Feb. 16, 2005
At this time of the season, I like to see which teams have improved from November to now. One that stands out this year is Texas Tech.
Coach Bob Knight has done a remarkable job when you consider how his team began the campaign. In late December, the Red Raiders were 5-3 — with losses to TCU (by 15), Ohio State (by 6) and Iowa (by 30).
Who could forget what happened when Texas Tech fell to Iowa? The Hawkeyes humiliated the Red Raiders at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 21. And remember, Iowa is coached by Knight's former player at Indiana, Steve Alford.
At that time, there seemed to be no way that Texas Tech would be in the running for an NCAA Tournament berth. Well, not only are they in the running, but it's a lock after Monday's big win over Big 12 rival Kansas.
Texas Tech (16-6, 8-3 Big 12) gave a brilliant performance in defeating the Jayhawks. The Red Raiders could have folded when Kansas rallied and sent the game into overtime, but the kids from Lubbock responded to the challenge and found a way to get to the winner's circle. Darryl Dora's late 3-pointer propelled them to an 80-79 victory in double overtime.
One of the reasons for Texas Tech's success is the effort of the General, Mr. Robert Montgomery Knight. He is the master on the sideline, a teaching genius. Knight finds ways to get the most out of his people. He flat-out knows how to coach. That's why he's a Hall of Famer.
His team has gotten better and better. The backcourt of Jarrius Jackson and Ronald Ross is so underrated. They have become one of the outstanding backcourt tandems in the Big 12.
Texas Tech is legit, and come tourney time opponents will have a tough time vs. the Red Raiders. They play hard, show pride, defend well and shoot the trifecta with accuracy. In fact, Texas Tech leads the nation in 3-point shooting at 43.8 percent.
Knight has always been a proponent of getting the highest-percentage shot, moving the basketball and having players in motion, too. The motion game has been the trademark of Knight's teams, at Indiana and now at Texas Tech. It was the catalyst for many great moments in Hoosierland.
Texas Tech leads the nation in 3-point shooting at 43.8 percent.
Texas Tech's performance is a tribute to the coaching staff. If an athletic director is looking for a new head coach to spark his program, he should consider the General's son, Patrick Knight. His spirit, enthusiasm, knowledge, intensity and emotion make him a special candidate. All he needs is an opportunity, and the magical name Knight would provide a positive on another college campus.
The Red Raiders are on track and heading to the Big Dance. Credit my friend, Mr. Knight, for an outstanding coaching job, and credit his players for working hard to get it done.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.