By and large, Chris Walker's Red Raiders have fared as expected in the non-conference portion of their schedule. Tech stands with a 7-4 record as the team prepares for its conference opener at TCU. Losses to Arizona, Arizona State and Alabama were expected, as were wins over a variety of inconsequential opponents from the South. The five-point home loss to McNeese State was the only nasty surprise so far. (In their next outing, McNeese lost by 34 to North Carolina.)
Still, the Red Raiders have not shown that they will likely make any noise in the Big 12 this season. The team is too immature, inconsistent and undisciplined to compete at a high level. What's more, a raft of newcomers have so far not provided the hoped for fillip which would propel the Tech program to even modestly higher heights. It appears as though the new additions will not make a truly positive impact until next season.
Below is a thumbnail report on the newcomers, as well as the veterans, and a rating on a scale of 1-100.
Jaye Crockett: The junior forward from Clovis, New Mexico is clearly the best player on the roster even though he's had two bad games in his last three outings. Crockett averages 15 points and nine rebounds per game, and also has 14 steals. Like most of his teammates though, turnovers are a problem for Crockett; he has committed 22. Crockett's outside shot has also tailed off. Early in the season it looked as though he had developed three-point range. Presently, however, he is shooting only 27 percent from deep.
Josh Gray: Tech's point guard certainly has his weaknesses. He's not much of a shooter, turns the ball over far too much, and doesn't run the fast break particularly well, but he is still very valuable to the team. Gray has the quickness and craftiness to break down most any defender off the dribble, and most important of all, his steals are the most important engine for Tech's offensive success. Gray currently averages 2.4 steals per contest, which leads the team.
Dejan Kravic: The Serbo-Canadian big man is actually having a fairly solid season. He leads the Red Raiders in blocked shots with 19, shoots 59 percent from the floor and has dished out 17 assists. Kravic is a very good interior passer and shows promise as a distributor from the high post. His hands and had strength are liabilities. Far too often he gets his hands on rebounds only to have them knocked or taken away. Kravic averages five caroms per game; he should average at least seven.
Jamal Williams: Williams is a rather quiet player, but is no less effective for the "silence." He is hitting on 35 percent of his three point attempts and 80 percent of his free throws. Williams averages over three rebounds per game (not bad for a six-foot-four guard), and has 18 assists to only 10 turnovers. Williams is a mature, steadying influence on a team that needs it badly.
Jordan Tolbert: The forward from Fort Worth has hit a brick wall following a freshman season in which he made a strong run at Newcomer of the Year honors in the Big 12. Not that Tolbert is playing poorly, it's just that he never comes close to dominating games as he did when he was a freshman. Although he has only fouled out once, Tolbert often seems to get into early foul trouble and then never gets into the rhythm of the game. One wonders if he might do better coming off the bench.
Kader Tapsoba: If any player deserves more minutes, it's Tapsoba. He's currently averaging only 7.5 minutes per contest, yet still has eight blocks, and averages three points and three rebounds per game. Tapsoba makes a positive impact nearly every time he sets foot on the court, and makes few mistakes. Look for Tapsoba to be a major factor in what the Red Raiders do in conference play.
Dusty Hannahs: The freshman from Arkansas is Texas Tech's designated shooter, and is beginning to emerge in that role. He currently connects on 42 percent of his shots from downtown and has yet to miss a free throw. Hannahs has also been respectable on the defensive end. Hannahs will never be a distributor, nor will he catalyze the offense from the defensive end, but if he can prove to be a reliable deep threat, that's good enough.
Toddrick Gotcher: There's nothing in the stat sheet to indicate Gotcher has done anything special, but some players contribute in intangible ways. Gotcher is one of them. He brings energy, effort and a positive attitude to the court for the Red Raiders. Gotcher is also a very good on-the-ball defender.
Daylen Robinson: If there's one player who symbolizes Tech's inconsistency, it's Robinson. There are times when he provides a major spark, but far too many others where he hurts the team. Robinson is second on the team in assists, second in turnovers and second in steals. He has not, however, shot well from the line, the field and the three-point arc.
Trency Jackson: Jackson averages 23 minutes per game (trailing only Crockett and Gray), and it's hard to understand why. Jackson shoots 29 percent from the field, 57 percent from the charity stripe, and has 22 turnovers to only 11 assists. He plays hard on defense, but that is not enough to justify his minutes.