Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Raiders look to ride returnees in Tubby Smith's first season at the helm

Updated: October 24, 2013, 7:57 PM ET
By Ken Pomeroy | ESPN Insider

Tubby SmithAP Photo/Eric GayTubby Smith takes over a Texas Tech team that struggled on both ends of the floor last season.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Last season: 11-20 (3-15)
In-conference offense: 0.89 points per possession (9th)
In-conference defense: 1.11 point per possession (10th)

Tubby Smith starts his first season at his fifth head-coaching job with a rare luxury for new head coaches: He retains six of the top seven minutes earners from a season ago. OK, perhaps roster continuity on a team that lost 20 games isn't something worth celebrating too vigorously. Not to mention that some of that playing time was the result of a rash of transfers who ultimately contributed to Billy Gillispie's dismissal prior to the season.

But the optimist could compare this situation to Smith's first season at Minnesota and find some similarities. In that case, Smith arrived in Minneapolis to a roster essentially unchanged from a 9-22 (3-15 in the Big Ten) season in 2006-07 and immediately produced a team that went 20-14 (8-10 in Big Ten) and earned an NIT berth. Just as Smith follows interim head coach Chris Walker at Texas Tech, he replaced interim head coach Jim Molinari at Minnesota.

Projected starting lineup

Though improvement is on the way, I won't be so bold as to project postseason basketball for the Red Raiders just yet. Mainly because that 2007 Minnesota team was better than last season's Texas Tech team, which ranked 296th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. It was the rare offense that didn't do anything well. I'm not going to belabor the issue with numbers; just know that in just about every offensive category, the Red Raiders ranked ninth or 10th in the Big 12.