For the past decade or so, just about every TCU basketball season has followed the same script:
-Cautious optimisim that "this is the year they turn things around"
-The football team overshadowing a good start
-A collapse just about the time football ends and conference play begins
-Empty stands for the remainder of the schedule while fans wait for baseball season
Maybe it's the excitement surrounding the Rangers FINALLY breaking through, or the hype around this year's recruiting haul, but I really did think this season was going to be different for Jim Christian's squad. After their double-digit home win against USC capped a 5-2 November, I was fairly sure that at least an NIT berth was in this team's future.
But after a 34-point loss at UNLV over the weekend, their fourth consecutive, you have to wonder whether or not this is just another year for the TCU men's basketball program. At 9-8 with an RPI in the mid-100's (alongside schools like Northern Colorado, Fairfield and UNC-Wilmington), what progress has Jim Christian made in his three years in Fort Worth? Can this team compete in the Mountain West, much less the Big East in two years?
To be fair, there have been some injuries during this recent losing skid and the first two conference games have been against Top-10 (SDSU) and Top-25 (UNLV) teams. It's entirely possible that this team's rough patch of the season just happened to coincide with an extremely tought stretch of the schedule. As an optimist, I'm willing to give Coach Christian the benefit of the doubt...but that doesn't erase the doubt.
If this season is not meant to snowball on itself like we've seen so many do so in the past, a win is vital when the Frogs take on Wyoming at home tonight at 6:30. The Cowboys come to town with an 8-8 overall record and the worst RPI in the conference, though they did upset New Mexico at home over the weekend. Looming after tonight are two very tough road games against surprisingly-good Colorado State and #10 BYU.
Basketball seasons, like baseball, are long and all teams will go through tough stretches- remember when the baseball team lost 3 of 4 last year including one against Air Force? I hate to have to play Debbie Downer with this post, but I think what I'm writing is what a lot of you are thinking right about now. Hopefully a W against Doo-Doo Brown tonight is the start of a stretch after which we'll look back at this post and laugh.
***EDIT: I typed this post out last night before I had heard the news that Sammy Yeager has been kicked off the team. Sometimes you can achieve addition by subtraction when you eliminate a lockeroom cancer or a distracting situation, but Yeager was the team's third-leading scorer and rebounder...