Where were you on the evening of Valentine’s Day in 2005? Some of us Texas Tech hoops fans were inside the USA watching the Red Raiders take on the #2 ranked Kansas Jayhawks. The arena was packed and what happened that night will be unforgettable for most. To refresh memories for those who weren’t there watch this…
It was an amazing night. I will always remember rushing the court as a student and feeling so much joy after getting that win over the #2 team in the country. The whole game was great, but we have to give credit to Darryl Dora for sinking in that dagger of a shot to knock off the Jayhawks.
Knowing we play the #1 Kansas Jayhawks in Lubbock this Saturday, I reached out to the “Kansas Killer” himself. Darryl Dora was kind enough to answer a few questions for us fans…
Dan: While you were at Gonzales High School playing basketball, what attracted you to Texas Tech University to be part of the Red Raiders basketball program?
Dora: Coach Knight was a huge draw for me. He was already a legend when he came to Texas Tech and I knew I wanted to play for him. After he started recruiting me and I came to visit Lubbock, I was sold.
Dan: You played 4 seasons on the Texas Tech squad from 2003-2007 under the legendary Bobby Knight. Tell us a little bit about what you learned from him and what kind of coach he was to you?
Dora: Playing under Coach Knight was really hard. He’s a tough coach and he always demanded a lot, but as I’ve gotten older I can see why. Coach Knight taught me to be accountable. At the time I thought it was just about basketball but really it’s about everything. Being accountable to myself, to my family is something I didn’t understand growing up because of where I came from, but Coach Knight showed me how important it was. I’m grateful for that.
Dan: After hitting the double overtime 3-point shot your sophomore season to win against #2 ranked Kansas you became an instant Texas Tech legend. Can you tell us about that magical night and making of “the Kansas Killer Shot of 2005”?
Dora: After the time-out, Coach drew up a play within our motion offense. Normally I would flare screen and rescreen but this time I read the defense and popped out. Ron swung it to me and I just shot it. I don’t know if it was magical or legendary, but it was fun.
Dan: That same season Tech made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament. It ended up being West Virginia and Kevin Pittsnogle that knocked Tech out of the tourney. But, can you tell us how great of an experience it was on your path during March Madness to get to the Sweet Sixteen?
Dora: The Sweet Sixteen run was awesome. We won games all year and as a team we just clicked. I won a championship as a pro-player but it doesn’t compare. Everyone talks about the Kansas shot, but playing that deep in the tournament was my favorite memory of that year and my entire career at Tech.
Dan: During your time at Tech, you played alongside some of the memorable names to Red Raiders hoops fans like Andre Emmett, Jay Jackson, and Ronald Ross. Which teammate was the biggest influence on you and your game?
Dora: We’re all different types of players, but I admire so much about those guys. Andre was one of the best scorers I’ve ever seen. Ron was one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever been around. He worked hard year-round and he was always improving his game. Jay Jack is my guy. We came in together and he’s one of my best friends. He came in and contributed immediately. He never played like a freshman.
Dan: After you finished your time with the program and Bobby Knight stepped down at Tech as head coach the “glory days” of Red Raiders hoops has become part of the past. Now, with Tubby Smith and the group of talent we have on the current roster the program is starting to trend upwards. What are your thoughts on the job that Tubby Smith and staff have done with Tech basketball in just a few short years?
Dora: I was still in Japan when we hired Coach Smith. I thought Minnesota was crazy for letting him go after he had a 20+ win season and went to the tournament. I think that Coach Smith and his staff have the type of players they want now and they can really implement their system and how they want to play. They have guys competing at a very high level this year and the team is so athletic.
Dan: What is your advice to the team going into the game in Lubbock on Saturday against the #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks?
Dora: It’s going to be an intense game and in the Big 12 you really have to fight to win every game at home, ranked opponents or not. But coming off a close loss I think they will compete at a very high level.
Dan: Last but not least, what does it mean to you to be a Red Raider?
Dora: I played overseas for 7 years and when I came back I could’ve finished my degree anywhere, but Texas Tech was where I started my journey and I wanted to finish it there. I’ll always be a Red Raider and that’s what I wanted stamped on my degree. Wreck ‘Em.
Dan: I want the thank Darryl for taking the time out of his schedule to sit down and answer a few questions for us. All of us here at Staking the Plains greatly appreciate having the honor to call you a Red Raider. Let’s get ready for some more magic to happen in the USA when we take on #1 Kansas tomorrow. Wreck ’em Tech!!!