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Tech aiming to keep positive outlook amid disappointment of four-game losing streak

Finding ways to solve second-half woes at the top of the priority list for the Red Raiders

Posted: January 21, 2013 - 6:30pm  |  Updated: January 22, 2013 - 1:11am
Texas Tech's Chris Walker is spreading a message of staying the course to the Red Raiders in light of their recent conference struggles. (Stephen Spillman)
Texas Tech's Chris Walker is spreading a message of staying the course to the Red Raiders in light of their recent conference struggles. (Stephen Spillman)
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Everybody you ask has their own idea of how to cure the hiccups.

Hold your breath. Drink water upside down. Have someone scare the you-know-what out of you.

More often than not, though, the best solution is to just ride them out. The Texas Tech basketball team is finding that out the hard way.

Coach Chris Walker for the last two weeks had described his team’s 34-point loss to Baylor back on Jan. 8 as just that, a hiccup — an aberration.

“I don’t even know who that team was,” he said often in the days following the game.

But after a loss of an identical magnitude to Oklahoma State on Saturday, it appears the Red Raiders may not be done this season dealing with the hiccups, a common affliction for squads as raw and inexperienced as this one. The task for Walker is impressing on his team that there will be no quick fix. Staying the course and chipping away at the gap between themselves and the rest of the league, he said, is the only way for the team to approach the second half of this season.

“One day as time goes on,” Walker said, “we’ll get the chance to do what we need to do and we won’t need to take these lumps. But for now this is where we are and this is our journey, and we have to take it.”

That isn’t to say the Red Raiders aren’t taking the necessary steps to improve immediately. Walker has lauded his team’s work ethic and believes it has made substantial growth since official practices began in October. And there have been games — portions of games, more accurately — that have given credence to that belief.

Walker isn’t the only one who can see strides being made through the fog of a few lopsided losses.

“I said it when we preparing for this game, and I meant it, I think they are one of the most improved teams in our league,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said of Tech. “I really do. Just how hard they play. We played well (Saturday). They caught us upset and we played well. But I think they are one of the most improved teams, if not the most improved team, in our league. They got better talent than they had last year, and as I watch on film (Walker) is doing a lot of good things.”

Jaye Crockett has been here before. Tech’s top player sat through a one-win Big 12 schedule a year ago. He also remembers being overwhelmed during his first college season, so he knows the nightly challenges being faced by eight players who are still very new to the physical and mental rigors of league play.

“I think it’s kind of tough for them,” Crockett said. “It’s shocking. I know when I was a freshman, game after game, it was tough. You’re playing against pros, basically, every night. Mentally, it’s pretty tough on them.”

But Crockett made one thing clear: the Red Raiders aren’t satisfied with losses, whether it be a hard-fought game against Kansas or a road blowout at the hands of Oklahoma State. As far as the junior is concerned, both varieties sting equally.

“I’m kind of tired of all these moral victories,” Crockett said. “It’s tough. What we do is play well in the first half, and in the second half it gets away.”

During the four-game losing streak, Tech at halftime has trailed by two points against Kansas, five at Oklahoma and 12 at Oklahoma State. (The Red Raiders were down by 19 points at halftime against Baylor, the first loss of the streak.)

But in each game, 20 minutes of competitive play disintegrated into double-digit losses. The Red Raiders are working hard to uncover the culprits behind their second-half woes, but answers so far haven’t been easy to come by.

“I really don’t know,” Crockett said when asked why Tech has faded in the second half during Big 12 games. “I have no idea. If I knew, I would definitely tell coach, ‘Do this,’ so we could change it. But I don’t. The second half kills us every game.”

Tech (8-8, 1-4 in Big 12) will have another chance to find some answers at 8 p.m. Wednesday when it hosts Iowa State (13-4, 3-1), which has won three straight games and seven of its last eight.

“It’s just staying positive,” Crockett said. “You can’t dwell on these past four or five games that we’ve lost. We just have to realize that there’s another game coming. You have to play that one.”

 

Paying tribute

The Red Raiders practiced Monday, Martin Luther King Day, but Tech forward Jaye Crockett took a few moments beforehand to reflect on what King’s impact means to him and others.

“He did something great,” Crockett said. “We wouldn’t be doing this interview right now if it wasn’t for him. I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to be at Texas Tech. He just put me and a lot of other people in great situations.”

 

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Coach

I think it is only fair to give coach Walker a chance. We have been down for about 5 years now, I think he can get the job done if people give him a chance

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Walker

Walker has an excellent pedigree. I enjoy his 100% opposite approach when dealing with the players when compared to what we have had around here. Give him a chance.

In addition:

Folks, this team, when on the road, is the financial opportunity of a lifetime.

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Financial opportunity abounds,

but I don't want to ruin it for the rest of you. As soon as I 'invest' they pull the unexpected and I lose my equity. Hope you do well.

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