It was a bit of a slow start for the Horned Frogs in year two under Jamie Dixon, as TCU took a bit to get their ‘sea legs’ in the season opener Friday night against the ULM Warhawks. But, eventually, the talent and depth of the Frogs won out, as they pulled away in the second half to secure their first win of the 2017-2018 season.
Returning their six top scorers of a year ago, the Frogs didn’t have any real surprises in the starting lineup, as Alex Robinson, Desmond Bane, Kenrich Williams, JD Miller, and Vladimir Brodziansky got things going. It was sloppy early, but TCU struck first as JD Miller cleaned up a Kenny Hustle miss for the first points of the year. TCU would fall behind quickly though, as a hot-shooting Hawks team connected from deep on two consecutive trips - a theme of the night. The Warhawks continually attacked the basket, and a TCU defense that is still finding its chemistry in rotations gave up some good looks from deep off the penetration and kick. ULM took advantage to the tune if a 12-27 night, keeping them in the game until the very late stages.
But, ultimately, it was the Frogs night, as big games by Vlad, Hustle, and newcomer Kouat Noi overwhelmed Louisiana Monroe on both ends of the floor. Noi, who teammates have been raving about all season, delivered early, draining back to back treys after missing his first couple of shots. But with a smooth stroke and a quick release, he finally found the touch, finishing with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Ahmed Hamdy had a nice game with four points and two boards, and was a revelation on both ends of the floor. He seems more than capable of filling Karviar Shepherd’s role, and maybe be even more than that.
TCU finished with five players in double digits, led by Brodziansky’s 16. Kenrich Williams started this year right where he left off last, opening his senior year with a 13 point, 14 rebound double-double, and nearly went for the triple with seven assists. Desmond Bane and JD Miller each had 12, and Miller looked like a far more complete player than a year ago on both ends of the floor. It was a well rounded attack that featured 19 assists on 30 made baskets, and while the Frogs turned it over 13 times as a team, not player had more than three.
Allowing 73 points was probably not on Jamie Dixon’s wish list, but he has to be happy with the overall result. Scoring 83 in an opener and getting contributions from up and down the lineup is certainly key early, and most of the rotation errors on defense will resolve themselves with time. Seeing Hamdy and fellow transfer Shawn Olden contribute was a positive sign for the depth of the team, who played ten players on the night. In his postgame presser, Dixon expressed surprise that his offense didn’t play better, but got about what he expected out of the D. Ball pressure, especially from the guards, will be a focus heading into game number two.
Louisiana Monroe was led by Sam McDaniel’s 21 points and Jordan Harris with 16. Dixon was effusive in his praise for how physical the Warhawks were and how well they played, especially the seniors. The Frogs will be back in action Monday night as they welcome in Tennessee Tech Monday night for an 8:00pm tip.
You can watch Kenrich Williams, Kouat Noi, and Jamie Dixon’s postgame pressers below: