Here are three things the Texas Tech basketball team must improve upon this week.
After a particularly difficult two-game stretch against Texas and Baylor, the Texas Tech Red Raiders get an unexpected break as Wednesday’s game against TCU has been postponed. They’ll then face lowly Iowa state at home on Saturday. Thus this next week should be an opportunity to improve on some things before traveling to West Virginia on Jan. 25
Texas Tech’s win over the Longhorns in Austin was an impressive, gutsy performance, and they gave Baylor, arguably the best team in the nation, its biggest test of the season before falling. There are plenty of positives to take away from these games, such as the free-throw shooting, the defense, and the play of Mac McClung and Kevin McCullar.
But if this team is going to make a run at a Big 12 title and play deep into the NCAA tournament, there are some things they still have to work on. From a big picture standpoint, the offense certainly needs improvement, especially in the first half of games. There are long stretches when the offense seems to have no flow and the players settle for poor shots. With that in mind, here are three things they can work on to help jump-start the offense.
Take Fewer Threes
This is not a great three-point shooting team, and the numbers bear that out. The Red Raiders are seventh in the Big 12 in three-pointers attempted but only ninth in three-point percentage. Of the eight players currently on the roster who average 15 minutes or more per game, only one (Kyler Edwards) is shooting better than 33.3 percent from deep.
McCullar in particular, hasn’t found his stroke, as he’s shooting less than 20 percent from beyond the arc. That simply can’t continue. What’s more, even players like Terrence Shannon and Jamarius Burton could stand to shoot a little less from deep and look for more opportunities inside. This could be helped by the next item on my list.
More Ball Movement
I’ve seen some improvement over the past couple of weeks in this area, but they have to continue to get better. McClung is really the only player on this roster I would be comfortable with trying to score in isolation situations. Shannon has shown some flashes of explosiveness, but he’s yet to fully blossom. You simply can’t rely on that to score against some of these premier teams.
The offense needs to utilize more screens and off-ball movement to open up lanes to the basket or to set up open perimeter shots. There are some capable shooters here, but they take too many contested threes. Getting more inside looks will open up the outside, and you’ll see those three-point percentages climb as a result.
Get More Players to Step Up
McClung has been the undisputed star on offense, and the return of McCullar has added some serious toughness, but there needs to be more. Edwards and Shannon need to find some consistency and not disappear for games at a time. Texas Tech should also give Marcus Santos-Silva and Tyreek Smith more looks in the post, as both are shooting better than 60 percent.
This team needs role players who’ll make big impacts. Recent teams had their stars in Keenan Evans, Jarrett Culver, and Jahmi’us Ramsey, but they also had secondary guys who could seriously influence the outcome of the game — guys like Brandone Francis, Tariq Owens, Matt Mooney, Zach Smith, and Davide Moretti. Who will fill their shoes?