After Texas Tech failed to get an invite to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), here is a reflection on the season.
The Red Raiders' story could have been very different as March Madness approaches. They could have been gathered together watching the selection show for their NCAA Tournament seed, but several things cost Tech a tournament bid and postseason.
First, they had several not-so-great losses in non-conference and conference games. The same Tech squad that beat the then-No. 14 Gonzaga also lost to Sam Houston State and Centenary, and was blown out by New Mexico.
The Red Raiders who beat No. 9 Texas A&M, conference-leading Kansas State, and No. 5 Texas, lost to Nebraska, got swept by Baylor, and lost to Texas A&M and No. 6 Kansas by a combined total of 102 points.
Another detriment was the close games Tech couldn’t pull out. The Red Raiders had a double digit lead against Centenary that was erased in the second half and lost the game.
Tech missed a game-tying shot and a game winning shot in their two losses to Oklahoma, both by two points. They had an eight-point lead against Oklahoma State (OSU) that, after a shooting barrage from one of OSU’s players, they lost. In the conference tournament they squandered numerous chance to tie or win the game against OSU.
They had a nine-point lead with four minutes left in the first half against Baylor, which the Bears trimmed down to one at halftime.
Furthermore, at times during the season, the only team leadership came from the coaches. Martin Zeno couldn’t consistently be the senior leader on the team like Jarrius Jackson was last year. Too many times during the season Zeno tried to get fancy with the ball and produced a less-than-desirable result. An example would be his no-look pass at the end of the OSU game in the conference tournament.
While Alan Voskuil had some great games, there were also games where he wasn’t much of a factor. Senior guard Charlie Burgess did not have as strong of a season as last season. Finally, Tech’s big men—Esmir Rizvic and Ricardo De Bem—were not always effective on both sides of the ball.
For Tech to be a postseason team next season there are some key areas that need to be addressed. Head coach Pat Knight has seen this team play for 11 games and should have an idea of who can play and who cannot. Knight needs to cut the ones who are not going to be effective and make the team stronger.
Freshmen: John Roberson, Mike Singletary, and D’walyn Roberts grew well as a freshman class. They need to continue to grow as a group and make an impact for the team.
Voskuil emerged as a scoring threat for the Red Raiders in his junior season, and will need to be the senior leader for the team next season. Voskuil needs to be the coach on the floor who helps Tech keep themselves in the game.
Next season does bring promise for Tech, as they will return all but two players. Roberson and Singletary should make a bigger impact for the team. With 11 games under his belt as head coach, Pat Knight knows how to lead this team.