The Texas Tech men’s basketball team plans to act like warriors at 8 p.m. today at the United Spirit Arena to win against Prairie View A&M in the season opener.
“As I told the guys yesterday, soldiers go to war, warriors like to fight,” Tech coach Chris Walker said. “I told them, ‘I want you to fight when you go out there.’”
He does not want the team to be afraid to lose, but to step on the court and believe in the team and to not worry about the outcome, Walker said.
If the team listens to the coaching staff, plays as hard as they can, have a great attitude and stay together as a team, he said the outcome will always be good.
The team has made tremendous progress since the beginning of the year, he said, and has improved light years.
“I think they’ve done a very good job of grasping and embracing the style and the demand for defense, which was there last year,” he said, “but we’re trying to create havoc and disrupt offenses.”
Walker expects the team to play up-tempo and to dictate the pace of the game, he said.
“Our habit is to play hard — together, smart, and with pride,” Walker said. “When the ball comes off the rim, we’ll be flying up and down the court, for sure.”
Prairie View will be a tough opponent, but Tech should be able to overcome, he said. Prairie View is predicted to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference and returns five seniors and six juniors, Walker said.
Tech’s bench is deeper than Prairie View’s, he said, and Tech has a more talented team to a degree, but Prairie View has more experience.
“There are a lot of things we are going to try and do to take advantage of them, especially early in the game,” he said.
The team is working hard to improve every day to beat its opponents, sophomore forward Jordan Tolbert said.
Tolbert added two points to the final score of Tech’s 88-63 exhibition win against UT-Permian Basin on Friday night. He played 17 minutes, had two steals and four rebounds.
The Red Raiders are committed and must buy into the season, he said, because the Friday match is show time.
“We want to compete as hard as we can,” Tolbert said.
Freshman guard Josh Gray led the team in minutes played last week and had four points and three assists to help the team in its winning effort. He had two steals in the opening two minutes of the game.
The team is ready to get out and play in the season opener, Gray said. They have prepared all week, watched film and have run plays, he said.
“We’re excited,” he said. “It’s supposed to be packed. It’s the next game on our list. We’re going to come out and play 100 percent.”
It is important to be focused this game because it counts toward the season, he said.
Junior forward Jaye Crockett played hard in the exhibition game and plans to do the same in this season opener. He was four of six shooting with eight points, and was strong on defense, with one block and one steal.
Despite the coaching change in September, the team has come a long way, he said, and is ready to hit the court for the game.
Last season, the Red Raiders were 8-23 overall and 1-15 in the Big 12.
“We take big steps every day,” Crockett said. “We are learning every day and I think we are ready for this Friday.”
Tech started the season off well during the exhibition game, but he said he is ready for the game against Prairie View.
“I am ready to get this win,” Crockett said. “I am ready for this community and the students to come out and support, and for us to have a winning program.”