Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series. Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days. We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The Knight legacy at Texas Tech was short lived as Pat Knight was fired after four years as the Red Raiders head coach. Now Billy Gillispie returns to Texas where he hopes to revive the Texas Tech basketball program just like Eric Taylor did with East Dillon Lions football team. (Texas Forever.)
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
Last Season: T-10th, 5-11 in Big 12, 13-19 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 10th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Robert Lewandowski (Sr)/Kader Tapsoba (Jr)/Daouda Soumaoro (Fr)
F: Jaron Nash (So)/Theron Jenkins (Sr)/Jordan Tolbert (Fr)/ Hershey Robinson (Fr)
F: Jaye Crockett (So)/Terran Petteway (Fr)/Cameron Forte (Fr)
SG: Marshall Henderson (So)/Mike Davis (Jr)/Toddrick Gotcher (Fr)
PG: Javarez Willis (So)/Kevin Wagner (Fr)/Ty Nurse (Jr)
Gone: SF-Mike Singletary, PG-John Roberson, SF-Brad Reese, PF-D’walyn Roberts, SG-David Tairu, SG-Wally Dunn, C-Paul Cooper (transfer), SG-Jamel Outler (transfer)
Billy Gillispie did not waste anytime in making a splash after being hired at Texas Tech. The former Texas A&M and Kentucky head coach retained all five freshmen recruits that signed letters of intent back in November; a rare feat for a struggling program that introduces a new head coach. Gillispie also added three talented junior college players and another freshman making a grand total of nine newcomers this season.
The influx of talent is needed as TTU loses five of their top six scorers to graduation and also saw two players transfer out of the program. Center Robert Lewandowski is the only returning starter and just one of two seniors on the team. He is recovering from a broken collarbone suffered during the Big 12 Tournament but should be 100% for the start of camp. Theron Jenkins is the other senior but was forced to take a medical redshirt last season due to a leg fracture.
Sophomore Jaye Crockett figures to see a bigger role in the frontcourt after being one of the top reserves a year ago, and from there the picture is unclear especially with the transfer of Paul Cooper. Kader Tapsoba and Daouda Soumaoro bring length and athleticism in the middle behind Lewandowski. Junior college transfer Jaron Nash will bring versatility to the forward spot while freshmen Jordan Tolbert and Hershey Robinson will also compete for minutes in the frontcourt.
Mike Davis and Javarez Willis are the only returning players in the backcourt. Willis will be the favorite to start at the point although he will be pushed by newcomers Kevin Wagner and Ty Nurse.
Davis has been battling nagging foot injuries since last season which could be reason for concern. Luckily, Utah transfer Marshall Henderson becomes eligible this season after sitting out the 2010-2011 campaign per NCAA rules. Henderson should provide some offense as he was second on the Utes in scoring as a freshman. Terran Petteway is an explosive athlete who could be a major contributor on the wing in his first season while Toddrick Gotcher provides insurance in case Davis cannot stay healthy.
If my math is correct, Texas Tech’s roster is currently over the NCAA limit of thirteen scholarship players which means something has to give. Either way, Gillispie has some work to do in his first season in Lubbock. With nine newcomers, there will certainly be plenty of growing pains this season but the future of the program should be in good hands with Gillispie having plenty of recruiting ties within the state.
Player to Watch: Jaron Nash
There is not a lot of star power with the returning Red Raiders meaning several of the newcomers will have to step onto the scene and make their presence felt. Of that group, Nash is the most likely to do so after averaging 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game at Tyler Junior College where he played alongside fellow newbie, Kader Tapsoba. Gillispie said Nash can “handle the ball like a point guard” which makes him an intriguing prospect. He chose Texas Tech after having strong interest from other major conference teams like Marquette, Auburn, DePaul, Northwestern, Washington State and California.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/24 vs. Indiana State (Old Spice Classic)
11/25 vs. Minnesota/DePaul (Old Spice Classic)
11/27 vs. Dayton/Wake Forest/Arizona State/Fairfield (Old Spice Classic)
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraka Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a fomer contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.