Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Last Trip to Doo Doo Brown Town.

This video is actually called "Doo Doo Brown"

Before we get into the preview of tonight's suddenly pivotal Basketball game, a reflection is in order. Barring a chance meeting in the Conference tournament or NIT, this is the last meaningful game a TCU team will play against the Doo Doo Browns as Conference foes. You see, it's apparently too cold to play baseball in those parts and all of the other relevant sports have completed their seasons, so, Frog fans, this is it. We'll never get to see another Wyoming player leaving a poo poo tee tee colored skid mark on the court or field against TCU. And for that, we're at least a little sad. Guess we'll have to dump our digestive tract themed insults on Texas and their viciously diarrheal choice of a school color. Sigh...

But enough of that particularly 8th grade themed trip down memory lane because there's a pretty major game going on tonight in Laramie. To refresh, TCU currently sits at 17-11 and at 7-5 in Conference play which is good enough for second place in the MWC behind co-leaders UNLV, SDSU and UNM. Wyoming is 19-9 overall, but only 5-7 in the Conference which places them 4th. Neither team is getting much NCAA love, and they shouldn't, but both are VASTLY improved from last season and doing the unthinkable by competing for a post-season berth of any kind. Christian should be the MWC Coach of the year, but unless CSU makes the dance, Wyoming's Larry Shyatt is the only other choice.

So, you're probably thinking, "Wyoming? They have basketball there? I thought that state was only good for fishing and naked-men-in-barreling?" Valid points, but as mentioned above, Wyoming has put together a very solid season in what is considered one of the toughest Conferences in all of college basketball, and they've scored a few upsets along the way. After barreling their way through non-con play with a 14-2 record, the Cowboys have cooled off a bit in Conference, going 1-4 against the "Big Three" to this point. However, the one win came against a then hot UNLV team and while they were swept by UNM and SDSU, they forced the Aztecs into overtime in one game and were never blown out, something TCU can't necessarily say. And, as teased earlier, they have protected their home court all year. They currently sport a 13-3 record in what I presume is also the highest elevation for a basketball court in the nation. Two of those losses were to SDSU and UNM with the third being their only "bad" loss, to AF. That Air Force loss was also their most recent. With tonight being Senior night in Laramie, they have multiple reasons for wanting to pull out a W.

As for TCU, we're all well familiar with their road woes. The Frogs are 3-7 in true road games this season and would be in the middle of a 7 game losing streak were it not for the come from behind win at Air Force last week. However, ignoring the blip at Boise, the Frogs are playing with a confidence not seen around these parts in quite some time and Saturday's dominant win over UNM showed a side to this team that no one knew existed. As TCU has weathered a mediocre start to finish the season strong, Wyoming is going to opposite direction, losing four straight after their upset of UNLV before Saturday's win against a bad yet annoying Boise team. Could the difference in the trajectories of their momentum be the difference maker to get TCU over their road slump?

Comparing apples to apples, TCU beat Wyoming way back on the first day of the month at Amon G by a score of 58-52 despite a big night from the Pokes Leonard Washington. On that night no one from TCU did anything too special - Craig Williams dropped 13 and Amric Fields tossed in his make or break 10, but the Frogs only made 6 three pointers and Garlon Green was held scoreless from the field. They also shot a miserable 58% from the line. The biggest thing that helped the Frogs win was Wyoming missing 14 threes and getting no contributions from their bench - every single point was scored by a Cowboys starter. It's hard to win when your backups don't get off the bus.

Three Keys to the Game:
  1. Get Amric Fields involved. I've said it before, but I'll go ahead and say it again. When Amric Fields gets into double digits, chances are the Frogs will win. For the season they are 12-5 when he hits that milestone. Ok, so those aren't the BEST odds, but if you've even watched the most minute amount of TCU basketball you'll understand where I'm coming from. With his size and ability, Fields is capable of becoming a game changer every night out. He doesn't have to come up huge, but if he plays to his averages we should be fine.
  2. Threes. At present, TCU is the most potent three point shooting team in the Conference, so its no coincidence that in the two most recent upsets, a barrage of threes has played a major role. Hopefully it won't take getting into double digits there as it has in the past, but a healthy dose from long range has seemed to do the trick this year. Hopefully that train keeps rolling against a Wyoming team that is only allowing opponents to shoot 36% from long range.
  3. Pressure Defense. There are three things Wyoming does not do all that well - score points, rebound and distribute assists. They've won most of their games with a high pressure defense that ranks 4th in the country in points allowed and their offense only has to do JUST enough to win. This is pretty much the opposite of what TCU does - the Frogs score a lot of points, but they have to because they give up a lot as well. Seriously, look how even it is - 70.5 points for per game/70.7 against. That's a pretty dangerous situation to be in. TCU isn't going to turn into the 1980 Detroit Pistons in an afternoon, but they're going to have to keep Wyoming's scoring below their average in order to pull this one out because I don't see the Frogs having any sort of pointsplosion, especially at their place. If the Frogs can beat Wyoming at their own game, they should win this one.
To be frank, I'm pretty concerned about tonight. For one, look at what has happened after TCU's other two "marquee" wins this season. Following a win over a then-hot UVA squad, the Frogs were pummeled by the MEAC's Norfolk State. After the huge comeback against UNLV came the blown shot at Boise. For another, based on their 260th ranked defense, TCU typically needs to score a a few dozen points to win, something Wyoming is not excited about giving up. Plus TCU's road situation has left a LOT to be desired. On a neutral court the Frogs win this one; at Home, they win running away. They're the better team, but as we all know the better team doesn't always win. I see this one being tightly contested going down to the final possessions, but in the end the Cowboys notch win number 20.

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TCU vs. Texas State preview

Freshman Brandon Finnegan takes the hill at Lupton tonight

It's a big night for Horned Frog athletics this evening as the basketball and baseball teams are both in action. Jim Christian and his Basketfrogs take their postseason hopes to Laramie for their final regular-season match up against Doo-Doo Brown in the MWC, but Sir Wesley will have more on that game later. I'm here to talk about Jim Schlossnagle and his TCU baseball team being back in action at home tonight, trying to right the ship following their 2-4 start to the season when they host Texas State at 6:30pm.

True freshman Brandon Finnegan is slated to start for the Frogs. The former ace at Southwest High School and Rangers' draft pick is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three appearances so far this year. His last appearance was on Saturday against Cal State-Fullerton, when he allowed two base runners (one walk and one single) in a scoreless inning and a third. In a radio interview, Schlossnagle stated that he expects big things from Finnegan once he starts to trust his off-speed pitches as much as he relies on his fastball.

Opposing Finnegan for Texas State will be semi-local senior Mitchell Pitts. A former all-district selection at Flower Mound Marcus, Pitts has compiled a 10-5 record in his three plus seasons in San Marcos. He was the Bobcats' #2 weekend starter last year, but so far in 2011 has only made one start- last Wednesday against Baylor, in which he was roughed up by the Bears for five runs and six hits in just four and two-thirds innings.

At the plate, Texas State is paced by three guys who have enjoyed a hot start to the 2012 season. Second baseman Tyler Sibley, shortstop Nick Smelser and outfielder Jeff McVaney are all batting above .320 and all have on-base percentages of above .340. Also keep an eye on catcher/first baseman Casey Kalenkosky, who provides the most power in the Bobcat lineup. He leads the team in home runs (3), runs batted in (7) and slugging percentage (.679). Overall, they are batting .261 as a team, compared with the Frogs' .262 collective average.

Like the Frogs, Texas State has had some issues on defense. While some of our fans are concerned over the 8 errors that the Frogs have committed so far, the Bobcats have committed 11 already as a team. I hope TCU doesn't need Texas State's poor defense to be able to beat them for the 9th consecutive time and climb back toward .500 for the season.

Morning Dump


Three strikes: week two Baseball America