The TCU men’s basketball team held it first official practice Monday, almost a week after the NCAA allowed practices to start.
The NCAA passed a new rule in May allowing teams to open practice on Oct. 1 instead of Oct. 15, however TCU head coach Trent Johnson said injuries delayed the Horned Frogs’ start.
In addition to junior forward Amric Field recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season, freshman forward Brandon Parrish and sophomore forward Chris Washburn had off-season surgeries.
“The key was making sure these guys were fresh,” Trent Johnson said.
Trent Johnson said Fields would be out three more weeks.
Despite the late start, TCU will practice every day except Sundays until its exhibition against Arkansas-Fort Smith on Nov. 1.
The Frogs have already played four games with this team during an August trip to Canada. The trip was a “good indication” of the team’s competitiveness and how the freshmen will respond in game situations, Trent Johnson said.
In Canada, the Frogs lost center Aaron Durley (ACL) and forward Devonta Abron (Achilles) to season-ending injuries. With injuries plaguing the post position, assistant coach Brent Scott and former Frog basketball player Adrick McKinney (2011-13) are participating in practice to push the freshmen, Trent Johnson said.
The freshmen compose arguably the best incoming class in TCU history including center Karviar Shepherd, forward Brandon Parrish and guards Hudson Price and Michael Williams. All four athletes have a lot of raw talent, but are very coachable, Trent Johnson said.
“But the key is when these thing start to get tough, and it gets tough, they’re going to stay the course,” he said. “That’s always it.”
Senior Jarvis Ray, who missed Big 12 play last year with a foot injury, is also an option in the post. Washburn could play too, pending his appeal to the NCAA to play immediately after transferring from UTEP.
In addition to new faces on the court, TCU hired a new assistant coach, Kwanza Johnson whom Trent praised for his defensive coaching. Kwanza Johnson replaced Alvin “Pooh” Williamson who left for an assistant coaching position at Texas Tech.
Kwanza Johnson worked as an assistant coach under Trent Johnson at Nevada from 2006-09. He spent the last four seasons at Georgia where he helped develop guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into the No. 8 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
“I think he brings a lot,” Trent Johnson said. “I’ve always been impressed with Kwanza.”
The Frogs open the season Nov. 8 against SMU in the American Airlines Center. Other highlights of the non-conference schedule include a visit to Washington State and Alaska for the Great Alaska Shoot Out.
Trent Johnson said the schedule is a good fit for the Frogs’ situation.
“It’s conducive to being in a situation where we still have guys who are unproven at this level and we still have guys that are banged up,” he said. “That's the worst thing you can do is over-schedule a team that’s not ready to compete at a high level.”
With the exhibition game over three weeks away, Trent Johnson said he is focused on each individual practice and executing on a regular basis.
“The first day of practice should be like the last day of practice or the practice in the middle of the year if you have a good basketball team,” he said. “But is that something I anticipate happening 365 days of the year or however long we can practice? No. But that’s what we strive for.”