LUBBOCK, Texas— We are already two games into the season and entering the second week. Blink and before you know it we’re in the middle of the Big 12 game as March comes our way.
No. 25 Texas Tech is currently 2-0 with a game against Louisiana Tech scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. at the United Supermarkets Arena. “It’s really just step by step where we want to improve,” said the Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “Louisiana Tech will give us this opportunity because they are a really good team. They will challenge us on both ends of the floor. I’d like to see our guys play with more consistency and watch the ball with pace. We’d like to.” do a better job on the glass blocking out and getting rebounds to not allow second and third shots.
So far everything has started as planned, two 24-point wins over Northwestern State and Texas Southern that saw 11 players score in both games. Daniel Batcho recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the opener, Kevin Obano and Jaylon Tyson scored 13 each in the next. Adams is in his second season as Texas Tech’s head coach. He is now 20-0 at home as head coach and oversees a program that has won 23 straight home games. On Sunday afternoon after practice, Adams, Kerwin Walton and D’Maurian Williams spoke about playing at home, protecting it and what the experience of being supported by Red Raider fans is all about.
Williams: “It’s crazy to see that. You hear about it, but it’s a whole new perspective when you play. I just want to thank them for coming out and showing their support.”
Walton: It’s crazy. I’ve never seen so many fans for the first game of the season. It’s a non-conference game and they’re here. It’s not like we’re playing Kansas or Texas. That surprised me. “
Adams: “I’m so blessed when I see these big crowds. It’s a great reminder of how lucky I am to be in this position. To be able to lead this basketball team in front of all these fans cheering us on is so encouraging. I tell our boys how lucky they are to play in front of these crowds. I think the strength of our team right now is in our fan base and our student section.”
Now we’re reviewing a matchup against the Bulldogs and former Red Raider assistant Talvin Hester, who is in his freshman season in Ruston, Louisiana. Hester, who was on the team last season and helped the Red Raiders to the Sweet 16, accepted his first head coaching position after the run. An Arlington native, he trained at Northlake College, Texas Wesleyan, Texas College, Prairie View A&M, San Jose State, SFA, Texas State, Houston, Oral Roberts and was an assistant at LA Tech prior to Lubbock’s last season. He more than earned the opportunity, and Adams praised what he’s seen so far – a game, a 78-61 win over Mississippi College (Division II) last Monday.
“It’s so early in the season you only get a little snapshot of your opponent,” Adams said. “They play extremely hard in defense and are really well trained. I’m really proud of Coach Hester the way he coaches his team. They’re very competitive and in the game we saw they played really hard on both ends of the court.”
Tech rolled to the two 24-point wins in typical Tech fashion, keeping the shooters at just 31.5 percent shooting through 127 shots. The Red Raiders were the highest-ranked team in the Kenpom.com Defensive Efficiency Ratings last season and are currently the No. 6 starting this week. Defensively, Tech kept both opponents under 30 points at halftime and limits Texas Southern to just 29.4 percent in the second half.
“We’re really trying to perfect what we do defensively,” Williams said. “Making sure the guys are in the right place and staying solid. We struggled with the rebound in our scrimmages but we caught that in the first two games.”
“It comes down to energy, effort and tenacity,” added Walton. “Being able to guard someone one on one and being smart enough to read and anticipate where the next pass is going. I think all of these things are related to defense. But the most important thing is energy and effort. No matter who you are as a defender, you can be better if you put energy and effort into it. We always try to take over attacks and help each other.”
Texas Tech began the season with the starting rotation of Obanor, Batcho, Tyson, De’Vion Harmon and Pop Isaacs. On Sunday Adams told reporters he expects those five to start again on Monday. However, who starts doesn’t matter much in the tech system. “Our guys understand that when they’re out they have to produce,” Adams said. “You have to play with aggression and balance. If you play physically and intensely, you’ll get a lot of minutes.” Walton, who started as a reserve in the first two games, leads the team with 48 minutes played. He scored nine points in 4-for-7 shooting in the opener and had five points against Texas Southern.
“I’m trying to improve and find ways to help my teammates,” Walton said. “I want to do my part to ensure that we win. That’s the biggest thing for me. Win. It’s a newer offense than the one I was in in North Carolina. Being able to find my seats and exit screens we run for me and just being ready to fire is important. I just have to stay ready to take shots. I can operate from either corner. I’ll take any open shot I can get.
Williams scored six points in the opener and five against Texas Southern. He averaged 14.5 points per game with Gardner-Webb last season and started in 29 games. His role has been different in two games, but he’s working on being ready. He hit his first shot in Thursday’s win against the Tigers to give Tech a 17-13 lead. His next was a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 22-14.
“I’m from the big South, so everything is different for me,” Williams said. “The physicality, the athleticism, everything is different. The game is faster, but I’m adapting.”
Adams was also asked about Batcho, who opened the season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes against Northwestern State. Three days later he was in early foul trouble and limited to 16 minutes in which he scored seven goals and had four rebounds.
“When he’s on the ground we’re so much better defensively because he protects the rim so well,” Adams said. “He averaged double digits in our scrimmages and in the first game. We just have to give him more shots. He’s improved a lot on offense and can spot and pick up rebounds. We feel like if we give him 25-30 minutes, he’s a guy who gets a double-double every game.”
Texas Tech will travel to Hawaii later in the week to play the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in week three of the season. First, No. 9 Creighton for his third consecutive Monday game. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. monday night 7 p.m. Louisiana Tech. Live in the present.
“We’re going to mirror each other defensively,” Adams said of the Techs’ matchup. “They might even play better defense because they play so hard. They have our philosophy and they put a lot of pressure on the ball. Coach Hester has done a great job preparing his team with brand new players. They play an aggressive style.” Basketball. We have to be ready.”