Could Texas Tech basketball go winless in Big 12 play? Probably. Could another terrible season scare away recruits that could potentially dig Tech out of the bottom of the conference? Maybe. Could an upset win over a ranked opponent reload the Red Raiders’ guns and send them riding on another 8-game winning streak? I doubt it. But basketball is a game of runs, so anything can happen.
When Tubby Smith was announced as the new coach of the Red Raiders basketball squad in 2013, my expectations grew, but not too much. Sure, having a great coach provides an amazing opportunity, in both winning games and recruiting. But my pessimism along with the team’s history gave me plenty of reasons against taking Tech’s odds in Vegas. A year later, I’m glad I didn’t.
The hiring of Tubby brought plenty of much needed excitement around Red Raider basketball. With a 533-245 (current) record and one national championship (1998 University of Kentucky), the idea of Smith as head coach looked great on paper. In reality, it has been barely mediocre. Don’t get me wrong, I do not place the whole blame on Coach Smith. The fact that Texas Tech is not known as a “basketball school” does not help with recruiting or game attendance. To be honest, the last time something exiting happened during a Red Raider Basketball game, Marcus Smart got into a scuffle with a rowdy Red Raider fan. The team received plenty of primetime talk on major networks, but for all the wrong reasons.
Last year, the team had its flashes against ranked Baylor and Oklahoma State. Other than that, the Red Raiders were either very competitive or completely blown out. This season, Texas Tech led with a great start to the season. Sure the teams they faced weren’t world beaters, but an 8-game winning streak is impressive for any team. Then the Big 12 arrived, and the team that was, was gone. I’ll admit the Red Raider talent level is nowhere near the heights of the “basketball schools” in the conference. But when Texas Christian, 9th in the Big 12, beats you by 20 points, something is terribly wrong.
For the remaining half of the season, I can only see two games where the Red Raider could pull out a win. They would come back to back in the final week of February. The first in Fort Worth vs. Texas Christian, and the next back in Lubbock vs. Oklahoma State. Against TCU, I believe if Tech can utilize their talent beyond the arc, the Red Raiders can out score a weak Horned Frog team. As for the Cowboys, Tech can try the same tactic, but the length Oklahoma State has at the perimeter could pose a threat to Tech’s three point game.
All that being said, I’ll do my best to morph my pessimism into optimism (at least for the rest of the season). In my opinion, college basketball is the most unpredictable sport. We’ve been witness Cinderella’s and broken dreams, and David beat Goliath on countless occasions. I am not saying Texas Tech can make an improbable run, but a couple of solid conference wins could tip the team over the hill of success. It’s all part of the crapshoot that is college hoops.