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Kravic aiming to add physical style to versatile array of skills

The 6-foot-11 junior has proved a talented scoring threat at 13.5 points per game and is working to contribute more on the glass

Posted: November 27, 2012 - 3:45pm  |  Updated: November 28, 2012 - 1:26am
Texas Tech's Dejan Kravic shoots over Jackson State's Willie Readus during their game on Monday in Lubbock. Kravic has developed a finesse game that could prove big for the Red Raiders.  (Zach Long)  Zach Long
Zach Long
Texas Tech's Dejan Kravic shoots over Jackson State's Willie Readus during their game on Monday in Lubbock. Kravic has developed a finesse game that could prove big for the Red Raiders. (Zach Long)
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Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic possesses skills not many players his size are equipped with.

The 6-foot-11 junior provided a prime example during the first half of Tech’s 84-75 win against Jackson State on Monday.

Kravic caught the ball at the top of the key, darted to his right with a quick crossover dribble, absorbed contact by 250-pound Willie Readus, banked a soft runner in off the glass and drew a foul. An 80 percent free-throw shooter, Kravic sunk the freebie to complete the three-point play.

“He’s so versatile,” Tech coach Chris Walker said. “We’ve only seen a shell of what Dejan is, and I think he’s only going to get better.”

The next step in that progression for Kravic is using his long, athletic frame to go through the opposition as often as he goes around it. Kravic is second on the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game, but he knows the six rebounds he’s averaging aren’t enough.

With his combination of size and athleticism, Walker said Kravic should be a double-double threat each night.

“It’s not in his nature,” Walker said, “and he’s really trying to be more physical.”

Kravic played his first two years of college basketball in Canada much like a guard, running the ball up the floor, taking defenders off the dribble and even defending on the perimeter. Some of those skills can be attributed to Kravic not hitting a major growth spurt until ninth grade, giving him plenty of formative years to form deft ball-handling and an impressive shooting touch.

But while Tech is aiming to be a run-and-gun unit this season, there is no escaping the bruising, low-post battles that are a major part of the American college game.

For Kravic, that has meant altering the way he uses his body, as well as adding muscle to it.

“For me, I need to establish position,” said Kravic, who has packed on more than 20 pounds arriving in Lubbock last year and now weighs in at about 240. “That’s the biggest thing. I’m standing straight too much. If I can just get lower than my opponent, I can be more effective that way.”

There have been glimpses of strong interior play from the near 7-footer. Kravic blocked five shots against Jackson State, the second time this season he’s reached that total. It’s an element the Red Raiders lacked a season ago.

“I’ve got to use my length for something,” Kravic said of his shot-blocking prowess. “It’s something I take pride in.”

He wants to be able to take pride in his work on the glass, too, and it’s an area the Red Raiders will need him to improve as the season goes on in order to compete with the powerful front lines of the Big 12 Conference. Against Jackson State, Tech surrendered an eye-popping 23 offensive rebounds.

“We didn’t push enough under the basket,” Kravic said. “We’ve got to work on that. We’ve got to pursue our man, push him out and then just get the rebound.”

To comment on this story:

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At last...

At last some presence in the middle.

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Oh Boy

Watched this bunch play the Jackson State game on Fox Sports Pacific Tuesday night and I saw:

1. The fewest number of lost souls at the USA EVER. And school is not out.

2. Tech home uniforms that were not white and did not say "Texas Tech" on the front. Never seen that before.

3. A team that cannot win 25% of its conference games.

4. Bubba on the sidelines. Glad to see that.

5. A head coach who DID NOT attempt to devour his players whole during the course of the game. I LIKED THAT.

Mercy. I hope I'm wrong about this team.

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How much time?

After the first year, all of the Tubbs fans said "give him three years", now they say "give him five years." After five years, they'll say "give him ten." Like everything else in our society these days, nobody has the guts to step up and do what is right. We don't want to hurt his feelings and fire him, so just let him keep on going. Let him keep making excuses, poor calls, slapping assistants, and giving his players a slap in the face by not showing any confidence in them with his play calling. In the mean time the players, the school and all involved are suffering the consequences. Tubbs is washed up and can no longer compete. Once again, I will ask ask all of his supporters to give me a few examples of anything he has done in recent history that merits the continued support. Maybe I am missing something. To date, though, not one person has been able to come up with something. All they can talk about is what happend eight or ten years ago. None of that is relevant at this time.

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