TCU basketball is 6-0 with wins over UNLV and Washington, and it seems like Jamie Dixon is a miracle worker, or a wizard, or some combination of the two. There hasn’t been this much hype around the team for as long as I can recall, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
The Frogs have played so well through six games, that they’re currently tied for 20th in RPI in the country. This has been bolstered to this point by the strength of their road and neutral site games (UNLV and Washington), but nonetheless it’s impressive.
Halfway through their non-conference slate, the Frogs have been led by two kids who aren’t playing like the freshmen that they are, a transfer, and a bulked up Vladimir Brodziansky.
These guys are freshmen?!
Jaylen Fisher and Desmond Bane walked onto campus and earned starting spots for the Frogs immediately. Now, through six games, it’s easy to see why.
Fisher, who has started all but one of TCU’s six games at point guard, is averaging 5.33 assists per game (most on the team) to go with 10.5 points per game (third on the team), and 11 steals (second on the team). His assist-to-turnover ratio is 2:1.
This is all while he’s shooting 40.4% from the floor and 35% from three, percentages that should improve as he gets more comfortable in Dixon’s system.
Meanwhile, freshman guard Desmond Bane has started all six games for the Frogs, and is averaging 10.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, and is shooting the ball at a 56.1% clip from the floor, and 42.1% from deep. He’s also a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Both freshmen have made freshman mistakes, but they’ve been minimal compared to the production these two guys have had so far.
It’ll be interesting to see how they fare against Big 12 competition, but if they can keep up this level of performance, TCU should see an improvement in conference play.
The Return of Kenny Hustle
Kenrich Williams was a force to be reckoned with in 2014, and he was sorely missed during last year’s abysmal campaign. Now, he’s healthy, and his impact on the game is noticeable.
Williams is averaging 9.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, and he’s shooting 50% from three point range. His length and ability on the glass (especially on the offensive boards) has proven to be just as valuable as it was in 2014, and now he has more depth around him to take advantage of all those offensive rebounds.
The Emergence of Vladimir Brodziansky and Alex Robinson
The junior from Slovakia has been on the verge of dominant in his second year with the Horned Frogs. In just 17 minutes per game, Vlad has averaged 11 points (second best on the team) and 4.8 rebounds per contest to go with a team-leading 10 blocked shots. He’s shooting 60% from the floor and is 77.4% from the free throw line (he’s attempted a team-most 31 free throws).
His ability to move without the ball on offense has made him a handful for opposing defenses, and he can finish in a variety of ways around the bucket. He’s a threat off the bench, and adds to the tremendous depth the Frogs have accumulated in just a season.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M transfer Alex Robinson has been insanely valuable off the bench, scoring a team-leading 12.7 points per game, handing out 5 assists per game, and leading the team with 15 steals. He, like Fisher, has a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Rebounds, Rebounds Everywhere
After being outrebounded by huge margins over the past few seasons, TCU has found itself on the right side of the rebounding margin in all six contests so far. The Frogs are pulling down an average of 37 boards per game (to just 29 for their opponents), and that could be a huge factor towards seeing improved conference play, should it continue.
Areas for Improvement
There are two key areas in which TCU basketball needs to improve: 3-point shooting and free throw shooting. The Frogs are shooting just 37.6% from deep, and a paltry 68% from the charity stripe.
It hasn’t cost the Frogs yet, but it very well could have against UNLV, whom they beat by just four points. They missed 13 of their 28 free throw attempts in that contest, and made just six of their 24 three-point attempts.
Those free throw numbers improved tremendously against Washington (19-23, 82.6%) but the three point shooting was just 27%.
If the Frogs can find consistent success in those two areas, they’re going to see even more improvement on the offensive end, and that could make this team legitimately dangerous.
TCU takes on Washington again this Wednesday at the Scholly, before hosting Arkansas State on Saturday evening (It would be a good two-sport day for those going to the football game). Arkansas State recently beat Georgetown, so they won’t be a pushover.
The Frogs then finish (almost, they play Auburn on January 28th) their non-conference schedule with games against SMU, Wofford, Texas Southern, and Bradley, before opening up Big 12 play by hosting Kansas.