Pick up a college basketball preview magazine and flip to the Big 12 section and you'll be guaranteed to see every publication in the country pick TCU to finish in last place in the conference. Rejoice Horned Frogs fans; I believe in you...sort of. I laid out my reasons for slotting Texas Tech 10th in the league, so now let's take a look at why I think TCU will suck just a little less.
In college basketball, coaching matters. While TCU may not have a long history of basketball success, it at least appears they're trying. The Frogs brought in Trent Johnson in the off season to usher in a new era inside Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Johnson led teams at Nevada, Stanford and LSU to the NCAA tournament and while that seems like a pipe dream at TCU, it's not impossible.
Johnson's history of success combined with an experienced roster is enough to put the Horned Frogs at #9.
The strength of this team appears to be inside. TCU returns Amric Fields and Garlon Green up front, along with the bulk of Aldrick McKinney. Fields and Green are athletic forwards that can play away from the basket, while McKinney and his 250-pound frame will do the banging inside. TCU got a big boost when the NCAA ruled that Arkansas transfer Devonta Abron would not have to sit out this season. Abron made 22 starts for Arkansas a season ago and averaged 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Razorbacks. Senior Connell Crossland also figures to factor into the mix. Crossland made eight starts last season.
Stepping into the lead role will be sophomore Kyan Anderson. In his freshman campaign, Anderson put up respectable numbers, but more will be expected with the losses of Hank Thorns (13.5 PPG) and J.R. Cadot (11.4 PPG). Senior Nate Butler is the only other returning guard on TCU's roster that played significant minutes. Jarvis Ray, who only appeared in 16 games returns, and could see a greater role. The Frogs also bring in freshmen Charles Hill and Clyde Smith along with Christian Gore, who transferred from Brown. It's not a particularly good backcourt, but they'll manage. Johnson will stress a ball-control offense that will utilize TCU's relative strength inside, but TCU's guards will have to knock down enough shots to keep teams from packing in their defensive sets.
Why They'll Finish 9th
TCU doesn't have a rich basketball history, but they weren't bad last year, finishing a respectable 18-15 and 7-7 in a good Mountain West conference. During that campaign, the Frogs notched impressive wins over conference foes Colorado State, UNLV and New Mexico, each of whom qualified for the NCAA tournament. As I pointed out in the Texas Tech preview, TCU also beat Texas Tech last year and while that isn't worth a handful of a hobo's dick cheese, I'm still counting it against Tech. There's not going to be a lot to celebrate this season in Fort Worth, but it's all about the moral victories, so let this clueless blogger's prediction be the first of many Frog fans.
Why I Don't Know Shit
That backcourt just isn't good. Even with a quality coach, there's some serious talent issues there and relying on a slew of inexperienced guards isn't the best way to enter this league. Also, Daniel-Meyer Coliseum is the worst home court advantage in the league. With a seating capacity at only 8,500 and a fan base that has a reputation for leaving seats empty (come on TCU fans, just show up), this easily is the least intimidating road atmosphere in the league.
I bring a unique perspective to TCU basketball. Having actually seen TCU play twice in person in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, I'm sure I'm one of the few (TCU students included) that's actually watched this school play. Yes, it was a few years back and I was younger, but those memories are etched into my brain. One memory in particular stands out, and that was seeing Gene Keady in person as Purdue traveled to Fort Worth to take on the Frogs. Seeing his menacing mug was enough nightmare fuel to last through my formative years and still occasionally haunts me to this day.