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This is the first installment in WRNL's countdown to the top. Guaranteed to piss people off and cause normally well-mannered folks to lose their cool, just remember, these are predictions and if you really want to, you can bookmark these predictions and point out how wrong I am in March.
You'd think after an 8-23 season where they went 1-17 in Big 12 play, things couldn't get much worse. Well, things have gotten worse for Texas Tech. In September, the Red Raiders accepted the resignation of head coach Billy Gillispie after it was reported that he was battling health issues. Prior to that, reports had surfaced that a number of Tech players were unhappy with the way Gillispie had treated them. The mutiny was led by sophomore forward Jordan Tolbert, who is the closest thing Texas Tech has to a decent basketball player. With "stars" like Jordan Tolbert beating down your door, what was athletics director Kirby Hocutt to do? Hocutt allowed Gillispie to save face and resign, but we're not fools, Gillispie was forced out.
Chris Walker, a Gillispie assistant, was named the interim coach and now here we are. The fact is, going into this season, the Red Raiders had to feel pretty good about climbing out of the cellar. After all, basketball doormat TCU was joining the conference. Sadly, with an interim head coach and a talent-poor roster, another last place finish is on the horizon in Lubbock.
As if the coaching change wasn't bad enough, Tech's best recruit, F Wanaah Bail (ironic name, right?) left the team in September and fellow recruit, F Aaron Ross tore his ACL. The Red Raiders do return the aforementioned Tolbert, who averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman, leading the team in both categories. There's also 6'7" junior Jaye Crockett back in the mix. Crockett served as a sixth man last season, but managed to have decent production, scoring 8.8 points and pulling down over 5 rebounds a game. Dejan Kravic at 6'11" and Kader Tapsoba at 6'10" will be relied on to add some much needed size inside.
The guards aren't much better. Senior Ty Nurse is the only returning guard of note, but Toddrick Gotcher, who missed most of last season due to injury joins him as well. Tech brings in three junior college guards in Daylen Robinson, Trency Jackson and Jamal Williams Jr. There's also freshmen Josh Gray and Dusty Hannahs. Gray was rated as the 107th best player for the 2012 class by Rivals. Look, if you're expecting to know how this back court is going to shake out, you're in the wrong place. The point is, this was the worst back court in the conference last season and it's likely not going to change.
Why They'll Finish 10th
How can I possibly pick Tech to finish last place when TCU is in the league? Well, I just can't get past Gillispie's absence and outside of Lubbock and Fort Worth, few people probably know that TCU actually beat Texas Tech last year, so that has to count for something, right? There's just been too much roster turnover and controversy surrounding this program to expect any reasonable results. Ultimately, Tech and TCU will probably split and both will finish 1-17 in the league, but somebody has to finish last.
Why I Don't Know Shit
Tolbert actually could be a breakout candidate in '12-'13 and is better than anyone TCU has. The Red Raiders should get the benefit of the doubt, being that they're not the new kid on the block, while TCU is. Also, who's to say that Chris Walker can't actually coach? Maybe a switch at the top is just what this program needed.