Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gray visits TCU twice in one week

Chances are that even if you don't really follow college football recruiting, you've probably at least heard of Johnathan Gray. The All-Everything tailback from Aledo is the closest thing to a household name in high school football since Cedric Benson, and TCU is squarely among the top contenders to land him in the next class as he's been on campus twice in the past week to watch the Frogs practice.

I don't want to start giving away too much of the great information that Jeremiah Glenn and Jeremy Clark at purplemenace.com provide for their customers (like the quotes they got from Johnathan after the practice he attended earlier this week), but I did feel like this was something to be passed along to the casual fans among you out there. Gray's return trip to watch the Frogs' scrimmage on Thursday shows his interest in the program is very real and has to make even the most skeptical that he'll end up at TCU (myself included) take notice.

Even though every high school kid is just a "paper tiger" until he proves himself at the college level, Gray would be the highest profile recruit to end up at TCU...ever. He also represents an opportunity for Patterson to win a head-to-head recruiting battle with Mack Brown on a prospect that the 'Horns covet just as much as does TCU- Haltom's Reggie Wilson seriously flirted with committing to TCU two years ago before succumbing to the hyperbole down at the Forty Acres.

Without spoiling the premium status of the content over on purplemenace, we'll try to keep you on top of this situation and hopefully we can create a celebratory post in the next couple of weeks if Gray decides he wants to continue the great running back tradition at TCU.

Ugh.


So when I saw that TCU was leading 34-33 at halftime, I typed "brainteaser" into Google image search, because trying to determine how we were actually winning the game was the biggest brainteaser of all time. The above picture is what came up. In a way, a cow swimming and jumping through waves next to a dolphin makes more sense than what was going on in the desert at that time. Just think about it.

Alas, it was not to be... but holy balls did the Frogs make it interesting. Like, INSANELY interesting. Like, with 15 seconds left the score was 60-58 after Greg Hill hit back to back 3's, including one he converted into a 4-point play. But, as the Cougars have done all year, they got the ball to Jimmer who made both of his free throws, and then TCU ran a completely out of left field play that they haven't run all year where Hank Thorns drives to the basket and gets blocked, at which point BYU made a couple of more freebies and ran it out. The game ended 64-58 and the dozen Frog fans in attendance will be forced to push the game out of their minds with ample amounts of booze, gambling and big fake American breasts that can be toyed with for a nominal fee. I have a feeling they'll manage.

I could turn this into a "What If?" post - like, what if our entire team wasn't in foul trouble for the majority of the second half? What if we actually had a halfway ingenius play we could run at the end of close games? Or what if Ronnie Moss had been available to shut down Jimmer? - but I won't because that wouldn't be doing it justice. BYU is a better team than we are, despite the close call, and were going to win this game all along. But, I can honestly say based on the stats and the broadcast that this had to have been the hardest the Frogs have played all year. I'll hand it to Thorns - he came into the game running his mouth and absolutely backed it up. He finished with 15 points, 5 boards and 6 assists and has to feel good about his effort, especially his 3/4 from behind the arc. Greg Hill, too, can enter the non-basketball era of his life knowing that he went out swinging, keeping the game super interesting at the end and ending his day with 15 points and 5 boards. Garlon Green and Cadot finished with 11 and 12 points, respectively, with Cadot fouling out.

What ultimately undid the Frogs was foul trouble, free throw shooting and depth. Thorns, Cadot and Cerina all entered the second half with three fouls each and played with 4 for the majority of the game post-halftime. However, it didn't seem to really limit our defense too much, or not as much as expected. The Frogs also only made 9/15 from the line, which is something that Christian needs to work very, very hard on with the team over the summer. And as for depth, well, we only played Jarvis Ray, Nikola Gacesa and Amric Fields off the bench. Their combined line? 1 point, 2 rebounds and 1 assist. That won't get it done against anyone, let alone the #8 team in the country.

I really don't have much more to say other than that - the guys played hard. They wanted to win and believed they could win. To play a team that has owned you like BYU has and take them into the final seconds when no one gave you a chance is an admirable thing and something these guys will have to hang their hats on this off-season. They know how close they came; now they just have to figure out how to win the close ones. I'll be damned, but I can't help but be a little giddy about the future of this team next year. With Thorns, Moss, Cadot, Green and Cerina back, and with BYU and Utah moving on to other areas of interest, I think we've got a shot. Kawhi Leonard will be gone from San Diego, and lightning surely can't strike twice in Fort Collins, right? Boise has a less than adequate basketball program, we'll figure out Air Force and Wyoming, which only leaves New Mexico and UNLV in our way. What's to stop these guys from finally turning this thing around, for real this time?

Oh no! It's happening again! Just like it always does...

UPDATE: Mustangs Can't Cheat and Win... Literally.

Eric Dickerson's Flammable Coif still Amuses the Hell out of me.

So SMU hasn't won much lately. Their basketball team has the inglorious distinction of being one of the nine victims of our merry band of laughable hoopsters, their football team lost the CUSA Championship and was then further embarrassed by Army in a bowl game played in the confines of their own stadium, and their baseball team doesn't exist because the Mustangs prefer Europe's dirty little hipster sport soccer over America's Pastime. And now to add more salt to the wound, their past transgressions couldn't even earn them the title of the Most Corrupt College Athletic Program of All Time. This is especially sad considering they basically created the benchmark by which all studies like this have been conducted.

In a rare showing of spitblood being fair and balanced, I'll point out the glaring fallacy in SMU's ranking in this study in that their Death Penalty case is the entire basis of their ranking. But still, they were dumb and arrogant enough to be the ones to get caught in the most blatantly corrupt Conference in the most blatantly corrupt era in history, so they deserve all the criticism afforded to them.

So who properly gunned their way into that #1 spot? Interestingly enough it was the Arizona State Sun Devils who bested the Mustangs by one major infraction, 9-8. At first my reaction was, "Wow, NINE major infractions and you're still shit? At least SMU had the Pony Express!" But upon reading further, ASU's violations all pertain to their baseball program - which produced one Barry Bonds, it should be noted - and they've won five titles, so I guess that 56% infraction to Championship success rate is to be lauded. By comparison, the Ponies and their 0% rate need to improve if they want to be taken seriously as cheaters. At least most of their students could score higher than Charlie Sheen on a drug test, though. What, you thought I'd make it through an entire post regarding SMU without a drug related pot shot? (punned!!!) Girl Please.

On a final note, just so you can't say ole Sir Wesley doesn't like to give back to the little people, SMU DID best 2011 football foe Texas A&M, who came in sixth with an underwhelming 7 major infractions. I suggest the Pony faithful use this scoreboard win to their advantage leading up to the game, because it'll likely be the only one they'll have.

The complete list is as follows:

  1. Arizona State - 9
  2. SMU - 8
  3. Auburn - 7. Let's assume the next time they do this study that number could be a tad higher
  4. Minnesota - 7. Once Tubby Smith skips town, expect this one to go northward as well.
  5. Oklahoma - 7. Jesus Christ, only SEVEN? Barry Switzer shakes his head at his own lack of effort and moxie.
  6. aggy - 7.
  7. Wichita State - 7. I got nothin'
  8. Wisconsin - 7. Should be 8 for "Head Football Coach Failing to Not be a Bitch after a loss; lack of testicles; team-wide constipation from cheese intake"
  9. Florida State - 7. Again, seems low for a team that had perhaps the most dominant decade long run in the history of the sport and employed one Deion Sanders.
  10. Memphis - 7. /calipari'd
SWW Honorable Mention: Baylor... because they COVERED UP A FUCKING MURDER INVESTIGATION!!!! Also, this bit of schadenfreude... but don't worry, Scott Drew runs the cleanest program in the NCAA.

UPDATE: Looks like the Ponies are rising to the occasion. Onward, ho!

Baylor...Too Funny


I took that picture on my phone when I stopped to pee in Waco on my way to Austin last week, and I'm pretty sure that the doughy little Baylor sorority girl who saw me chuckling as I snapped it had no idea why I thought it was funny.

Silly Baylor, you're not a basketball school now just because you suck at football and you had one good year of hoops. Even with one star player who got caught by the NCAA with his hand in the cookie jar and another who warmed up for the season by cracking his baby mama's jaw with his fist, ol' "Basketball University" appears headed for the NIT after dropping their fifth game in the last six.

For an opinion out of Waco, we now bring in the guys from TheeBears.com, who contend that Baylor deserves an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Glad to see those folks still have a pretty loose grasp on reality.

So About Last Night...

MWC TCU Wyoming Basketball
Believe it or not, Cerina could be the difference against BYU this afternoon.

As the clock wound down on TCU's opening round 70-61 over Wyoming n the MWC Tournament yesterday afternoon, Hank Thorns dropped to the ground and took it all in. He wasn't crying or anything like that, he just fell into a squat with his head down and presumably let a little bit of the frustration of the past 13 games fade away. He wasn't the only one - Greg Hill had a smile on his face as if he was down the street at the Bellagio and had just converted split aces into blackjacks with his last $100. Jim Christian had the look of a man who had just been told he was being released from prison after spending the past few years of his life wrongfully on death row. And while a win in the 8/9 game against the only team the Frogs had beaten in conference play all year isn't going to automatically turn this thing around, the 4 of 5 others of you watching couldn't help but feel good about these guys FINALLY putting it all together in the post-Moss era of this particular season.

When I, perhaps a bit hastily, closed the curtain on the 2010/11 basketball season last week, I said the following, "...best case scenario the Frogs shock Air Force, ride that momentum to take down a Wyoming team that is much better than they are and has won three times as many league games… and then get crushed once again by BYU – albeit a suddenly deflated BYU - in a game that counts. " While we didn't quite shock Air Force and we still have to play a BYU team that should by all means crush us, when I wrote the second part of that statement, I knew it to be false. To say that Wyoming was a much better team than TCU was just me riding the wave of negative emotion I've built up over the past few months of following these guys as closely as I've followed any TCU basketball team since 2003. I mean, we smoked the Cowboys in January and while we dropped the return game in Laramie, we never should've let it get away, even without Moss. And that whole, "three times as many league games," thing was deliberately misleading to sound worse, because as you all well know we only won one ourselves. So when spitpurple and I were talking before the game yesterday and he said he had a feeling we were going to win, I honestly had to agree with him.

So how did we do it yesterday? Well, the answer is pretty simple - we didnt' collapse down the stretch, even when Wyoming was making it interesting. In the games that we've kept close since Moss went away - both Air Force games, the Wyoming game, the second game against Utah and even the second game against San Diego State - we had our chances late and either couldn't get a stop or couldn't get a shot off. Part of this is the fault of the coaches' - in both Air Force games when we had a chance to tie or win it late, we ran the same high screen for Thorns that resulted in an impossible shot that was unsurprisingly missed. Another part of it is that our team is just not defensive minded. But, perhaps most of all, we lack a go-to guy and even though we're trying to turn Thorns into just that, the fact is he's a short PG who is understandably going to have a tough time finishing at the rim against a team with size down low. Perhaps this will change next year with Moss expectedly coming back, but as presently constructed the best option for this team isn't to try and force any one player to be a Kobe-like assassin, it's to spread the floor and give any of our at least pretty good shooters a chance to put games away. Which is exactly what happened yesterday.

Clearly, Hank Thorns and Greg Hill were MVPs 1 and 1A of yesterday's game. But first I want to talk about JR Cadot, a player who, at least based on the amount of coverage he gets in Caribbean newspapers, should be having the kinds of performances he had yesterday every time out. His 13 points and 13 rebounds may not jump off the page on a day where Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves just broke the all time record for consecutive games with a double double, but you can't diminish the importance of Cadot's aggressive play in the win. TCU is an awful rebounding team, which is a major reason why we haven't scored a lot of points. A lot of this has to do with our lack of size, but rebounding is about being aggressive and wanting the ball more than your opponent. You have to sacrifice some offense and give up your body, which is something no one on this team has seemed too interested in doing. So to see Cadot -a sleeper favorite of mine simply because of the one or two highlight reel dunks he contributes every game, although that's about all he does - playing this hard says a little something about the mindset of the team even as the season has collapsed around them.

As for Thorns and Hill, when I spoke above about how the reason we won is because we didn't collapse down the stretch, these are the two guys who wouldn't allow that to happen. (Sorry, that syntax was AWFUL. Every major writer ever just threw up in their mouths a little bit). With a little over 12 minutes remaining in the game, Wyoming took the lead 42-41 and despite all of the good things TCU had done in the first half by jumping out to a huge lead, it looked like another second half fade was in order. Apparently Greg Hill didn't get the message. After that lead, he immediately came out and hit a three, putting the Frogs up by two which sparked a 9-0 run and a lead they would never give back. I was about to end that sentence with, "although it wasn't for lack of trying," but really, this is the first time in months that the boys put their foot on another team's neck and never took the pressure off as the Cowboys never got within 8 the rest of the way. Hill finished with a team high 18 points and, to go along with his career high 23 against Air Force in the season finale, is playing like a senior who wants to prolong the feeling as long as possible. I'm not sure he's going be the difference maker this afternoon against BYU, but you can bet he's going to play his ass off and try to shock the basketball world.

But as good as Hill's day was, I'm not sure Hank Thorns didn't have a better one. The Vegas native, playing in front of friends and family, finished the day with 16 points and 9 assists and had perhaps the most important play of the game. With just under two minutes left, Wyoming pulled to within 10 and looked to be making one last ditch run at winning the game. Thorns, though, had other ideas, driving the lane and converting a 3 point play that ended the Cowboys chances. I still stick by what I said about about Thorns not being a sure-fire go to guy, but when it works out like it did yesterday, I'll take the results.

Of course, all good things must come to an end and the biggest shame in this is that the team has less than 24 hours to enjoy it before getting back out and facing a BYU team that has beaten them 15 consecutive times. FIFTEEN! Bolstered by the swagger that comes with getting your first win since January, our guys certainly aren't backing down though, notably Hank Thorns who thinks we can expose BYU inside due to the lack of the suspended Brandon Davies.

(side note: Pretty curious that in the past year BYU has suspended two solid basketball players from the team for behavioral problems... and they were both black. Could the teachings of Uncle Rulon be creeping their way back into mainstream Mormon culture? And let's be honest - unless Jimmer Fredette truly is a saint or is Jesus come back to earth in human form, there's NO WAY he hasn't used his status to slay some of that Aryan Poon they have flitting about in Provo. Had it been him, would they have been as forceful with their enforcement? Methinks nein. side note complete)

Thorns had this to say in the post game:

"They're vulnerable in the post, we can probably drive it down there more. We know they only got [Noah] Hartsock down there. So [we are] probably going to pound the ball in, let Niko do his thing down there and make plays for us."

Of course, when you see the line "let Niko do his thing down there and make plays for us" in the context of winning a basketball game against a Top 10 ranked team, perhaps you should take that kind of confidence with a grain of salt. BYU is a team that runs as well as anyone else in the country; without Davies, they're going to be running even harder. This is dangerous for a team like TCU who has little to no bench depth because, while you might be able to keep it close at first, after a while, when you stop sucking air, you'll look up and see you're down by 15-20. But I understand that when yesterday's win was only your second in the conference and likely your last one the year, you've gotta condense all of that smack talk into a neat little package. And you know what? I love it. I love that, despite the odds being COMPLETELY against us, and despite losing by double digits to this same team twice already this year, we're not afraid. Sure, it'd be foolish to proclaim that the Frogs will win this afternoon, but at least they're acting like a real basketball team again.

Yesterday's win might turn out to be just that - yesterday's win. But no matter what happens today, with only two seniors departing, that feeling will stick with these guys through the off season and into next year. It's not much, but it's something to build on, and after the 1-15 in conference showing, that's more than I ever thought we could hope for. Go Frogs.

Morning Dump

Basketball:
Frogs men leap out of skid row with MWC tournament win
Star-Telegram

Leap-frogged
Laramie Boomerang

TCU 70, Wyoming 61
AP

Baseball:
Frogs pitcher Winkler has progressed from past good
Star-Telegram

Winkler honored as MWC pitcher of the week
GoFrogs.com

Alumni:
Will Matt Carpenter find a job in St. Louis soon?
STL Today