November 18, 2011

Tech to face solid team

Texas Tech head basketball coach Billy Gillispie is excited to take on Stephen F. Austin at 2 p.m. Sunday in the United Spirit Arena.

Gillispie said the Red Raiders are going to see a team he aspires his own team to become from a limitation of mistakes standpoint.

"We've played some teams that have some athletes and played some teams that made some shots," Gillispie said. "We're playing a team on Sunday that's the most disciplined team - I think it's the best team we've played so far. They're disciplined, they're not as athletic as North Texas, but they're probably more athletic than Troy and their coach Danny Kaspar has done a fantastic job."

The Lumberjacks will enter Sunday's game with a 1-1 record after a 66-61 loss to open the season on the road at San Diego and then an 84-43 win against Centenary.

The Red Raiders got a good dose of outside shooting when they ran across freshman star Chris Jones who put up 31 points against Tech in the Red Raiders' 69-64 win against North Texas, but Gillispie said Stephen F. Austin can move the ball from the inside to the outside as good as anyone Tech has faced thus far.

The Lumberjacks have three players averaging double-digits -- all labeled as shooting guards.. Junior college transfer Antonio Bostic averages 19 points a game and junior college transfer Jerel Scott has 11.5 points per game. Sophomore Desmond Haymon has 12.5 points through the Lumberjacks' first two games.

"(Bostic is) a very good player," Gillispie said. "He knows how to score, uses the shot fake very well and knows how to drive plays at a very good pace. He doesn't get rushed. Difficult guy to guard when they're so good inside.

"They do a great job of playing inside-out. He's a very, very nice player for them, he's important for them, he likes to score and he'll be a hard guy to stop."

Bostic could be Stephen F. Austin's version of North Texas' Jones, but Bostic has more options on the perimeter if either Scott or Haymon are in the game.

In Wednesday's win, Tech's freshman guard Kevin Wagner pressured North Texas' Jones better than anyone on the floor. Unfortunately for Red Raiders fans, Wagner just doesn't have the stamina yet to play the minutes needed to contain opposing athletic guards all game long.

Gillispie said he's not sure what player he'll put on Bostic until Sunday.

The head coach added forward Jaye Crockett and Wagner aren't conditioned well enough after missing most of the in-season workouts leading up to the North Texas game. However, Gillispie was pleased with Crockett's determination to fight through fatigue and thought the two players played well for being so rusty.

Back on the Tech front, the Red Raiders expect to further limit the mistakes they've made through the two exhibitions games and their first two games.

"We're doing a really good job of letting guys stay in the game," senior forward Robert Lewandowski said. "We're letting teams stay in the games. We've got to get up and get a lead and then step on their throats. We're not doing a very good job of that. I think we come out OK, come out fairly strong, but we don't keep it at the same intensity."

A huge chunk of the problems Lewandowski referred to are the Red Raiders' turnover issues. They turned the ball over 20 times against North Texas.

Lewandowski said Tech has been working on eliminating turnovers in practice. The guards should feel a little more comfortable after two games under their belt in dealing with pressure and the posts have been working on keeping the ball away from their counterparts in the paint.

Stephen F. Austin is coming at the perfect time to serve as a barometer for the Red Raiders' progress from game two of the season.

"Usually teams that are losing games usually end up beating themselves in some way or another," Gillispie said. "This will be a good test for us. No disrespect to the two other teams (we've played), but I think (this is) the best team that we've played and definitely by far the most disciplined team on both ends of the court.

"A very difficult matchup for us."

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