It took a real, financial, commitment to basketball in Fort Worth to bring Jamie Dixon home.
“Jamie, if we do the basketball arena can we have a conversation?” Del Conte asked.
On the other end of the line was a lot of laughter from Dixon.
”Yeah, if you do that, I’ll come,” said Dixon, never believing it would happen.
”He was laughing so hard. We had one shot at this. That, right there, was my carrot,” said Del Conte, who would eventually embark on a $72 million drive to renovate Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on the heels of his $164 million campaign for the 2012 renovations to Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Del Conte never mentioned Dixon’s name while securing the basketball donations, such as the $10 million lead donation from Ed and Rae Schollmaier, whose name is now on the building.
”Because I didn’t know if he would take it,” Del Conte said. “But he was the guy. And I said, ‘OK, you little son of a gun, we’re going to do it.’”
I think most fans will be happy if TCU gets past tonight. Anything past that is gravy.
Six-seeds are 29-40 in the tournament over the past 10 years. A team seeded six or lower has reached the Final Four the past five seasons and in six of the past seven. Three times in that stretch a seven-seed or lower reached the final (No. 8 Butler in 2011 and No. 7 Connecticut who beat No. 8 Kentucky for the 2014 title).
A year ago, four teams seeded seventh or lower made it to the Sweet 16 round. Two of them (No. 7 South Carolina and No. 11 Xavier) reached the Elite 8. South Carolina even reached the Final Four.
The band and cheerleaders went to shoot around, a first for Jamie Dixon.
As the school get set for its first NCAA tournament game in 20 years, senior forward Kenrich Williams says, “it’s almost time.”
Even the band and cheerleading squad have embraced the excitement. Carolina Caves, a sophomore band member, says she can’t wait to perform and promises everyone will be in tune.
Kristen Clarke, a senior cheerleader, says the entire experience is one they will remember for a long time.
TCU’s opponent Friday night on CBS11, Syracuse was the last team to get into this year’s tournament.
These two know each other well.
BOTTOM LINE: TCU coach Jamie Dixon faces a former conference rival in Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. Dixon was the coach at Pittsburgh from 2003-16. The Panthers were in the Big East with Syracuse, and then both teams were in the ACC together. Boeheim says this TCU team is better offensively than Dixon’s teams at Pittsburgh generally were.
FINISHING STRONG: TCU won the NIT last year, so the last time the Horned Frogs ended the season with a loss was in 2016 when they lost to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament. Dixon took over the following season.
STINGY: Syracuse held Arizona State to a season low in points in a 60-56 victory over the Sun Devils on Wednesday night in the First Four. The Orange had to win that game to make it to the round of 64.
I love seeing what other schools think about TCU.
3. The return of Jamie DixonThe last man Syracuse fans want to see standing in front of the opposing bench is Jamie Dixon, TCU head coach. Dixon coached Pittsburgh for 13 seasons from 2003-2016, leading the Panthers to a 16-5 record against Syracuse. Dixon has won his last five meetings with Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, including three wins in his final season in 2016. Dixon also played his college ball at TCU.
4. Forced to move
Two brothers, Addison and Randolph Clark, founded TCU in 1873 as the AddRan Male and Female College. The name was then changed to AddRan Christian University in 1889 before the school moved to Waco in 1895. Once the Waco campus burned to the ground in 1910, TCU relocated to downtown Fort Worth where it currently resides.
Hopefully the women’s win was a good omen for the men tonight.
“We get to keep playing!” TCU coach Raegan Pebley said. “I’m excited we extended this team’s season. Lamar is a heckuva team. And that’s not just being nice. They are a great team.
“I was nervous because of the style they play. We knew [inside] was an advantage we had inside. We knew we had a lot of work to do 94 feet to get it to that point.”
That style is pressure for 94 feet. It has been good to the Cardinals, who entered having forced an average of 27 turnovers a game this season.
The Frogs, playing in their first game in since a loss to Baylor in the Big 12 tournament semifinals 10 days ago, felt it. TCU’s 20 turnovers were a big reason why it couldn’t create separation in the first half, despite Lamar going without a field goal for almost five minutes in the second quarter.