At this time last year, the Texas Tech Red Raiders were undefeated and ranked, and Pat Knight was being mentioned as a possible candidate for Big 12 Coach of the Year.
What a difference a year makes. An upset loss at Wichita State began a free-fall that resulted in a losing record in Big 12 play.
It continued into this season — Tech's Wednesday home loss to New Mexico moved the Raiders to 6-7 this season.
I'll preview the Red Raiders after the jump, but I warn you, it won't be pretty.
Double T Nation likely isn't any more optimistic than me, but feel free to hop over there for their perspective on things.
The Story So Far
The Red Raiders are 6-7, but with an RPI that's been floating around 200 of late, you know they're pretty lacking in quality wins.
Victories over triple-digit RPI teams Georgia Southern, Liberty, Louisiana-Monroe, Oral Roberts, Stephen F. Austin and Texas-Arlington don't inspire much confidence of competitiveness in conference play.
The losses, if possible, are even less inspiring. New Mexico, St. Mary's and Washington are barely around the bottom end of the RPI Top 50, and North Texas and UTEP are on the verge of falling out of the Top 100.
The worst losses, however, came to TCU and USF, both of which are pretty questionable teams. Now, three of the losses came on the road, including at Washington, and two others were on neutral courts, but two occurred in United Spirit Arena — which Tech better get used to, because there's more losses there coming up in Big 12 play.
Postseason play would be nothing short of a miracle for this team, and that's remarkable considering the veteran players it returned, which resulted in a preseason No. 7 selection by Big 12 coaches. Tech probably won't finish anywhere close to that.
Current Texas Tech RPI: 198
Current Texas Tech SOS: 101
Note: All stats for current players are updated through the most recent game this season, unless otherwise noted.
*Knight became the head coach at Texas Tech following the 20th game of the 2007-08 season.
- Darko Cohadarevic (21.9 minutes per game | 6.9 points per game | 5.0 rebounds per game)
Nick Okorie (25.9 minutes per game | 10.8 points per game | 2.7 rebounds per game)
- Trevor Cook (0.0 minutes per game | 0.0 points per game | 0.0 rebounds per game)
- Corbin Ray (3.0 minutes per game | 0.0 points per game | 0.0 rebound per game)
#2 Mike Davis
13.6 minutes per game | 3.4 points per game | 2.0 rebounds per game
#10 Wally Dunn
4.2 minutes per game | 1.3 points per game | 0.5 rebound per game
#24 Theron Jenkins
9.2* minutes per game | 2.9* points per game | 2.0* rebounds per game
#15 Robert Lewandowski
25.8 minutes per game | 10.7 points per game | 5.6 rebounds per game
#1 Brad Reese
28.8 minutes per game | 13.1 points per game | 5.5 rebounds per game
#21 John Roberson
33.8 minutes per game | 12.4 points per game | 2.0 rebounds per game
#5 D'walyn Roberts
23.7 minutes per game | 5.4 points per game | 4.9 rebounds per game
#32 Mike Singletary
31.3 minutes per game | 13.7 points per game | 6.1 rebounds per game
#25 David Tairu
24.5 minutes per game | 10.1 points per game | 2.4 rebounds per game
#30 Jaye Crockett
12.0 minutes per game | 4.9 points per game | 2.8 rebounds per game
#31 Paul Cooper
11.7 minutes per game | 3.8 points per game | 1.2 rebounds per game
#4 Marshall Henderson
27.4* minutes per game | 11.8* points per game | 2.5* rebounds per game
*at Utah in 2009-10
#33 Zach Jones
1.3 minutes per game | 0.7 point per game | 0.3 rebound per game
#13 Jamel Outler
6.4 minutes per game | 2.4 points per game | 0.6 rebound per game
#3 Javarez Willis
13.5 minutes per game | 3.0 points per game | 0.9 rebound per game
My thanks to the Texas Tech sports information department for the photos.
As I said earlier, Texas Tech returned a significant core of veterans from last year's team. Seven of their top nine scorers, in fact, including two of their three double-digit scorers, point guard John Roberson and power forward Mike Singletary.
The loss of Nick Okorie was a bit of a blow to the Red Raiders' backcourt, while the graduation of Darko Cohadarevic reduced, at a minimum, their depth in the post, if not their actual overall statistical production.
But this should have been Tech's year. A roster featuring seven seniors should have led this team to big things and created a sense of urgency. So why all the struggles?
For one, Texas Tech has almost no bench of which to speak.
The five starters — Roberson, shooting guard David Tairu, small forward Brad Reese, Singletary and junior center Robert Lewandowski, an Overland Park native — all are averaging more than 10 points per game. That's no surprise, as Lewandowski is the only non-senior in the lineup.
The entire rest of the team, however, only is averaging a total of 24.9 points per game. When your starters are pouring in more than two-thirds of your points and no one off the bench is averaging more than 23.7 minutes or 5.4 points per game, you're going to wear down in a lot of Big 12 games.
I'd also argue that Tech doesn't really have a superstar who can take over a game when they really need it.
Singletary never has quite lived up the promise of his 43-point explosion in the Big 12 Tournament two seasons ago, a performance so impressive it prompted me to name an annual BOTC award after him. Roberson is a good player, but not a transcendent one. Everyone else fits the definition of a "role player."
Primary reserves include freshman guards Javarez Willis and Jamel Outler, sophomore guard Mike Davis, redshirt freshman forward Jaye Crockett, and senior forward D'walyn Roberts.
JUCO big man Paul Cooper, senior guard Wally Dunn and freshman forward Zach Jones round out the active roster, although none of them has seen more than spot time. Senior forward Theron Jenkins has not played this season due to an ankle surgery.
Utah transfer Marshall Henderson will redshirt this year in accordance with NCAA rules. (No wonder Utah went 0-3 in the Diamond Head Classic — their leading scorer from last year transferred to Colorado and their second-leading scorer transferred to Texas Tech.)
Projected Big 12 Starting Lineup
|John Roberson||David Tairu||Brad Reese||Mike Singletary||Robert Lewandowski|
Projected Top Big 12 Reserves
|Javarez Willis||Jamel Outler||Mike Davis||Jaye Crockett||D'walyn Roberts|
The Final Verdict
It's hard to diagnose why Texas Tech has a losing record.
They've lost at home, they've lost on the road and they've lost on neutral courts.
They've lost because of offense (61-64 vs. USF, 60-61 to New Mexico) and they've lost because of defense (83-92 at North Texas, 68-88 vs. St. Mary's, 79-108 at Washington, 77-81 to TCU, 71-82 at UTEP).
And of course, they lost 12 of 16 games last season in Big 12 play. More than anything, it just seems that Texas Tech doesn't have sufficient talent to compete with decent Big 12 teams, nor even mid-major programs in Texas.
I suppose if there's one team entering Big 12 play that could hit the reset button, figuratively speaking, and still make something of it's season, it's Texas Tech, just because of the veteran-laden roster. But I don't expect it. They might pull an upset here and there, and perhaps even sweep a team like Oklahoma, but that's probably about it.
I'll pick them ahead of Oklahoma simply because of the experience, and also because the Sooners don't have any single player as talented as Singletary, but that's as high as I can project them.
Luckily for the Big 12, we're pretty much assured to have two cupcake games on the schedule next year, when all those seniors graduate, because Pat Knight is expected to return no matter how this season turns out.
That's because Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers is on his way out and likely won't fire Knight this season.
Nor is the new AD likely to fire him before next season, either.
Big 12 preseason prediction: 7th
My predicted finish: 11th
Best-case scenario: 7th
Against K-State?: Loss in Manhattan