Big 12 M5: 03.14.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 14th, 2013


  1. The first set of fireworks at the Big 12 tournament were set off last night as Texas Tech beat West Virginia 71-69. After losing a 14 point lead earlier in the game, junior Dejan Kravic’s putback with 0.4 seconds left was enough for the Red Raiders to live to play another day. For Tech, third time’s the charm seeing how they lost both of their regular season meetings with the Mountaineers. A dramatic win like this can only help the chances for interim head coach Chris Walker to get the full-time gig. The job would be essentially his if Texas Tech would somehow upset Kansas later on today.
  2. Staying with the Red Raiders and this story is a real head scratcher. Remember Trency Jackson? He was a junior college transfer who started 11 games for them this season. Upon his transfer, Jackson obtained a special waiver because he “didn’t have enough transferable hours Texas Tech was willing to accept in advance of enrolling.” Usually in a case like this, the academic adviser at the transfer’s new school would be notified of this and would hatch a plan with the transfer to get those hours squared away. But that never for happened for Jackson. He was suspended for being academically ineligible but the problem was Texas Tech never told him he was until after the spring semester begun. It seems that Tech REALLY dropped the ball here and now will be interesting to see how this lack of oversight will affect Chris Walker’s prospects of getting the head coaching job. Jackson has since transferred to Western Kentucky and will hopefully be eligible to play by December.
  3. Texas closed up the night with a 70-57 win over TCU. The game was further proof that, even against a team like the Horned Frogs, Myck Kabongo makes a world of difference for the Longhorns. Kabongo made the most impact for his team, totaling 16 points, four rebounds and six assists. UT also got major contributions off the bench from sophomores Julien Lewis (19 points) and Sheldon McClellan (12 points). I feel like had Texas had the luxury of Kabongo all season long, they’d be in contention for an at-large bid (they’ve gone 6-3 since his return). Texas has to deal with Kansas State coming up tonight.
  4. On Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Goodman sized up each Big 12 coach’s hot seat on a scale of one (meaning they’re safe) and ten (meaning they best be looking for a new job). According to Goodman, every coach is essentially safe and much of that has to do with the unique situations going on in the league: Texas missing the tourney for the first time since the late 90s, Travis Ford finally cashing in on his talented basketball team, Trent Johnson’s first year at TCU etc. The only man truly coaching for a job is Chris Walker of Texas Tech as they look for a permanent leader going forward. Hopefully, we’ll see all 10 coaches return next season.
  5. Congratulations to Baylor’s Pierre Jackson who was named the District VII player of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Those not familiar with the “District VII” distinction (as I wasn’t), District VII is in reference to all Division I basketball programs housed in the states of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana which means Jackson was voted the best player in those states. He is not the first Bear with All-District VII honors in consecutive season (Curtis Jerrells, Lawrence Roberts and Darryl Middleton were the others) but he is the first player from the school to be named District VII Player of the Year. Freshman Isaiah Austin also joined Jackson as a first team All-District VII honoree.
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Morning Five: 03.14.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2013


  1. Many pundits have been writing endlessly about how this season has lacked a superlative team, but they may have been looking at the wrong end of the spectrum as Grambling State just completed a truly remarkable season going 0-28 with only its last loss being by less than double digits. It may be hard to get your mind around how horrific the season has been we would direct you to Ken Pomeroy who has Grambling State rated as the worst team since he created his site in 2003. It is hard to say how historically bad their season was beyond that, but given the distance between this team and prior standard bearers in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings we think they would be pretty competitive.
  2. With the NCAA Tournament two weeks away and teams starting to lock up automatic bids we are already beginning to see several dominant story lines emerging, but we doubt that many will be bigger than the play of St. Louis following the death of Rick Majerus. In the week following Majerus’ death on December 1 the media churned out hundreds of columns on Majerus–both on his genius and complexity. Since that time the play of his Bilikens has been nothing short of inspiring. After winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title, they should have a decent shot of making a run to the second weekend and if that happens you should expect to see plenty of Majerus montages.
  3. Conference realignment means a lot of things to a lot of schools and one of them is the need to upgrade their coach as they move into more difficult conferences. That appears to be the case at San Jose State (or the fact they won nine games in each of the past two seasons) as they fired George Nessman (86-161 in eight seasons at the school) yesterday. With their move from the WAC to the Mountain West the Spartans will need to field a much better team if they hope to be anything other than the conference doormats. Even with a serious coaching upgrade it is hard to envision the program becoming competitive in the Mountain West any time soon.
  4. We had thought that Texas Tech was just unfortunate in winding up with some odd coaches (Mike Leach in football then Billy Gillispie in basketball), but now that we heard about how they treated Trency Jackson we are beginning to wonder if it is also an administrative issue. As Gary Parrish notes the administrators at Texas Tech made Jackson’s attempt to transfer much more difficult than it had to by providing him with poor advice on multiple occasions and mislabeling him as a violator of team rules rather than just a player who was academically ineligible. The whole story is a lot more complex than that, but it leaves you feeling dirty reading it and that has been happening in Lubbock a lot recently.
  5. Schools have been very active in redesigning/rebranding their courts as we pointed out in a column four years ago that preceded the infamous atrocity that is the Matthew Knight Arena floor, but few conferences have tried to be creative with their floor design. That is until the Mountain West decided to purchase the floor from last year’s Women’s Final Four after champion Baylor declined the right to purchase the floor. These type of designs are not for everybody, but the way that the conference went about getting the current floor is still worth reading about.
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Big 12 Team Preview #9: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 31st, 2012

Over the next two weeks, we’ll bring you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. Monday, Danny Spewak (@dspewak) took care of previewing the TCU Horned Frogs. Today, Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso) previews the cellar-dwellers from a year ago: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were not a unanimous choice among the Big 12 microsite writers to finish ninth in the conference but we’re guessing we still won’t find much argument with this selection either. 

The Skinny: 

  • 2011-12 Record: 8-23 record, 1-17 in the Big 12
  • Key Contributors Lost: G Javarez Willis, F Robert Lewandowski
  • Head Coach: Chris Walker, 1st season
  • Projected Finish: 9th

Walker now makes three different coaches in three seasons. (Associated Press/Zach Long)

Interim head coach Chris Walker undoubtedly has a tough act to follow but at the same time he doesn’t. Former head coach Billy Gillispie had as tumultuous of a season that a coach can have. He broke NCAA practice rules more than once, was reprimanded by his athletic director for those trangressions, and his team stunk it up on the basketball court. Since the bar isn’t set very high at this point, I’m sure Walker can win more than eight games and look somewhat competitive in Big 12 play. This is Walker’s first opportunity at a head coaching job but like many first-timers, he too was a well-traveled assistant coach. He started off at Loyola Marymount in 1992 (this was the post-Paul Westhead/Kimble/Gathers era), left for Vanderbilt in 1996, went to Pepperdine in 1999, back to his alma mater Villanova in 2000, then headed to UMass in 2001, before going to New Mexico in 2007, and then back to Villanova in 2009 before arriving last season in Lubbock. For a man thrust into as awkward a situation as any, Walker is saying all the right things and then some. On “wearing” the interim tag:

“It’s all about attitude. I was remarking to somebody the other day there are a lot of interim coaches out there, they just don’t know it. I look at this situation, and people look at it as if I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It took me six months to live. I’ve really flipped it and said it’s six months to give. I’m head coach for the first time in the Big 12. I’m going to give everything I have to the University, to the players and the community of Lubbock.”

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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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