Through no fault of his own, Davide Moretti was expected to be a little behind the rest of his Texas Tech teammates when men’s basketball preseason practices began.
Moretti, a freshman from Bologna, Italy, was the only player to miss crucial summer workouts while he finished his time playing for the Italian national team.
Yet, it seems, as though the 6-foot-3 combo guard — in two preseason games and a secret scrimmage — has grasped the motion offense and continued to gain confidence with his shooting stroke.
“All of the athleticism and the skills,” Moretti said of his transition from the European- to American-style of play Sunday. “The first month was really difficult for me because it’s my weakness, right now, so I have to improve a lot.”
It all came to a head in a 25-point win over South Alabama to open the regular season. In the 75-50 victory, Moretti came off the bench and scored 10 points, which included a pair of three-pointers to spark the Red Raiders on offense.
“I like to play pick-and-roll, and I’ve been trying to figure out the offense,” Moretti said in an offseason interview with the A-J. “I feel I can really help my teammates by making 3s. It’s something that I think this team needs and coach (Chris) Beard spoke to me about.”
Texas Tech is hoping the improvement continues as it continues its run of play as part of the regional round of the 2017 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament with a 7 p.m. Tuesday matchup against Maine at United Supermarkets Arena.
The Red Raiders (1-0), who are attempting to incorporate a trio of freshmen into the rotation, were able to shake off some of the nerves thanks to the aggressive approach taken by Zhaire Smith (14 points), Moretti (10) and Jarrett Culver (two) in the Nov. 10 win over South Alabama.
Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard was also quick to credit the effort put forth by the visiting Jaguars, who trailed by eight points (36-28) at halftime.
“I think opening nights, there are some nerves,” Beard said. “Anybody that tells you different just doesn’t understand what competition is like. … Opening night is a big night for anybody in college basketball. As is the first few games. Also think you have to give a lot of credit to the opponent. I’ve always had a problem with coaches that get up here when your teams not playing well and you think it’s everything you’re not doing. … I thought South Alabama came in and they had a great game plan and played some great basketball, especially early in the game.”
Maine, which dropped a 85-65 decision to Boston College to start its regular season last week, is another team that could pose early challenges for the Red Raiders.
The Black Bears had three players finish with double-digit points total: Ilijas Stojiljkovic (14), Aaron Calixte (12) and Danny Evans (11). Stojiljkovic, a 6-7, 223-pound forward enjoyed an efficient night — making all five of his shots from the field, including two from beyond the 3-point line.
Stojiljkovic helped Maine trail Boston College by only seven point (35-28) at the break. But the Golden Eagles outscored the Black Bears 50-37 in the second half to come away with the win.
“We know that we have to take stuff away from people and not really let them run their sets,” Texas Tech senior guard Keenan Evans said of what the Red Raiders learned from the regular season opener. “We’ve just gotta get off to better starts than we have been in these first couple of games. And get our offense flowing better. We know that we just have to do those two things. We come out in the second half more aggressive and running stuff better, but we’ve just got to come out of the gate like, first half, just doing those things.”
After taking a hard fall during the second half of the South Alabama game, which kept him from returning, Niem Stevenson appears to be all right after going through training and rehabilitation over the past few days.
The senior guard is probable to play against Maine on Tuesday.
“I think he just took a hard fall on the floor against South Alabama,” Beard said of Stevenson. “He’s been doing a great job of rehab, he’s been up here all night (Saturday). … We hope that he’ll play, it appears to be a bruise.”
The Texas Tech Athletics Department announced Nov. 9 parking and traffic changes for the 2017-18 men’s basketball season.
For all men’s basketball games, the S1 parking lot at the John Walker Soccer Complex will be the lone free parking lot for all fans to include ADA parking.
A free shuttle service will begin 75 minutes prior to tip and run up to 60 minutes following the game to transport fans to and from United Supermarkets Arena. Buses are ADA accessible.
There is no longer free parking in the West Lot across from United Supermarkets Arena.
Along with the parking alterations, traffic patterns have also been changed to help alleviate post-game traffic.
Patrons with North Lot passes are asked to enter the lost from Main and Flint intersection. Fans with South Lot passes must enter from the lot from the 18th and Flint intersection.
All West Lot pass holder are asked to enter at the Texas Tech Parkway and Knoxville Avenue intersection. All vehicles will be blocked from entering Indiana Avenue off the Texas Tech Parkway.
Just the Facts
Who: Texas Tech vs. Maine
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday
Where: United Supermarkets Arena
Records: Texas Tech 1-0, Maine 0-1
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
TV: FOX College Sports
Live updates: Follow Carlos Silva Jr. on Twitter @cmsilvajr
Name Pos Ht ppg rpg apg
Keenan Evans G 6-3 12.0 5.0 3.0
Justin Gray G 6-6 6.0 3.0 1.0
Niem Stevenson G 6-5 4.0 3.0 2.0
Zach Smith F 6-8 4.0 4.0 3.0
Tommy Hamilton F 6-11 12.0 4.0 0.0
Name Pos Ht ppg rpg apg
Ilija Stokiljkovic G X-X 14.0 8.0 1.0
Aaron Calixte G X-X 12.0 3.0 3.0
Trae Bryant F X-X 9.0 7.0 3.0
Andrew Fleming F X-X 9.0 3.0 0.0
Isaiah White F X-X 0.0 0.0 0.0
*Based off starters from previous games