TCU senior forwards Kenrich Williams and Vladimir Brodziansky made their intentions clear all season: they came to Fort Worth to take the Horned Frogs Dancing. Sunday night, their dreams came true, as they, along with a host of players, coaches, and support staff, led the Frogs to the NCAA Basketball Tournament for the first time in 20 years.
In front of donors, supporters, and a select group of fans, the Frog players celebrated their inclusion in the field of 68. After, they spoke with reporters to talk about what the berth in the Big Dance means to them and the TCU program. As the players, coaches, and staff head to Detroit today, we look back on what they were thinking as a 20 year drought ended Sunday.
You can watch the full reactions from the players and Coach Dixon below, but here are some of the highlights:
On making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years:
“It’s super exciting, something that hasn’t been done here in 20 years. We have a lot to be proud of, and a lot of things to build off of from this season. But we are coming into the tournament to do some things and win some games, so we are super happy, but we still have work to do. All the hard work, all the sweat, all the tears, all the fighting. It’s for this. For this, for our school, for our fans. ” - Sophomore guard Desmond Bane
“I can’t even put it into words. It’s been a dream come true, to play in this tournament. Especially to be an at-large bid, to see your name get chosen and to know that you’re one of the best basketball teams in the country, it’s been amazing. It’s a life long dream to hear your team and your program get called like that.” - Junior guard Shawn Olden
“It was great for us. We were dreaming of this moment since last season. It’s been 20 years, that’s what we came here for.” - Senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky
“It meant a lot. It’s a blessing. This is what I came here to do, my whole four years here, it’s what I always wanted to do here. This is what I envisioned for TCU Basketball when I came here. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m not supposed to be playing here. I look at is as an opportunity that I can take advantage of to maximize my full potential.” - Senior forward Kenrich Williams.
“That’s a once in a lifetime thing. I mean, it’s been 20 years! Next year, what can we say? We got in there last year, so, this is really once in a lifetime, to turn the program around. I was really proud. You know, my mom went to school here, I grew up here. So I am excited, when I come up as an alumni, to see how far the program has come.” - Junior point guard Alex Robinson
On Coach Dixon and the quick turnaround:
“He’s a great coach, great leader. He stepped in from day one and changed the whole culture. I’m really to play for him and with these guys.” - Desmond Bane
“He’s a great coach, he came here and right away told us that this isn’t a rebuilding program, that we would go and try and win right away.” - Vladimir Brodziansky
“Coach Dixon emphasized how good we were, and we just had to do things the right way. We just started doing what we were supposed to do. I think it’s big that our Coach shows us how much he believes in us. As a team, we knew we were good. Learning from last year, when we lost those 6 or 7 straight, helped us this year when we lost a couple - we knew how to bounce back. Learning from last year, and Coach reassuring us, really helped.” - Alex Robinson
On players stepping up through injuries:
“Every person has been very hard on me, very consistent with me wanting to shoot the ball when I have open looks. Even when I don’t have open looks, they know what I’m capable of, they’v supported me all year, no matter what my situation, what opportunity has been.”
On playing in Detroit:
“We weren’t too worried about where, when, anything like that. We are ready for the opportunity, ready for the game, and we are going to prepare like we do for every other game.” - Shawn Olden
“NCAA Tournament, I have never been before. So I am just trying to extend the season as long as possible. It’s March. It’s great.” - Vladimir Brodziansky
“Me being down here in Texas, it’s not easy for (my family) to get to every game. So being (close to home) will help a lot.” Desmond Bane
“I’ve never been to Detroit, so I am just ready to get this thing going. I’m excited. Walking out onto that court, seeing the NCAA in the middle, the fans... it’s going to be crazy. This is my dream.” - Kenrich Williams
“I don’t like it. I’m from Texas, so I wanted some warm weather. San Diego would have been nice, Dallas would have been really nice. But we will take Detroit.“ - Alex Robinson
On the beard:
“I just shaved it, to be honest with you guys. People see it as that (a slump-buster), that’s why I keep shaving, because everyone thinks ‘oh he’s playing well’. So I will probably keep shaving, because we keep winning.” - Alex Robinson
Coach Dixon on making the NCAA Tournament:
“Truly an exciting day for us. We have been waiting for this, the rebuild, Schollmaier Arena... so there’s a lot of different things going into it for us. I’m really happy for our guys. I can see the genuine excitement in our guys, they know that they’ve accomplished something, but at the same time, they have a lot of work left to do.”
On TCU’s opponent:
“I’ve never been in the situation of playing the winner of the play-in game, so that’s a different one for me. Obviously, familiarity with Syracuse, and I’ve seen Arizona State play a lot, this year, from the late night games in the Pac 12. So, interestingly enough, a lot more familiarity than I would normally have with a team in the first round.”
On how different Selection Sunday is now compared to when he played at TCU:
“What I remember, I don’t even think it was televised, was being in the dorm room - Milton Daniel 206 - and the coaches called me. I think we knew before it was put out there because Frank Windegger was on the committee - that probably shouldn’t be told, but I think the 30 year statute of limitations is up (laughs). So I remember being told, and the coaches called me, and going and telling everyone else. It’s a different tournament, but certainly good to be back in it.”
On the players’ reactions:
“We have a gregarious group, so they might have been faking it (laughs) for media purposes. They’re a fun group. I talk about the type of kids we have. They really connect with the students, they have fun, they laugh, they’re part of the student body. They go to class, they go to events, I’ve seen them at all different events around campus. They’re an outgoing group, they’re a fun group, they’re a special group. They’ve really done a great job.”
TCU will find out their first round opponent Wednesday night, and will tip-off their first NCAA Tournament in 20 years Friday night at 8:40pm CT.