Tacko Fall presents a major task for TCU and Jamie Dixon, who has been unbelievable as far as adjustments go in the postseason. He will rely on the versatility of his lineup, led by Kenny Hustle.
“I didn’t know what we had in Kenrich,” Dixon said. “We’re still finding ways to get him more involved with the offense. His versatility is unbelievable. Just look at how good he is. He’s part of the reason that it’s March and we’re still getting better.”
Williams played a major role in helping TCU post a 39-22 rebounding edge against Richmond, a key factor in helping the Frogs advance to New York. He understands Fall’s presence could make it difficult to repeat such a performance but suggested the Frogs can still be effective on the glass. That’s the plan, once again, for Tuesday.
“Once we got selected to the NIT, this is what I expected. I said, ‘We’re going to go to New York and win the championship,’ ” Williams said. “Offensively, we’re playing great. We have a lot of confidence. The defense is where we’ve really picked it up the last few games.”
Ending the season with the trophy is the goal, but this is hopefully just the beginning for one of the best turnaround stories in college hoops this season.
If TCU can beat the Knights, it'll extend TCU's deepest NIT run in school history and one of the most successful seasons in school history. Next year, TCU could be on its way to making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998.
"It's truly a step in what we want to become," Dixon said of his team's trip to New York City. "It's a big step."
Jamie Dixon has played UCF before... 13 years ago. Phil Forte was probably a freshman back then.
“What a hard-fought game that was,” Dixon recalled yesterday at NIT Final Four news conference. “I gained a lot of respect for UCF that night. I remember we barely got by that game and then we had to play Wisconsin in Milwaukee and the entire arena was filled with red. ”
Well, this story sounds awfully familiar...
The seven scholarship players formed a strong nucleus that includes point guard B. J. Taylor, a standout sophomore; Tacko Fall, a 7-6 sophomore in the post; guard A. J. Davis, a junior; and the swingman Matt Williams — a senior who considered transferring to Wake Forest after Jones was fired last March.
They say they all bought into Dawkins’s approach. “Since the spring and whole summer, he has instilled that kind of toughness and perseverance in games where we’ve gotten down by 18 like we did against Illinois State,” Taylor said.
How do you beat a guy who is 7’6”? TEMPO.
“He’s logged a lot of minutes this year, played a lot more minutes than he ever had in his basketball career and at that size, sometimes fatigue just sets in,” said UCF assistant coach Jamill Jones, who works closely with Fall. “The tempo that Illinois State played just being up and down, up and down, that weighed on him a little more. Especially [since] we’ve played 35 games already now.”
How close is backup first baseman Michael Landestoy to helping TCU on a more regular basis?
“Close,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
Landestoy made two strong defensive plays and doubled in the eighth inning Sunday against Oklahoma State after entering as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. He has played in 11 games, mainly as a defensive replacement, and is 3-for-12 at the plate, including a home run a month ago against Arizona State.
Oh yeah, more Blacklock, please.
His physicality -- that's what head coach Gary Patterson praises him for. Blacklock is a player who can run well and is an overall powerful guy -- squatting 700 pounds and benching almost 500 is just a snapshot of what he can do. Patterson has made it known that size is something he needs this season and Blacklock has not only that, but natural ability.
So, this is fun. And kind of sad. Then happy.
Long ago, the Ducks were a great basketball team. As a member of the Pacific Coast Conference, they won the first NCAA tournament in 1939. But they spent years in the wilderness, making a total of nine more Big Dances until 2013. The Ducks pivoted from a championship to decades of mediocrity.
TCU was the 1938 national champion in football, a title that stands as its only one. There were some great years before that, but TCU was mostly not great. And from the 1960s to the late 1990s, TCU was mired in its own underwhelming results.
Now Oregon’s playing in its fifth NCAA tournament in a row. TCU made BCS bowls in 2009 and 2010 and has become a regular postseason presence. Neither has won a second national championship yet, however.
Also, let’s not forget what happened the last time Oregon and TCU met in a big game.