There've been a lot of ups and downs in the young TCU basketball season so far, even amongst the Frogs' three wins. The one-point victories over Houston and Florida Gulf Coast were marred by enormous leads being given up in the final few minutes, but the upset of Virginia was made even more sweet when the Cavs blew out #15 Michigan last night. Coach Christian and his scrappy bunch will look to find a little stability tonight when Lamar visits Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
The Cardinals, you may or may not be aware, are coached by nepotism benificiary Pat Knight. When his Dad (whom I'll just refer to as "Knight" because getting Bobby Knight mad at our blog will be good for our traffic numbers) quit mid-season at Tech in 2008, young Patrick was given the keys to the kingdom (and I use that term very loosely when referring to anything in Lubbock). And how could Texas Tech ever bungle a head coaching decision, huh? Three subpar seasons later, they finally decided they'd had enough and sent Prince Patty on his way. So then his Dad picks up the phone and calls our old buddy, Billy Tubbs, who was the AD down at Lamar. "Give my kid a job," says Knight, "he's got nowhere else to go." So Tubbs hires him...and promptly retires. Or at least that's how I imagine it went down.
All kidding aside, though, Lamar is a pretty good squad. Of their four wins, three are by double-digits. Their two losses both came on the road, against Louisville (RPI #10) and Ohio (RPI #55) in overtime, so you can't really hold that against them. TCU, just FYI, currently has an RPI ranking of #51. But it should be noted that RPI rankings this early in the season are about as accurate as the financial records at major Houston energy firms.
One aspect of the game to watch tonight is rebounding. In separate Q&A sessions with purplemenace.com this week, neither Amric Fields nor Nate Butler hesitated to name rebounding as the area in which the Frogs had the most room to improve. The statistics back them up, as TCU currently ranks tied for 264th in the country at 33.0 boards per game. The Cardinals, by comparison, are tied with Baylor for 27th in the nation at 41.2 per game. If those patterns hold, it'll be a long night of watching Lamar get second chances on offense while the Frogs have to settle for shorter possessions when they've got the ball- which is not good news for a team that is prone to cold shooting streaks like TCU.
Despite the relative proximity of crazy Fort Worth to clinically-insane Beaumont and the Tubbs connection, this will be the first meeting between TCU and Lamar since 1989. The Frogs own an 8-2 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to 1971. I'm not naive enough to think there'll be a completely packed house at DMC for this one, but I hope there's at least a decent and vocal student contingent to help give the Frogs somewhat of a home-court advantage.