As Fank wrote earlier today, the basketball side of the rivalry between these two private schools hasn't spewed flames for a while now, but as TCU continues to climb to the level of Respectable Big XII Program -- a high bar nowadays -- the raging wildfire of the football hatred should send an ember or two the way of the dry, crackling grasslands of basketball.
Today, I bring you the expert opinion of Andrew Felts, a TCU basketball diehard. Consider this your primer for tonight's showdown. For my own take on the Bears, check out how I answered Andrew's questions for me.
1. TCU picked up a much needed win against Texas at home on Saturday. Is that victory something that TCU can build off of going forward into conference play, or do you expect their showings against Oklahoma State and West Virginia to be more the norm?
AF: There’s no question that Saturday’s win over Texas was big for this team. It bumped TCU to 1-2 in Big 12 play, which is their best start since joining the league in 2012. Unfortunately for the Frogs, I fear the confidence and momentum boost from that victory might be short lived, simply because of the team’s schedule. After tonight, TCU heads to Lawrence for a Saturday afternoon battle with top-ranked Kansas. The following week, the Frogs host Texas Tech and Iowa State. This sounds pessimistic, but there’s a pretty decent chance that the UT win will amount to little more than being the reason TCU doesn’t start 0-7 (or worse) in conference play.
Looking at the big picture, this program as a whole has improved pretty drastically since Trent Johnson’s first season. With upgrades to the facilities and steadily improving recruiting classes, the Frogs are heading in the right direction. However, in regard to this season, until the Frogs prove that they can compete on the road and take advantage of opportunities at home, I have a hard time seeing TCU really contend night in and night out in Big 12 play.
2. How has Trent Johnson adjusted to the loss of Kyan Anderson, who was essentially everything for that team last season. Who has stepped up to fill his vacancy?
AF: Adjusting to life without Kyan Anderson hasn’t been easy for the Frogs. So far, no one player in particular has emerged as that "go-to" guy that TCU can rely on for offense. Through the first 16 games, the Frogs have seen six different leading scorers. Vladimir Brodziansky led the charge throughout much of the non-conference portion of the season, as he put up nine double-digit performances in his first 10 games, posting a career-high 19 points on three different occasions. However, with Chris Washburn returning from injury and replacing Brodziansky in the starting lineup, his minutes, and therefore his production, have plunged.
The player tasked with replacing Anderson as the team’s top point guard, Chauncey Collins, is starting to emerge as a legitimate scoring threat in this offense. He has scored 64 points in his last five games, including a 20-point performance against West Virginia that helped keep TCU within striking distance in the final minutes. Collins is the guy that I think a lot of TCU fans, myself included, want to see take a more prominent role in the scoring output of this offense.
Finally, Malique Trent has been another pretty talented scorer. He is probably the player on this team that resembles Anderson the most. Trent was a prolific shooter at the junior college level a year ago, and we’re starting to see that natural ability emerge in league play. Brandon Parrish, Karviar Shepherd, and Devonta Abron have all been big contributors to the offense at different points of the season. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there really isn’t an answer to your original question, at least not yet. It has usually been a different guy carrying the torch for TCU each night, and there’s really no good way of determining who that might be on any given night.
3. What do you envision being the place where the game will be won or lost? Is there a particular Baylor player you fear could go off against TCU?
AF: Definitely rebounding. The Frogs are 8-0 when they out-rebound their opponent and 1-6 when they get out-rebounded. Baylor enters tonight’s game more than 150 spots higher than TCU in the total rebounding stat category. The thought of guys like Rico Gathers, Jonathan Motley, and Taurean Prince going up against Chris Washburn, Karviar Shepherd, and Brandon Parrish on the boards makes me pretty uneasy. My fear is that all three of the aforementioned Bears could finish with somewhere between eight and 12 rebounds each, resulting in a long night for TCU.
If I had to single out one Baylor player that I think could go off, I’d have to go with Gathers. He has been a beast throughout much of his collegiate career, but it seems like he has turned it up a notch during Big 12 play. Gathers is scoring in bunches thanks to some really efficient shooting as of late. His 17-point, 17-rebound performance against Oklahoma State is something that I’m sure has been keeping Trent Johnson up at night.
4. How do you feel about the new arena? I'm skeptical about the purple-tinged floor, but I've heard others say they like it.
AF: I am a huge fan of the new arena. I can’t say enough how impressed I am with the job the university did renovating the facility. As a college basketball fan at a football-first school, it was really cool to see the university, its Board of Trustees, and its donors make such a significant investment into both the men’s and women’s hoops programs. The upgrades made to the facilities at TCU are a huge reason why these programs have an increasing amount of momentum behind them. I highly recommend making the journey up I-35 to attend a game at some point. It is one of the top facilities not only in the Big 12, but in the nation.
As for the floor… I have attended a handful of games in the new gym, and at let me tell you, in person, it is not nearly as shiny and obnoxious as it looks on TV. When I first saw a game on television, it looked like an entirely different playing surface. I don’t know what it is about the broadcasts, but I promise it’s not as bad in the flesh. I’m a traditionalist, and when the school announced that they would be installing that (god-awful) "frog skin" pattern on the floor, my heart sank. However, it’s not all that noticeable. The red three point line and restricted arc is a pretty cool feature as well. Overall, I think TCU did a tremendous job with the new facility, from top to bottom.
AF: We talked about it before, but I really think the team that controls the glass will win this game. It’s going to take a lot for TCU to just break even on the boards, and if they are somehow able to accomplish that feat, the Frogs must capitalize on every offensive opportunity that results. TCU’s modus operandi in Big 12 play has been to be physical in the paint and either drive tough to the basket, or draw contact. It almost worked against West Virginia, and it worked against Texas, but if TCU is going to have a shot they’ll have to force Baylor into foul trouble. I think the only way TCU wins is if they win ugly.
Realistically, I think the Bears dominate the glass and run away with it in the second half. I’m hoping TCU comes out with added energy and intensity after the win over Texas, but I like Baylor in this one, something like 78-62.
Thanks again to Andrew.
Now that you've been educated, be sure to get out to the Ferrell tonight to cheer on your Bears!