Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Frogs go for 10 straight tonight

Three weeks ago, a quartet of Texas State pitchers stymied the Horned Frog batting order, allowing just six total base runners in a 1-0 Bobcat victory that was part of a four-game losing streak that left TCU with an ugly 2-6 record through the first eight games of the season. The Frogs have gained momentum recently, though, and have won nine consecutive games leading into their rematch with Texas State tonight at 6:30 in San Marcos.

Redshirt freshman Trey Teakell is set to take the mound for the Frogs tonight- having recently been replaced in the weekend rotation by Brandon Finnegan, who started in the previous game against the Bobcats. This will be Teakell's third start of the season- and if TCU's win streak is to hit double-digits, they'll need him to improve upon his performance in his first two. On February 26th at Cal State Fullerton, he gave up 5 runs on 8 hits in 3 innings of work. Against Oklahoma State on March 4th, he lasted only 3 innings again, giving up 4 runs (2 of them earned) on 7 hits. Having a dependable 4th starter will be very important for this team in the postseason, so hopefully tonight is the beginning of Teakell firmly establishing his place in that role.

As of early afternoon, we still do not know who will be starting for Texas State this evening. Senior Mitchell Pitts was phenomenal in the February 28th game against TCU, striking out eight and allowing just one base hit in six scoreless innings. He hasn't pitched in two weeks, though- presumably because of elbow stiffness. Junior lefty Colton Turner, the Bobcat ace, also missed his last start with an unspecified malady. The other three Bobcats that have started games this year all threw 90+ pitches in starts this weekend- so unless one of the guys on the mend comes back tonight, you might see Texas State pitch by committee. That's usually a mouth-watering phrase for batters to hear, but the Bobcats have a 2.07 team ERA- and, as mentioned previously, they've already shut TCU out this year so I doubt the Frogs will be taking them lightly.

Good news for those of you wanting, like me, to watch the game. Texas State's athletic website will be streaming live video of the contest- you can click here to watch it. You can also listen to KTCU's radio broadcast of the game, follow along via gametracker or by following @TCU_Baseball on twitter.

Basketball Massacred Into Another Off-Season.

Craig Robinson and Michelle Obama - President Obama Spends Thanksgiving Weekend In Washington
Barack Obama, probably murdering referees and the US economy with mind bullets.

Jim Christian didn't make last night's trip to Corvallis due to a family medical emergency. If the TCU defense qualifies as family, perhaps that explains why they didn't show up, either.

Despite what looked to potentially be the start of a relatively inspiring post-season run last week, the Frogs officially tossed in the towel last night against the Michelle Obamas, 101-81. Oregon State jumped out to a quick lead, led by 19 at the half and kept their foot on the throttle all night, never trailing in ending the Frogs' first (and possibly only) post-season trip of the Jim Christian era. A sad way to end the careers of JR Cadot, Craig Williams and, especially, Hank Thorns, albeit a slightly improved version of the ending bestowed upon all but one Senior class since the world got her Y2K on.

So what went wrong? Well, for starters TCU pretty much stopped playing the passing lanes, allowing Oregon State to tally 24 total team assists. Those, along with their approximately one billion points in the paint, spelled doom for the Frogs, who finished with just 11 dishes on the night, opting instead for the contested jumpers and sloppy fast break turnovers of old. The not so dirty little secret about this TCU team is that they live and die on a nightly basis on their 3 point shooting, and if said shooting abandoned them against a superior team, they were toast. Well, last night was your case in point - the Frogs shot 8-30 from beyond the arc, leaving a TON of points off the board that they may have had if they had otherwise ran a half court set. But perhaps the most damning stat of the night? TCU outrebounded OSU 34-33, including 12-4 on the offensive glass, and STILL lost by 20. There are definitely times when it is just not a team's night and apparently this was one of them.

Compounding those issues was the fact that Amric Fields, who got the start over the hobbled Connell Crossland, got into major foul trouble early and was a non-factor, and Hank Thorns had one of his weakest outings of the season in this, his last game. Thorns' stat-line was of the 11-5-3 variety, which isn't what you want to see out of him in that type of situation. I'm not blaming him for the loss by any means, just saying that without Thorns playing a transcendent game, TCU wasn't going to win and that's exactly what happened.

In fact, save Garlon Green who had a somewhat uncharacteristic offensive explosion with 21 points, and Kyan Anderson with his 16, no one did much of anything. The aforementioned Crossland only contributed 2 points in his 14 minutes, Big Craig Williams only had 7 to go with his 3 fouls and Adrick McKinney, a man this very site once suggested was the most basketball-looking player to ever put on a TCU uniform, may not have actually played basketball before this season and sent in an old Rony Turiaf highlight tape with his face blurred as his recruiting video. The Frogs also saw some action from Thomas Montigel and Chris Zurcher, two players who may have just been ballboys before last evening. Seriously, I'm a little concerned that Assistant Coach Bill Wuczynski misplaced his roster, Zurcher and Montigel give him a fake version with their names written in as a bit of a practical joke, only to have Bill accept it as the actual roster. It was just that kind of night. If you care to relive it, watch the below vidja.

With the loss, TCU finishes the season with a record of 21-14 and says goodbye to Thorns and Cadot, two players who did some great things for the Frogs but never saw the fruits of their efforts fully realized. We'll always remember Hank's big night against UNLV and Cadot as seemingly the only Frog player to get aggressive around the basket all year, but sadly their efforts were not enough to lift this Frogs team over the top. Craig Williams will be remembered for a handful of clutch threes, but mostly for me mis-typing his name as Craig Thompson 100 times and for looking a lot like Cutty Wise. That is not a bad thing.

We considered milking a couple of posts out of this basketball thing, but as most of you are already tuned out anyway, there's really no reason to drag this thing out. Simply put, TCU is at a MAJOR crossroads as a basketball program and some big decisions are going to need to be made if we intend to compete in the Big 12.

First off, the odds are looking somewhat favorable that Jim Christian will at least have to give some serious consideration to returning to his alma mater, Rhode Island, as head man. We touched on this topic last week, so there's no reason to re-hash too much, but I think he'd be crazy to not at least do some heavy soul searching about the job. Few would blame him if he jumped ship and, sadly, even fewer would miss him. However, that's a bridge that shan't be crossed until an official call is made, so we'll reflect on it then. All I'll say on the matter is that if you are among the contingent who believes VCU's Shaka Smart even knows that TCU has a basketball team, much less would want to coach here, you are just stupid.

So that's one potential issue. The other two, however, are far more pertinent and unless they change our basketball outlook is DIRE. The first is, of course, fan support, but I'm not about to go down that worm hole for the zillionth time, so that's the end of that. The second problem, though, is more readily corrected and needs to happen ASAP if TCU wants to compete. I'm, of course, talking about facilities, or lack thereof. TCU Baseball has one of the premiere baseball facilities in the country. TCU has one of the premiere baseball programs in the country. TCU Football has some of the most premiere football facilities in the country. TCU has one of the premiere football programs in the country. TCU... well... TCU HAS a track facility that isn't attached to their football field to match their award winning program, so that counts for something as well. And while I suppose those are all chicken/egg type scenarios as far as what comes first, you see my point: With improved facilities comes improved results.

We can't sugarcoat it - the DMC may as well be a wastewater treatment facility with a basketball court for all its extravagance. The concourses are like medieval dungeons, the bathrooms torture chambers that can never seem to shake the rank atmosphere of mildew, humidity and human waste. I've never been in the locker rooms, but I hear they make UNLV's high school changing areas look like something in Eugene. Once in the Big 12, TCU will have the most unattractive facilities in the Conference BY FAR, thus putting themselves at even more of a disadvantage than wins and losses currently do.

Before everyone gets all, "WELL WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU SINK A BUNCH OF MONEY INTO THAT PROGRAM?!?!?!?" on me, don't. I'm not suggesting you level Daniel Meyer and start over, not with the money that was just sunk into erecting the new Amon G. But can't they do SOMETHING? At least renovate the locker rooms and concourses, maybe add a few more lights to the arena itself so it doesn't look like something out of Game of Thrones. We don't need a separate practice facility or luxury suites. Heck, we've already got chairbacks, so you don't have to worry about that, either. Just SOMETHING. Pledge some of that Big 12 money, that's what it's there for.

When TCU was invited to join the Big 12, the driving force was football. We all know that. But by joining the league, TCU had to have also made a commitment to help the other athletic programs, if not keep up with, at least be in a nearby wheelhouse to football. Baseball is there, as are the Olympic sports. Heck, even the women's basketball team rises up and makes things dicey every couple of years. Men's Basketball, for whatever reason, has just never been able to take that next step. There have to be some outward signs of progress, and soon, or we could make SMU's exile from football success look like a honeymoon.

The good news, however, is that it doesn't take anywhere near as much effort to turn around a basketball program as it does football or baseball. Look at Baylor - 10 years after their basketball program covered up a murder investigation and weren't even allowed to play non-conference games, the Bears are a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and two wins away from the Final Four. BAYLOR!!! Of course, hiring John Calipari lite and using the Baptist Church to cover up his transgressions expedites that cause a little bit, but even with all the cheating in the world you wouldn't have ever expected Baylor to reach the heights they have. TCU is situated in one of the hot beds of basketball talent in the country. Seriously, Flower Mound, Grace Prep and Prestonwood Christian are nationally ranked, just won state titles and are within 30 miles of TCU's campus. With Kyan Anderson, Garlon Green and Amric Fields returning next season and the mysterious mister Rhoomes supposedly on board as well, TCU can have impact in year one, presuming a few pieces are added. But it's going to take a long term vision and short term fan support to make that happen.

It can be done. It probably won't, but it can.

There's your abrupt tombstone to this piece and the TCU Basketball program in general.

Respect for GP

The big question on the minds of college football fans throughout our region going into 2012 is how TCU will fare now that they've finally been invited to the Big 12 party. There's no way to tell until they kick off in their new league this fall, but the folks at Athlon Sports have applied their brains to the task of ranking the conference's head coaches- which should serve as a barometer for the programs that employ those coaches.

Not surprisingly, many of the coaches that have put in the most time at their respective schools are gathered near the top of Athlon's rankings. Patterson, whose 12 years at TCU make him the 4th-most tenured Big 12 coach, comes in at 2nd. It's refreshing to see someone in the media not immediately dismiss Patterson and TCU because of the perceived weakness of the MWC and CUSA. It looks like the folks at Athlon may actually realize the enormity of the work done by Patterson at TCU, well beyond just his magnificent won/loss record.

I'd vote GP #1, but I am a little biased. OU's Bob Stoops came in the top spot, and it's hard to argue against his seven Big 12 titles.

Morning Dump