TCU joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012 and immediately made an impact as one of the league’s best football teams.
Basketball has been a completely different story.
Every year, TCU fans hope their hoops squad will compete at the level their football team does, and seemingly every year they are left disappointed. I call this the “Kansas Praxis” – when a university has one sport that is unbearably atrocious and the other is among the country’s finest. (Note: If you don’t know why I named this after Kansas, compare their basketball and football records over the last 10 years, that should help you see where I’m coming from.)
Trent Johnson enters his fourth year at TCU with a lot to look forward to. Sure, the Horned Frogs finished second-to-last in the conference last season, but his youthful team has been gaining valuable experience in the nation’s top conference. Johnson has recruited well during his tenure in Fort Worth, signing top prospects like Karviar Shepherd and incoming freshman Jalon Miller. He’s taken a more national approach in his search for new players, securing commitments from five out-of-state players in the last two years. In fact, two signees have come from Canada and Slovakia, so it’s pretty clear Johnson is searching every corner of the world for players who will change this program.
So what does it take to climb back into relevance? When will TCU finally become prominent on the court? Today we’ll look at the chances the Horned Frogs have at redeeming their hoops program in 2015-2016.
Key departures: Kyan Anderson (team’s leading scorer) Trey Zeigler (team’s second-leading scorer) Amric Fields
Key additions: Vladimir Brodziansky (Have fun trying to pronounce this), Jalon Miller, Lyrik Shreiner
Schedule: The good thing about finishing at the bottom of your conference is that teams tend to overlook you on the schedule, leaving themselves vulnerable to upset. And, with a sneaky talented team like TCU has, there’s no telling how many games the Horned Frogs can steal on a rigorously tough schedule. Their first real test is south of the border in everyone’s favorite vacation spot – Cancun, Mexico – against Maryland. Realistically speaking, the only way TCU will win that matchup is if the Terrapins indulge in a few too many margaritas prior to tipoff. One week later, the Horned Frogs have to face cross-town rival SMU in another tough contest. The final noteworthy game before conference play opens up is at Washington to face an interesting Huskies team. From there, it’s back on the struggle bus headed to Big 12 City with a pit stop against SEC opponent Tennessee. Yep, it’s going to be a long ride.
|Date||Opponent / Event||Location||Time / Result|
|11/13/15||vs. Southeastern Louisiana||Fort Worth, Texas||8:30 p.m. CT|
|11/19/15||vs. Houston Baptist||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|11/21/15||vs. South Dakota St.||Fort Worth, Texas||1:00 p.m. CT|
|11/24/15||vs. Rhode Island||Cancun, Mexico||5:00 p.m. CT|
|11/25/15||Maryland/Illinois State||Cancun, Mexico||5:00 p.m./7:30 p.m.|
|12/02/15||vs. SMU||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|12/05/15||vs. Colgate||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|12/08/15||at Washington||Seattle, Wash.||10:00 p.m. CT|
|12/11/15||vs. Prairie View A&M||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|12/20/15||vs. Abilene Christian||Fort Worth, Texas||1:00 p.m. CT|
|12/23/15||at Bradley||Peoria, Ill.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|12/28/15||vs. Delaware State||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|01/02/16||at Oklahoma State *||Stillwater, Okla.||TBA|
|01/04/16||vs. West Virginia *||Fort Worth, Texas||6:00 p.m. CT|
|01/09/16||vs. Texas *||Fort Worth, Texas||6:00 p.m. CT|
|01/13/16||at Baylor *||Waco, Texas||7:15 p.m. CT|
|01/16/16||at Kansas *||Lawrence, Kan.||1:00 p.m. CT|
|01/18/16||vs. Texas Tech *||Fort Worth, Texas||6:00 p.m. CT|
|01/23/16||vs. Iowa State *||Fort Worth, Texas||3:00 p.m. CT|
|01/26/16||at Texas *||Austin, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Big 12/SEC Challenge|
|01/30/16||vs. Tennessee||Fort Worth, Texas||1:00 p.m.|
|02/02/16||at Oklahoma *||Norman, Okla.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|02/06/16||vs. Kansas *||Fort Worth, Texas||11:00 a.m. CT|
|02/08/16||vs. Oklahoma State *||Fort Worth, Texas||6:00 p.m. CT|
|02/13/16||at West Virginia *||Morgantown, W.Va.||11:00 a.m. CT|
|02/16/16||vs. Kansas State *||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|02/20/16||at Iowa State *||Ames, Iowa||6:30 p.m. CT|
|02/23/16||at Texas Tech *||Lubbock, Texas||8:00 p.m. CT|
|02/27/16||vs. Baylor *||Fort Worth, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|03/02/16||at Kansas State *||Manhattan, Kan.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|03/05/16||vs. Oklahoma *||Fort Worth, Texas||12:00 p.m. CT|
Best-case scenario: The newcomers make an immediate impact and the veterans show improvement from last season. Shepherd becomes more of a weapon on offense, and TCU’s guards take care of the basketball and distribute the ball to the team’s playmakers. The Horned Frogs steal a few upsets in conference play and beat every team they’re supposed to beat. Even in the best-case scenario, I don’t see TCU making the tournament based off their regular-season record, but maybe they can get hot at the right time and finesse their way into the Big 12 title game. Maybe.
Worst case scenario: The loss of their two leading scorers from last year proves to be catastrophic. Little to no improvement from last year’s squad, and the newcomers take too long to develop. They string together a couple of losses and it snowballs into another four-win season in the Big-12 conference.
Prediction: I’m a big fan of Trent Johnson and the job he’s done on the recruiting trail, but I just don’t see enough playmakers on this team to handle the rigor of the nation’s top league. I think they’ll get off to a good start just like they did last year, and I’m sure they will compete at a higher level in conference play, but this doesn’t seem to be the year the Horned Frogs go dancing. Patience is a virtue TCU basketball fans must possess, and it won’t be much longer before the Frogs are contending for a March Madness bid. Have faith in the system, Frogs, you have a great coach leading the way. But for now, let’s go with 18-14 (6-12).