January 19, 2008

Signals from the hardwood

Guard Troubles: Much has been legitimately made of the fact that the Red Raiders don't have a legitimate big man. Equally important, however, is the reality that Tech has only one true D-1 guard right now, and his name is Alan Voskuil. John Roberson, eventually-maybe as soon as next year-will be an excellent point guard. Right now, however, he is just not there. He forces far too many shots, plays selfishly at times, commits too many turnovers, and is not adept at running the fast break. Charles Burgess? Sadly, the "bust" label fits here. He just doesn't bring much game to the table.

Power Outage: The Fox commentators mentioned that Bob Knight and his brain-trust never know what to expect from this edition of the Red Raiders. One night great, the next night terrible. Good in one half, poor in the next. The loss to Oklahoma was a textbook example. In the first half Tech was hustling and scraping and competing. They were beating the Sooners to loose balls and keeping them off the glass. In the second half it was if somebody cut the power supply. Tech's energy-level was noticeably diminished, and this showed particularly on the boards where OU suddenly dominated.

Singletary Singular: John Roberson has the stats and gets most of the attention, but it appears to me as though Mike Singletary is the most productive of Tech's three freshmen. (Caveat: It's difficult to judge D'walyn Roberts because he rarely gets the opportunity to show what he can do.) With the big caboose and the burley frame, Singletary is a baby Barkley on the offensive end, and has tremendous ball control for such a bulky player. I hope that he eventually is able to put that broad frame to good use on the glass as well.

Zoning Out: Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel threw a zone defense at the Red Raiders late in the first half and Tech was completely flummoxed. For some strange reason the Red Raiders tried to "attack" the zone by running some sort of feckless weave on the left side of the court. The result was turnovers and bad shots. I fully expected to see a heavy dose of the zone in the second half, but Capel used it sparingly. When he did, and when Tech actually tried some ball reversal rather than confining themselves to half the court, the Red Raiders got some decent shots. Something to keep in mind in the future.

Rizvic Retrospective: Esmir Rizvic's first action against the Oklahoma Sooners since Longar Longar shattered his face with a malicious elbow is as good a time as any to reflect upon the possible effect of the OU big man's actions. Before Longar ended Rizvic's season, the Tech post was developing steadily into a nice player. His improvement was consistent and Rizvic was becoming a contributor in all phases of the game. Since Longar's elbow, however, Rizvic has not been the same player, and he shows little promise of developing into the player he could have become. Perhaps Rizvic's arrested development is coincidental, but I have my doubts.

That King Thing: Fox color commentator Stacy King is pretty good at his job, and seems like a decent guy. I wonder if he was embarrassed by the colossal stroke job he received from his colleagues during the Tech/OU telecast?

King, a former Big 8 Player of the Year-as we were reminded of ad nauseum-had his jersey retired before tipoff. A great honor, to be sure, but by the way Fox's play-by-play man (his name escapes me) waxed rhapsodic and spasmodic you'd have thought he had invented Velveeta Shells N' Cheese or something. At one point King's partner even declared how honored he was to be in the same broadcast booth with him.

And then ex-Sooner coach Billy Tubbs was brought in to add to the hagiography. All credit to Tubbs, though, because after they had been canonizing King a good 10 minutes while completely ignoring the game, Tubbs declared how irritating it is to have a game broadcast interrupted by extraneous circumstances and individuals. And he signed off. Pretty sad when Billy Tubbs is the voice of wisdom.

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