After only two games, it is hard to put a lot of attention on the stats until a few more games garner more solid averages to dive into. I will sit aside the points, rebounds, shooting, and turnovers until we can collect some other numbers from more games. Yet, one thing that always does stick out to me after the first few games is the starting lineup and playing time given out to the bench.
Through the first two games the starting lineup of all-seniors (Evans, Zach Smith, Stevenson, Gray, and Hamilton) does not surprise me. That is a sturdy group with loads of basketball experience. Still, I believe as the season progresses we most likely will see some changes. We always do. Keenan Evans and Zach Smith are averaging the most minutes on the team right now, which is to be expected after only a couple games. What was not expected was Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver to be averaging the #3 & #4 most minutes on the roster. Keep in mind that Stevenson was injured and sat the entire 2nd half in the first game. Also, Gray was injured and sat the entire 2nd half in the second game.
Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver have been impressive as the first guys off the bench and getting extra playing time. Zhaire has scored double figures from the inside and outside, and showed incredible athletic ability to go up and get the ball. Culver was not electrifying in the first game, but had a breakout in the second game showing off his abilities by scoring from all over the court. Both guys also are quick and can defend in the backcourt.
Zhaire was a highly recruited player that turned down offers from Arkansas, K-State, Oregon, and Texas to play for Texas Tech. Culver pushed away offers from Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor, and Texas to stay and play in Lubbock. These guys had other opportunities, but Coach Beard got them to be Red Raiders. The dynamic freshman duo have worked their way to earn a lot of minutes being part of a very large roster here to start the season. That should not be overlooked. From what I have seen, they are just getting warmed-up and are having fun gelling with the team on the court.
Let’s keep an eye on these two frosh, and see if they might even eventually crack the starting line-ups at some point during the season. The real test will be when we are challenged by some strong teams. Our first two opponents were soft. We need to see what happens if we take on #20 Northwestern on Sunday in the Naismith HOF Tourney, or when we go the NYC to play #22 Seton Hall in two weeks. Only the top players in the contest will see significant minutes.
From what I can tell so far, is that it looks like we might be throwing Zhaire and Culver into the mix on those important battles to try and come out on top. This basketball season is only going to get better as we go. Wreck ’em Tech!!!