Lubbock, Texas Texas Tech basketball coach Pat Knight, who dabbles in mixed martial arts, knows what to do when he gets knocked down.
Get back up.
Same goes for his Red Raider (12-17, 2-12) players, still standing after suffering six straight losses in Big 12 Conference games.
“These kids are giving me everything they have in practice. If the fans have a problem with what we’re doing, or the media, I don’t care because these kids are giving me everything they’ve got,” Knight told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
“I don’t care what the record says. I mean, these kids in practice are just busting their butts. The record is not where we want it to be, but I wouldn’t trade these kids for anything.
“As long as I coach, I’ll always remember this group, that they didn’t lay down on me. We’re taking some bad punches, but it’s like they say, ‘It’s not how hard you can punch but how hard you can take a punch.’ These kids are going to keep on going and I love these guys and I’ll defend them until the end.”
The Red Raiders, who trailed by just one point midway through the second half of last Saturday’s 78-63 loss at Oklahoma, play their final home game of the season today against Kansas.
Tipoff is 8:30 p.m. at United Spirit Arena in a game senior starters Michael Prince and Alan Voskuil and senior reserves Rogdrick Craig, Esmir Rizvic and Damir Suljacik would love to win.
“I’d like to give these seniors something to remember,” Knight told the Avalanche-Journal. “There’s still a couple games left. I want to give them some kind of good taste in their mouth before they leave.”
Tech finishes on Saturday at Iowa State where the Raiders will try to snag their first road victory of the season.
“They’re giving me everything they can,” Knight said of a team led by sophomore guard John Roberson, who averages 14.3 points per game. He has a single-season school record 188 assists against 101 turnovers.
Senior guard Alan Voskuil averages 13.8 ppg; junior guard Nick Okorie 11.2 and soph forward Mike Singletary 10.7.
“I’m encouraged with Robert (Lewandowski, 7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Nick, Roberson, Roberts (D’walyn, 5.4 ppg), Corbin Ray (1.8 ppg), but I don’t want to look ahead,” Knight said of next year.
“I’ve got a group of seniors and I want to play for them. There’s a phrase in boxing, ‘Play it to the bone,’ which means play it all the way. We’re going to play it to the bone. We’ve got games left, these guys aren’t going to give up and we’re going to play it all the way and see what happens.”
Tech’s close losses include an 87-81 decision at Texas, 79-73 at home to Texas A&M;, 79-70 at A&M;, 81-80 at Oklahoma State. The Raiders’ two league wins are against Baylor and Colorado.
“It’s tough, you don’t want to talk about moral victories. You’d rather have victories on your record, “ Knight said. “We’ve got two more games. We’ve got the Big 12 tournament. We’re enjoying being around each other. We’ll just play it out and see.”
KU realizes the Raiders are capable of pulling off a shocking victory tonight.
“Tech has good guards,” KU junior Sherron Collins said. “We know any team can beat us on a given night.”
“That will be a tough one. They gave OU all they can handle,” KU guard Tyrel Reed said. “A lot of us have never been to Texas Tech. I’m looking forward to going there. We know every game is tough in this league, especially on the road.”
Appleton ill: Kansas University junior guard Tyrone Appleton came down with flu-like symptoms on Tuesday and did not make the trip to Lubbock for today's game against Texas Tech.
KU coach Bill Self said Appleton became ill after boarding the team bus, thus remained in Lawrence.
Last year revisited: KU pounded Tech, 109-51, on Senior Day last season in Allen Fieldhouse.
“We had some good seniors. The crowd was ready and juiced,” KU coach Bill Self said. “What was unbelievable about that, I don’t think anybody played over 21 minutes.”
Indeed, Mario Chalmers led the way at 21 minutes.
“Everybody played equally well and they couldn’t do anything right. It was one of those deals it couldn’t go worse for them.
“That’s not a realistic score,” Self added of the 58-point victory. “That is something they were just trying to get out of town (at end of game). Our seniors were really good. It was the last game for eight players. I’m sure in the back of those guys’ minds (non seniors Brandon Rush, Chalmers and Darrell Arthur) they knew it was going to be their last game, too. They went and made it a special night.”
Of the game, Sherron Collins said: “Emotions were flying. Everybody played good. The seniors ... I think we had Case in double figures,” he added of non-regular rotation player Jeremy Case, who scored nine points.
“We wanted to send the seniors out with a good game. This is a different team, different place. My freshman year we went there (Lubbock) and lost. It’d be nice to go there and get a win.”
• Small crowds: Texas Tech is averaging 9,471 fans in 17 home dates at 15,020-seat United Spirit Arena.
• Fired up: It’s been a rough season for Pat Knight, the son of Hall of Famer Bob Knight.
First, Knight was reprimanded by the Big 12 for running on the court to argue a call in a loss to Nebraska.
Then he was suspended a game for criticizing the officiating in a loss to Texas A&M.; He was miffed after a game in which the Aggies went to the line 51 times. Four Red Raiders fouled out of a game in which Tech shot 22 free throws.