Let’s get down to it, losing Norense Odiase stinks. He was our one experienced big man that was heavily relied on to take the brunt of minutes at the 5 spot on the floor for the Red Raiders. His size and strength are needed to go against the other centers in the Big 12. We all hope he gets better and can come back healthy. It is rumored that it could be a 1-3 month healing process for Odiase, but no official reports have come out so we will have to sit and wait. I wish Odiase the best in his recovery, come back feeling well big fella!
When Manderson left the team about a month back I wrote about the frontcourt depth and said, “I don’t even want to think what would happen if Odiase got banged up and could not play”. Well that time has unfortunately come. Let’s look at the frontcourt depth and give a breakdown.
Currently we have Aaron Ross and Matt Temple rolling into the 5 spot when Odiase has taken the bench. Ross is undersized, but has shown a knack to play the center position in a small ball lineup. He has a shot and can stretch the opponent when he is on offense to open up lanes and get buckets near the basket. Temple seems to be getting better each time he takes the floor. Although still raw, he has the size to defend and block-out the opponents in the paint. His shot and moves to the rim are still developing. Though he does have a nice touch when the ball leaves his hand and he has shown some great abilities to pass the ball to the open man.
What we may see is Rokas Ulvydas getting his redshirt pulled acorrding to a tweet by Chris Level…
Start learning the name of Rokas Ulvydas; likely to get his redshirt pulled. Worth monitoring. https://t.co/Ivq3pGOcK7
— Chris Level (@ChrisLevel) January 19, 2016
Ulvydas is a 6 foot 11 inch, 235 pound rumored to be a wet behind the ears forward/center that has potential to evolve into a decent frontcourt player. According to Tubby Smith when Ulvydas was signed to Tech…
“We are excited to welcome Rokas to our program,” Smith said. “He is an exceptional individual and possesses a great work ethic. On the court, Rokas is versatile player who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting range. He also can rebound and defend, and we look forward to his development in the post.”
It may be a rough way to enter the Big 12 as Ulvydas will be thrown to the wolves, but it may be needed if Ross or Temple get into foul trouble or (gulp) get banged up themesevles.
The other idea that has been brought up is that Zach Smith slides to play the center position from time to time. I have witnessed briefly a few times I recall Smith playing the 5 spot with Ross, Odiase, and Temple off the floor. It was for very short amounts of time and I think it was for strictly offensive possession purposes. Smith has a great game and can stretch from the small forward to the power forward spots, where the power forward spot is his bread and butter. I don’t know about him playing a lot of minutes at center. Justin Gray is a player that makes his presence known the best at small forward, but he may get some time at the power forward spot. Again, I would expect it to happen only on an “as needed basis”.
One thing is for sure, it will be interesting going forward without Odiase on how the Red Raiders will shuffle the lineup. The good news is that we have a coaching staff that should be able to figure it out on a game-to-game basis depending on who we are going up against. The losing streak is over and let’s hope a new winning streak begins. Most of all let’s get Odiase healthy and back to 100% as soon as possible. Wreck ’em Tech!