Texas Tech’s Depth Is Team’s Best Trait Heading into Crazy Season
This college basketball season is going to be wild. Yes, every college basketball season is wild but with cancellations and rescheduling that's already happening added to the day to day COVID-19 precautions this season is setting up to be even more unpredictable than college football has been.
In the football world, the Big 12 has been relatively unchanged with just a few games postponed since the initial struggle to get non-conference games in. The University of Houston, who had a game canceled against Baylor, has now had its 7th game of the season affected due to COVID.
The Big 12 football teams have been working on the guideline that 53 players have to be active on gameday with certain regulations in regards to how many players have to be available at each position. The Big 12 basketball teams are going to have a similar guideline. Brian Davis of the Austin American Statesman reported that if a team has six players available, they'll be eligible to play.
There will be no requirement to have guards, forwards, or centers.
To some teams, that might be a problem. There are teams that have firm positions like a point guard, shooting guard, power forward that are important to how the teams play on both ends of the floor. That's how those schools build their rosters. Texas Tech is not one of those programs. Chris Beard is a firm believer in positionless basketball. That doesn't mean every player on the team can play anywhere, but there's certainly more flexibility for Texas Tech than most teams in college basketball.
I'd break down the roster into three types of players. Guards, Tweeners, and Forwards.
Starters - Mac McClung, Kyler Edwards
Bench - Nimari Burnett, Jamarius Burton, Clarence Nadolny, Avery Benson
I'm fairly confident that McClung will start for the Red Raiders when the Kansas Jayhawks come into town on December 17th. Before then the Red Raiders will have to find a combination of guards to play together. It might be that McClung and Burnett start together and Kyler Edwards is the first player to come off the bench, similar to Brandone Francis as a senior. That team was quite a bit different than this one though with less depth and more reliant on frontline talent.
If Edwards and McClung are the starters, I expect Burnett and Burton to get the next biggest minutes block while Nadolny and Avery occupy the end of the bench.
Starters - Terrence Shannon, Joel Ntambwe
Bench - Micah Peavy, Kevin McCullar, Chibuzo Agbo
This is another group that could have multiple starters. In Beard's system, the tweeners need to be able to score the ball like a guard and defend like a forward. Shannon was a starter for the majority of his freshman season before he was supplanted in the lineup by McCullar. Heading into this season, with Edwards in the starting lineup, I think McCullar is going to be The Guy off the bench.
Ntambwe is on the edge of being a tweener, but his limited sample size from UNLV of shooting nearly 40% from the floor as a freshman to go with 12 points per game and nearly six rebounds per game justify his position. Both true freshman, Peavy and Agbo certainly contain the chops offesnsively. The question with them is can they provide the type of defense in the Big 12 that has made Texas Tech what it has been under Beard.
Starters - Marcus Santos-Silva
Bench - Tyreek Smith, Vladislav Goldin
The forward group is the glue of the team. These guys need to provide defense and rebounding. Last year at VCU, Marcus Santos-Silva had more offensive rebounds than Texas Tech's Chris Clarke and TJ Holyfield combined. That presence, along with his defensive tenacity, will allow the Texas Tech guards and tweeners to move freely and score at will. Tyreek Smith is the big mystery here. His vertical and athleticism are outrageous. He's listed at 6'7" and might end up being a tweener, but until he show's some offensive chops he'll find his home here.
The last name here is Goldin. The tallest Red Raider in quite some time, even taller than fan-favorite Russell Tchewa last season. He's also a much more polished prospect than his Putnam Science Acadamy classmates before him. The problem for Goldin isn't his talent, it's the talent in front of him. If there's a matchup though where Beard needs a 7-foot presence, then Goldin will be the man.
Texas Tech Basketball Is Really Deep
Here are your 2020-21 Texas Tech Red Raiders:
Chris Beard’s 8 Biggest Wins in the United Supermarkets Arena