7:30 game on ESPN2. The Red Raiders are coached by a coach who’s reputation at this point is stronger than any recent accomplishments. No, they did not rehire Bob Knight. It’s Tubby Smith. A coach with a national championship under his belt. A coach who was smart enough to flee Kentucky before they canned him, parlaying that into a huge deal with a desperate Minnesota.
After little of note, Tubby has moved on to Texas Tech. A place that had its own issues of desperation after the Billy Gillispie experiment became an even bigger trainwreck than expected.
Little is expected from the Red Raiders. They are off to a 4-1 start. They’ve handled their four patsy games and then got beaten up at Alabama.
Naturally Coach Jamie Dixon is focused on playing it up, by playing up the coach.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said he has never faced a team coached by Smith, but he knows Smith’s reputation and expects Texas Tech to give the Panthers a stiff challenge.
“I anticipate them playing some zone, but we will prepare for everything,” Dixon said. “I never really played against one of Tubby Smith’s teams, but I’ve always heard to expect a lot of man-to-man defense, physical hard-nosed defense and unselfish play from his teams.
“And the times I have watched Texas Tech this year they have been a physical team with good size, good strength and some older guys. I think [he has put his stamp] on that program, the way they are playing hard-nosed defense and they seem to be sharing the ball and running his sets.”
And now that Pitt has made through the first four games with little problem, Coach Dixon gets to play up the opponents in the next two games by admitting this wasn’t the best possible competition faced.
Pitt will face Stanford or Houston in the final set of games Tuesday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“We’re probably going to play bigger teams, more physical teams, than we played the first four games,” Dixon said of Texas Tech, Stanford and Houston posting a combined 13-2 record this season. “Texas Tech (is) a physical team, a tough team. We’re going to have to execute (better) in the halfcourt than we did the first four games. We’re going to need to do better in the halfcourt and get the ball inside.”
First game away from the Pete. I expect a bit of struggling with the shooting. At least early.