Perhaps you should teach them how to handle ONE basketball first, Jimbo...
Alright kids, it's that time again - time to completely blow TCU's earl;y season record against terrible, terrible competition out of proportion!!! This year's victims to date are Florida-Gulf Coast of Atlantic Sun Conference fame, as well as our pals up in Sherman, the Austin College Kangaroos. Just in case you were wondering, they are Division III, or, "Probably would finish middle of the pack in most UIL 5A Conferences." So you see what we're working with here. But, completely ignoring those facts, as well as the one showing TCU only beating Gulf Coast by UNO points, let's get the hype machine rolling.
Easily the biggest story heading into this season, pre Big 12, was the dividends our then acceptance into the Big East had paid us in recruiting. More notably, the dividends said invite had paid us in recruiting SIZE. With the additions of Checik Cone, Aldrick McKinney, Craig Williams and, the basketball teams' version of Dwight Smith, Ryan Rhoomes, the Frogs have 5 players who stand 6'8" or taller. If you include Connell Crossland, that numbers jumps to 7 at 6'7" or more. For the four of you who followed TCU basketball these past few years, you understand how big of a deal this is. Our tallest returning players from last year is Sophomore Amric Fields at 6'9" which is great, except he weighs 210 pounds and has the game of the poorest man in the entire world's dog's Kevin Durant. Keep in mind, Durant tips the scales at least 25 pounds more than Fields, and you know how skinny Durant looks on the floor.
So, theoretically, shouldn't this size and length advantage make the Frogs more aggressive on the boards and in the passing lanes? At least through two teams, the answer is YES as TCU has out-rebounded their opponents 72-64 and forced a staggering 64 turnovers. The Frogs have also blocked 8 shots. TCU has always been a high flying to the point of recklessness team, but that's been mostly rosters of undersized players with outstanding leaping ability and only marginal basketball sense. We still have those guys, most notably JR Cadot and his team leading 8 boards per contest, but don't underestimate how having a guy like McKinney down low will open things up for everyone else. Hank Thorns is clearly loving it having already dished out 13 assists. Expect him to compete for the league crown once again this year.
Looking closer at the games, the one point victory over Florida Gulf Coast is pretty hollow, but the Frogs jumped out to a comfortable lead before giving it back, so at least we know they're capable of generating said lead, which is something past squads have not been able to. But last night's win could turn out to be at least semi-significant. Ignoring the level of competition - especially when you consider the Frogs have almost lost to Mid-American Christian and HAVE lost to Lousiana Tech under Christian, so realize that no game is truly a given - you could make the argument that the 103-45 spanking of was one of the most complete efforts any of Christian's TCU teams have given. Every player on the team scored, including 4 in double figures, and the team shot nearly 60% from the field. It was TCU's first 100 point regulation game under Christian and the 45 points the Kangaroos scored was, at least to my cursory glance, the lowest output by an opposing team. Again, I must reiterate, Austin College would arguably lose by double digits to Fort Worth Dunbar and Flower Mound Marcus may actually cause the scoreboard to be switched off. Of course, the games weren't without their drawbacks as TCU has been sloppy to the tune of 38 turnovers, but you have to take the bad with the good and learn from it. As Lestor Freamon told us, we're building something here, and all the pieces matter.
The good news about this year is that BYU and Utah are no longer with us in Conference play and picking up Boise is addition by subtraction because their basketball team is the opposite of their football team on the good scale. Further good news is that, other than New Mexico and UNLV, the rest of the Conference is pretty wide open. The bad news is, of course, we still have absolutely no idea what kind of team TCU is capable of becoming. I think Jim Christian would honestly tell you he doesn't either, but I think he'd also privately tell you he thinks he finally has a group of players he can work with. Gone are team cancers like Ronnie Moss and Sammy Yeager, players who never put the team on anywhere near the pedestals they placed themselves. The team finally some consistency with JR Cadot, Hank Thorns and Garlon Green, a one year older Amric Fields, plus the new, talented additions mentioned above. However, I think finally having a size advantage, or at least COMPARABLE size to leagues foes is going to set the tone for this season going forward.
Probably more so than most of you, I really would love for TCU to have a competitive basketball program, a sentiment I've stated in many a post before this. I'm not crazy enough to want to sacrifice football success for that of basketball, but at least COMPETING for a Conference championship ever 2-3 years would suffice. This pertains even more to my interests now that the NBA season is in SERIOUS jeopardy. And while things haven't quite come together as the school hoped when they hired Jim Christian, could this be the year they finally do? We'll get a really good look at their chances this weekend in the Virgin Islands. Heck, we might even do a preview, that's how excited we are!