Throw the records out the window, forget about the conference seeding, and focus on 40 minutes of basketball against Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference Championship opener, head men’s basketball coach Jim Christian said.
“The general message is the same 8212; this is the time of the year that a lot of things go out the window, seeding goes out the window,” Christian said. “What’s happened, hopefully you learn from those things, you get kind of a second chance, and that for us in our situation is refreshing for our team, because at this point records go out the window.”
No. 9 seed TCU (10-21, 1-15 MWC) will play the MWC’S No. 8 seed Wyoming (10-20, 3-13 MWC) at 4:05 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Frogs and Cowboys split the season series, but Christian said the third matchup of the season is more about his team than Wyoming.
“The last time we played we were still trying to find ourselves a little bit with some of the guys on the team that weren’t there the first time we played,” Christian said. “It’s going be one of those days, whoever comes to play, and whoever comes to play harder is going win the game.”
The Frogs nearly notched their second conference win of the regular season at Air Force on Wednesday, tying the game with 1:03 remaining after a 10-0 run. But the Frogs eventually fell 70-65 after junior guard Hank Thorns’ layup to put TCU up with less than 20 seconds remaining did not fall through the bucket. Air Force would pad its lead with free throws to close out the game. The Frogs have lost 13 straight games 8212; their last win came at Wyoming on Jan. 12.
“It always comes down to 40 minutes and understanding what possessions are key. Obviously it’s a little bit of an uphill battle cause we don’t have a lot of numbers, and guys get worn out,” Christian said. “But that’s where mental toughness takes over, and that’s how you get over the hump.
“We just break down at certain points in the game and it’s hard to get it back. It was another opportunity [against Air Force], and we just didn’t execute…what frustrated me so much is we guarded so well in the first half, holding [the Falcons] to 35 percent [shooting], in the second half 67 percent [shooting] on the same type of stuff, and that’s where we have to get better.”
Junior guard J.R. Cadot added on the Jim Christian Radio Show on Thursday: “It just seems we’ve broken down at the wrong times in games, but as far as playing, competing and shooting the ball well, we’ve proven that we can play with the San Diego States.”
Christian said the week-long break from play was a unique time to have some time off for players to get individual work done in the gym and get a little bit of rest, which he said his guys needed.
“With the season ending for us, now the tournament breathes a little bit of fresh air into our guys, and I’ve already seen in the practice and the preparation,” he said. “So we are excited to come out and see our guys play.”
If TCU wins the opening game of the MWC Tournament, it will move on to play No. 1 seed Brigham Young on Thursday. BYU made national headlines after suspending sophomore and its third-leading scorer Brandon Davies for having premarital sex with his girlfriend, a violation of the BYU Honor Code.
“Again, obviously for us we can’t think about that because we have a game [against Wyoming] first. I don’t know if the dynamics changed,” Christian said. “I thought BYU was a great basketball team; they’ve hurt us equally as much when Davies wasn’t on the floor. It takes a game or two games to get accustomed to, guys are going in to new roles for them…I think they are still a great basketball team.”
Thorns selected third-team All-MWC
Junior guard Hank Thorns will return home to Las Vegas for the MWC Tournament as a third-team All-MWC selection. Thorns was the fourth Frog awarded an All-MWC selection since TCU joined the conference. Ronnie Moss, Kevin Langford and Nile Murray were the other selections.
Thorns ranks fourth nationally with seven assists per game. His 210 assists this season rank third in TCU single-season history. Thorns also has averaged 10.4 points per game and 1.23 steals per game this season.
Cadot familiar with Wyoming
J.R. Cadot coming to TCU from his native Nassau, Bahamas, wasn’t near the culture shock compared to moving to Wyoming to play his first two seasons at Sheridan College, where he averaged 17 points per game and 7.8 rebounds.
“It was crazy cold,” Cadot said. “It’s not cold at all in the Bahamas, but in Wyoming it snowed every day, and it was a life-changing moment almost every day there for me.”
Cadot said he still has people who support him in Wyoming. In TCU’s last game in Laramie, Wyo., Cadot said he had fans and friends come to the game to watch him play.
Moss still suspended
Frogs leading scorer Ronnie “Tuffie” Moss will not play in the MWC Tournament after Christian suspended him indefinitely on Jan. 28 for a failure to adhere to the standards of the team.
“We suspended him indefinitely; we didn’t say we’ll see you when the tournament comes,” Christian said. “No, he might have wanted it that way, but that’s just not the way it is.”
Mountain West Conference Tournament
No. 9 TCU vs No. 8 Wyoming
When: 4:05 p.m. today
Where: Thomas & Mack Center 8212; Las Vegas, Nev.
TV: The Mtn.
Radio: KTCU-FM 88.7 and KCLE-AM 1460
GoFrogs.com: Follow GameTracker or listen live.