Texas Tech basketball: The main reason Davide Moretti is in a shooting slump

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 27: The crowd reacts after Davide Moretti #25 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders makes a three point basket during the second half of the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on February 27, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech defeated Oklahoma State 84-80 in overtime. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 27: The crowd reacts after Davide Moretti #25 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders makes a three point basket during the second half of the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on February 27, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech defeated Oklahoma State 84-80 in overtime. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

In recent weeks, Texas Tech basketball fans have become concerned with the shooting slump of junior guard Davide Moretti but there’s a reasonable explanation for his current downturn.

One could have argued last year that the season Davide Moretti had was the best by any shooter in the history of the Big 12.  In fact, the Red Raider sophomore was the only shooter in the conference to shoot 50% from the floor, 40% from 3-point range, and 90% from the free-throw line in conference play (which I believe was a first in the Big 12 but I couldn’t find confirmation of that fact).

But after a quick start to his junior season, the fan-favorite has not been as sharp this year.  He is currently shooting 39.6% overall, 37,1% from behind the arc, and 97.4% from the line.

While those numbers would be fantastic for 99% of players in the nation, the reality is that Moretti has set his bar higher.   And recently, he’s seen his shooting touch leave him to the point that some people have even begun asking his head coach why his star sniper can’t find the range.

"“Moro’s shooting is a non-issue,” Beard said following a 4-17 night from his leading returning scorer from last year’s team.  “I want him to shoot a hundred times in a row if he misses his last hundred.  That’s a non-issue.”"

While fans and Beard alike are more than confident in Moretti’s jumper returning to form sooner rather than later, it does need to come back in the next two games because after that, Big 12 play will begin and Tech can’t go into the conference portion of the schedule with its best shooter ice cold.

Over the last five games, Moretti is a combined 19-69 (27.5%) from the field and 11-42 (26.1%) from 3-point range.  To his credit, he’s still averaged 15.2 points per game, much of that due to his work at the line as 35.5% of his offense has come one point at a time.

But there’s a logical and understandable reason for Moretti’s recent struggles and it is something completely beyond his control…the absence of Jahmi’us Ramsey.

If you look at when Moretti began to struggle for the first time this year, it was in the Iowa game on Thanksgiving night.  What notable occurrence happened that evening?  Tech’s leading scorer and best player, Ramsey, went down early in the second half with a hamstring injury and he’s yet to return to the floor.

Since then, some players like Terrence Shannon Jr. and Chris Clarke have flourished but Moretti has struggled.  That’s because he’s been asked to carry so much more of the load offensively while drawing the full attention of the opposition.

It is interesting to look at the usage rate for the Red Raiders.  That is a stat that measures what percent of offensive possessions when a particular player is on the floor end with that player either shooting the ball, going to the line, or turning the ball over.

Ramsey leads the team with a rate of 29.4%.  That’s 92nd in the nation among all players.  Shannon is second at 24.4% and Moretti is third at 22.7%.

It stands to reason that when a team’s most used offensive player is out of the lineup, the usage of the other starters is going to increase and that’s been the case with Moretti.  Since Ramsey’s injury, his shots per game have gone from 7.4 to 11.  And in the last two games, he’s hoisted 17 and 15 shots respectively.

What’s more, he’s putting the ball up from deep more frequently since his backcourt mate has been injured. In the first five games of the year, Moretti shot the ball 20 times from behind the arc.  In the last five games, he’s let it fly 42 times as his team has counted on him for more offense.

The reason that Shannon has thrived without Ramsey and Moretti has struggled is that they are different types of players.  They each have taken up the slack in a different area of the game at which Ramsey is adept.

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Shannon has become the team’s primary slasher.  Without Ramsey to get to the rim, Tech has asked his fellow true freshman to be the team’s primary scorer off the dribble and he’s thrived.  That’s a tougher skill to defend because Shannon can overwhelm just about any defender with his quick first step and crazy ability to go from the 3-point arc to the rim in just a couple of strides.

But Ramsey was also proving to be the Red Raiders second-best 3-point shooter when he went down and without him on the floor, more of that burden has fallen on Moretti.  Being as Ramsey has not been a concern in the last five games, Moretti has not only had to attempt more 3s, he’s been expected to do so with the opponent’s best defensive guard checking him.  That’s a tough burden to bear for even a player as good as Davide Moretti.

Additionally, Moretti’s minutes have skyrocketed in Ramsey’s absence.  After playing 26.8 minutes per game in the first five games of the year, he’s been on the floor for 36.2 minutes per game since.

Though Beard was adamant after the Southern Miss game that Moretti’s shooting woes were not a result of a heavy workload, everyone could see that he was coming up short on a number of his wide-open looks from deep in the Golden Eagle’s near upset on Monday night.  This is a team that has traveled quite a bit in the last month with games in Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York in the span of two weeks and one has to imagine such a schedule will take a toll on any player, especially one who is logging nearly a full 40 minutes of action per game.

We are about to return to a form of normalcy for the Red Raiders.  They will play for the first time in five days on Saturday afternoon and then will have eight days off before wrapping up the pre-Big 12 portion of the schedule.

That means Moretti and his teammates will have just two games in 18 days before Oklahoma State comes to Lubbock on January 4th.  After that, Tech will average two games per week until the Big 12 Tournament.

So hopefully any fatigue Moretti might be experiencing will be a thing of the past and he can return to being one of the best shooters in the nation.  But more importantly for Tech’s sniper will be getting his wingman back because when Ramsey is on the floor, he makes everyone better, especially Davide Moretti, who is probably as eager as anyone for his running buddy to join him back in the fray.