Men’s basketball set to face cross-town rival SMU in season opener

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    With an exhibition game against Arkansas-Fort Smith in the books, the TCU men’s basketball team looks toward their season opener on Friday against rival SMU at American Airlines Center.

    “Rivalries are usually, in my mind, between two good teams who’ve won their fair share of games,” TCU head coach Trent Johnson said. “We’ve got a long way to go, in that regard, to make it a rivalry worth talking about.”

    The Frogs fell at home last year to the Mustangs 64-61. The Frogs also lost forward Amric Fields to a knee injury early in the game. In SMU’s first year under legendary head coach Larry Brown, the Mustangs finished with a 15-17overall record.

    “I like our chances if it’s just me and him playing,” Johnson said.

    The Mustangs bring a highly-touted recruiting class and several players who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules into Friday’s matchup.

    “They’re deep. They’ve got some experienced guys,” Johnson said. “The one kid, Nic Moore, is a special player.”

    Moore, a redshirt sophomore guard from Winona Lake, Ind., sat out last year after transferring from Illinois State. He led the Redbirds with 135 assists during the 2011-12 season.

    “He’s a special player in the sense that, at Illinois State, he’s been in high-level games and he’s won,” Johnson said.

    The Frogs also bring some new faces into Friday night, including freshman center Karviar Shepherd.

    “Nothing he does surprises me,” Johnson said. “I think, for the most part, he’s done a good job [so far].”

    Shepherd had 16 points and 10 rebounds in last Friday’s win over UAFS.

    The Frogs and Mustangs must also adjust to new NCAA rules regarding hand checking, blocks and charges. Brown said the changes were some of the biggest made in recent memory.

    “I think it’s scary,” he said regarding some of the changes.

    While 58 fouls were called in total during TCU’s Friday exhibition, Johnson said that all the players and coaches can do is adjust to the new calls being made.

    “My responsibility is to make sure our guys are ready to play, adjust, move forward and not worry about what the officiating is,” Johnson said. “Like I tell our guys all the time, there’ll be one idiot out there making a fool of himself that represents TCU. That’s going to be the head coach. The players are always going to conduct themselves in the right fashion.”

    Johnson also added that he still hasn’t heard anything from the NCAA regarding the eligibility of sophomore forward Chris Washburn.

    “We’ll get notification here within the next day or two,” he said.

    Washburn played at UTEP last season before transferring to TCU. Whether he plays or not, Johnson said he is excited for basketball season to finally begin.

    “It’s an opportunity to play and compete against a good team,” he said. “We could be playing Timbuktu University and you know I’m gonna be fired up.”

    Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday night.