How much of this was the defenses they played? How much was tired legs? How much was lack of execution? We may never know, but, they have to finish stronger next year to advance.
“We just got lucky. We played the same defense the whole game,” he said. “We didn’t give them good looks from the 3-point line. And then at the very end of the game, when you’re trying to shoot a 3, it’s really hard to make one when you haven’t made any during the game. Our defense was fabulous. [Dixon] is a tremendous coach. He beat us with his defense most of the time at Pittsburgh. The games were like this.”
Dixon, a master at Pitt of attacking Syracuse’s zone, said his TCU team will learn from this.
”They slowed the tempo down. I guess we’re going to have to get used to playing against that type of style, or at least winning against that type of style. And we didn’t. So that’s disappointing,” Dixon said. “They did it differently, being in the 2-3 zone. But they’re obviously very patient on offense and they want low-scoring games. It affected our offense to some degree but we’ve seen that before.”
That dang defense, man. It’s so tough to prepare for in a tight turnaround.
TCU averaged 82.1 points, second best in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs made 49.6 percent of their shots overall (best in the league) and 39.5 percent of their 3-pointers (second-best in the league). Against Syracuse, TCU managed a mere 52 points. It shot 17.6 percent from the 3-point line.
Arizona State averaged a Pac-12 best 82.7 points per game. The Sun Devils made 46.3 percent of their shots (4th in league) and 36.3 percent of its 3-point attempts (6th best). Against Syracuse, ASU scored 56 points. It made 34.4 percent of its 3s.
And while both NCAA Tournament opponents seemed flummoxed by the 2-3 and seemed equally unable to put a capable body in the center of it to wreak havoc, Syracuse appears to have doubled down on defense in the postseason. On Friday in particular, usually sharp-shooting perimeter threats from TCU were smothered on the perimeter.
”I think our focus level, it’s the end of the year, and guys are understanding the rotation levels in the zone. It takes time, especially because we have so many young guys,” Howard said. “It’s almost like a reflex, learning your reflexes. I think guys are understanding where to go, their movements, what movements they need to make in certain situations and I think that’s why it almost gets better at the end of the year.”
Bane bet on himself, and it paid off. He will be the face of the program a year from now, after not receiving any high-major offers until Dixon came calling his senior year.
After finishing 12-21, TCU was going through a coaching change. Jamie Dixon was hired in March to lead the Horned Frogs after 13 seasons at Pitt.
Dixon was 328-123 at Pitt and made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances with that program. He was the 2009 Naismith Coach of the Year and played at TCU, where he was inducted into the TCU Hall of Fame in 2007.
Like he did helped build Seton, Bane was attracted by the opportunity to rebuild TCU.
On May 12, 2016, packed inside Chuck Mosey Gymnasium, one of the smallest gyms in the state, Bane announced his decision: He was going to TCU.
“Luckily TCU had found me on the last weekend possible for me to play, they saw me play,” he said. “I guess they loved me and called me and had me come down on a visit right away, and the rest is history.”
The Frogs are moving on to the NIT’s Sweet 16, and will hopefully get to play at home again.
“A great day for our program,” TCU coach Raegan Pebley said. “I loved how we shared the ball, and the depth offensively and defensively. We knew tempo was important, and that we had to sustain a high level of competitiveness and assert ourselves defensively.”
TCU next gets a little break. For the third round, the Frogs will see either New Mexico or Rice, teams set to play on Tuesday. The Frogs won’t play again until Thursday or Friday at a site yet to be determined.