January 8, 2007

The good and not so good

Senior Jon Plefka came off the bench in the second half to spark the Red Raiders to a solid 14-point victory on Saturday against Oklahoma in the conference opener for both teams. Charlie Burgess, Jay Jackson, Plefka and Martin Zeno each had double-figure scoring games as the Raiders got out to a 21-point second half lead. Some good and some not so good came from the game and we break it down:

THE GOOD - AKA "T-BONE'S":

THE RIZINATOR: It would be a shameful misfortune if Longar Longar's flagrant elbow to Esmir Rizvic's jaw were to deprive the seven-footer of one quarter of his college career. The unfairness of such an outcome is obvious. And it would also be a blow to the Red Raider basketball team because, although Rizvic's development hasn't been as rapid as most would like, he does still contribute to the team in ways that only he can. Hence, against the Sooners Rizvic was actually rebounding fairly well, and even moreso, causing serious problems for Oklahoma on the defensive end with his size. Rizvic did not block any shots, but he altered at least three and created problems for OU's interior passing with his wingspan. We can only hope that he recovers quickly from the injury and resumes his development as a defensive weapon of note.

THE D DOES IT: In what has become rather a given, the Red Raiders once again opened a contest with suffocating defense. This time Tech held the Oklahoma Sooners to just two points in the opening eight minutes of play. That is simply outstanding. But unlike previous games where the Raider defense has lapsed after the opening burst, against OU Tech played superlative defense throughout. Most impressive was the help-side defense on the perimeter. The Sooner guards not infrequently beat the Red Raiders off the dribble but whenever this occurred, another player dropped down to shut off penetration without throwing the defense out of kilter. That is good coaching. Tech defenders also did an exceptional job of anticipating entry passes and coming up with the steal. This sort of defense will win Tech multiple games in the Big 12.

THE REFUSE COLLECTOR: Decensae White might not appreciate such a moniker but it certainly fits. The freshman from Pacifica, California is not the prettiest player on the court, but he's effective nonetheless. He plays the game very erect and with his head up, which may hamper his quickness, but this style also improves his court vision. He's not a sky-walker, but he is always around the ball and has good hands, which allows him to pull down a few rebounds and score garbage buckets. White also seems to have a pretty good basketball IQ, which has helped him pick up the nuances of Bob Knight's defense. Against the Sooners, White was a key to the excellent help-side defense noted above.

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