LOCATION: Lubbock, TX
CONFERENCE: Big 12
LAST SEASON: 13-17 (.430)
CONFERENCE RECORD: 5-11 (t-10th)
STARTERS LOST/RETURNING: 1/4
NICKNAME: Red Raiders
COLORS: Scarlet & Black
HOMECOURT: United Spirit Center (15,000)
COACH: James Dickey (Central Arkansas '76)
record at school 145-89 (8 years)
career record 145-89 (8 years)
ASSISTANTS: Alvin Brooks (Lamar '81)|
Shanon Hayes (Lubbock Christian '91)
TEAM WINS: (last 5 years) 18-30-20-17-13
RPI (last 5 years) 88-12-33-105-160
1998-99 FINISH: Lost in conference first round.
Texas Tech followers knew the team was in for a long season when it lost to Stephen F. Austin early, then dropped two out of three in a Hawaii tournament against winnable competition. Still, the Red Raiders seemed to have enough talent to finish better than 5-11 in the conference. There were injury problems. Three key starters missed a total of 12 starts with various problems, and the Tech roster was already depleted by scholarship reductions because of previous NCAA rules violations. A season with few highlights produced a successive losing record, only the second in coach James Dickey's tenure. "In my time at Tech we've been fortunate not to have many problems with injuries, but it caught up with us last year," Dickey said. "If we stay injury free, I expect this team to bounce back." It's a reasonable expectation. Tech lost only one player from last year's roster, three-point specialist Stanley Bonewitz, who shot .434 from behind the arc and averaged 12.1 points. Four other starters, and four more who started at least eight games, are back. And with a full roster, Tech should field the most complete team since the Tony Battie days. Tech will build around three players. It starts with 5-11 senior point guard Rayford Young (16.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 98 assists, 48 steals, .438 FG, .884 FT, .392 3 PT), the league's fifth-leading scorer. Young is remarkably quick and is all-conference caliber if he can cut down on turnovers (108).
In a season of few highlights, Young turned in a jaw-dropping performance in a home game against Kansas. The Jayhawks had opened a double-digit lead in the second half, only to have Young score 32 of his career-high 41 points in the final nine minutes for the Red Raiders' victory. He made his final 18 free throws that afternoon. Forward Cliff Owens (10.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, .509 FG) can be a bruiser at 6-8, 235 pounds. The senior was chosen to the Big 12's All-Underrated Team and played hurt much of last year on bad ankles. Center Andy Ellis (9.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .474 FG, .703 FT) came on strong in his rookie year and was chosen to the Big 12's All-Freshman team. The sophomore has a nice touch around the basket and, at 6-10, gives the Red Raiders their first major inside scoring threat since Battie. "Young is the key player in terms of production and leadership," Dickey said. "He's not only one of the best guards in the Big 12, but one of the best in the country. We'll be counting on Andy Ellis for more scoring and rebounding, and we'll need the leadership a senior like Cliff Owens can provide." Unlike a year ago, Dickey has some choices to fill in the holes at the swing positions. James Ware (6.2 ppg, .440 3 PT), a 6-4 senior, becomes the hired gun. He will step in for Bonewitz and should be able to fire off in the range of 150 three-point shots this season. Jevon Banks (3.8 ppg, 1.7 apg, .297 3 PT), a 5-10 junior, started eight games last season and looks like the top reserve at both guard positions. He and Ware played together at Midland (Texas) Junior College two years ago. Where to fit in Moses Malone Jr., son of the NBA great? He didn't get his dad's height and stands 6-5. The sophomore played shooting guard at the University of Houston, where he averaged 3.4 points last fall semester. During his high school career in Friendswood, Texas, Malone averaged 27.4 points and 9.8 rebounds. Lining up next to Owens figures to be Mario Layne (5.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 49 assists, .447 FG), a 6-6 senior who came to Tech two years ago as one of the nation's top junior college transfers from South Plains (Texas) College. Another candidate is 6-6 senior Brodney Kennard (3.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 37 blocked shots, .534 FG), one of those guys who plays taller than his listed height. He averaged 1.8 bpg. Four others will be looking for frontcourt time, including 6-4 junior Jayson Mitchell (3.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, .294 FG), the only player on the roster who didn't make a start last season. The group also includes two first-year players: De'John Pearson, a 6-5 freshman swingman from Westfield High in Houston, and Ronald Hobbs, a 6-6 freshman from Everman High in Fort Worth, Texas. Behind Ellis is 6-9 senior Johnny Phillips (5.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .518 FG, 21 blocked shots), who lost his starting position after 23 games.
Blue Ribbon Analysis
BACKCOURT B BENCH/DEPTH C|
FRONTCOURT C+ INTANGIBLES C
One area that remained strong last season is shooting. The Red Raiders led the Big 12 in three-point percentage (.391) and finished second in overall shooting at .453. The problem was, Tech couldn't find much inside strength until the emergence of Ellis late in the year. The team should remain good from the outside, with James Ware replacing Stanley Bonewitz. Coach James Dickey believes shoring up the defense (Tech allowed a Big 12-worst 74 points per game) is the biggest task. "We must have people step up for us and become stoppers," Dickey said. "And our defensive rebounding needs a lot of improvement." After two losing seasons, the Red Raiders could also use a dose of confidence. Perhaps the new environment will help there. Tech moves into the sparkling 15,000-seat United Spirit Center and out of dingy Lubbock Municipal Auditorium. The dedication game is set for Nov. 19 against Indiana. A victory there will tell us a lot about Tech.
|The 19th edition of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook is on sale now. To order, call 800-828-HOOP (4667), or visit their web site at