"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, November 20, 2006

Marquette Takes on TexasTech

Marquette will take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Monday night in Kansas City in the semifinals of the CBE Classic. The game will feature two of the nation's best guards -- MU's Dominic James and Tech's dynamic Jarrius Jackson. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30pm CST on ESPNU.

The Golden Eagles (4-0) advanced to the CBE semifinals after victories over Idaho State and Detroit at the Bradley Center last week. Marquette comes into the game on a roll -- the Golden Eagles put up 182 points in their last two games, shooting the ball exceptionally well while playing suffocating defense against a pair of lesser opponents. Now its time to see where this team really stands.

Marquette is paced by its exceptional backcourt of James, McNeal and Matthews.......and now the steady, surprising freshman David Cubillan as well.

The Red Raiders (4-0) punched their ticket last weeek with victories over Gardner-Webb and UALR in Lubbock. Most recently, Bob Knight's squad squeaked out an unxpectedly close win over North Dakota State, 85-81, on Friday night.

To get us ready for this 'final four' tilt, we're pleased to welcome Jeff Walker of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal to Cracked Sidewalks. Jeff is the Red Raiders' beat reporter and was good enough to share his perspectives on Tech -- just in time for Monday night's matchup. Jeff, thanks very much.........take it away!

CS: Texas Tech is led by its own 'Triple Threat' of Jackson, Zeno and Burgess. Can you break down their games for us?
Walker: Jay Jackson is the leading returning scorer in the Big 12 Conference and he hasn’t slowed down in Texas Tech’s first four games. After averaging 20.3 points per game last season, Jackson is averaging 24 points per game through four games. He can drive to the basket and float a tear-dropper in the bucket, or he can draw fouls. He’s already been to the line 27 times and made 25 (93 percent). Zeno is a southpaw that is athletic and drives to the basket. He’s a better driver than shooter, but he can also rebound and pass. Burgess may be the quickest and most athletic player on the team. He needs work on his outside jumper, but he’s averaging 5.8 rebounds per game as a guard. He was named the JUCO Player of the Year last year.

CS: Jackson is off to a fast start, averaging more thant 20ppg again this season. Is he the best player in the Big 12?
Walker: Jackson was named to the conference’s all-Big 12 First Team and appears to be living up to the billing. To say he’s the best in the conference is a subjective opinion, but he’d be in every coach’s starting lineup.

CS: After a disappointing 15-17 campaign last season, do you expect the Red Raiders to rebound and finish in the upper echelon of the Big 12 in 2006-2007?
Walker: Where Texas Tech finishes will depend on a lot of things, some in their control and some out of their control. The Red Raiders have the most depth they’ve had in Bob Knight’s six seasons in Lubbock, so depending on how quickly the young faces develop will determine where Tech finishes. Out of their control will be how some of the maturation and new coaching changes affect the other schools. Texas is young, Baylor is up-and-coming, and Kansas State has Bob Huggins. Tech could finish anywhere from third to seventh.

CS: What types of teams give the Red Raiders the most trouble?
Walker: Tech has never been very good at rebounding throughout most of Knight’s tenure in Lubbock. Part of that may be because the Red Raiders shoot pretty well, so they have fewer chances at offensive rebounds. Tech, though, has been outrebounded in all four games this season.

CS: What types of teams to they matchup best against?
Walker: Knight’s motion offense is good at breaking down teams that play man-to-man defense. Once the Red Raiders reach conference play, many teams try to mix in heavy zone defenses.

CS: Which player on the Texas Tech team will surprise people the most this season?
Walker: Tech has a 7-footer from Bosnia named Esmir Rizvic. He still needs to develop some, but he’s the first 7-footer at Tech in two decades and has shown signs of solid play.

CS: Coach Knight is closing in on the all-time wins record. How is the team responding to the national spotlight?
Walker: The team hasn’t talked about it much. With Knight, that should be expected. It’s a cliché, but they focus on the next game. They are aware of the record and that they are a part of history, but they haven’t seemed to let it bother them.

In addition to completing this Q/A with us, Jeff mentioned that the Avalanche-Journal is preparing a special section that will run when Bob Knight sets a new standard for victories later this season. We'll be sure to link to that here when it runs.

In addition, here's the Associated Press preview of Monday night's tilt between the Red Raiders and the Golden Eagles.

CSTV previews the game on the Texas Tech website here.

Here's MUScoop's pre-game information header.

Here's the Scout.com preview from Marquette Hoops.

Todd Rosiak focuses on Bob Knight in his preview this morning.

The Kansas City Star looks at the CBE final four here.

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