Mountain West poses new competition for athletics

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    TCU is about to get its first taste of Mountain West Conference competition.The football, volleyball and soccer teams are all set to begin play in the next two weeks, and the coaches of the respective sports do not know exactly what to expect.

    Head football coach Gary Patterson, head volleyball coach Prentice Lewis and head soccer coach Dan Abdalla all said MWC opponents will be strong, but said they believe their squads have a chance to be competitive in their first season since leaving Conference USA.

    “It’s a good conference,” Abdalla said. “It’s going to be a tough conference, but I think that we’ll fit in and be able to compete with everybody right away.”

    Abdalla and Patterson said MWC teams match-up well from top to bottom.

    “The parody in the Mountain West is as high as anywhere else I’ve ever been,” Patterson said. “Anybody can beat anybody on any given day.”

    Lewis said the move poses schedule issues that were not a factor in C-USA. TCU will be forced to play two games a weekend on consecutive days, while opponents will only have to play one, making preparation difficult, Lewis said.

    “Everybody we play, only has to prepare for us; where we’ll have to prepare for our Friday night match, and somewhat our Saturday, but we really can’t do that until Saturday,” Lewis said.

    Patterson said getting a good feel for the teams in the new conference will take a couple of seasons.

    “When you haven’t played anybody,” Patterson said, “I think you have to play everybody twice – once there and once here – to kind of get a feel of how teams play each other and how they do things.”

    Abdalla, in his first season with the Frogs, came to TCU from Nevada-Las Vegas, an MWC school. He said his experience in the conference will be helpful in planning details such as which restaurants and hotels his team will frequent on the road.

    “I have a comfort level with the conference – and even just the cities, and the schools, and the fields and stuff – that will definitely give us a little bit of help with the learning curve,” Abdalla said.

    None of the coaches seemed overly concerned about travel stresses that playing in the MWC may bring.

    Abdalla said his players will enjoy competing in the MWC, despite competing in some challenging environments.

    “They’re tough places to go and play – (Wyoming), and (New Mexico) and up at (Brigham Young and Utah) – they all get good crowds and have great atmospheres, but I think that’s also going to be fun and exciting for our kids,” Abdalla said.

    Lewis said there will be some obstacles in moving to the MWC, but only time will tell how tough the adjustment proves to be.

    “The time change will be difficult, but at the same time, we won’t know until we have gone through it,” Lewis said.