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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 28th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Texas Tech Red Raiders


Overall Rank: #42

Conference Rank: #5 Big 12


2005-06: 15-17, 6-10, 7th (t)

2005-06 postseason: none


Texas Tech and Coach Bob Knight had high expectations last year with the qualifier that if things didn’t quite work out, next year would be better.  Well, last year didn’t go so well and now it is time for this year.  The team chemistry appeared to be the main issue for the Red Raiders and the TTU faithful hope a little summer cleaning will take care of that problem.


Who’s Out: The high expectations for this year started when everybody noticed that there were no seniors on the roster last year.  However, with five transfers, there will be some more chemistry issues to deal with, but overall, this group is hoped to fit into that addition by subtraction category.  The Raiders lived without Drew Coffman, Terry Martin, Jeremy Buttell and Dazzmond Thornton most of last year, so dealing with those loses will not have a big effect.  Dior Lowhorn averaged 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds as a freshman and could have made a big impact if he stuck around Lubbock.


Who’s In: The frontcourt was worrisome at best during the 2005-2006 season and four experienced options will be added to the mix this year.  Damir Suljagic missed last year after earning four starts in 2004-2005 as a freshman.  Suljagic is athletic and has plenty of potential to compete for big minutes this year.  Jay Mitchell spent three seasons pitching in the Colorado Rockies organization and will now bring his 6-8, 235 pound frame to Texas Tech.  Mitchell got back into the hoops mindset last year at Gulf Coast Community College and will battle with the rest of the new guys for minutes at the four and five.  Rogdrick Craig, the son of former 49er great Roger Craig, averaged 21.2 points and 7.4 boards at San Jose City College in California last year and could back up both forward spots this year.  Esmir Rizvic has Tech fans the most excited.  The 7-footer will give the Red Raiders a big post presence who has experience at the juco level.  Small forward Justin Wilkerson redshirted last year and is expected to be in the mix off the bench.  A lot of pressure will be put on point guard Charlie Burgess.  The junior college transfer will be asked to run the point and if there are major problems at that position, TTU may end up in some trouble.  Benny Valentine will battle for some minutes at the point as well, but isn’t expected to make a huge contribution right away.  Shooting guard Decensae White may end up being the best of the bunch of newcomers.  The 6-5 wing is a solid defender and will never be faulted for lacking effort.  White’s shot is a little streaky, but the freshman has some time to work on that before he’ll be asked to contribute too much.


Who to Watch: Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno are an underappreciated group in the backcourt.  Jackson averaged 20.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals last year and his name will be known by March unless there is another poor year for Tech.  Zeno added on 13.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals…and that while battling injuries.  If Zeno improves as an upperclassman and shakes off the nagging injuries, those two alone will win some games for Coach Knight.  Alan Voskuil and LucQuente White have experience and will be solid options off the bench.


Final Projection: The forwards are led by Darryl Dora and Jon Plefka.  Dora averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 boards last year and will hope to put up bigger numbers during his senior campaign.  Plefka proved to be a force under the basket during his first year in Lubbock.  The 6-8, 245 pound power forward averaged 6.2 points and 4.1 boards last year after stints at James Madison, Vermont to play baseball and Santa Fe Community College in Florida.  The talent is there, but once again, there are a lot of new faces that need to quickly come together as a team.  It didn’t happen last year, but Coach Knight couldn’t let such a disappointing campaign happen two years in a row.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Charlie Burgess, Junior, Guard, DNP last season

Jarrius Jackson, Senior, Guard, 20.5 points per game

Martin Zeno, Junior, Guard, 13.7 points per game

Darryl Dora, Senior, Forward, 7.6 points per game

Esmir Rizvic, Junior, Center, DNP last season

43 Arkansas » Complete List » 41 Wichita State

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