Thursday, April 19, 2007

Big XII Response: Texas Tech

With Kevin Durant's announcement, fans across the Forty Acres have been forced to imagine a world without Kevin Durant. Well, a campus without Kevin Durant. While anyone and everyone with an opinion has chimed in with their thoughts on Kevin's decision, Drinking the Forty not withstanding, we wondered what our neighbors around the Big XII felt on Durant's departure and what it means for their chances in the Big XII next season. So we contacted our correspondents around the Big XII...okay we tried to make new friends around the Big XII, and asked for their input. So over the next few weeks we will feature, the Big XII Response. Today's correspondent comes from the fine folks at Double T Nation.

I was graciously approached by Drinking the Forty to think about life in the Big 12 without Kevin Durant and Texas Tech's prospects next year. First, I think Durant was the most talented player that I've seen play the college game. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the kid and as a Red Raider fan, it was incredibly difficult to watch KD score at will against Tech (Who remembers this line: 40 minutes, 37 points, 23 rebounds?).

Will the Big 12 suffer as a result of Durant leaving? Not likely, that's the beautiful thing about collegiate sports, we love our players but we love the laundry more (vague Seinfeld reference). For me, although I enjoy watching certain players, it's not the particular player, but the team itself. I will still watch every game and I will still hate the Aggies, whether or not the Red Raiders are able to beat up on Gillispie or not.

Of course, I think that Texas fans would might actually agree with Coach Knight as he believes the rule to jump to the NBA should keep a kid in school for 2 years rather than 1. However, if I were advising Durant, there wouldn't have been any question that he should have gone to the NBA. There's just too much to potentially to lose. I don't think Texas will have that difficult a time coping with the loss, the Longhorns have a ton of talented returning players who will improve their games. Augustine, Abrams, James and Mason will all improve significantly, the question of course for Longhorn fans is who will fill that other forward/center slot?

I think Texas Tech's success next year hinges on a few things.

1. I think that John Roberson, a freshman point guard from Plano, will have the same effect at Texas Tech as Augustin had at Texas. In fact they are physically similar players, but I think that Roberson is a more gifted scorer, while Augustin is a more gifted passer. If Knight gives him the opportunity to play then I really like Tech's chances.

2. Will JUCO transfer Ricardo De'Bem and Texas State transfer Trevor Cook, will be able to establish the inside presence that Texas Tech lacked last year? It will be interesting to see if De'Bem and Cook are able to adjust to major college basketball.

3. How will the returning players be able to fill the void left by Jay Jackson. I'm not too worried about Zeno, who I think is one of the more dynamic players in the Big 12, but Decensae White, Alan Voskuil and Charlie Burgess must step up their games.

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