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Texas Tech in need of scoring punch in the backcourt

Posted: February 3, 2013 - 3:47pm  |  Updated: February 4, 2013 - 1:20am
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West Virginia's Terry Henderson, Deniz Kilicli and Juwan Staten defend Texas Tech's Ty Nurse during their game on Saturday at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock.
West Virginia's Terry Henderson, Deniz Kilicli and Juwan Staten defend Texas Tech's Ty Nurse during their game on Saturday at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock.
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Ty Nurse couldn’t have asked for much more out of his major-college debut.

Back on Nov. 11, 2011, the Canadian born guard turned in one of the best performances ever by a Red Raider playing for the first time with the team.

Bombing 3-point goal after 3-point goal — six in all — Nurse went on to score 29 points in a season-opening win against Troy.

Flash forward to Saturday, during Tech’s 77-61 loss to West Virginia, and there were once again flashes of a player capable of producing instant offense.

Nurse shook loose to set himself up for three 3-point attempts and made two, half of his entire season total up that point. He earned six trips to the free-throw line and capitalized on every one.

The senior provided a scoring punch Tech desperately needs at a position where there has too often been an absence of one this season.

Outside of Josh Gray and his 9.3 points per game, no Tech guard is averaging more than 6.4 per contest. There have been strong performances, including a string of high-scoring games from freshman Dusty Hannahs. But as teams have game-planned to limit Hannahs’ opportunities behind the 3-point line, his production has dipped.

As he develops as a player and learns ways to hunt for his shot, Hannahs’ impact should improve. But for now he is part of a limited backcourt for the Red Raiders, one that has a number of solid role players but is mostly absent of ones who can score the basketball on a consistent basis.

That’s what made Nurse’s output on Saturday an intriguing development. Tech coach Chris Walker appreciates the intangibles Nurse brings to the team. He is steady with the ball and provides a calming force for a team full of young players.

But Walker has also tirelessly implored Nurse to do what he did so well during that sterling opening night last season: Shoot the ball.

“Ty is a natural leader,” Walker said. “He’s very steady, likes to make sure everybody gets touches, and I’m asking him to be a shooter.”

While Walker is harping on Nurse to shoot the ball more, he is asking Gray to use his talents to get to the rim more often.

On multiple occasions Saturday, Gray was face up with a defender with the shot clock winding down. Gray had the defender backpedaling bit by bit as he dribbled the ball, but he settled twice for end-of-the-clock jump shots that weren’t close.

After one miss, Walker could be heard from the sidelines telling Gray to drive the ball.

Gray, at this point in his development, is much more effective offensively when he’s getting to the rim. The freshman is shooting 46 percent on two-point field goal attempts this season but just 19 percent on three-point tries.

Playing one of his best games of the season in Tech’s win against Iowa State, Gray repeatedly surged into the lane and finished, carrying Tech on his young shoulders on the way to a 56-51 victory. Continuing to attack that way will also open opportunities for Tech’s post players to either receive passes inside that lead to easy finishes or clean up misses at the rim.

It’s all easier said than done, of course. Opposing coaching staffs spend hours poring over film in order to identify the strengths and weakness of players and then adjust their game plans accordingly. Once something begins working for a player — i.e. the 3-point shooting of Hannahs — teams will work to force him out of that action.

But for a team that has scored no more than 62 points in a Big 12 game this season, backcourt performances like the one Nurse put together on Saturday, and the one Gray compiled against the Cyclones, have to become more commonplace if the Red Raiders hope to make the back half of their league schedule a memorable one.

 

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nick.kosmider@lubbockonline.com

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You got two

...One that is going to be a great one, Hannahs.

Make some offensive sets like Baylor and Kansas State do that have Ty or Dusty swing around from one side of the court under the basket to the other side with a screen under the basket to get one of them free. Keep moving.

This team just stands around. It appears there is no offensive set, except for one which works only 50% of the time.

I don't know. Just ready for these days to return.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGa1eyEjiXQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH3hWmu7rv8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb-gtwdQ6I0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuisFPiCuL4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-RAE3kRbO0

Sigh!

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