Head men’s basketball coach Jim Christian’s goal at the beginning of the season was to get 17 wins.
But after losing 71-46 to New Mexico on the road Wednesday, that goal might be unrealistic, and Christian knows it.
“At this point I can’t [look at 17 wins as a goal]. At this point, it’s what can I do to get through to guys as individuals to get them to play better as a team, and as a whole, to win the game that night. That’s what it’s really about now,” Christian said.
Taking the game-by-game approach has to be the only method of operation for a Horned Frog team that has lost eight of nine and dropped two games below .500. The Frogs will have to win seven of their last nine games and beat either San Diego State, BYU, UNLV or Utah once in addition to winning the rest of their conference games to get to 17 wins.
But after Saturday’s loss to Utah at home, which put the Frogs under .500 for the first time all season, 17 wins might as well be 27. Losing by 13 points to a Utes team with a losing record is one thing, but losing to that team at home is another.
TCU couldn’t defend Utah’s perimeter shooters and couldn’t rebound against their post players. The Utes cooled off in the second half and still shot a ridiculously high 54 percent from the field for the game.
The look on Christian’s face as he talked to the media outside TCU’s locker room Saturday night said it all.
He’s running out of options.
“Sometimes as a coach your hands are tied in an effort to try to get out of it,” Christian said. “We’ve tried a lot of different things…to get them to play the way we want them to play.
They’ve got to dig down and commit to doing it themselves.”
But through the Frogs’ recent swoon, it’s easy to forget, as clichÃÂ©d as it sounds, that the program is on the rise.
The team has endured a decade of losing, but for the first time in those 10 years, the Frogs’ coach, and perhaps a few optimistic supporters, expected TCU to win consistently.
Christian is the right man for the job. The third-year coach has won everywhere he has been, and after cleaning up former Frogs’ head coach Neil Dougherty’s mess, Christian has built a small nucleus of players that should at least have what it takes to win 17 games.
They have a scorer in junior guard Ronnie Moss, a passer in junior guard Hank Thorns and young talent in players like freshman forward Amric Fields and sophomore forward Garlon Green. They don’t have much size 8212; the team’s tallest starter is only 6-foot-9 8212; but what they lack most is support from the student body and the administration.
On game days, there is little to no promotion for that night’s game. This usually leads to the Frogs playing in front of a crowd that rarely fills the lower bowl of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. And for the rare students who do show up, they’re forced to sit down the majority of the game, as there isn’t a designated student section like at football games.
As an incoming freshman, the first two things you hear from students and faculty is how good the football team is and how bad the basketball team is. Football gets the majority of the attention, and deservedly so. But the basketball team, as bad as they may have been, deserves some attention, too, and they haven’t gotten it.
Upgrade Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, make a student section and promote game days. Do something to support the men’s basketball program before the Frogs enter the most competitive conference in the nation. Just because TCU is in the Big East doesn’t mean the DMC will be packed with fans unless those fans feel accommodated and have a reason to be excited.
Ryan Osborne is a freshman journalism major from Lawton, Okla.