The Texas Tech Red Raiders are preparing to open the 2021-22 men’s basketball season against North Florida on Nov. 9. Here are some key points to consider as the season begins.
The ‘pointless’ point guard
Texas Tech has a wealth of talent at the guard and small forward positions. But it’s also clear from that talent that the Red Raiders, well, let’s have Red Raiders head coach Mark Adams tell you.
“That’s been one of our biggest challenges,” Adams said. “We don’t really have a true point guard. We’re doing it by committee.
The idea of a ‘point guard by committee’ approach is probably not music to the ears of basketball traditionalists. But, as Adams pointed out, the Red Raiders haven’t had a true point guard for the past four years, and they’ve figured it out.
Given the talent on the wings — especially Terrence Shannon Jr., who figures to be the favorite to be the Red Raiders’ leading scorer and facilitator — a ‘true’ point guard might not be necessary. Heck, Kevin McCullar says he’s been working at the point.
“We’ll probably have two or three combo guards be on the floor at one time,” Adams said. “We certainly don’t think that’s going to be a hindrance to us. It has been something we’ve had to look at, had to watch our turnovers early in practice this last month. It’s been challenging.”
Adams’ ‘Unique’ Skill Set
Adams is new to the national stage as a head coach. But he’s not new to being a head coach. Adams has been a head coach at practically every level of college basketball and has won 544 games.
Nine of those seasons were at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. Adams won 233 games and led the school to one national championship. He never won fewer than 20 games during his time at Howard, and his career earned him a place in the NJCAA Hall of Fame.
Yes, Adams won those games at a junior college. But in college basketball’s changing landscape — the transfer portal and higher roster turnover — he has, as they say, a ‘unique set of skills.’
“It’s just another year in junior college and I was coaching JUCO basketball for a while,” Adams said. “It was a lot of turnover. You might keep one or two and start over.”
The Red Raiders lost seven players to the transfer portal from last year’s roster, along with Mac McClung, who turned pro. The Red Raiders brought in eight players via transfer.
The candy man
As an assistant coach, Adams had a trick — or perhaps a treat — to get players to come see him to talk about defense. He had a candy dish on his desk.
Now that Adams is a head coach, there are plenty of changes in Lubbock. But the candy dish remains. And he knows what EVERY player likes.
“Well first off my candy of choice is sour patch watermelon, gotta go with that,” Kevin McCullar said. “And yeah, I stopped by a couple of times a day to grab some even when he’s not there. He’s gotta know what every player likes, so he makes sure it’s all in there.”
Kevin Obanor, floor opener
Kevin Obanor is one of the more intriguing transfers into the Big 12 this season. With Oral Roberts, Obanor grew into a great player, and in his last season with ORU he averaged 18.7 points and 9.6 rebounds and went to the Sweet 16.
Obanor projects as a starter, and the Red Raiders need his scoring. But they need all of the intangibles he can provide, too.
“We’re real excited about what he adds to our team,” Adams said. “But to have a big guy that can shoot like he does, it opens up the floor, it’s special. He has shown a lot of leadership.”
Mark Adams Wants His Defense Back
There is no question the Red Raiders will continue to play stifling man-to-man defense. That was Adams’ main role working with former head coach Chris Beard. During Big 12 media day, Beard talked about what he learned from Adams about defense during their time together.
Adams likes the length and athleticism of his team, with 11 players that are at least 6-foot-5. That helps them cover more space and be more aggressive.
Like all coaches, he loves teaching. He just wishes other Big 12 coaches and teams weren’t taking such good notes.
“It’s flattering to have people copy your defense. The only thing I’m upset about is the Baylor Bears, they copied it, and now they run it better than we do,” Adams said with a smile. “Coach (Scott) Drew has given me some credit for that, which I appreciate.”
Heartland College Sports Big 12 Basketball Preview
Team Previews: Iowa State
Top 25 Returning Players: No. 25 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua| No. 24 Christian Braun | No. 23 Rondel Walker | No. 22 Umoja Gibson | No. 21 Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe | No. 20 Nijel Pack | No. 19: Marcus Santos-Silva | No. 18 Mike McGuirl| No. 17 Jalen Bridges | No. 16 Kalib Boone | No. 15 Kevin McCullar | No. 14 Isaac Likekele | No. 13 Adam Flagler | No. 12 Jalen Coleman-Lands | No. 11 Sean McNeil | No. 10 Taz Sherman | No. 9 Matthew Mayer | No. 8 Jalen Wilson | No. 7 Courtney Ramey | No. 6 Mike Miles | No. 5 Avery Anderson III | No. 4 David McCormack | No. 3 Terrence Shannon Jr. | No. 2 Ochai Agbaji | No. 1 Andrew Jones
Challenge Series: Big 12-Big East Battle
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
2021-22 Texas Tech Schedule
(all times central)
Nov. 9 North Florida, 7 p.m.
Nov. 12 Grambling State, 7 p.m.
Nov. 15 Prairie View A&M, 7 p.m.
Nov. 20 vs. Incarnate Word, 4 [email protected]
Nov. 23 Omaha, 7 p.m.
Nov. 27 Lamar, TBA
Dec. 1 at Providence, 7:30 p.m.-#
Dec. 7 vs. Tennessee, 6 p.m.-$
Dec. 14 Arkansas State, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18 vs. Gonzaga, noon-%
Dec. 22 Eastern Washington, TBA
Dec. 28 Alabama State, TBA
Jan. 1 Oklahoma State*, 3 p.m.
Jan. 5 at Iowa State*, 8 p.m.
Jan. 8 Kansas*, 3 p.m.
Jan. 11 at Baylor*, 6 p.m.
Jan. 15 at Kansas State*, TBA
Jan. 18 Iowa State*, 8 p.m.
Jan. 22 West Virginia*, 11 a.m.
Jan. 24 at Kansas*, 8 p.m.
Jan. 29 Mississippi State, 5 p.m.-&
Feb. 1 Texas*, 8 p.m.
Feb. 5 at West Virginia*, 11 a.m. or 1 p.m.
Feb. 9 at Oklahoma*, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12 TCU*, 3 p.m.
Feb. 16 Baylor*, 8 p.m.
Feb. 19 at Texas*, 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 22 Oklahoma*, 7 p.m.
Feb. 26 at TCU*, 5 p.m.
Feb. 28 Kansas State*, 8 p.m.
March 5 at Oklahoma State*, 2 p.m.
March 9-12 Big 12 Tournament, Kansas City, Missouri
@-South Padre Island Battle on the Beach, South Padre Island, Texas; #-Big East/Big 12 Battle; $-Jimmy V Classic, New York City, New York; %-Jerry Colangelo Classic, Phoenix, Arizona; &-Big 12/SEC Challenge; *-Big 12 games.