Every four years, the NCAA allows basketball programs to travel overseas on a tour, playing games, sight-seeing, and experiencing other cultures. The men’s basketball program had that opportunity last year, but deferred with the hiring of Jamie Dixon. Doing so also allowed them the rare opportunity to travel with the women’s program, and as such, both teams will head Down Under in early August to play a series of games, including three double-headers.
On Wednesday, TCU held an open practice and interview session, where players and coaches spoke about their excitement for the trip to Australia as well as the expectations for the coming season.
With a healthy Jaylen Fisher, an influx of talented youngsters and transfers, and the leadership of experienced vets Kenrich Williams and Vlad Brodziansky, the sky is the limit for TCU. But the expectations will be much higher across campus and truly the country as the Frogs looks to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
Coming off of an NIT Championship, TCU learned to win - and that’s huge for a program that hadn’t been able to do much of that prior to 2016. But, that isn’t enough for Jamie Dixon or his team, and he made that clear immediately following the team’s NIT Championship win in New York, before the celebration began:
I made it pretty short and let them get back to enjoying themselves with their family and celebrating the trip - because it’s quite an accomplishment, to win five games in April and March, late, whether it be road games, neutral games, home games... so it’s quite the accomplishment, but I wanted them to know, and to set the tone early, that the bar had been raised and this was a great learning experience for us, but we’ve got bigger aspirations, higher goals - and they agree.
Anything short of dancing will be disappointing for the program and the fans, and Coach Dixon is well aware. The opportunity to get in ten extra practices, with the new players - sans Kevin Samuel and Lat Mayen, who are getting some paperwork sorted out but are expected to enroll in the fall, and could still possibly make the trip with the team - gives them a huge leg up. The men’s team will play five total games against the National Team and some club programs, including three double-headers with the women’s program. With two players on Jamie Dixon’s roster - Mayen and Kouat Noi - and one on Pebley’s - Ella Hellessey - it’s an outstanding opportunity to improve both programs, score some recruiting victories, and allow players to play in front of family and friends that rarely get to see them in person.
While the exact schedule has yet to be released, the team will depart DFW on August 5th and return the 16th. We will have schedule information as soon as it is released.
Plus... koalas. Can’t get much better than that!