmen and only a few recognizable faces. The 2011-12 campaign may be difficult, but it won’t stay that way for long.

Gillispie Will Attempt to Rehabiltate His Image in Lubbock

The Stars: This team revolves around forward Robert Lewandowski, the only player on the team who averaged more than 13 minutes per game last season after starting 26 games. As the only senior on the roster, he’s also never been a primary scoring option. However, he’s a big, strong center with a decent defensive presence, and he’s a smart player who makes high-percentage shots. Plus, Lewandowski also lost 25 pounds this offseason, which means he’ll be significantly more mobile. The lighter frame should also help with his stamina, as he seemed to wear down toward the end of last year. He doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional “star,” but he’s got to emerge as the go-to option this season. If not, Tech’s going to have a heck of a time scoring on the offensive end.

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RTC Summer Updates: Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 10th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Big 12 correspondent, Evan Pfaff.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • Round Robin Scheduling – For the first time since the Big 12 was formed, the conference will implement full round-robin scheduling, meaning each school will play a home-and-home with each of the other nine schools in the conference.  In the past, schools played the teams in their division in a home-and-home, but only played schools in the other division once per season, switching home courts every year.  That meant the epic battles between the Texas Longhorns and Kansas Jayhawks happened only once per regular season, and whichever school hosted the game had a monumental advantage over the other.  With a full round-robin format, not only will each school play two additional conference games, but seeding will be based more on outcomes on the floor than the scheduling fates.
  • Reloading Talent – The Big 12 is used to replacing an enormous amount of talent. In 2010, ten Big 12 players were taken in the NBA Draft.  Two months ago, the Big 12 cupboards were once again raided, as seven players heard their names called. The conference should again be stacked and we might hear as many as ten names called on draft day 2012. From incoming freshmen like Baylor’s Quincy Miller, Texas’ Myck Kabongo and Oklahoma State’s LeBryan Nash, to returning stars like Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Baylor’s Perry Jones III and Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton, the Big 12 should again be a breeding ground for NBA rosters.
  • New Coaches… EVERYWHERE.  Change is inevitable in college athletics, but stability at the top usually translates into success on the floor. So it is eye opening that from Mike Anderson and Mark Turgeon leaving to Pat Knight and Jeff Capel being shown the door, the Big 12 had a 40% coaching turnover this summer. Now with Frank Haith, Billy Kennedy, Billy Gillispie and Lon Kruger roaming Big 12 sidelines, the conference has some questions to answer. Can Missouri conform to a set offense? Can A&M meet high preseason expectations under new management? Do Billy Clyde Gillispie and Lon Kruger have another run left in them?

Kansas head coach Bill Self has a tall task in front of him after losing most of the punch from last season's potent lineup.

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