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January 24, 2011Here's a look at what all we learned over the weekend, including a takes on the Texas Tech men's basketball team and a look at the football team's recruiting efforts.
? Tech basketball can compete with smaller teams. No one in the preseason expected the Red Raiders to finish in the upper half of the Big 12, but many thought they had a shot to make the NCAA Tournament. To sell to you that the Red Raiders will make the tournament would definitely be a stretch, but we are seeing a more competitive team that should win more conference games.
I think the early Big 12 problems have had a lot to do with how the schedule is stacked up. Tech kicked off the conference slate with Baylor, Texas and on the road at Kansas State. What did those teams have in common? Size.
Fortunately for the Red Raiders, they are in the meat of a stretch against smaller teams that rely more on fundamentals.
Tech outrebounded a small Oklahoma team on the offensive side of the court and had more second-chance points. The same goes for the Nebraska game and the Red Raiders won that one.
Iowa State is small and relies on three-point shooting and Oklahoma State isn't much bigger. These are winnable games with the Kansas game looming next week.
? There's a better way to approach the fan issue. On Thursday of last week, Tech head basketball coach Pat Knight was asked by a reporter what he had to say to fans who have given up on the 2010-11 basketball season.
Knight took a "that's their problem" stance. But while the question (understandably) seemed to get on Knight's nerves, the question was an inadvertent softball that could have paid dividends down the line.
Instead of taking an almost us-versus-them approach, Knight could have used to the opportunity to his advantage.
With five days of reflection and the gift of hindsight, I think this would have been a better answer for Knight:
"We need as many fans as we can get into the building. I guarantee you this team would play more competitively if we had a few good crowds. You can't even imagine the difference you could make. If you truly love Texas Tech, please come to our games and give us an edge."
That's essentially what Knight said, but with a softer line expressing the same point he probably would have won a little more favor with disgruntled fans while at the same time could have cast a shred of doubt on why Tech is struggling -- at least at home.
? Tech on verge of signing unprecedented class. I swore off my Red Raider fandom when I was a sophomore in college to cover Tech baseball and subsequently soccer, basketball and football.
Believe it or not though, what drew me to Tech as a kid were the Red Raiders' promising athletic programs. One of my first purchases when I got my first deibt card was a subscription to RedRaiderSports.com and I followed recruiting diligently.
Everyone loves stars, and I was no different. Many four and five-star prospects, like Julio Jones, would list Tech as school of interest, but they never pulled the trigger. Ever!
The way things stand now, Tech has commitments from two Rivals100 players -- tight end Jace Amaro and defensive back Marcus Roberson -- and are in the mix for others.
Regardless, I'm happy to see the Red Raiders make the jump from not only a formidable foe on the gridiron but also for top talent. The kid inside me is pleased.
? Red Raiders are boxing out some tough recruiting competition. Delvon Simmons of Pennsylvania is one of the aforementioned "others" in the Rivals100 and he might actually land at Tech in favor of Oregon, Pittsburgh and USC.
According to Simmons' head football coach, Jim Ward, North Carolina is out and Simmons has dropped Florida from his list of potential schools.
If Simmons doesn't sign with Tech, the 2010 runner-up or the "team of the 2000's" or both also will lose out on him. That's some pretty stout competition for Tech to be in with.
? Going up against heavy hitters. Speaking of Florida, is it just me or have you seen Tech battling it out more often with perennial power for recruits this recruiting season?
I am very impressed with head football coach Tommy Tuberville's ability to recruit the Southeast. I think most Texans feel that the Lone Star State produces the best high schools players but there are always some guys to be desired out of the SEC country.
If you're a Red Raider fan, you should be flattered by the fact the Gators wanted a piece of the Tech coaching staff in former secondary coach Travaris Robinson and possibly defensive coordinator James Willis before stuff hit the fan. I think UF has a chance at defensive back recruit Marcus Roberson, too.
But Tech seems to be holding its own against southeastern powers like Florida in the recruiting game and that could turn to wins in very large, NFL-caliber stadiums three or four years from now. Regardless, it's obvious Tech has some things more powerful programs desire and that has to be a troubling thought, especially for Big 12 rivals.