Texas Tech Basketball: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


The regular season for Texas Tech Basketball will come to an end Friday night in Waco. The Red Raiders will finish last in the conference, and Tubby Smith will complete his second consecutive losing season — the only two losing seasons of his illustrious 24-year career. Now that the season is drawing to a conclusion, we can take a look at the entire body of work.

The Good:

Many will find it difficult to believe that there could be any positives from a last-place season, but this season has not been a waste. In fact, this season may be the season that Tech fans can look back on as the season in which a solid foundation for the future was laid.

Tubby Smith relied heavily on five freshmen this year (though Justin Gray’s season ended early in the conference schedule). While no one will compare this group to the famed “Fab Five”, the Tech freshman learned lessons from the beatings they often took. Now, these freshmen are tougher and after an offseason in the weight room, they will be better equipped to win in the Big 12.

No school in the conference got more production from freshmen than Texas Tech. Norense Odiose averaged 21.4 minutes per game, 7 points per game, and 4.8 rebounds per game while starting 28 games. Zach Smith played 27.7 minutes per game, produced 6.1 points and 5 rebounds per game, while also starting 28 games; he also leads the Red Raiders with 44 blocks. Keenan Evans played 17.9 minutes per game averaging 5.6 points and 1.3 assists. In his 16 games, Justin Gray played 18.8 minutes per game scoring 6.7 points and grabbing 2.8 rebounds per game. Finally, center Isaiah Manderson played 13.8 minutes per game, scoring 4.3 points and securing 2.8 rebounds per game.

Feb 17, 2015; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Norense Odiase (32) slam dunks the ball against the Baylor Bears in the first half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

These numbers won’t make any of these players NBA Draft candidates this year, but Tech received more contributions from true freshmen than any team in the Big 12.

Freshmen accounted for 29.7 points per game, just under half of the team’s 60.7 points per game. Smith was willing to let these freshmen learn on the job, and though none are finished products, they’ve all have shown that they’re capable of playing in the Big 12.

Should they stay together for the next three years, Tech will have a solid group of seniors to lead the team.

The Bad

After a strong start to the non-conference schedule, Tech began to struggle when starting forward Justin Gray missed time due to a knee injury. At the time of his injury, Gray was making a push forward and developing a stronger offensive game. He was becoming Tech’s best player on both ends of the court and his absence was obvious.  Athletes like Gray are impossible to replace and Tech was unable to replace his presence and production.

Only playing three conference games means that Gray will be a virtual Big 12 rookie next season. His ability to quickly adjust to the physical nature of conference games will be a key for next season’s squad.

Another bad element to the season has been Tech’s lack of a true point guard. Rob Turner, Keenan Evans, Toddrick Gotcher , and even Luke Adams all started games at point guard, but none are equipped for the position. As a result, the offense often lacked rhythm and flow. Tech had a paltry 0.8 assist / turnover ratio, and committed 243 turnovers while causing only 195. The turnover numbers must improve, and Tech is currently recruiting numerous Junior College point guards to help remedy this problem next season.

Tech also shot the ball poorly this season hitting only 39 percent of field goal attempts. The Red Raiders were the only team in the conference to shoot below 40 percent from the field. Their 30.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc has been a huge reason Tech struggled to score, and in the three conference games Tech has won thus far, the 3-point-shot has keyed the offense and led to upsets.

The Red Raiders also shot an unacceptable 65 percent from the line (down from 72 percent from last season). While it is wonderful to shoot 132 more free throws than your opponent, the benefit is negated when you are the 9th worst free throw shooting team in the league. Any Division-1 college player should be expected to make no less than 70 percent from the line. It is something that requires nothing but concentration, practice, and discipline. This must improve for the Red Raiders to compete in 2015-16.

The Ugly

Tech is winless this season (0-11) in games outside of the United Supermarkets Arena. What is worse is that Tech scored only 50.1 points per game on the road.

Too many times, Tech was dismantled when playing in hostile territory. In Norman Okla., they scored only 36 points in a 45-point loss, and in Ames, IA, Tech put only 38 on the board in a 37-point loss. In 11 road games thus far, Tech has scored below 40 twice, below 50 three times, and never scored over 69 points. No one expects a team as young as Tech to barnstorm through Big 12 arenas but it can be expected that Tech compete outside of Lubbock. So far, Tech’s average margin of defeat on the road is 17.6 points.

Tech must find or develop a scorer who can create his own shots and get to the rim when the offense stalls. A team’s outside shot does not always travel well (especially for a team that shoots as poorly as the Red Raiders), but the dribble penetration game is reliable at home or on the road. Two of the players that may be on their way to developing into the role are C.J. Williamson, a 6-6 3-star PG from Orlando, and Jordan Jackson, a 3-star shooting guard from Houston who is the son of all-time Tech great Sheryl Swoopes. Both players are tremendous athletes that will play in the backcourt for Tubby Smith next year.

The 2014-15 season has been painful to watch at times, but the Red Raiders should continue to improve. Now that Tubby Smith is in place in Lubbock, it is once again safe to emotionally invest in Texas Tech Basketball. Next season’s team should be athletic and fun to watch, so here’s hoping that more people in Lubbock will show up at the U.S.A. to see the growth of this team with their own eyes.