Basketball

Recap: Texas Tech Basketball Bahamas Tour

We recap what we saw in the Bahamas and what we might be able to expect from this team come November

It’s still just under three months until the Texas Tech basketball season begins, but we got a sneak preview of the newcomers and how the team might operate this past week in the Bahamas. We also saw this team grow together and bond in a memorable foreign tour. Let’s begin our recap by recapping the games:

Games

Game 1: Bahamas Nation Team 63, Texas Tech 57

Recap: This was a rough start for Texas Tech. It was the first time most of these players played past high school. Two others hadn’t played in a couple years. Bahamas got extremely hot from downtown and the refs were perhaps the worst I’ve seen, which didn’t help.

On the plus side, we saw why Texas Tech went after Chris Clarke. He had a double double and took control of the game for the Red Raiders in the second half. On the downside, the defense looked a little lost at times, and although they only allowed 63 points. Lot of miscommunication and open shots.

Game 2: Texas Tech 94, Mega Bemax 92 (Seth recap)

Game 3: Mega Bemax 76, Texas Tech 73

Recap: The Red Raiders were missing Davide Moretti, Chris Clarke and Jahmi’us Ramsey this game, but still were a bucket away from sending the game into overtime. Much like the first game, the opponent got hot from downtown and Texas Tech failed to rotate and cover them at times.

Last game, Ramsey took over and showed that he could be the guy, and this game, Terrence Shannon did that. He dropped 20 points and went to the line 10 times, making nine of his free throws. TJ Holyfield also had his best game with his effort on the glass and defensively.

Teamwork

There were a lot of positives from this week, along with some things that need to be worked on. The first thing you notice when you watch this team is the pure athleticism. That’s what happens when you get a bunch of highly rated freshmen and transfers.

However, I loved that these freshmen can create their own shot. Sure, it might’ve been against weaker combination, but there were a lot of players that could go isolation and score if needed. Texas Tech won’t have a lack of options in that department.

Unfortunately, that also leads to a negative, which is chemistry on both sides of the ball. Offensively, there was a lack of moment of the ball at times. It resulted in points sometimes, but that’s not going to fly during tougher stretches of the schedule.

On defense, not knowing each other lead to open shots and mismatches. Luckily, this isn’t too surprising considering the experience of this group along with the fact more than half the team had never played college basketball before. I’m not too worried about fixing this.

The other main issue was finishing. Around the rim, players would get decent opportunities, but failed to put the ball in the basket. Perhaps what was more concerning was free throw shooting, as it was abysmal. Practice is going to fix both those things, along with getting stronger for finishing around the rim. This isn’t good enough to win now, but there’s still months to go.

Players

This is what I like the most about these scrimmages. Typically, especially with Chris Beard squads, there’s a big mystery on some of these players, even more so since some of them are foreign and have little to no film. Highlights are fun, but you don’t get a good idea of who a player is until you see them play. So let’s break down what we saw from each player:

Returners:

Davide Moretti: We really only saw one game from Moretti due to a back injury (probably just precaution), but we already have seen two years from Moretti so there wasn’t a ton to learn. What we did see though is Moretti try and create more shots in the paint.

He’s the most experienced player on the team and may be the go-to guy. The junior used various of tricky moves to get open shots around the paint. The issue was that the shots didn’t fall, especially from downtown. Not worried at about the long range, that will be there. The thing he needs to work on most to nailing those shots inside the arc.

Kyler Edwards: I have a similar thought on Edwards as I did with Moretti. Edwards also had some practice creating his own shot. He did a great job finding open shots away from the basket and create space with his body underneath the rim. Edwards had some problems hitting from downtown, but people have bad shooting stretches.

On thing I do wish he would fix offensively is shooting long range twos. Felt there were times where he would do a good job getting the defender to bite, but then move away from the three point line and shoot a long two. He made them, but that’s an inefficient shot.

Defensively, I loved Kyler’s on the ball pressure, and that’s where I think he will strive this year. His rotation was a little off, but has more to do with the new pieces than him in particular.

Avery Benson: Typically I don’t mention walk-ons, but Benson played enough minutes where I think its appropriate to mention him. Just like he was last year, Benson is a player that automatically gets his team energized just by his presence. He had typical Benson plays where he would dive for attempted steals or lose balls.

What I liked that I hadn’t seen too much was his ability to shot from the corner and fight for rebounds down low. I don’t know how many minutes Benson would get, but perhaps he gets decent minutes this year instead of getting zero minutes or minutes whenever the team needs to wake up.

Newcomers:

Jahmi’us Ramsey: When you get a five star recruit on campus, you expect him to perform and be a difference maker. Ramsey looked like a player who could do exactly that for Texas Tech. Even if you weren’t watching the game, I’m sure you saw reaction from fans watching it.

During the first game, Ramsey didn’t take over as much as I hoped. When he finally did so in the second game (he took 28 shots), he scored 44 points. And he scored various of ways too. Some of it was catch and shoot, some was creating his own shot from downtown, some was using his speed and body control to get easy opportunities around the rim.

The one thing he does need to improve on is finishing. There were some opportunities around the bucket he didn’t make, and shot under 50% at the charity stripe. He could’ve had 50 that second game.

Defensively, Ramsey was a great on the ball defender who has long arms and creates problems. He’s not the strongest guy, so guys may be able to get an edge down low, but he’s got the athleticism to be an elite defender. Ramsey definitely lived up to the hype this week.

Terrence Shannon: The other Top 100 recruit, Shannon, impressed as well. Perhaps not quite as much as Ramsey, but Shannon is incredibly athletic and will have a lot of opportunities to get easy buckets. Shannon went to the free throw line so many times I lost count, and had a pretty good percentage at the line too.

A majority the top plays from this week were from Shannon. One play he crossed over a defender and threw down a dunk on another. Another play he received the ball on a steal and slammed it with authority. He’ll be the highlight machine this year.

His three point shooting concerns me a little, as it seemed he was almost leaning forward when he shot it. It looks like a weird form at times. Defensively, much like Ramsey, he is athletic and has a wide wingspan. He forced a few steals thanks to his one the ball pressure, and has the strength and athleticism to defend down low.

The only downside I saw to his defense was sometimes he got too aggressive, missed a steal, and it resulted in a bucket. But I rather a player be too aggressive than passive at this point. Overall, he looks a little raw at times, but has the potential to be the best player in this class.

Clarence Nadolny: Nadolny was the biggest surprise for me this week. Even though he played some basketball in America, being from France, I expected him to be raw and spending most of this year getting little minutes and adjusting to college basketball. But throughout the week, he displayed his ability to finish around the rim and his basketball IQ.

It seemed that every play in the first two games was the right one. He had a few plays in the third game that I didn’t care for, but overall I thought he made the right basketball move. He on the ball defense was impressive, as well as his ability to draw charges (whenever the refs felt like calling them).

What I didn’t see much from was his range and free throw shooting. Nadolny didn’t perform well from the free throw line and I don’t recall him making a three all week. I heard he’s a solid three throw shooter so perhaps it was just a bad week. Love what I saw from Nadolny though.

Chris Clarke: The senior graduate transfer from Virginia Tech really only played in one game, but he was the best player in that game. He showed his ability to use his strength to fight for rebounds and get shots around the rim. Really, he was the one who took control and start the comeback.

Another thing I liked was the efficiency. Clarke didn’t take many bad shots and ended the game with 66% shooting. He had some few turnovers in the game that need to be cleaned up, and he did have four fouls in the game, so that may be something that needs to be cleaned up.

TJ Holyfield: After the first two games, I wasn’t really super impressive with Holyfield. He didn’t grab as many rebounds as I hoped and failed to put the ball in the basket, even though he was around the rim a lot. The thing I loved the most was his hustle, which included diving on the floor for lose balls.

In the third game, Holyfield shined. This game, he was able to box out and out muscle players for rebounds, along with score underneath the basket. He also had some huge steals in the game that resulted in easy buckets for the Red Raiders. I will be satisfied if we saw the Holyfield we saw in the third game this season.

Much like the other players I mentioned, he has good on the ball defense, and was able to keep with guards. That is huge, so teams don’t just try to get Holyfield switched on them in late situations. I don’t view Holyfield right now as one of Tech’s best players, but a solid contributor who can ignite a fire in this team when needed.

Russel Tchewa: Tchewa was a very interesting player to watch. I’m think he’ll be in the rotation and get some minutes, and it’s going to be fun whenever he’s in the game. First off, he’s quicker, stronger and more developed than I thought. Typically when I hear a seven footer got three stars, I assume he’s not athletic or incredibly raw.

He had stretches where he would have a nice shot, block a shot, then run on the break and throw down a dunk. Other times players would out-rebound him and he would be overwhelmed whenever he got the ball down low. But he definitely showed potential to be a great college player.

Kevin McCullar: McCullar was one of the first players on the bench during these games, and he had some bright moments. I loved it when he would cut to the basket, either with or without the ball. That’s when I thought he made the best decisions, either to go for the basket or pass it out to an open player.

What I think could improve on his passing. It’s evident McCullar has good vision, which is why he’ll eventually be a point guard in this system, but he tired to fit passes in tight spots and took too risky of passes. But again, like with Shannon, I rather him be aggressive than passive at this point. I also thought his shot wasn’t fantastic, but it might just be a bad shooting week.

(Unfortunately I couldn’t find any highlights with McCullar in them)

Adrei Savrasov: We didn’t really get to see too much of Savrasov this week. When he did play, he looked like a player that had basketball skills, but was still working on developing his game. Some of the issues was his position on the floor or when rebounding the ball.

What I think he did excel in was his corner three. When he was open in the corner, he didn’t show a sign of doubt and shot it, which resulted in some baskets. Also love his hustle. When Texas Tech was attempting to pull away during the second game, one key play was him diving on the floor for a ball, which pumped by Chris Beard and the team. I don’t expect much from him this year, but he some promise for the future.

Tyreek Smith: The first word that comes to mind when I saw Smith’s game was bouncy. Smith is guy who that jump out of the gym. He showed that several times with his ability to affect shots down below and ability to play above the rim on the offensive rim.

We didn’t get to see too much of him until the third game, but it looks after this week that Smith still has a little bit of ways to go. Much like Savrasov, I’m not sure how many minutes he’ll get this year, but he looks like a player who could be good in the future.

Other Thoughts

  • The starting line-up the first game was Moretti, Edwards, Ramsey, Clarke and Holyfield, basically what we expected it to be. The third game (where Moretti, Ramsey and Clarke sat) featured Nadolny and Smith instead. Not sure on the third starter but I think it was Shannon.
  • I should’ve taken notes because I don’t remember who was first off the bench. I want to say the first couple guys in the first game were McCullar and Shannon. The second guys in were Nadonly and Benson, followed by Tchewa and Savrasov.
  • Much like the last few years, this team plays hard. Even if this team has a bad game, you can’t blame it on effort or blame them for quitting.

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