Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Basqetbol Tewnytte.

When I think of Mike Locksley
The thought of playing New Mexico in any sport
Seems less daunting by comparison.

Frogs @ New Mexico. 9:00PM CT. the mtn.

This past week the powers that be at Spitblood - and by that I mean the three remaining readers, right adam? - got together and decided on a plan of attack for the next couple of weeks before baseball season cranks back up. During this conversation, I, unprovoked mind you, offered to pen a handful of basketball related posts each week until the season ends. You know, to keeps things fresh, drive some traffic and, hopefully, be on the cutting edge of our out of nowhere resurgence during the last third of the season. So how are things one week into said experiment? Well, I'm wondering if I should've picked the TCU basketball team that's currently undefeated in conference and has the most balls, otherwise known as Jeff Mittie's Lady Frogs.

This past weekend I was on a hall pass from the wife while she went back home to visit family, and in between college-caliber binge sessions on Friday and Saturday, I chose to recharge my batteries by watching the TCU/Utah game. I'm a masochist, what can I say? And even though I went into it assuming we would lose, and even though I have no tangible reason to be interested in TCU Basketball at this point, I am still just eerily drawn to the games. Part of it is my much documented love for the game, part of it is morbid curiosity. Heck, part of it is just because I know that if I want to ever see TCU win basketball games, I better get my fill these next two years because we're going to be the girl in a bukkake film once we join the Big East.

But mostly? I'm a sucker. A total, unapologetic sucker and I want to believe that things are going to change. It probably has something to do with the Rangers making the World Series which completely flipped my opinion on hopelessly lost teams on its head, but I just think there's more to this team than meets the eye and keep thinking that, on some given night, everything is going to come together and these Frogs will win a game that no one thought they could. I remember the year that we actually DID go to the post season, when I attended just about every single home game and listened to road games on the radio while half assing creative writing assignments, and how that still remains one of my top 5 favorite TCU sports related moments ever.

But then they get absolutely destroyed by Utah - the 13 point final margin is accurate only in the sense that that is how the game officially ended and will be remembered in the record book - to drop below .500 and kill just about any chance of a winning record and post season berth we may have had. Seriously, how hard is it to make the basketball post season? The Special Olympics is more discretionary in their awards process than the NCAA is in keeping teams from playing in March with the now, what, 4 post season tournaments going on? It's really not much to ask, but for this team, it's an unsolvable riddle, like a Rubix Cube when you don't just peel the stickers off and place them where you wish.

The point of this rant being I'm going to continue to document every last second of this miserable basketball season until it mercifully ends, but I''m not going to like it and I'm going to go through the motions harder than Tom Cruise on his wedding night. If you want optimism, check out HornedFrogSports piece on the topic. As for me? I'm fresh out.

So tonight we have the New Mexico Lobos who we are 0-8 against all time. The Lobos were once a dominant MWC force but have fallen on some rough times this season and are no closer to making the tournament than we are. Well, they're probably closer, but so are most AAU teams, and they can't even legally qualify. They enter the game 13-7, but are 1-4 in the Mountain West and are unwashed backside sitting on our shoulders in the cellar of the conference standings. They, too, are on a three game losing streak, but were actually being talked about as a serious bubble team before their current skid, so there's still time.

Fortunately for the Lobos, they're looking to turn things around against us, which means their three game skid is about to dissolve like a tab of acid under a UNM hippie's tongue. If there's anyone you want to play to turn your season around, it's the Frogs, and the Lobos with their penchant for grabbing rebounds, shooting high percentage shots and scoring bodes well against our warriors who do none of those things well. Especially rebounding. Holy hell, please tell me someone else subjected themselves to the Utah game? The final tally was 37-28 in favor of the Utes, but it seemed SO much worse. And while the Lobos don't have multiple 7 foot Ents like Utah, they do have 6-11 Alex Kirk, a softie at 5 rebounds per game, but who should also get prepared for a career night. I'm not sure how many 7 footers there are to go around, and when you look at all the NBA rosters that are absolutely littered with worthless big men I have to assume it can't be many, but I'll never understand why we can't find just ONE. He probably wouldn't be a true difference maker, but for the 256th ranked rebounding team in the country, a player like that could only help matters.

As for the aforementioned 256th ranked team? Well, I will agree with HFS that Hank Thorns has been as advertised this season, as has Ronnie Moss. In fact, without Thorns scoring every single first half point for TCU on Saturday - not entirely accurate, but not entirely inaccurate either - the game would've been over before the first subs were buzzed in. And on the bright side, this is a very young team with Greg Hill being the only senior on board, so our final year in the MWC will be Christian's most experienced team as head coach. But I still can't get the sinking feeling out of my stomach that Eric Hyman made a deal with the devil when he hired Franchione and sacrificed our basketball success in exchange for football. Clearly this is a tradeoff any of us would take, but it doesn't change the reality that even when things appear to be heading in the right direction, failure is just around the corner.

A win tonight doesn't matter in the immediate future, but if things don't change these next 11 games and next season, joining the Big East may essentially put our basketball team out of a business altogether. I realize this is an extremely pessimistic and non-constructive view to take, but I just get the feeling the steps we've taken backwards since Tubbs left the program may have doomed us forever. Of course, for all I know we could rally for a winning record over the rest of the season, challenge for a Conference title next year and enter the Big East on a high note. But that feels like a pipe dream at this point. In this instance, the wisdom of Charles Barkley certainly applies when he said, "I might be wrong, but I doubt it."

Elsewhere in the MWC.

#4 San Diego State @ #9 BYU. 9:00PM. CBSCS.

So I realize we're all down on the MWC right now because of the whole Boise switch thing and are just ready to get out, but I also think those that don't understand that decision are as silly as the ones who think Jamie Dixon is coming home to Fort Worth. It's exactly the type of "Fuck you, this is MY conference and I'm doing what's best for it" move that we loved Craig Thompson for as recently as this summer when he poached Boise, Fresno and Nevada from the WAC. And while a lot of you will continue to hold a grudge towards the conference since its success doesn't really matter to us anyway, we shouldn't overlook what's going on at the top of the basketball standings. Believe it or not, the Mountain West has a shot at a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament come March in undefeated San Diego State and no lower than a 4 in one loss BYU. Given most of our successful teams have rarely risen above the 6-7-8 seed threshold, this is pretty serious news.

And while San Diego State is still kind of on the outside looking in in most circles, should they continue their winning ways and finish the year with a flawless record, they'll be very, very hard to ignore as the top teams continue to fall. So, in other words, you should probably go with the Kawhi Leonards over the Jimmers tonight if you weren't already. Sadly, if this were a game in any other conference ESPN would have shut down the universe to let you know how apocalyptically important it is, but seeing as how it's on CBS CS at 10:00PM on the east coast, it'll likely get the TCU/Utah treatment where the winner gets a big MEH and the loser gets drop kicked out of the rankings. Ah, how nice that apple pie smells when resting on the windowsill of an AQ conference....

Air Force @ Colorado State. 8:00PM.

In the, "Wow, at least there's a game that's less interesting than ours" match up, you've got Air Force traveling up north to take on the Rams in Fort Collins. But as for the interesting thing, this one actually means a lot more to the conference than any game we'll play in the rest of the year. Yep, sure enough, Colorado State is now officially a bubble team despite losing to New Mexico and BYU over the past couple of weeks and they really need this game to remain solvent. I'll be honest though - call me in March and let me know how these guys end up overall, because I'm SO not interested right now.

Meet the Future Frogs: LaDarius Brown

After California JUCO corner Jason Verrett became the third consecutive commitment from out of state, the TCU coaching staff found member #20 of the 2011 class much closer to home in Waxahachie athlete LaDarius Brown.

Standing 6'2" and weighing 190lbs, Brown runs a 4.42 forty and has an eye-popping 43" vertical leap. With hops like that, you could see him affecting the game not only by putting points on the board for the Frogs, but also by taking points off the board for opponents by blocking field goals. Or maybe that's just the raving lunatic, mad scientist special teams coach in me.

That kind of athleticism allowed Brown to score touchdowns (the exact number, I'm not certain) receiving, running, in the return game and on defense as a senior at Waxahachie, when he was named Offensive MVP of District 15-4A. The overall MVP of the district? Fellow future Frog Trevone Boykin. As is the case with a lot of TCU's class and every recruit listed as an "athlete", there is some question as to what position he'll play in college. Most of the experts seem to think wide receiver or safety, with more leaning towards WR.

If you're the type of recruiting fan that is obsessed with how many stars a kid has, you'll be happy to know that Brown is a 4-star player according to Rivals. They also have him ranked as the #7 overall player in Texas and the #53 overall player in the nation. He had scholarship offers from almost every Big 12 school, as well as a certain school that just bought a national championship and another that plays on NBC every Saturday.

I'm kind of surprised that I couldn't find a highlight tape of Brown on youtube, but you can see him score multiple touchdowns against future Camp Longhorn counselors in this video taken at a playoff game his junior year:

Pilfered Senior Bowl Observations: Day 2.

It's very interesting how much a day can change opinions, for better or worse, but even more interesting to see how those opinions can so decisively diverge from critic to critic. Here's an example:

Todd McShay has what is probably the most thorough Senior Bowl analysis that there is to find, and he had this to say about Dalton's performance yesterday, in which he called AD the South's Top Performer:

The more you watch him, the more you see him do all the little things that are so important to the quarterback position. He doesn't have the big size, strong arm or great athleticism, but he's doing a really good job. He's a sponge. He's always around the QB coaches or offensive coaches, always asking questions, always talking, always engaged. He's never standing off on his own. He's leading everything. His ball is not pretty -- it flutters sometimes -- but he's got adequate arm stregth and probably the third-strongest arm of the QBs here. He can make the deep throws and he does the other little things right, so he has a good enough arm. He missed two times, throwing high on a couple of inside routes, but he was the most accurate QB from beginning to end.

True, some of the things he says sounds a little back handed, making it sound like AD is more of a football nerd than a football player, but you get the idea that he appreciates what Dalton brings to the table and recognizes that he has what it takes to make a roster somewhere.

And then there's draftinsider, who had this to say about the exact same day's work:

Really not impressive throwing the ball. Rarely throws tight spirals in either the long or short field. Cannot drive his deep throws. Does a nice job commanding the offense but lacks top physical skills for the next level.

Really? So the guy who Todd McShay thinks has one of the strongest arms in Mobile may as well be throwing left handed in the eyes of draftinsider? What gives? After reading this, I decided to eschew whatever reservations I had about watching the SB practices and have recorded this afternoon's session to make my own opinions because, quite frankly, I'm not sure how opinions can be so divided. Although, given the stake that has and will always be driven in our fanbase in regards to the Dalton Haters and Dalton Enthusiasts, I'm not sure why this surprises me. And while McShay is the same guy who thought Jake Locker was going to be one of the greatest prospects to every come out of college football at the QB position, and while ESPN is an evil entity that should be mocked at every turn, I have a feeling we're going to have very similar opinions when it comes to Big Red.

Also, here's a nice little video from McShay talking about the QB competition:

As for our other guys, the reviews from draftinsider were overwhelmingly positive for Kerley:

Best receiver on the South squad. Quickly gets off the line, runs some of the best routes of any receiver in Mobile and always makes the catch. Not a downfield threat but really established himself as a terrific slot receiver prospect.

But not as much so for Kirkpatrick:

Kirkpatrick continued to come off the snap high and was eventually reminded by his coached to stay low. He also struggled to move laterall off the snap. Plus he liked to wrestle his assignmentd while getting his hands too wide.

The news about Kerley is very, very nice to hear. Kerley gets so much publicity regarding his return game that I was afraid he might be pigeon holed solely as a special teamer at the next level, which isn't a bad way to make a living, but I just think he can be SO dangerous as a slot guy. So to hear he ran the best routes of any receiver yesterday is a very positive thing.

The opinions on Kirkpatrick bother me though, and unfortunately this has been the story all off-season - all 20 days of it. I mean, is it so far fetched to think that the Rimington Trophy winner is worthy of a 2nd or 3rd round draft choice? Especially when said Trophy winner is probably the most athletic of all the linemen in Mobile? Actually, yes. I checked back through the past few Rimington Award winners, and while last year's winner Maurkice Pouncey clearly did well for himself this year in Pittsburgh, the others have not. Of the three winners before Pouncey, 0 of the three are currently on NFL rosters above the practice squad, and one of them is no longer in the NFL at all. Actually, if you dig deeper, the two winners before that group are no longer in the NFL at all, either. So is the Rimington Award college football's version of the Madden curse? Just ask Maurkice Pouncey and his high ankle sprain.

So what can we really expect of Kirkpatrick? I definitely think he gets drafted, but unless he improves his technique, it appears he's a low round and possible a practice squad casualty at best. Let's hope he figures some things out before the combine.

That's all I have for today, but I promise to be a bit more thorough tomorrow as I should have my own biased opinions to toss into the mix.

Meet the Future Frogs: Jason Verrett

As last football season progressed and TCU's profile grew nationwide, Patterson and his staff took the opportunity to gather in some out-of-state recruits. Commits 17 and 18 came from Oklahoma: Jamelle Naff of Del City and Davion Pierson of Oklahoma City, but #20 comes to Fort Worth from Northern California. Santa Rosa Junior College corner Jason Verrett may well end up being one of Patterson's classic needle in the haystack recruiting finds.

Verrett, who is listed at 5'10" 180lbs and has been clocked with a 4.38 forty, has never lacked athleticism. As a senior at Rodriguez High in Fairfield, California in 2008, he had over 1,000 total yards of offense and 13 total TDs to go along with 25 tackles and 4 interceptions on defense to help lead his team to a 9-3 overall record. Despite all of this, he was overlooked by DI recruiters and enrolled at Santa Rosa.

Once he got to SRJC in the fall of 2009, he had his sights set on racking up yardage on offense in hopes of attracting recruiters. Instead, defensive coordinator Lenny Wagner (who's linebacker coach when he played at Sonoma State was none other than GP himself) convinced Verrett that he had more of a future on the other side of the ball. In order to maximize his future potential as a DI corner, Verrett grey-shirted the 2009 season to focus on learning the position and to allow himself an extra year of eligibility once he transferred out of SRJC. For more on Verrett's story, check out this story from the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat- it's a good read.

I've searched and searched, but I cannot find Verrett's 2010 freshman season stats online. I can tell you that he played well enough to be named 1st Team All Conference in the Nor-Cal Conference even after missing two games to injury. Additionally, Rivals lists him as the #35 overall JUCO prospect in the country.

Verrett's list of offers other than TCU isn't going to knock your socks off, but he did get one from another school that has succeeded in uncovering recruiting gems in hard to find places just about as much as the Frogs- Boise State. He's already signed his letter of intent and enrolled at TCU, so he will be participating in offseason conditioning work and spring practice with the Frogs. And that greyshirt year at SRJC will pay off with an extra year of eligibility in Fort Worth: instead of the usual two years of a JUCO transfer, he'll have three years of eligibility. So he'll be a sophomore next fall and can still redshirt if he needs to for any reason.

With his build, incredible speed, path from offense to defense and from JUCO to TCU, Verrett's story reminds me of that of former Frog Drew Coleman- who starred as a WR at Trinity Valley CC before arriving in Fort Worth. Given that Coleman was an all-conference corner at TCU and has now been drawing an NFL paycheck for five years, I'd say that's a comparison both Verrett and Frog fans can live with.

And for dessert, here's his high school highlight film:

Scheduling Rumors

As Counselor frog mentioned in the Morning Dump, rumor has it that we will be playing our ex-conference foe BYU next year in Jerry World. Now, I know in the past that GP made the comment to BYU along the lines of "Good Luck scheduling us in the future", but that was before we decided to bolt the MWC for the Big East. Personally, I like the idea of playing BYU again and hopefully more in the future, seeing as how our time in the MWC together started to develop into a pretty good rivalry. So, after getting screwed over by Tech and Boise, I am glad that we found a quality opponent with a good following to play us at the Death Star. And since we are on the fact of our schedule, rumor also has it that the remaining games will be filled with Louisiana Monroe and an FCS school. Those games leave a poop flavor in my mouth. I still wish we could find a BCS school to add along with Baylor, because lets face it, if we are undefeated at the end of the year, we are going to get alot of negative comments about how weak our ooc schedule was. I'm already dreading listening to what Rod Gilmore is going to have to say.

Morning Dump

MWC decides TCU will take 2011 trip to Boise - Star Telegram

Switch makes TCU travel to Boise State

Q & A with Chris Del Conte - Daily Skiff


TCU's 2011 recruiting class not the best, but close enough - Dallas Morning News

TCU's top positional needs for 2011
- Bleacher Report

Other News

A little birdie passed along to this blogger that the Frogs might be making a trip back out to the Arlington Death Star this season. To play who? An ex-conference foe perhaps?. Still waiting on confirmation.