TCU by the Numbers
By: James Thomas
Full disclosure here… I have not watched a second of TCU basketball since KU played them however long ago that was. I would imagine that puts me in the company of almost all KU and Big XII fans out there. TCU has been a middling to poor team since it joined the Mountain West in 2006 compiling a 30 and 80 over that period. They fired their previous head coach (I have no idea who it was as I opened all my tabs for the current team and the new coach so I am not looking it up again and let’s be honest you really don’t care) and are attempting to rebound by hiring Trent Johnson. Four years ago when he was coming off a solid stretch at Stanford (NCAA’s 3 out of 4 years capped off with a 2nd place finish and a sweet 16 appearance) this would have been a coup for TCU but after posting a 25-39 conference record with LSU it looks like exactly what it is, a rebound hire. TCU gets to take a chance on a coach who did something once upon a time that would not have given them the time of day 3 or 4 years ago and Trent Johnson gets to keep getting paid.
Despite this TCU actually rode a surge of emotion to either try to save their coaches job or get the job for an interim coach (again, presuming anyone actually wrote any stories about this I am not going to waste my time looking it up) all the way to a 7-7 record in the Mountain West Conference. Sadly TCU has lost a good amount of experience and scoring punch when their two highest scorers, Hank Thorns and J.R. Cadot, graduated from the program this past season. There appear to be good reasons TCU was picked to finish at the bottom of the conference.
If you want to find a reason for hope as TCU you need to hang your hat on the fact that Trent Johnson is a pretty effective defensive coach, even during his bad stretch at LSU. Johnson’s teams would average finishing about 60th in the nation in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com and his teams cracked the top 35 three times. TCU’s primary problem the past 4 years has been their inability to defend. Ken Pomery has them averaging about 180th in the nation over that stretch. In 2012 they finished 225th in that regard which would have made them the worst defensive squad in the Big XII by 75 places.
The picture on the offensive side of the ball is slightly prettier as they averaged 150th in the nation over the past four years. The team would surge all the way to 100 in offensive efficiency in 2012 so if there is a strong side of the ball at TCU recently then offense was probably it. Still, that rating would only have been good for 7th in the Big XII last year so…whatever.
KU should not be worried about this team. They have a couple of big guys in Garlon Green and Amric Fields who shoot the long ball fairly well for big guys which always seems to bother the Jayhawks but Johnson generally does not let his teams shoot a lot from long range as over the past 10 years his teams have finished on average around 280th in the percentage of shots taken from 3. Trent Johnson is going to have to get more talent to make a go of it with TCU.
TCU Player Analysis
By: Ryan Noel
Breaking down the first Big 12 team of the year is no easy task, as the TCU Horned Frogs are coming in as the clear cellar-dweller favorite.
When looking at the TCU’s current roster, it’s tough to see how they’re going to be competitive in their first year of BCS-level play. Their starting lineup was decimated by the loss of leading scorer Hank Thorns and leading rebounder (and second-leading scorer) J.R. Cadot. They also lost Craig Williams, a starter, who averaged…well, something average, it makes no difference. They do return Garlon Green, Kyan Anderson, and Amric Fields, all significant starters\contributors from last year’s team.
The biggest personnel move Trent Johnson made wasn’t in his freshman class, but in securing Arkansas transfer Devonta Abron, a versatile, former Parade All-American forward. Abron lead Mike Anderson’s fast-paced Arkansas team in rebounds last year, so Johnson will be looking to Abron for an immediate impact on the glass. Abron, 6’7 255lbs, should add some much needed toughness to depleted frontcourt.
The incoming freshman class features Houston (St. Thomas HS) center Aaron Durley, a 6’11 275lbs bruiser that was previously committed to Marquette. Junior college center Reggie Murphy will help, though he is undersized for the position in the Big 12, and scoring guards Clyde Smith and Charles Hill come in with reputations as scorers with a chance to earn starting spots.
The projected starting lineup, early on, is:
Kyan Anderson – 5’11, Soph., Ft. Worth (North Crowley) – Probably the guy on the roster poised to make the biggest splash in the Big 12. He’s shifty, quick, and pushes the ball up the floor quickly. It will be interesting to see just how Trent Johnson elects to use him, as his teams have never been known for pushing the tempo.
Nate Butler – 6’6, Senior, Puerto Rico (John A. Logan CC) – Butler gets moved into the starting lineup by default. It seems likely that his size will be needed and, being a senior too, he will likely see more minutes early on in the season. That being said, we expect his lack of production to be an issue that allows one of the freshman guards – Clyde Smith and Charles Hill – to step in quickly.
Garlon Green – 6’7, Senior, Missouri City (Hightower) – the senior small forward is the leading returning scorer for the Horned Frogs and will likely be called upon to vastly improve on his 9.9 PPG. He’s got good size for the Big 12 and a good shooting stroke, but will he be able to defend the litany of athletic shooting guards and small forwards in the league?
Devonta Abron – 6’7, Soph., Seagoville (Seagoville) – The bruising forward should step right in as the leading rebounder and possibly the leading scorer as well. They’ll need his size and toughness to compete with anyone in the top half of the league.
Amric Fields – 6’9, Junior, Oklahoma City (Putnam West) – The skinny forward will be looked to for scoring punch down low. He’s more of a finesse player, though, so don’t be surprised to see him hunting jump shots against the bigger frontcourts of the Big 12.
By: Aaron Markowitz
There honestly isn't much too like about the Horned Frogs' slate their first year in the Big 12. They're introducing a new coach and moving from the Mountain West to the Big XII with a team that was already struggling. The Mountain West has certainly had some solid teams most years but it has nothing like the depth of the Big XII (6 top 50 KenPom teams in the Big XII and 2 in the Mountain West last year).
The lone Power Conference opponent in the nonconference slate is Northwestern at the South Padre Invitational on 23 November. The key to their first year in the Big 12 is carrying momentum from their last non-conference game, home against Mississippi Valley State on 30 December, into their first conference matchup when they host Texas Tech on January 5th. They then head out on the road to play Oklahoma State on 9 January. If they can ride a wave of momentum coming out of their non-conference and start conference season 1-0, it's not unthinkable that they could steal a win in Stillwater from Travis Ford's young squad.
However, it looks pretty bleak after that, as an eight game stretch features Baylor twice, West Virginia twice, a home game against Kansas and a trip to Texas. The two most winnable games in that stretch are home games against Kansas State and Iowa State and neither of those will be easy.
Sadly (or mercifully depending on how you look at it) it will be difficult to find the Horned Frogs on TV to often, as they have no real national TV timeslots (though they do make it to ESPN2 and ESPNU a few times). Even their games against Kansas (Wednesday, February 6th in Fort Worth on ESPNU and Saturday, February 23rd in Lawrence on the Big 12 Network) likely won’t appeal to anyone but Kansas fans and whatever TCU fans are still paying attention at that point. With Texas Tech and TCU the early favorites to battle it out for the cellar no game is more important than the Big XII when our next subject Texas Tech comes to town.