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TCU Basketball Preview and Prediction: UL-Monroe

TCU looks to bounce back vs. the War Hawks on Thursday night

This has not been the opening to the season many of us foresaw. This is not the team we, and many analysts, predicted to see on the court to open the season. This hasn’t been pretty.

Those last three games for TCU Basketball were excessively harder than they should’ve been, and excessively grueling to watch.

The team’s defense has been shoddy, to say the least, the energy that was ever-present last season in crashing the boards and attacking the paint has fizzled out, almost completely, but the team’s shooting has been horrendous and ugly.

14/74 from 3-Point line, a 18.9% clip, good for 2nd-worst in the entire country. The Frogs are shooting 39.6% from the floor, 319th in the country.

When a shot goes up, I’ve begun to expect it to rim out.

Luckily, shooting woes may be the problem that can be most easily remedied for the Frogs. All that has to happen is for the shots to go in. But defensively, this team may have a problem, and Coach Jamie Dixon will have to solve it quickly. Allowing 60+ points to the cellar-dwellers of the NCAA isn’t a recipe for success in the Big 12.

Yet, the team’s biggest problem is energy, rhythm, and off-ball movement, as all three coincide with each other. The hustle and hungriness we’d gotten so used to last season isn’t there anymore, and offensively the squad can’t find any rhythm. Mike Miles being out with a bone bruise versus Northwestern State didn’t help, but the team continues to rely on a ‘motion offense’, eventually just leading to ‘Iso’-ball, and (probably) a 3-point attempt.

It isn’t pretty to watch. The fluidness of last season hasn’t followed the team into this season.

But, I have a feeling Coach Dixon is seeing many of the inefficiencies we’re seeing, and tonight is primetime for him to show Frog basketball fans there’s nothing to worry about.

UL-Monroe (2-1) travels into Schollmaier Arena at 7:00 p.m. Thursday night to take on this struggling TCU squad.

Here’s what to know about the Warhawks.

Nov. 17 vs. UL-Monroe

The Warhawks opened their season in disappointing fashion against Texas A&M, losing 87-54 as a 20-point-underdog. They trailed by 14 points by halftime, and essentially gave up by the time the 2nd-half tipped off.

Luckily for the squad, UL-Monroe has bounced back with two wins over non-Division 1 schools, beating Dallas Christian and Central Baptist in some dominating blowouts.

In both wins the Warhawks had seven players in double figures, spreading out the scoring for a team who has no certified star. But, junior F Nika Metskhvarishvili, who’s played a leading role for UL-Monroe, had 15 points in the 105-56 win over Central Baptist. At one point in the contest, he nailed three straight 3-pointers. The Frogs will need to keep an eye out for him along the perimeter.

Senior F Victor Bafutto went 6/6 in the previous contest, tying his career high in points with 14, and junior G Tyreke Locure, who’s the Warhawks leading scorer through the team’s first three games averaging 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, scored 13 points on 55.6% shooting.

Through Nov. 16, UL-Monroe is ranked #261ist in KenPom rankings, and 93rd in the country in ‘Adjusted Tempo’, so while they aren’t the most daunting competition, they’re a team who likes to push the pace, and will still be the Frogs most difficult challenge so far (Northwestern State wasn’t supposed to be difficult), according to KenPom.

Can the Frogs slow the game down enough to meddle with UL-Monroe’s pace of play, and discombobulate them early??

That might, actually, be easier without Mike Miles and Damion Baugh on the court, but can TCU hit the shots they need to to win with ease, as they should against UL-Monroe??

Though the Warhawks balanced scoring, and pace of play, may present a hurdle for the Frogs, it’s one I believe Dixon’s squad can clear with room to spare.

Coach Dixon’s sure to implement some new sets, and do enough to get the energy up, and offensive rhythm flowing, for a team that definitely needs it.

If TCU can slow the game down enough, and finally hit some shots (can we please shoot better than 30% from 3?), I see this being a clear bounce-back win for the Frogs.

And, as Aaron Rodgers plays in Lambeau Field on Thursday Night Football as TCU tips off, Dixon may just be telling Frogs fans at the end of this one to ‘R E L A X’.


TCU 68, UL Monroe 57