The Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball squad was not fun to watch this season. The talent was just not there to compete against the rest of the Big 12. But, the final four game stretch of the season was full of competitive games. The team had a great morale boost with a one point win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The next two were losses to the Baylor Bears and the Texas Longhorns. While the Texas game got away from the Red Raiders, Texas Tech had a legit chance to take down the Bears in Waco. Efforts like these give me some hope for next year. Instead of double digit losses, the Red Raiders were able to keep games competitive and make the other team work for their wins, even when the season was well out of reach.
Coach Tubby Smith is slowly building a ‘fighting’ culture. The squad played harder and smarter when, in all honesty, it did not matter. I’ll admit that Lubbock is a hard sell to a hopeful college basketball player, especially with our recent history. But I believe that instilling this new culture into the program will turn heads and maybe, just maybe, bring that diamond in the rough that will make the program shine.
Although I am proud of my boys playing harder than they have all year, I feel like they missed a great recruiting opportunity against Texas in the Big 12 tournament. It is not the loss that bothers me, it is how they lost. The game was closer than the 65-53 final tells us, but the team just made mistakes near the end. I wish Tech and TCU could have switched places. Texas Christian gave the mighty University of Kansas a pretty good scare. It was such a good scare that my Twitter timeline blew up, which is what convinced me to stop what I was doing and turn on the game. So I was sitting there watching TCU going for the upset and all I could think was, “How many Tech recruits are watching this?” I’m sure many were, although I hope I am wrong. The fire TCU played with on that stage will help bring the recruiting abilities of coach Trent Johnson. It is all about culture.
But, winning solves everything, right? Good looking uniforms and fun events at the arena are great and all, but that’s not going to bring a Jahlil Okafor to West Texas. I know that’s shooting pretty high, but Tech needs to find someone that will bring talent with him. They’ve tried getting big name coaches, but that has not really worked out too well. With the Red Raiders ending the season at 308 out of 345 nationally in scoring, they need big scorers to rise in the ranks. Or they could recruit more some shutdown defenders, keep heading south and become the Steel Curtain of College Basketball. Whatever they choose, I’m looking forward to what the Red Raiders will bring to the court next year. With some more experience under their wings, I do not see anything other than continued improvement in the near future.