Red Raiders Will Look to Youth for Victories in 2008-2009

Andrew GloverCorrespondent INovember 13, 2008

The 2007-2008 season was a historic and roller coaster one for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. They advanced to the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout, beating Gonzaga to reach the finals. The Red Raiders only managed to win one game on the road, and two neutral.

Former head coach Bob Knight won his 900th game in a 68-53 victory over Texas A&M. Just over two weeks later Knight resigned after winning his 902nd game and his son Pat took over the program. Pat Knight got his first win on Feb. 13, beating Kansas State 84-75. The Red Raiders beat No. 7 Texas 83-80 in their first win against Texas since 2005.

However, the Red Raiders would suffer the two most lopsided losses in school history under Pat Knight, losing 98-54 against A&M and 109-51 against Kansas who would go on and win the NCAA Tournament.

Tech went 4-7 under Pat Knight, leading to a 16-15 record. The Red Raiders failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the third time under Bob Knight.

Now, Pat Knight enters his first full season as the Red Raiders’ head coach and will have a very young team in the 2008-2009 season. With Martin Zeno and Charlie Burgess graduating, senior guard Alan Voskuil, senior forward Damir Suljagic, and junior forward Trevor Cook are the only upper classmen who had considerable minutes last season.

Senior forward Michael Prince’s playing time has decreased the last two seasons as well as his production. Prince played an average of 17.6 minutes in his freshman season and only played an average of 8.6 minutes in his senior season.

Prince’s average assists went from 1.6 his freshman season to 0.4 last season. His average points per game decreased from 2.7 in his freshman season to 1.6 last season. Unfortunately, Prince has garnered more attention for Bob Knight slapping his chin in 2006 rather than for his playing ability.

Senior Roderick Craig only saw playing time when Tech was winning by a lot or losing by a lot. Last season Craig averaged 5.1 minutes, 1.1 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 turnovers, 0.2 steals, and one foul. In addition, Craig shot 27 percent from the field, 42 percent from the free-throw line, and 12.5 percent from three-point territory.

The Red Raiders have six newcomers with three of them being transfers. Junior forward Darko Cohadarevic transferred from Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kansas. According to the Texas Tech athletic Web site, last season he averaged 15.4 points and eight rebounds, leading Seward to a 32-6 record and a third place finish in the NJCAA Tournament last season.

Sophomore guard Wally Dunn transferred from Midland College and averaged 4.3 points per game in 32 games. Midland College was 28-4 last season.

Junior guard Nick Okorie transferred from South Plains Junior College. According to the Texas Tech Athletic Web site, Okorie averaged 17.2 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game, leading the South Plains Texans to the NJCAA title last season.

In addition, Okorie was named to the NJCAA Region V team, first team All Conference selection, and NJCAA All-Tournament Team.

The Red Raiders will play their first five non-conference games at home this season. They lead off the season against St. Francis (Nov. 14), followed by Sam Houston State (Nov. 17). On Nov. 20 and 22 Tech will play East Central Oklahoma and Eastern Kentucky as part of the Legends Classic. Before Thanksgiving break Tech will host Southeastern Louisiana (Nov. 25).

The Red Raiders will resume the Legends Classic in Newark, New Jersey on Nov. 28. They will play Pittsburgh who lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Depending on the result of that game, Tech will face either Mississippi State, who lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, or Washington State, who lost in the Sweet 16.

After the Legends Classic, Tech faces one more opponent who made last season’s NCAA Tournament. They visit Stanford (Dec. 28) who lost in the Sweet 16.

The Red Raiders other non-conference opponents are Wichita State (Dec 3), New Mexico (Dec 20), Centenary (Dec 23), Stephen F. Austin (Jan. 1), and TCU (Jan. 6) will be at home. Tech will travel to Lamar (Dec. 13) and UTEP (Dec 17).

In conference play, Tech will have early road tests. They start conference by playing at Baylor (Jan. 10), at Missouri (Jan. 24), and at Texas A&M (Jan. 28). The Red Raiders host Texas (Jan. 17), Colorado (Jan. 20), and Nebraska (Jan. 31) in January.

In February, Tech will host Baylor (Feb. 7), Oklahoma State (Feb. 18), Texas A&M (Feb. 21), and Oklahoma (Feb. 28). Tech visits Oklahoma State (Feb. 4), Kansas State (Feb. 11), Oklahoma (Feb. 18), and Texas (Feb. 25).

Tech closes the season hosting the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks March 4 and visiting Iowa State March 7.

The keys for the Red Raiders this season will be, number one, win away from United Spirit Arena. Last season Tech was 3-12 away from Lubbock, including 1-2 at neutral sites. Winning on the road will be crucial in the conference season as eight of 12 Big XII teams made either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

Voskuil had a breakout season last year with 13.1 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from behind the three-point line. Voskuil will need to carry over that success into this year and be the senior leader for the team.

Cook and Suljagic will need to be supporting members to Voskuil. Both Cook and Suljagic could see more playing time and Voskuil will draw more attention.

Mike Singletary and John Roberson will need to avoid sophomore slumps and put up similar numbers to their freshman season. Singletary averaged 7.3 points last season and Roberson averaged 12.3 points and 3.3 assists.

Finally, transfers Darko Cohadarevic and Okorie need to be role players for the Red Raiders as they were for their junior college teams. If Cohadarevic and Okorie can help Voskuil, the Red Raiders could put up many wins.

Time will tell whether Pat Knight’s team will be worthy of the postseason or if it will be another quiet March for West Texas.