More of the foreground, less of the background.
With a thorough pasting of something called UT-Pan American to the tune of 88-58, TCU completed a 10-5 run through their non-con slate this week. Those ten wins included big, by our standards at least, wins over Virginia, Texas Tech, Houston and Lamar with the only truly "bad" loss being that yack-fest against USC, although I bet Christian would LOVE to have the second half against Tulsa back. It's the first time since 2004-2005 that the Frogs made it into double digit wins before Conference play began and they're only one win off of last year's blistering 11 win regular season pace. Hopefully non-coincidentally, 04/05 is the year the Frogs made it to the third round of the NIT, their last trip to the post season of any kind. That team was visibly more talented and well-oriented than this one, so I won't get ahead of myself, but as the UVA game showed, this is a team that's capable of competing on a given night and a second straight 1 win Conference season shouldn't be in the cards. Note, I said SHOULDN'T, not WON'T.
The Frogs officially close out non-con play February 8th at SMU, but tomorrow marks the start of their final year of MWC play when they travel to Fort Collins to face the surprising Rams. CSU has gotten off to an 11-4 start and is frequently mentioned in just about any Bracketology report you're sure to run across. Led by guards Dorian Green and Wes Eikmeier, the Rams have taken out current Pac 12 leader Colorado and gave Duke a game before fading down the stretch. Fortunately, the Rams aren't a big team, only grabbing 30 rebounds per game on average, but they're 11th in the country in field goal percentage which doesn't bode well for a Frogs team that isn't always on point defensively when it counts. The Frogs lead the series 10-9 and will look to make the overall record out of reach by the time the Rams come to town next month.
When you're a team like TCU I suppose every win is of the "must" variety, but considering the Frogs next game on the slate is at #12 UNLV next Wednesday, it'd be VERY good for them to steal this one. It won't be easy, but if this is truly a team built for a post season invite, they will have to win games like tomorrow's. Catch it at 7:00PM on the mtn. Dont' get sucked in by Tebow time running concurrent. SPOILER ALERT: The magic has run out.
Switching gears though, for the four of you who may have kept up with TCU basketball this season, at least on the surface, what have been the brightest, and not so bright, spots for you over the first half of the season?
Other than the unexpected win over a good Virginia team and JR Cadot playing like a mad man those first few weeks, I'd have to say having Amric Fields start to look like the next-level caliber player we've been hearing about has been the brightest. At least when he's not in foul trouble. For the year he's averaging a not-so-eye-popping 9.8 points per game, but he's only getting about 20 minutes a night, partially due to said foul trouble. He's gotten a little more time post-Christmas and has made the most of it, putting up 18 in a win against Rice and 14 against Pan American despite only playing 15 minutes in the latter. He doesn't grab as many rebounds as you'd like for a 6'10" player but hey, I don't think they exactly teach that at TCU anyway. Fields has scored in double figures in nine games this season; they've won eight of them. This isn't a coincidence. Fields will be one of, if not THE, most important players for this team if they have any chance of competing for a post season spot. He'll be one to keep an eye on. Honorable Mention: Kyan Anderson.
As for my not-so-bright spot, the easy answer is the curious situation surrounding Ryan Rhoomes' eligibility. As with all things TCU basketball, Alex Apple at Menace is presumably your best bet for up to date information on Rhoomes, but unlike Killer Frogs I'm not going to outright lift his paid commentary and make it my own. All I can say with any certainty is that Rhoomes is enrolled at TCU, so take that for what it's worth. The hope is Ryan gets his academic house in order in time to be the big body difference maker the Frogs SEVERELY need, but that comes with a caveat: cohesiveness. Anyone close to the basketball program will readily admit that this is one of the most cohesive TCU basketball teams they have seen in quite some time and that's a major reason for their moderate success. How will Rhoomes affect this? Will he fit right in? Will he be able to learn the schemes quick enough to have an impact? I know nothing of his character, so don't take this is a slam because I genuinely have no idea, but how will a high profile recruit like Rhoomes handle riding the bench to start his college career, as he likely will? Also, the other major elephant in the room is that Rhoomes came to TCU from the New York area at least partially based on our entry into the Big East. How will he feel now that that arrangement is toast? Things to think about. Let's just hope he's not the basketball Dwight Smith. Honorable Mention: Connell Crossland, although I do not know why I had high expectations to be honest.
Yours after the jump.