There have been two basketball games without Isaiah Manderson on the Texas Tech bench. In those two games our squad has come away with victories. One against a better than average Hawaii team. The other against an underachieving Sam Houston State team. I don’t know if we could exactly call these games “tests” without our backup center, but it is encouraging to Tech fans that there is life after Manderson.
Manderson decided to leave the program this week to pursue his basketball career elsewhere. There could be a number of reasons why he chose to quit playing basketball with the Red Raiders. The first one that comes to mind for me is playing time. This season, Norense Odiase has developed into the clear starter and Manderson was going to be his backup for the foreseeable future. Maybe that was all it took for Manderson to want to bolt, or maybe not?
Whatever the reason for Manderson to leave, it doesn’t matter. I hope he can catch on and continue to develop his basketball potential wherever he lands.
The obvious outcome with his departure and our team is that we are left with a gap to fill at the 5 position on the floor. Odiase is our only true big man on the active roster. Here are some thoughts from the Lubbock AJ…
With Manderson gone, that leaves only Norense Odiase at center with Aaron Ross and Zach Smith at power forward.
Justin Gray has also played some power forward, moving Smith and Ross to fill the five position.
The Texas Tech coach likes this smaller lineup, but may have some different options open up soon.
Sophomore Rokas Ulvydas, at 6-foot-11, was recently deemed eligible, but Smith and his staff are deciding whether or not to redshirt him.
The eligibility status of 6-foot-10 junior Matthew Temple is yet to be known.
“It depends on what happens with Matt Temple, and if Rokas gets three or four years of eligibility,” Smith said. “Those are the things we’re waiting to see before making a decision about whether to play him or not. We may think about redshirting him if he has three years left. If he has four years then we’ll probably play him. We won’t know until the end of exams where Matt Temple is.”
It was noticeable that Odiase was gassed at times in the Hawaii game. He was needed to be our only big body in the post, and played 32 minutes. Up until that game, he had Manderson to fill in for him to get a stretch on the bench of rest. This game when Odiase would go to the bench for a short breather it was Aaron Ross who would shift down to the 5 spot to handle the center position. We muscled through and got the win against Hawaii. It was not easy.
Against Sam Houston State we were able to go with a smaller lineup most of the game to pull out the win. The center position was not needed to be leaned on as heavily in this game, and only had to have Odiase on the court for 18 minutes. He scored 16 points for the second week in a row.
The last two games without Manderson turned out okay, but what will happen come Big 12 conference play where having bid bodies in the paint is a must to survive? I don’t think Ross at the center spot will cut it for long periods of time. I am also worried about the overuse of Odiase and keeping him in games for 32+ minutes. Could it wear on him as the season progresses? I don’t even want to think what would happen if Odiase got banged up and could not play.
The theory is that Matt Temple will be eligible after the fall semester. At the very least he will come in and give Odiase some breaks to catch his breath. It is rumored that Temple has some basketball skills on the court. We can all hope those rumors are true and that would be the best case scenario. The other idea is that if Odiase is needing more help then we have to rip the redshirt off Ulvydas. He might be extremely raw, but seeing some action now rather than after Big 12 play begins is the best thing to do.
I have faith that Tubby Smith and staff definitely know what they are doing. Everything will work its way out getting around this bump in the road. On the bright side, our Red Raiders are 5-1! It looks like we are better than anyone except ourselves expected. Let’s keep rolling in the wins and it will all be good. Wreck ’em Tech!