After last night's major comeback win over Texas Tech went final, I knew I was going to have to do another post about TCU's basketball resurgence. Not that beating Desert SFA is any feat - and whoo boy, it's really not because they are NOT going places under Pat Knight - but considering the product we've been used to over the past few years, taking out any Big 12 team, even a bottom feeder like the Raiders, certainly has to be cause for a little celebration, right? I mean, 7-3 may not sound like much, but it has to be one of our best starts in the past few years, no? Well, turns out, even in the throes of the Daugherty era and the glory days of Art Pierce, TCU has actually done fairly well in early, non-Conference games, and started 7-3 as recently as Christian's first year at the helm. Yes, that same team teased us with a conference opening win against UNLV, stretching that record to 11-5, before losing 12 of their next 15 games, but something really DOES feel different this year, doesn't it?
For one, I don't really know how else to describe it other than using the Jon Gruden-esque, "We have PLAYERS who can PLAY!" By that I mean, we don't have to have Zvonko Buljan going into berserker mode or Ronnie Moss trying to act like LeBron in order to keep us in games, anymore. Case in point - Moss is the leading scorer on our team this year at 15 a game, yet he's only been the high point man in half of our games. Garlon Green, JR Cadot and now Sammy Yeager have all helped shoulder the load. These guys actually play as a team now and are athletic enough to hang with the majority of the teams on our schedule, although the first real test comes in the conference opener against SDSU on January 5 in Fort Worth. I know we'll all still be coming down for our post Rose Bowl high at that point, but if things keep going the way they're going, it might be the biggest "don't miss it" game of the year. At least until BYU comes to town. HATE! HATE! HATE!
To continue this trend of putting way too much emphasis on one game against a team that's going to finish no better than the bottom three of its conference, last night TCU trailed Tech 36-32 at halftime. Like many of you, since the majority of our early season games, like the revolution, will not be televised, I rely heavily on my Sportacular iPhone app's in game updates to keep me current on what's going on in our games. Yes, I realize if I were a true fan I'd at least tune it to part of the game via KTCU, but seeing as how it was the weekly premiere of a new Friday Night Lights episode, this clearly wasn't an option - sorry Frogs, I like you a lot and all, but you haven't done enough to drag me away from Coach Taylor's epic halftime speeches or Julie Taylor's milk jugs quite yet. So anyway, when I saw it was 36-32, I didn't abandon all hope... but I mean, did anyone else REALLY expect these guys to come back from a deficit, no matter how small, on the road against Big 12 team?
So you can imagine my surprise when the next update flashed the score 81-71 TCU with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game. And it was an even bigger surprise when, after things went final, I checked the box score and saw how we did it. Yeager's massive game is clearly the story of this one - 22 points, 9 boards, 3 blocked shots in 28 minutes off the bench - but, five players in double figures? 49 points after halftime? And, perhaps most shockingly, a 48-34 edge in rebounds, including 23!!! offensive boards. That's a solid days work right there, boys. I believe I wrote in my initial over-reactionary basketball success post that my biggest fear for this team was that it would be eaten alive on the glass as the season wore on and was going to rely heavily on fast break opportunities to outlast a lot of teams. Case closed for now, at least until we get to the meat of our conference schedule. Also impressive for me was that, despite getting bitten hard by the failed 3-pointer bug of years past (5-17, 4 of which came from Yeager), the Frogs were still able to pull out the win and keep the hype train rolling. The fact that it came against a Tech, a place that once considered itself to be something of a basketball school and one that most of us hate so, so much, is just gravy.
But like I said, we've seen 7-3 or better several times before so clearly that mark isn't a barometer of future success. But I like the way the team plays and I really, really like the direction we're heading in Christian's third year. Every game now is the biggest game of the season, and it just so happens that the next one comes to you on live TV this Saturday when the Frogs stay on the road for the second consecutive game against a Big 12 opponent, travelling to face 8-2 Nebraska. It's not the most robust 8-2 record you'll see across the NCAA, but they've still taken care of business and, if we're talking common opponents, they took out the same USC team that we did. If you'll recall, we've developed a bit of a thing with the Cornhuskers since Christian came to campus, facing, and losing to them, in both of his first two seasons Perhaps the third time is the charm? We'll see at 1:00PM on Saturday, which, coincidentally, is the first Saturday with no real college football. Could you really ask for a better midday treat than this? Go Frogs.
(FYI - it's on something called Fox Sports Midwest which I'm pretty sure you can only get here with a paid sports package subscription... which is all the more reason to head to a bar and get your Saturday started early!)