SethC from DoubleTNation was nice enough to give Miner fans the skinny on the Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball team. UTEP, of course, takes on Texas Tech Saturday night in the Don Haskins center. I've had a fondness for Texas Tech's basketball program ever since coach Bob Knight had his boys wear a patch on their uniform to honor the late Don Haskins. I hope both schools continue this series because its great for West Texas.
Miner Rush: This is coach Pat Knight's third full season in Lubbock. How do the fans feel about his job performance so far? Did the NIT appearance last season quiet any critics out there?
Seth (DTN): After last season, the general expectation was that Pat Knight was headed in the right direction, but that he needed to take the program to the next level, which is an NCAA Tournament appearance. In looking towards this year, Knight would have 6 returning seniors, 3 of those seniors were supposed to be his best players. But then the season started, and at 5-5, it's not looking good. Losses to North Texas and TCU are really inexcusable. The losses to Washington and St. Mary's are a little understandable, but Texas Tech really didn't even compete in those games.
MR: Can you tell Miner fans a little about Knight's coaching philosophy? What should we expect from Texas Tech?
This is a huge part of the problem with Knight. He says he wants to stress defense, but Texas Tech is an awful defensive team. You can partly blame the players, but at some point the head coach needs to make a statement, i.e. either play defense or you don't play. Other that D`walyn Roberts
, Texas Tech really doesn't have a good defensive player on the floor for a good part of the game. It's all about the offense and as any casual basketball observer knows, good defensive basketball teams go to the NCAA Tournament, great defensive basketball teams win it.
: Mike Singletary has seemed to be the face of Tech basketball for the last few years. I've noticed his numbers are down slightly from his career averages- and he's shooting a very surprising .09% from three (2/21). Is this just an early season slump or is there legitimate cause for concern?
Seth (DTN): Singletary is one of those players who has been incredibly frustrating to watch. He can be a fantastic scorer, assuming that he's got a favorable matchup. Singletary isn't the best athlete and he's really not athletic enough to cover most opposing small forwards and he's too short to cover most power forwards. It's not uncommon to see Singletary lose his man on defense and he's a huge part of the defensive problem. He can be such a big part of the offense, but when there's little effort there on defense and he has a more athletic player covering him while he's on offense, he becomes a liability.
MR: It seems like the core of last years team has returned with the exception of center Darko Cohadarevic. UTEP's struggles have been mostly on the glass and in the post. How is Robert Lewandowsky doing now that he's the featured big man in Lubbock? How is Tech's depth at in the frontcourt
Lewandowski has actually been pretty good this year and broken out of his sophomore slump where he was virtually non-existent. Lew isn't the best defensive player, but he does take up space and I'd like to see him grab a few more rebounds. Lew has improved his offensive game and gets open shots with good footwork offensively. Paul Cooper
and the aforementioned Roberts are both coming off injuries that kept them out for most of the non-conference schedule. Cooper and Roberts are the primary frontcourt backups.
MR: Has Knight brought in any newcomers that have surprised you? Any newcomers that Miner fans should watch out for?
I live in the Dallas area and was able to catch the North Texas game and was immediately impressed with Jaye Crockett
, who redshirted last year, but there's rumblings that he, and some of the other freshman feel like their entitled to receive more playing time and they've mostly ridden the bench for the last two games. It's disappointing to see Knight completely ignore his freshman and considering this team's record, perhaps the freshmen are right. Maybe they should play more.
MR: Any predictions for the game Saturday night?
Seth (DTN): I have no doubt that UTEP wins this game. If I had to guess, I'm thinking by 15 points or so. I've just gotten to the point that I have little to no confidence that this Texas Tech team will be able to play enough defense to win a tough game and I consider UTEP to be a tough game.