When Texas Tech point guard John Roberson arrived from Plano to play for the Red Raiders two years ago, Pat Knight thought they had a malcontent on their hands.
At the time, Knight was an assistant coach on the staff headed by his dad, Bob Knight. And Pat Knight didn't like what he was seeing from Roberson.
"He kind of had bad body language when he first got here, kind of a pouter-type if things weren't going his way in a game or if you got on him from a coaching aspect,'' Pat Knight said.
What a difference two years and some talented teammates make. Roberson is now one of the toasts of a Raider team that is 15-7 overall and 3-5 in Big 12 Conference play.
"He's really matured at the point now where I really don't have to get on him or motivate him,'' said Pat Knight, who is his second full season as the Raiders' head coach. "He talks up in the huddle, he's an extension of the coaches now, and that's what we're hoping for.
"We knew his first two years it takes time for a kid to learn that, especially playing at this level. But I can't be more happier having a kid like that, and knowing what I got. Not just for the rest of this year, I've got him for next year.''
A 5-11, 165-pound junior from Plano Senior Hgh School, Roberson is averaging 14.8 points and 5.6 assists this season, and is shooting .430 percent from the field and .410 percent from three-point range. He also has gotten some compassion points from Knight.
"Starting out I felt bad for him,'' Knight said during Monday morning's Big 12 teleconference. "We didn't have very good teams, and so he had to do a lot more scoring, and then distribute the ball. So we kind of took him out of the point guard role and he was kind of a scoring guard, a two-guard, for his first two years. But I think that helped him being thrown in the fire like that, really having to do everything.''
Still, it was rough going for Roberson during his first two seasons. At times, it was as if he was the only capable ballhandler _ or person who could defend a ballhandler -- on the Raiders' roster.
"He had to guard the ballhandler,'' Knight said. "We really kind of wore him out the first two years, I think, and he got a lot of minutes.
"We didn't have anybody we could substitute for him, and now that we've got more good players on our team, he can distribute the ball more, he doesn't have to score every night. But he can -- like it's obvious the last four games -- he can score when he has to.''
While directing Tech's offense, Roberson is averaging 21.3 points and 6.7 assists over the last three games. That includes racking up 28 points and three assists during last Saturday's 81-74 win over Oklahoma State.
Knight, meanwhile, kept thinking about how far Roberson's game has blossomed since his early years with the Raiders.
"He (doesn't) have to guard the ballhandler all the time,'' Knight said. "We've got other guys. We can take him off and put him off somebody that cuts and moves, instead of on the ball.
"I really think if we had a team like we have this year the first year, he could have broken the assist record last year, just because he's got better players around him that can score if he gets the ball to them. And then his progression, I think he's matured every year.''
-- Dwain Price