What were you doing on Nov. 12, 2013?
Maybe you were listening to Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2, which came out exactly a week before. Or perhaps you were in a theater, watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire or Dallas Buyers Club.
Me? Why, I was in the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, watching TCU lose 82-79 to Longwood, a team that went 8-24 and finished 3-13 in the Big South.
How about Jan. 18, 2014? Were you watching Whiplash, or maybe still spinning Beyonce’s self-titled album and wondering what it truly felt like to be Drunk in Love?
Me? Why, I was in the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, watching TCU lose 60-49 to a Texas Tech team that ended the year at 14-18 and 6-12 in the Big 12.
I went to every TCU home basketball game that took place while I was on campus that 2013-14 season, which was my freshman year in college. I wasn’t alone – my roommate Hunter came with me, and we were friends with a few people in the student section, dubbed the “Purple Haze.” Fellow Frogs O’ War contributor Chris Conaty can tell you all about that — you can find him pictured above in the front row.
In fact, it was that student section that kept us coming back. We earned points for attending games, and you could earn prizes for attending the most games. So we dutifully sat ear-splittlingly close to the band and watched TCU lose to Longwood, and then we watched TCU lose to every single Big 12 opponent, both home and away, as part of a merciless 0-18 run in Trent Johnson’s second year.
I had entered TCU as a diehard North Carolina fan, and was used to seeing my team win basketball games. I quickly found out that wasn’t going to be the case.
The Frogs were the worst Power Five team in KenPom’s rankings and the 212th ranked team overall. Ironically, the next-worst P5 team was Mississippi State, which TCU beat 71-61.
That game, of course, was on the road, so I wasn’t there for it.
I was there for the home game against Baylor, though. TCU lost that one 91-58. And I was there for the home game against No. 15 Texas, too, which the Frogs lost by an agonizing five points. I’m not going to pretend I remember all of the games exactly. When you lose that many games in a row, they sort of just run together.
We watched Kansas come through in the year after TCU had upset the Jayhawks on the DMC floor. KU didn’t break a sweat in a 91-69 win. That was the year when both Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid were projected as top draft picks, and after Wiggins was through efficiently scoring 27 points against TCU, I wondered why on earth anyone thought Embiid would be the better pro player.
To say attendance was low would be an understatement. Wikipedia says that the DMC’s biggest crowd came when 7,494 people turned out to watch the KU thrashing. By the time the season ended, a paltry 4,878 people showed up to watch an Oklahoma team ranked No. 23 in the country beat the Frogs by 30.
It sure felt like those thousands of people came dressed as empty seats. I’ve attended funerals that had a more jovial atmosphere than the DMC in spring 2014.
It wasn’t all bad. I won a custom, bona fide TCU jersey with my name on the back for finishing in the Top 10 in points earned. I took home a nice Nike purple sweater vest like Johnson used to wear on the sideline. And I developed a deep appreciation for Kyan Anderson that runs through my veins to this very day.
It was Karviar Shepherd’s freshman year, and we tied our hopes and dreams to the big man from Prime Prep Academy. All the students received knockoff #1 jerseys in Shepherd’s honor before one of the games. If you squinted hard enough, you could convince yourself he was the next Anthony Davis, or at least the next Kurt Thomas.
But, yes – most of it was achingly bad. It didn’t get much better the next year, either, when TCU played its home games in a high school gym with burnt orange colors in front of around 3,000 people at a time. If I ever set foot in the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center ever again, something has gone terribly wrong. (And, yes, I recognize the bitter humor in TCU starting the 2014-15 season with an undefeated non-conference slate at that high school gym.)
I say all of that and relive all of those horrible memories of clanked shots and empty arenas to say this – do not panic. TCU basketball has never been in a better place than it is right now, right this very instant. Sure, Kaden Archie, Angus McWilliam, and Yuat Alok are transferring, and sure, Jaylen Fisher can’t stay healthy and sure, the Frogs had 20 turnovers against Kansas in yet another close loss.
I don’t care. Do not panic. It can always – and has been – much, much worse.