Tonight, the TCU men’s basketball program will take the floor at the world’s most famous arena, and prove to the world that they indeed had a basketball program all along.
There are not many programs in history that have endured as bad of a stretch as what the Frogs have undergone since Billy Tubbs left. From the late Neil Dougherty, to Jim Christian, it didn’t matter.
TCU basketball was horrific. You know it is going bad when your coach leaves voluntarily for Ohio, no matter what the off the floor reasons may have been.
But what Jamie Dixon has done in a handful of months, taking this team which won 12 games last year to the brink of what was once the biggest postseason tournament in the sport, is no small feat.
Going from 12 wins to 23 is remarkable. Think of it this way, Shaka Smart has far more resources at Texas, and he might not get 23 wins if you count this year AND next year.
If he wins, he will win a 2nd tournament in Madison Square Garden, the last being 2008 Big East Tournament, when he led 7th seed Pitt to a win over Georgetown.
Local basketball is alive and well, and if you scoff at the thought of watching the NIT Tournament because it isn’t the NCAA, you do you, bro. Programs that start from the bottom, get to the top in part because of their success in postseason tournaments that aren’t the NCAA.
The year before Shaka Smart took VCU to the Final 4, they won the CBI Tournament, which is a step below the NIT.
Baylor lost the NIT Final in 2009, in 2010, they made the Elite 8.
Wichita State won the NIT in 2011. In 2013, they were in the Final 4.
You get the point, right? This is where it starts.
It deserves your attention.
No Shaka to Georgetown. According to CBS Sports, Shaka Smart has no intention of leaving Texas for the vacant Georgetown job left after the firing of John Thompson III. He was one of 2 high profile coaches to be reportedly contacted to gauge his interest in the job, with Notre Dame’s Mike Brey being the other. Hey G’Town!! Hire Patrick Ewing. He’s been wasting away on NBA benches for years.
South Carolina. I don’t think we understand the gravity of South Carolina getting to the Final 4. This has been one of the worst programs in the NCAA before Frank Martin got there. Hell, even after he got there they struggled.
Upper Class. The most important player on the 4 teams left, Justin Jackson, SIndarius Thornwell, Dillon Brooks and Nigel Williams-Goss, are all Juniors or Seniors. In an era when Freshman get all the headlines, the 4 teams left have used “veterans” to make it to Phoenix.
Melo Trimble. The stunner isn’t that Melo Trimble is forgoing his final year of eligibility at Maryland and heading toe the NBA Draft. The stunner is that Melo had another year of eligibility. I swear he was a Freshman when Joe Smith played at Maryland, and I could have sworn he appeared at Senior Night with Steve Blake. But hey, I could be wrong.