With the loss of Shawntrez Davis on the Texas Tech roster we take a serious knock to our frontcourt depth. Especially the power forward position. To convey my concern let’s first take a look at the average playing time of our returning frontcourt players.
Here is a breakdown of the games played and average minutes per game:
Player Games MPG
Zach Smith 31 27.7
Norense Odiase 31 21.7
Justin Gray 16 18.8
Isaiah Manderson 31 14.0
Aaron Ross 23 9.9
With the loss of Lammert (exhausted eligibility), Foster (transfer), and Jamison (dismissed) we were counting on adding some depth this upcoming season with the addition of a few recruits. Davis was the guy that was going to give some strength low at the post in the power forward spot, but the rug was pulled out from the team when he did not qualify to play. C.J. Williams is thought to be the small forward backup to Justin Gray, but if you take a look at the official roster on the Texas Tech site you will see Williams is listed as a guard. Let that sink in for a second.
When Tubby Smith doesn’t have a three-guard lineup on the floor we are going to have Gray at the small forward position, Smith at the power forward, and either Odiase/Manderson at the center spot. Smith was relied on heavily to fill the power forward position at 27.7 minutes per game last season, and we can imagine that it will be even more minutes for the upcoming one. His backup is Ross who has skills on the offensive end of the court better suited at the small forward spot. Also, Ross was coming back from injury and seemed a step slow which might explain his 9.9 mpg playing time average. Gray went down with injury and was out for the second part of the season, so Tubby Smith experimented between running a three-guard lineup or went big a few times with playing both Odiase and Manderson at the same time. The end result with those lineups without Gray in to help during conference play was only 3 wins the rest of the year.
Let’s fast forward and think what would happen if (heaven forbid) Smith goes down with an injury at some point next season? Or if Gray has his tendinitis flare up again? How are we going to fill the voids at the small or power forward position? These are the questions that have me concerned about the frontcourt depth. After Gray and Smith the only other listed forward on the roster is Ross. While I think we can manage between our guards and Ross to fill a gap at the small forward position, it’s nerve-racking to think what will happen at the power forward spot if Smith is on the bench. Manderson and Odiase in at the same time is something that I like to see in spurts. When we need some muscle in the post area, but those two big guys seem to get winded easily and need to stick at center. This is mainly to back each other up for breathers.
Maybe I am getting myself too wound up. Though until I see the final product on the court next season, or unless we get another recruit (JUCO or high-school) to help us out next season in the frontcourt… I will be feeling a little uneasy going into the 2015-16 season with the way our frontcourt depth is currently sitting. I’ll hope for the best, and wish to be pleasantly surprised like I was when we snagged Manderson in August last year. Tubby Smith is known to pull a rabbit out the hat. Wreck ’em Tech!