One legendary NCAA basketball program, a recent champion, one of last year’s most trendy favorites and a squad led by the most volatile coach in college hoops make for one tough nonconference schedule, especially when this is all faced away from home.This season, the TCU men’s basketball team will play Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Texas Tech and likely Boston College – none of them at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Head coach Neil Dougherty said the team’s traveling schedule is a side effect of playing marquee teams.
“We want to put together a tough schedule, and this year that means a lot of road games,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty said facing top-tier competition helps solidify TCU as a legitimate contender.
“We’re trying to get enough of a mixture of tough teams where our RPI will be high enough for us to be taken seriously in postseason play,” Dougherty said.
The media also plays a role in scheduling, Dougherty said – any chance to be nationally televised must be taken advantage of.
“It’s hard to turn down an opportunity to play anyone on TV,” Dougherty said. “When TV steps in and asks you to play, the answer is always yes. I don’t know if that makes me smart or dumb, but that’s the way it is. I think the kids enjoy it though.”
The players echo Dougherty’s opinions.
“I think it’s exciting,” senior guard Nile Murry said. “You have to face some of the pressure. It’s great for some of the young guys to get that experience at such a big venue against such programs.”
Senior forward Chudi Chinweze said the Frogs feel confident about the upcoming season.
“We really know our game,” Chinweze said. “We have high expectations after getting to the NIT last year.”
The four toughest nonconference teams the Frogs will face this year were all seeded sixth or higher in 2005’s NCAA tournament.
TCU will face Oklahoma State Nov. 25 in Las Vegas. The Cowboys, coached by basketball legend Eddie Sutton, were a No. 2 seed and Elite Eight team last year but only returned four players for the 2005-2006 season.
One of those four, however, is sophomore phenom JamesOn Curry, who flourished in the starting role he earned late last season by averaging 13.3 points per game over the last 16 contests.
The Horned Frogs play Syracuse Dec. 3 at the Carrier Dome in New York. The Orange will try to suffocate offenses with its solid zone defense, a strategy that carried the team to a national championship in 2003.
Syracuse sports senior sharpshooter Gerry McNamara set single-season school records last year in three point attempts (315) and makes (107.)
TCU could also run into one of last year’s hottest teams, Boston College, in Las Vegas.
Unlike some of the other powerhouses the Frogs will face this year, BC is returning several of its best players, including forwards Jared Dudley and Craig Smith, an Associated Press preseason All-American. The Eagles bowed out early last year to cinderella team Wisconsin-Milwuakee in the second round of the NCAA tournament but have posted consecutive strong seasons and have the roster to continue the trend.
The last marquee name on the Frogs’ schedule this year is Texas Tech, which TCU will face Nov. 30 in Lubbock. The Red Raiders, one of last year’s No. 6 seeds, are led by volatile coach Bob Knight, one of college basketball’s most successful but vilified figures.
Knight’s aggressive and violent antics have earned him a negative reputation, but the truth is that since Knight came to Tech in 2001, the Red Raiders have reached the NCAA Tournament three times.
Tech returns last year’s second-leading scorer Jarrius Jackson, who averaged 11.3 points per game in 34 contests. The Red Raiders sport seven freshman, but Knight has a reputation of getting the most out of his teams.