Texas Tech Interim coach Basketball

Post-Gillispie, Texas Tech looks better than expected

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I don’t think that there’s any argument that no college basketball program had a rougher offseason than Texas Tech.

Players revolted and administrators were forced to deal with the mess they brought onto themselves when they hired Billy Gillispie. Mass transfers, stories of player mistreatment — including one report of an eight-hour practice — and violent verbal outbursts were a few of the many problems Gillispie caused until he resigned in late September.

When he left, it wasn’t like he left the cupboard bare. Players like leading returning scorer Jordan Tolbert came back, along with Jaye Crockett.

So we all thought it wouldn’t be as bad as last season’s debacle.

Maybe we were right, but maybe we weren’t that right.

The Red Raiders are 5-0, playing three SWAC teams, a Division II opponent and a transition Division I team. Let’s remember that. But through these early-season cupcakes, Texas Tech is averaging 90.3 points per game, third in the nation. Not to mention, they’re pulling down 43 rebounds per game, 16th nationally. It’s also surrendering just 66 points per game.

Five Red Raiders are also averaging double-figure points, ranging from 14.7 ppg (Crockett) to 11.5 from Trency Jackson. That’s balance, homes, and interim coach Chris Walker should be commended for it.

Again it’s a small sample size against mediocre-to-poor teams, but most teams coming off the summer that Texas Tech had would be happy with just winning games. Texas Tech is winning them the way good programs win them. True, they’re coming off just a nine-point win over Jackson State on Monday night, but couple that with 28 and 35-point victories over Grambling State and Nebraska-Omaha, it’s nothing to scoff at.

What’s more? The Red Raiders don’t leave the friendly confines of United Spirit Arena until a Jan. 5 date with TCU, their Big 12 opener.

But now the greatest test for Texas Tech comes next. No. 9 Arizona visits Lubbock on Saturday. If there’s a time to prove that they’re past the short-lived but turmoil-filled Gilispie era, it’ll be against the Wildcats.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.