Preview and Game Thread: Hawaii vs. Texas Tech

Date: Saturday, November 28th
Time: 3:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-1, 0-0)
Bad Guys: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (4-0, 0-0)
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, Texas
TV/Stream: FOX Sports Southwest Plus
Radio/Stream: 93.7 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM

POINT GUARD Kennan Evans (6-3/180) 9.3 / 2.3*
SHOOTING GUARD Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 18.8 / 4.8
SMALL FORWARD Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/205) 10.3 / 4.4
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/215) 10.5 / 5.8
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/260) 5.5 / 5.3
POINT GUARD Roderick Bobbitt (6-3/205) 13.5 / 7.8*
SHOOTING GUARD Quincy Smith (6-1/180) 9.0 / 4.3
SMALL FORWARD Aaron Valdes (6-5/190) 17.0 / 5.0
POWER FORWARD Michael Thomas (6-7/210) 7.5 / 3.8
CENTER Stefan Jankovic (6-11/235) 13.8 / 8.3

* Assists.

1. Texas Tech is coming off of a fairly successful trip to Puerto Rico, where the team went 2-1, losing to Utah in a relatively close game and coming away with wins against Mississippi State and Minnesota. Texas Tech had not won away from home in over a year and now sport a 3-1 record overall. Speaking with LAJ’s Krista Pirtle, head coach Tubby Smith said that Texas Tech is improving and also disucssed how Texas Tech is better because the team and competition are just getting better:

“In the past, you were a weak freshman competing against a weak freshman,” Smith said. “Now you’ve got stronger sophomores. You have a point guard in Devon Thomas who’s pushing Keenan (Evans) to keep improving. It’s competitive in practice. … (NBA players) still have to come in and compete every day in practice in order to keep their job, to play and to get better. That’s what we have now.”

2. Texas Tech is currently without Isaiah Manderson, who went home and is currently not with the team. Also via LAJ’s Krista Pirtle, head coach Tubby Smith made a statement:

“We will be without Isaiah Manderson who’s home,” Smith said. “(He’s) trying to make some decisions. I think he’s kind of just looking at what his future is here. We’re going to visit again about that with him. That’s where that is at this point in time. He won’t be available for us tomorrow to play. Hopefully things will work out. Kids at this time of the year, every player in America doesn’t think he’s playing enough or homesick or whatever. It’s always an adjustment for them. We’ll work with him along those lines.”

This is obviously a problem for this team, especially because it is a team that lacks a lot of frontcourt depth. I can’t recall when or where I read this, but someone mentioned that Manderson was unhappy in Puerto Rico with his playing time and was quite demonstrative about it.

3. Via KenPom, Hawaii is the 101st best team and are very balanced, sporting the 105th best adjusted offense and 105th best adjusted defense. You hardly ever see that. Hawaii does score a ton of points, 84 points a game, but they’ve got some efficiency issues Meanwhile, Texas Tech is the 86th best team, 104th in adjusted offense and 84th best adjusted defense.

4. Roderick Bobbitt is Hawaii’s highest scoring player, but honestly, Aaron Valdes, Sai Tummala, and Bobbitt are all pretty efficient offensively, with offensive ratings ratings over 126, while Texas Tech only has two players above 124, Justin Gray and Aaron Ross, which is not what you would expect. And just to clarify, Offensive rating is points scored per 100 possessions and right now, Texas Tech’s best offensive players are not their main players, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Aaron Ross is the teams’ most efficient offensive player. I found these more advanced stats on FOX Sports of all things.

5. I think this will certainly be an up-and-down affair, although I’d like to think that Texas Tech won’t necessarily get into an up-and-down game with the Rainbow Warriors. Texas Tech will need to impose some defensive stops and clamp Hawaii down. Valdes gets 67% of his shots in and around the rim, so Zach Smith should get another opportunity to shut down a talented offensive player.

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