As we move one day closer to the beginning of conference play it's time we start getting serious about our basketball, folks. Sure, a Big 12 Championship or an NCAA Tournament berth may not be in the cards this year, or the next, but they're definitely tracking up thanks to Trent Johnson and guys like Amric Fields.
Fields is clearly the linchpin of this team. When he's on the court TCU is a completely different basketball team. On Sunday, Fields scored 17 points and collected 12 rebounds to give the Frogs the spark they needed to run past Texas Southern, a team coming off an impressive victory at Temple.
On the season Fields is shooting 50.9% from the floor, and 45.5% from three point range, while averaging 13.6 points per game. However, due to injuries, he's only been able to appear in five games this season. TCU is 4-1 in those games, with the one loss coming to Harvard, a game Fields had to leave after 14 minutes due to a broken wrist.
What Fields does, statistically, is helps raise TCU's shooting percentage. In games Fields has appeared this season, TCU is shooting 44%. If we discount the Harvard game due to his injury, that jumps to 48.8% in games that Fields has played 20+ minutes, compared to just 43.7% without him.
Rebounding stays virtually the same, where TCU is averaging 35 boards a game without Fields, and 34.8 boards with him (if we exclude the Harvard game again, that number moves to 36.75).
Scoring is similar, but skewed slightly due to the Harvard game and a 98 point outing against Grambling State, a team that, as there are very few witnesses, might have very well not shown up at all. On the season, TCU is averaging 70.3 points per game, up from 55 points per game last season.
It's not only about Fields' scoring ability though, he makes his teammates better too. Take Kyan Anderson for example. While Anderson's scoring remains almost the same (16.4 points per game without Fields, 16.6 with Fields), he becomes a much more efficient player. His shooting percentage jumps from 48.5% to 57.1% when Fields plays, and his assists per game climbs from 4.8 to 5.8.
Fields is also an asset on the defensive side of the ball if for no other reason than he can spell Karviar Shepherd at times, keeping Shepherd out of foul trouble.
Perhaps most importantly though cannot be quantified in a box score. Fields is a motivator for this team. He's got a chip on his shoulder. Take a look at the Texas Southern game for example. When the Frogs were letting the Tigers hang around and hang around, Fields got chippy. He drew fouls and got in guys' faces, urging his teammates on. As one of the few veterans on this team he's responsible for keeping the young guns on track, keeping them motivated and making sure this team is getting things done the right way.
It's clear Fields has a positive effect on this team, but the biggest question is can he stay healthy? After an ACL tear in 2012 and a broken wrist earlier this season it seems that for as big and tough as he is, Fields is quite fragile. This poses the big question, if he keeps getting hurt in non-conference games, will he be able to handle the bigs in the Big 12?
Simply put, we don't know. What we do know though, is that TCU's competitiveness counts on him being in the lineup.