Editors Note: At the etymology of this article the Frogs were on a four game losing streak. During this losing streak, I began to wonder whether it would be prudent to reevaluate seasonal markers of success as well as reevaluating the team as an aggregate. Since this, the Frogs have two games against Big 12 opponents, in a rather convincing fashion, in my esteemed opinion. This may articulate and narrate, not only the fluidity of a season, but also the timeline of the past ten days as a TCU Basketball fan, and the questions that have arisen in that duration.
Going forward, what will it take for us to call the season a success? What would mark a failure?
JT: For me, the person who made the audacious claim that TCU would make it to the Elite Eight, I think any tournament bid, whether to the NCAA or NIT, would signify a successful season for the frogs. I saw a tweet earlier this week that had us as one of the last four teams in the tournament. While I am still not convinced we will make it in, we do have the capacity to do so if we turn this skid around.
Melissa: At this point a week ago, it seemed any NCAA Tournament hopes were crushed at the hands of a four game slide. But a win in Manhattan and against Texas at home have put the Frogs right back on the bubble. It’s too early in the Jamie Dixon tenure to call anything less than going Dancing a failure, but not at least making a deep run in the NIT would be disappointing. This team is too talented and too well coached to not make some post-season noise, but a tough road schedule down the stretch combined with the overall youth of the team makes the NIT a more reasonable goal.
JT: We goin’ dancin’ … In all honesty, I would call us going .500 in Big 12 (we currently are .500 in the Big 12) a huge success, regardless of postseason play. Though I do believe .500 in the Big 12 will earn us a spot in the tournament. To be candid, this team has already surpassed all of my expectations. At this point, I am watching this team through my fan glasses and will be enjoying the rest of the odyssey of this team.
Melissa: That’s a great point - we are well ahead of what you, me, and just about everyone in the country expected, maybe outside of the team itself. So there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the ride, for sure. That being said... this group plays like a tournament team - shooting slumps aside - so I don’t think it’s too greedy to hope they get a spot.
What is your prediction for our season?
JT: I am still going to hold out hope that we will make the NCAA tournament this year. Does the fact that I have money on us winning the tournament play a role here? Of course. (Great odds) It is quite evident that we have hit a rough patch right now. What I will say is that my frame of mind watching these is completely different. Last year we would be in a competitive game and I would hold my breath, waiting for us to give the game away. This year, however, I believe we have the talent and capacity to make up any deficit and win every game we play in. forgive my homerness.
Melissa: While I just said the NIT is a more reasonable goal, I am going to say that the Frogs find a way to sneak into the NCAAs, even if it’s a first four game. TCU has to go to Baylor, Kansas, and Iowa State still, but has winnable games at home against Texas Tech and Kansas State, as well as on the road in Norman. If they can beat the red-hot Pokes or WVU at home, and win three of the remaining five games, I think they are a lock for the Big Dance.
Has there been any surprises this season?
JT: I don’t think we fully knew what we got with Alex Robinson when he decided to transfer to TCU. I am always skeptical of transfer players because if they were having success, there would be no need for a move or fresh start. Despite my inherent cynicism, he has been, with exception to maybe Vlad, our best player on the court. I feel very comfortable with the ball in his hands. What plagued us last year was our inability to move the ball and he has come in and immediately alleviated that issue.
Melissa: The emergence of Vlad as a legitimate super star has shocked me. He was a skinny kid with a smooth jumper last year, but has become a complete player in his second year on campus. He can score in so many different ways, attacks the glass relentlessly, and is a fearsome shot blocker. If he would just quit jumping early so damn much, he would be a near perfect player. I am also pleasantly surprised with Jaylen Fisher as a pure point guard - he’s had a lot of turnovers, sure, but is such a creative passer and has unbelievable vision for a freshman. He has a chance to be an all-timer before his time in Fort Worth is done.
What is the biggest ailment to this team?
JT: I am not sure why we love to always be four points behind, but it seems like at any point in the game we are somewhere between two and six point behind our opponent. I want to write a letter to our players letting them know that it is okay for us to have and to hold a lead. I also think we have a lot of young talent, meaning that we turn the ball over a lot. The young guard play, while showing flashes of greatness, is prone to growing pains.
Melissa: TCU really, desperately needs a knock down shooter - the kind of guy that you have to gameplan around. While Parrish can get hot and JD Miller has been on fire lately, there’s not that one guy that can come off the bench and consistently hit shots. While the three point shooting has been a struggle, especially lately, the addition of just one player who shoots 44-47% on the season could improve everyone’s success rate.
Which player needs to step up down the stretch for TCU to make the tourney?
Melissa: JD Miller and Karviar Shepherd have become two crucial cogs - Shep needs to be a lockdown post defender over the course of the next several weeks, especially against OSU and Baylor. Miller has to continue to be that guy that stretches the defense and opens things up in the paint for guard penetration.
JT: Agreed. Shep has already begun to step up, which has helped us righting our ship after our four game losing streak. For us to make the tournament, he has to play with the same energy and effort especially late in games. I also think that when Brandon Parrish makes shots, we are a terribly dangerous team to beat. If he heats up, I like our chances in any game.
Which of the remaining games are you most looking forward to?
Melissa: I have a feeling that the WVU game at home on February 25th could be the one that locks the Frogs into the Dance, and having a chance to play another (likely) top ten team at home - and maybe recapture the magic of the game against Baylor - should make for an exciting time. There’s also a home baseball game that afternoon, so it will be a solid doubleheader opportunity for Frog fans.
JT: I am most looking forward to our final game against Oklahoma, not because it has any significance to me, but rather because I think we will have a good idea of where we stand in regards to the tournament. That game, signifies a season that has been a truly remarkable turnaround for the Frogs. It will be a moment where we can reflect upon the season and begin to look forward to the future and everything it will hold (NCAA Elite 8).