After being slightly used for most of the season, sophomore guard Clarence Nadolny has started to emerge as a key role player for the Texas Tech basketball team.
Given how brutal the Texas Tech basketball schedule has been in recent weeks, the fact that Tech is in the midst of a 2-game winning streak feels more satisfying than such a run would feel in other years.
In Tech’s last four games, there have been three teams ranked in the top 11 as opponents. What’s more, the combined record of those four teams is currently 51-16.
Of course, after the first game of that stretch, a 68-60 loss to No. 2 Baylor, Tech had an unexpected week off as TCU and Iowa State dealt with COVID-19 issues. And it was during that sabbatical that Chris Beard hinted that his regular rotation might be expanding.
Though he didn’t elaborate at the time, we now know that he was talking about sophomore guard Clarence Nadolny, who has seen his role drastically increase over the course of the last three games.
In two of the last three contests, Nadolny has played at least 15 minutes of action. Prior to that, he had not been on the court for more than 13 minutes in any game this year. But what’s more impressive is that he’s making an impact with his newfound opportunities.
Against No. 11 West Virginia, Nadolny had three points, three assists, and a rebound in 16 minutes of action. Then, two games later, he scored seven critical points against No. 9 Oklahoma in Lubbock.
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In fact, against the Sooners, he actually outscored Tech’s leading scorer, Mac McClung, by a point helping to offset the rare off night by McClung. And at the end of the game, as Tech was holding on to a slim lead, Nadolny was on the court to close things out. He even grabbed the game-clinching rebound.
This has been a surprising mid-season turn of events. Prior to Tech’s unexpected week off, Nadolny was buried at the end of the Red Raider bench. He was the third least utilized player on the roster ahead of only true freshmen Chibuzo Agbo and Vlad Goldin.
But now, it appears that Nadolny is starting to figure things out and that he’s earning the trust of his coaching staff. That’s likely because he is cutting down on mistakes as he has committed just one turnover in the last three games.
It will be interesting to see how his role continues to evolve for the remainder of the season and whether that solidifies his spot on the roster moving forward. That’s because, prior to this three-game stretch, many assumed that Nadolny was a candidate to be “processed” this offseason, a term used to describe the way Beard and Co. churn the bottom of the roster to create space for incoming players.
But Nadolny seems to have committed to the process of improving despite not playing huge minutes thus far in his career and now it appears that his dedication and patience is starting to pay off. It’s a stark contrast to the attitude of so many of today’s college players who are all too quick to jump ship the moment they find that everything isn’t going according to their plans.
Of course, Tech saw that play out earlier this year when former 5-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American Nimari Burnett left the program in the middle of the season because he was unhappy with his playing time. Thus, we should appreciate what Nadolny has done by fighting for what he wants instead of searching for greener pastures at the first sign of struggle.
Now, he’s become part of Chris Beard’s regular rotation and he’s playing with as much confidence as we’ve seen from him at any point thus far in his career. Thus, he’s become the embodiment of the “street-dog” mentality that Chris Beard wants his program to exude and that’s why we should continue to expect to see Nadlonly’s role expand as the season progresses.