Myself and DanSwany discussed Monday night the tournament and what Tech needs to happen (and not happen) in order to move on. Also our plans and what happened so far this season. Here’s how our conversation went:
Michael LaBarre: This year has been nuts so far hasn’t, it? Back in November, I thought that picking us seventh wasn’t crazy and that we would be one of the lower at-large bids in the NCAA tournament. Yet, here we are in mid-March with our first Big 12 title and a legitimate shot at a Final Four. Did you at all envision seeing this season turning out the way it did?
DanSwany: Back in November, I wrote a post here on STP saying we’d finish in the top 3 of the Big 12… and make it to the Sweet 16. We surpassed even my high expectations, and have a chance to go far in the tourney. Adding COY and POY awards in the Big 12 was icing on the cake. Now, my focus is all on March Madness. How do you see this trip to Tulsa going for Tech?
LaBarre: I’m going to be honest, I’m a little nervous. Of course, on the bright side, that means I think Tech is really good. The first game doesn’t bother me too much, and the fact I haven’t heard much of Northern Kentucky makes me feel slightly better. That being said, I think Tech got a rough draw in Buffalo. They only lost a few games this year and are craving for a Sweet Sixteen. At least we didn’t have to face Nevada or Marquette I guess. That being said, the fact the crowd is there makes me feel like we’ll be okay. How about you?
Swany: Not overlooking NKU too much, but Buffalo is a difficult 2nd round game if we both meet there. They beat Syracuse, West Virginia, and St. Bonaventure this season. But, we are playing in Tulsa with, as you have mentioned, a lot of Red Raiders that will be in attendance. I’m fairly confident in getting out of Tulsa in one piece. Yet, it won’t be a cakewalk. All eyes are going to be on our star Culver, so the opponents are going to key in on containing him. Who steps up for Tech and has themselves some huge games on the court in Tulsa to help us get to the Sweet 16?
LaBarre: Looking at the rosters for NKU and the favorite in the other match-up, Buffalo, I think two guys are going to need to have big games. The first is Mat Mooney. Buffalo has three starters around 6-3, so Mooney is going to have to play some tough defense, especially on their top scorer in 6-3 CJ Massinburg. Also, him hitting open shots will be huge for the offense, and even being able to create shots if Culver is off. The second is Brandone Francis. He’s averaged 8.2 ppg on 43% shooting and 40% on threes his past 10 games. Tech goes on their runs when he gets hot, which includes the ending at Iowa State. What can Tech not afford to do in the early rounds of the tournament?
Swany: Tech can not afford their slow starts. We coasted by in some of the regular season games by starting slow and having to play from behind. We were taught a lesson in the Big 12 tournament by WVU that we cannot overcome any deficit. Texas Tech needs to come out of the gate swinging. Fight hard early and all game, it is now win or go home. No slow starts! We still might go hot and cold on our shooting, but playing with urgency all game is my key to these early round games. Speaking of, you will be a participant in the crowd for the games in Tulsa. What are your plans and what do you expect from our other Red Raiders in attendance?
LaBarre: The plan is to head back to Dallas for a couple days to visit my folks before heading up to Tulsa around mid-afternoon on Thursday. I decided to go with my mom this year, but I have friends going from school or previous jobs, so I’ll have tons of company. On the down side, I don’t envision a lot of Red Raiders fan being there on Friday afternoon. It will still be a decent crowd, but there’s a lot of tickets on sale right now and most people probably don’t want to take a day or two off for the opening round game. If Tech makes it to Sunday, I expect there to be an abundance of Red Raider fans. What about you? What are your plans?
Swany: That sounds awesome, I hope the fans show up on Friday. I’m thinking a sea of scarlet and black in the stands will be wonderful to witness. I had an early flight set from Houston to Tulsa for Friday and late flight out Sunday. Yet, after the early tip was announced on Friday and not knowing the time of the Sunday games it wasn’t a gamble I was willing to take. Don’t want to miss any of the games. I’m going to sneak out of work early Friday to watch the game and do my cheering from afar. On Sunday I’ll either watch from New Braunfels if it’s early and we are in the 2nd round, or come back and watch in Houston if it’s a later afternoon matchup. I’ll be decked out in my Texas Tech gear and wish I was there in Tulsa with everyone. So, drink a beer for me and chant Raider Power for us to hear on TV during the game. I have a good feeling about these games and am looking forward to listening to your adventures in Tulsa. Safe travels to you and all, and Wreck ’em Tech!!!