January 25, 2009

Signals from the hardwood

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Several opinions and themes can come away from any basketball game, some much more obvious and others. Obviously, there's a lot to be said after Texas Tech's loss on the road to Missouri. RedRaiderSports.com's Joe Yeager breaks down the not-so-common themes from the defeat. You don't want to miss this!

TRAIN-WRECK AVERTED: With five minutes remaining to be played in the first half and Missouri holding an 18-point lead on Texas Tech, this game had all the makings of yet another 40-point plus stomping. But give head coach Pat Knight and his young team full credit. Rather than collapse under Tiger pressure and the prophecy of their own past, the Red Raiders got up off the deck, dusted themselves off, took a deep breath and made a game of it. Perhaps, just perhaps, Knight's program grew up and toughened up a little bit.

THE PAINFULLY OBVIOUS: Turnovers were clearly Tech's downfall. Twenty-nine of them to be precise. That is a putrid stat. But what makes the statistic even worse is the fact that probably half of those turnovers were unforced. Nick Okorie takes his eyes off a perfect pass and it goes out of bounds. Alan Voskuil lobs a lazy cross-course pass that is picked off and converted into points for Missouri. John Roberson makes any number of dreadful decisions that result in turnovers. Seemingly ad infinitum. Definitely ad nauseum.

A big part of the problem was that the Red Raiders played much faster than they needed to. The Missouri Tigers are pretty good defensively, but they're not the 1984 Georgetown Hoyas, the 1982 North Carolina Tarheels or the 1994 Arkansas Razorbacks. Tech was rattled by the pressure early and played dumb offensively even after they settled down. Chalk it up to youth, I suppose.

A RAY OF DARKNESS: Freshman Corbin Ray was only on the floor for one minute but that was one minute too long. In that short instant he was able to crash the box score with two turnovers and a personal foul. Why on earth Pat Knight inserted young Ray into a high-pressure up-tempo game to begin with is beyond me.

THE CRYPT OF COLUMBIA: The home crowd for Missouri was announced at over 13,000 people. Man it sure didn't sound like it. Sounded more like a load of people who downed a bowl full of Ritalin rather than Wheaties for breakfast. Mizzou Arena is no Hilton Coliseum, Phog Allen Fieldhouse or Gallagher-Iba Arena. And thank God for that!

CARROLL A LOAD: Far more impressive than the Columbia crowd was Tiger forward DeMarre Carroll. He's a carbon copy of former Texas Longhorn bruiser James Thomas, but with more offensive game. I could see Carroll carving out a nice little NBA career for himself.

MUSCLE IN THE MITTS: I like D'Walyn Roberts and believe he will develop into a very nice player eventually. One area in which he really needs to improve, however, is hand strength. Far too often he gets his paws on the orange only to get it poked away. In this regard he's sort of the Tramain Swindall of the Tech basketball team.

LAYUPS ARE NO SLAM DUNK: I don't have the exact figures but would not be the least bit surprised if the Red Raiders have missed close to 20 layups during the last two games. Not to be a chauvinist, but I expect to see female basketball players, owing to their relatively short stature, miss tons of layups. It's a bit disconcerting - to put it mildly - to see guys in the six-five to six-ten range blow so many chippies and bunnies.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE: Tech's zone defense is such an atrocity that it should be banned by the United Nations as a crime against humanity. At most it works for a possession or three before the opposition solves it and carves it up like a boarding house pie. That's exactly what the Tigers did once Tech got the Mizzou lead down to single digits late in the ballgame. I wish Pat had learned his father's detestation for the zone just a little bit better.

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