From the Virgin Islands to Las Vegas, this season has been a road well-traveled for the TCU men’s basketball team. Though it didn’t stretch into the NCAA tournament, I do not think anyone could have predicted the team’s road would be as momentous as it will prove to be.
I vividly remember sitting at a court side table putting away my meal at the season preview dinner in October while the team went through practice drills between the paint. I didn’t know then what to expect of this year’s basketball season, but I knew from the Aretha Franklin parody video, in which some of the players sang her song “Respect,” that there would be an engaging fan experience and, from the fraternal chagrin Garlon Green caused his teammates during the evening’s slam dunk contest, I knew he would have at least a few slams worthy of a highlight reel. Both expectations proved to be correct as the season progressed.
The team added artists such as Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Tom Hanks to its parody repertoire. TCU Athletics piloted a student rewards program that more than doubled student attendance, which they will likely implement for other sports in the future.
Halftime performances included toddlers jumping rope and adults jumping off a human pyramid. With more fans in attendance, cheering was a blast and I remember a few performances of the synchronized “roller coaster” crowd motion.
The efforts of TCU Athletics’ to make the game day atmosphere more exciting paid off. The students at basketball games showed true loyalty this year, and I expect that to multiply next year when we are playing in the Big 12 Conference.
Sitting in the student section this season, I noticed the obvious camaraderie among the players. But the team’s unity was not only observable from the seats in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Several times this year, members of the basketball team could be seen walking around campus and even at off-campus locations, but none of them were ever alone. The men’s basketball team is perhaps a tighter brotherhood than any combination of Greek letters on this campus.
Their closeness, with the assistance of more eager fan support, led to a few monumental wins.
The team only lost one conference game at home this year — in overtime against the No. 21 team in the nation. But that game was the end of what could be described as an underdog cage fight in which we won every match but the last.
In the win-loss column, TCU’s victories over ranked opponents this year may not say much about the team’s progress, but the point spread in those victories just might. TCU didn’t just overcome their ranked opponents; they decimated them.
At the time TCU announced its move to the Big East (and later its move to the Big 12), most people, including myself, probably would have said our men’s basketball team would be embarrassed. After this season, however, I am confident that they will flourish next year with even more students and fans in the DMC to witness the action.
I, for one, am glad that the TCU community has one more promising team to support.
David Shaver is a sophomore journalism major from Canyon.