Texas Tech basketball must improve upon these five things if they’re going to have a successful season.
The first game of the 2021 calendar year was not one to remember as Texas Tech dropped a home game to Oklahoma State in overtime, 82-77. The Red Raiders are now 1-2 in Big 12 play after starting off with a one-point home loss against Kansas. Their only win was a tense two-point road victory over Oklahoma, and these three games have really exposed the team’s flaws.
This is a young team, of course. The lack of a full season last year, combined with the departures of key players such as Davide Moretti and Jahmi’us Ramsey, and the addition of several new faces, means this team needs to gel. There’s plenty of talent and plenty of promise here, of course, and the presence of coach Chris Beard means this team could take off at any point.
But for that to happen, some glaring problems need to be corrected. They’ll have a chance to do that in the next two games against Kansas State and Iowa State, and it’s important that they do. The two games after that are at Texas and at home against Baylor. If this Texas Tech team wants to compete against those squads, here are five things they’ll need to correct.
Free Throw Shooting
As a fan, there’s nothing more infuriating than to watch a team miss free throws. They are, by definition, free points, and they frequently make a difference in close games. In the loss to Kansas, Texas Tech hit only 61.1 percent from the charity stripe while the Jayhawks hit 93.3 percent. In the win against OU, the Red Raiders made 90 percent while the Sooners made only 63 percent.
Tech was poor again in the OSU game, hitting 71.4 percent compared to 75 percent for the Cowboys. The Red Raiders made only one of five free throws in the overtime period. There’s no Moretti on the team to drain 90-plus percent of them, so every player needs to spend extra time working on their free-throw shooting. As we’ve seen, it makes a big difference.
At 68.2% as a team, the Red Raiders are now just 8th in the Big 12 in this important aspect of the game. And one of the problems for Tech is that several of the key players in the rotation are not reliable at the line.
For instance, forward Marcus Santos-Silva is a woeful 50% shooter at the foul line. That’s not optimal given that he’s averaging 2.7 attempts per game, 6th-most on the team.
So far, this Red Raider team has not shown the ability to blow out quality opponents as all three of their Big 12 games have gone down to the last possession or have gone to overtime. Therefore, every point is likely to matter over the course of the game and that’s why the free-throw line might make or break this year’s team.