I recently sat down with Seth over at Double-T Nation (the Texas Tech SBN blog) and exchanged Q&A's in advance of the Pirates/Red Raiders first round NIT contest on Tuesday night. In part 1, we're asking the questions to DTN so read on to see how they handle a little plank walk as we inquire on such topics such as collapses, beating tournament teams and the Pat Knight era. Later this afternoon, we will post our answers to DTN's equally enticing and thrilling inquiries regarding all things Seton Hall Basketball.
A big thanks to Seth and the folks at DTN for participating in the Plank Walk. Best of luck tomorrow night, although, be on the look out for a packed house at the Rock. The ever exciting first round NIT action should draw about 3500 people. Seriously.
GB: What do you make of the Red Raiders season? They won their first 9 OOC games, including an OT win over tournament bound UW. They closed out their OOC schedule an impressive 12-2 after defeating another team headed to the big dance in UTEP. After showing a glimmer of hope in pulling to 4-5 following wins over OKST (yep, they're dancing too) and OU, is it safe to say the collapse ensued? What happened?
DTN: Perhaps I view basketball a little too simply, but I've always thought that the team with the best match-ups usually wins. This year, Texas Tech returned three starters, including two of the top leading scorers in PG John Singletary and SF Mike Singletary. The problem with those players isn't so much as they're bad players. They are not, but they do not create match-up issues for opponents. As an example, Singletary is at his best finishing inside and getting to the foul line, while not being the best outside shooter. In a nutshell, this was the problem, there was almost no matchup that opposing teams had to plan for against Texas Tech.
Ultimately, this caught up with Texas Tech in conference play. No longer was this a situation where Texas Tech could take advantage of those matchups and Texas Tech didn't have other players step up on a consistent basis to create those match-up problems for opponents. I'd also be remiss in not mentioning depth as well. Texas Tech is very thin up front, with really only two post players, PF Darko Cohadarevic and PF D`Walyn Roberts. Darko is your traditional power forward type of player, while Roberts is your thin, athletic forward type. Other than C Robert Lewandowski, who maybe plays 10 minutes a game, that's your Texas Tech front line.
GB: Speak a little on the Pat Knight era. Over the course of 2.5 seasons, he's accumulated just 11 wins in the Big 12 conference and hasn't recorded more than 4 victories in a season. Recently, the school announced he would be returning for 2011-12, is this a fair decision or is he riding out the luxuries of his family name? How much rope is left?
DTN: I think Pat Knight has the luxury of both things in your question. There are plenty of fans that think he's gotten more than enough time, while there are others who are willing to give him another year to see what he can do. I've tried to be a faily optimistic fan, and I like Pat as a person, I think he's a good person and I think he wants to be the coach at Texas Tech for the long-term, but he's got a true mess on his hands in terms of the roster, where he's going to have seven seniors on his team next year, which means that if he doesn't put together a tournament run, with the same team that lost 12 conference games this year, next year, I don't see how he can last.
There's no doubt that Pat had the benefit of the doubt with regards to his father, but I think next year is the year that he has to make it to the NCAA Tournament. The problem, as mentioned above, is that the roster, is going to be completely over-turn after next year, and I'm afraid that this is going to be a tough few years for Texas Tech fans.
GB: Singletary (14.7PTS/6.8REB/2.3AST) and Roberson (14.7PTS/2.2REB/5.6AST) lead the Red-Raiders in terms of production. Their stats are very similar in terms of contribution, the difference being what's more crucial to the team in regards to hitting the boards or distribution of the rock. Who's the MVP of the current Red Raiders squad, split-nominees?
DTN: Without a doubt, Roberson is this team's leader. Singletary, while talented in his own right, can have nights where he doesn't so much as make an impact on the floor. At the very least, Singletary, while not necessarily a pass-first type of point guard, he can get other players involved. Roberson's biggest fault is that when he drives, he's not figured out how to finish or get fouled in the paint. Singletary has been in a rough spot recently as he's had some good games, but he's not shooting well from the floor right now and that's a problem for Texas Tech. Luckily, one of two seniors, SG Nick Okorie has stepped up his play recently and he's been pretty good. Other than two bad games against Baylor and Kansas, Okorie's been pretty good over the past seven games he's been averaging 18 points a game.
Follow the jump for more on defending Jeremy Hazell and a prediction from DTN:
GB: As of late, Jeremy Hazell has been flustered when double-teamed as his penetration and open looks are taken away from him. What can we expect on Tuesday out of Knight's man-to-man defense? Will they go at Hazell alone with a lone defender opening up the possibility that he may go off or will they throw an extra man his way in an effort to make his teammates beat them?
DTN: Pat Knight has tried to implement what his father did so well, but it just hasn't been the same. If Hazell is matched up against Singletary, he'll have a field day. Singletary is probably the worst defender of all of the starters. Considering the athleticism of Seton Hall, I could envision a game where Knight may have to not rely on one of his best scorers (which is scary considering how effecient Seton Hall is at putting the ball in the basket) in Singletary and try various combinations of Roberts and SF Brad Reese on Hazell.
GB: Prediction for Tuesday's contest?
DTN: I never like picking against Texas Tech, but this appears to be a situation where the Pirates are typically a very good offensive team while Texas Tech is a bad defensive team. That's not a good combination for Texas Tech. I'm expecting a somewhat competitive game as both teams don't particularly rebound the ball well, so it's not as if one team has a huge post advantage over the other, but ultimately, Seton Hall's home court and over athleticism wins out. Give me Seton Hall 87, Texas Tech 81.
A big thanks to Seth for participating! Best of luck tonight, Red Raiders. Check back at 2PM for Part 2 of the Plank Walk.