Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Watch for SDSU to make a hire in the next week or so, and for that new coach to probably be highly visible at and around the Poinsettia Bowl.
Alright, I know we're all excited about the bowl game this year and how it's still really hard to grasp that football season is over and it's time to switch direction, but I really feel like something needs to be said about this basketball team we've got playing over in the DMC. Ok, so for those of you who have read this blog since last bball season, you know how much I, and hopefully everyone else, absolutely despises Neil Dougherty. When I was a sophomore, one of my marketing classes was doomed with the task of putting together a big marketing plan for the men's basketball team. Now this was back when the last of Tubbs' recruits were taking the floor every night, we won 20+ games (too lazy to do the research) and made the third round of the NIT, so it's not like it should've been that hard to garner up some support for a pretty good basketball team, especially when the student body can attend all games free of charge. At this point, everyone still had a positive outlook on TCU basketball and Dougherty, but obviously these people had never actually listened to the man speak because after about a 15 minute attack on the fans and the school, I knew there was absolutely no chance that this guy had a long term future at TCU. It is to this day the least satisfying and unproductive project I have ever been a part of, and I completely blame this on how Dougherty presented himself.
That year, and yes, partially because of the project, I actually went to at least 3/4 of the home games when I didn't have class ora project going on, and on most nights the arena was relatively full. The team was really fun to watch and CUSA had some great basketball draws back then. Sure, when we played Tech and Kansas, you got a bunch of homer fans who couldn't pull themselves way from rooting for the team they grew up on, but at least these big name teams pulled a crowd. I remember when we played Cincinatti that year, it actually felt like a real college basketball atmosphere (and the looks Bob Huggins' wife was giving the student section made the loss almost worth it.) Somewhere along the way I got to be casual friends with Corey Santee as he attended quite a few of our parties and when we had run ins at Snookies everyone would be impressed by how I was able to get some one armed man hugs from the best basketball player anyone had seen in Fort Worth in a very long time. Now this is a guy who came from Flint, Michigan and could've played a lot of different places but chose Fort Worth under the guise of playing for a great, high scoring minded coach in Billy Tubbs but got hood winked into playing for Dougherty when the administration ran off BT. Having gone from playing Billy Ball to having to play a boring style of basketball run by an abusive coach who just never got it couldn't have been a positive experience, and I never got the sense that Corey, nor any of the other Tubbs' holdovers, took Dougherty seriously. This really showed the next season when we only won 5 games. The fact was, Dougherty not only wasn't able to impress anyone related to TCU, but also was unable to impress recruits nor gameplan. Neil Doughtery effectively murdered TCU basketball in the span of one season, which is no small feat even at a football centric school of only 8000 students.
Fast forward to this year. We have a new coach in Jim Christian (the GP of college basketball coaches) who is a proven winner and is fired up to be in Fort Worth. All but 4 stallions from the Dougherty years either graduated or left the program so Christian goes out and recruits a bunch of JuCo transfers who have never played a game at the NCAA level. TCU opens up the season with a big win over Western Michigan in tournament play. This might not excite anyone, but for those of you who still have scars from the Doughtery era, that was HUGE. Even though they followed it up with losses against the College of Charleston (a late 90s perennial power) and Clemson (a sweet 16 team team last season) in what were essentially home games for the opponents, as well as a tough home loss to Nebraska, you could tell this team had something that Dougherty teams didn't. They actually seemed excited to play and did not quit in any of those games despite being down. They hustle. They run plays. They fire each other up. They're cohesive despite having never met one another before the season started and having to implement an entirely new system. Gone are the days when Brent Hackett would throw up 25 three pointers per game with a hand in his face. These guys play the game and, quite frankly, look pretty damned good doing.
So, while a Dougherty team would've packed it in and started looking forward to the off season after the Charleston loss, what does the team come out and do? Run off 6 straight, including wins over SMU (who NPD somehow couldn't beat year to year) at Colorado (first road win over a Big 12 team in years) and last night against Wichita State who is typically one of those mangy "bracket busters." I watched quite a bit of the game last night, and was really, really impressed. They may not score many points, but they rebound and play defense and play with a lot of intensity (never a requirement under Dougherty). Heck, they even make free throws! As for the hustling I talked aobut, Jason Ebie had a play where he had the ball stolen and was completely beat, yet turned around, stole the ball under the basket, and the end result was a Ronnie Moss 3 point play layup. Think about that. The way it played out, everyone but Ebie and the Shocker player were at the other end because it was a fast break, but they somehow turned it into 3 points on our end. Wild, and what a good basketball team needs to do (and a Dougherty team would've never had a chance of doing).
Unfortunately for the team, and I do understand finals are currently going on, the crowd was ABYSMAL, even from a grainy mtn. broadcast POV. If you told me there were any more than 250 fans there, I'd call you a liar and arrest you for perjury. I read on KF the other day that not only was the "announced' crowd for the game Saturday far closer to 300 than 3000, but when fans actually got up and started yelling and getting into the game, the security asked them to quiet down because THE CORPUS CHRISTI bench was being disturbed and complained. I mean... I really don't have words for this. I know we've railed against the TCU administration for hating fans in relation to football games, but I'm here to announce that it transcends sports. I can't speak for women's basketball (who is apparently damned good) because I've never been to a game, but does this make sense to anyone else? I mean, what's the point of having home games if you aren't allowed to create a home court advantage? For crying out loud, the damned BAND came onto the court when we played at Colorado and bombarded the TCU huddle during a timeout to create distractions, and our fans can't get a little rowdy? Incredible. Absolutely incredible.
Despite this, the fact is, we've got a great basketball team with no support, and when the crowd is small, TCU can contain it. Think back to the Tech game in 06 and the BYU game this year. We could do whatever we wanted. People were holding up anti Mormon signs which were taken up after BYU complaints and the security guards were actually GIVING THEM BACK to TCU fans when they saw it was giving us an edge. They understood the crowd dynamics and knew that if they had kept these signs, there would've been a riot. This would never happen had it been during the SFA or SDSU games. This can be the same at a basketball game, where the student section above all because of its location really has all the power in the world to get into the heads of players on the bench. If we fill the stadium and everyone is into the game, TCU is never going to be able to take the crowd out of it. Daniel Meyer coliseum is not big, but, if you've ever been there for a larger attended game, you know it has the potential to be one of the loudest arenas in the NCAA because of its small size. Cameron Indoor is widely considered to be the toughest arena for an opposing team to go into because of its crowd, and it holds fewer people than DMC. Not to get all Dougherty on you because I realize we aren't Duke and that we don't play in a power basketball conference like the ACC, but I'm just saying if a bunch of nerds can pack their house every single game and be intimidating, there's no reason why we can't build towards doing the same. Although everyone either hates or loves Duke, those that hate them hate them a little bit because of the jealousy. I don't know anyone from a non basketball school who could watch a game there and not excitedly wonder what it would be like to go to a passionate basketball school. While TCU will always be a football school first and foremost, as it should, with the wealth of talent in the metroplex area alone, there's no reason TCU shouldn't be able to redevelop into a decent basketball school, and this transformation begins with fan support.
I am going to go ahead and accept that this semester is a wash for getting people into the stands. Finals are being finished and after that everyone is going to go home for the Holidays and there's only one home game left in 2008 . In fact, I'm sure our season is a wash until conference play begins (although you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't check out the game tomorrow night at Indiana). Regardless, everyone has to make more of an effort to attend games because this team has a chance to make a statement in a mediocre basketball conference like the MWC. This isn't me being on a soapbox because I admittedly have not made a game this year (after work typically the last thing I want to do is fight 5 O'clock traffic from Dallas to FW, a weak excuse, I know) but I am going to do the best I can after the first of the year. Times are tough, but ticket to these games are CHEAP ($15). I know no one is going to up and buy individual tickets to every game assuming you don't have season tickets (also cheap), but I think we should all try and commit to making at least 6 conference games this season, which, if you're doing the math, is the same number of home games we attend each year at Amon G. That's $90, a mere fraction of what we spend on all things that go into a typical football season. Students have absolutely NO excuse not to meet this quota because it costs them absolutely nothing other than an opportunity cost which, let's face it, aren't all that enticing before 7PM on a weekday. Heck, I'd love it if we could get a mini tailgate before a Saturday game, just to show some support. Last year I know a group of guys camped out before the first home game, and that's fantastic. We need more stuff like that. Basketball is going to be relevant again in Fort Worth under Jim Christian and we all need to be able to say we were there when the change happened. Let's start tomorrow night by watching the Frogs take on the Indiana Hoosiers at 7 on ESPN2, one of the premier teams in all of college basketball who is having an off year due to coaching change and can absolutely be taken down by the Frogs. The fact that TCU has a nationally televised game this early in the season against a rebuilding program should really demonstrate how far this program has come since Dougherty and how far we can take it with the proper support.
No link here, but just wanted to mention that Colin Cowherd just gave us some love on his ESPN radio show. Put our bowl and the UT-tOSU as his two 4 star bowl games. Also said TCU and Boise State were the two best non-BCS conference programs in the country in his opinion.
What you need to know about the Poinsettia Bowl Idaho Statesman
TCU beats another No. 3, moves up to No. 19 AP
Schlossnagle selected to participate in MLB winter meetings GoFrogs.com
BCS is indefensible Washington Post