TCU has built itself into becoming a mainstay and a contender in the NCAA in the major sports of baseball and football. Basketball success, however, has been something the University has been lacking.
The Horned Frogs play in the Big 12 Conference, easily one of the toughest basketball conferences in the NCAA. This conference sent seven teams into the NCAA tournament last year, including the overall Number-One Seed in Kansas and Oklahoma with the player of the year in Buddy Hield. The talent this conference had was well noted during the offseason, but TCU was simply not prepared to take their game to the next level.
TCU finished the season last in the Big 12- having a conference record of 2-16 and an overall record of 12-21. They were able to beat Oklahoma State once (a team that was almost just as bad with a 3-15 conference record) and had a surprising home win versus a tournament team in the Texas Longhorns. There was potential on the team as there were a few very close losses to highly-ranked teams such as Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa State, but head coach Trent Johnson was simply not able to make the most out of it.
Expectations were high in Fort Worth after Trent Johnson left LSU to coach the Horned Frogs – so high to the point that fans expected the school to soon make its first NCAA Tournament since 1988. Johnson won Coach of the Year of the PAC-10 Conference (pre-realignment) with Stanford and Coach of the Year of the SEC while at LSU, so the expectation was naturally for him to eventually win Coach of the Year of the Big 12 with the Horned Frogs. During his four years at the school, his best finish in the Big 12 was ninth and he had an overall record of 50-79 (8-64 in the conference).
Coming into this past season, Johnson knew he had one chance left. What made things more difficult was that the team lost their floor general and top scorer in Kyan Anderson to graduation, and it really showed. Guards Chauncey Collins and Malique Trent were able to put up respectable numbers every night, but they lacked the killer instinct to take over games like other guards in the conference such as Buddy Hield and Monte Morris. In addition, the big men also lacked production. TCU has a pair of 6’10 forwards in Vladimir Brodziansky and Karviar Shepherd, but they only averaged 9.7 rebounds combined. This was simply not good enough to compete as other forwards in the conference like Rico Gathers from Baylor and Ryan Spangler from Oklahoma were both averaging nine rebounds per game on their own.
The Horned Frogs were lacking the talent to match up with the powerhouses of the conference and even mediocre out-of-conference teams (lost to Rhode Island and Washington). Furthermore, the coaching to guide the players was also lacking as the team never really improved under Johnson’s tenure. There is optimism once again, however, as Jamie Dixon was hired to take over the reins after Johnson’s dismissal this past March. Dixon had great success while at Pitt and is already a fan-favorite in Fort Worth as TCU is his alma mater. Coach Dixon has brought in an experienced coaching staff with him and was consequently able to land TCU’s highest ranked high school recruit in history in guard Jaylen Fisher. Although fans are aware that the team is currently a project, the main core of players is returning next season and will bring in a talented floor general in hope to finish higher in the conference than ever before.