When the TCU men’s basketball team takes the court on Nov. 12 against Jackson State University in the first official game of the 2010-2011 season, most TCU students will probably be more focused on the Nov. 13 football game against San Diego State University.
However TCU students should be prepared for a more successful basketball season than in years past. From a talent and athleticism perspective, this looks to be the best team in the last few years, and certainly the best of the Jim Christian era.
Several key players return from last year, but expect great contributions to come from the team’s five transfers, especially guard Hank Thorns. The 6-foot-9-inch junior transferred from Virginia Tech University and averaged 18.9 minutes per game in the 2008-2009 season before sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer policies. Despite his small stature, expect Thorns to be a standout at point guard.
Thorns is one of two NCAA Division I transfers, alongside Nikola Gacesa from Florida International University. Community and junior college transfers Sammy Yeager, Andre Clark and J.R. Cadot should also receive quality playing time.
With Thorns starting at point guard, expect junior Ronnie Moss to thrive at shooting guard. The Fort Worth native played an important role in the Frog’s offense last year, scoring an average of 14.6 points per game and adding 5.9 assists. Now that he won’t be expected to drive the offense, he should be able to step up as one of the conference’s top scorers.
Other key returning players include sophomores Nikola Cerina and Garlon Green and senior Greg Hill. Green, the brother of former NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner Gerald Green, is probably the most talented player Christian has recruited. The forward has bulked up since last season and should be a popular outlet for Thorns and Moss.
The Frogs will miss the leadership of last year’s seniors Keion Mitchem, Edvinas Ruzgas and Zvonko Buljan. Ruzgas averaged 10.7 points per game last year and emerged as a major on-court leader. Buljan averaged 12.2 points and 8.6 rebounds. Most importantly, his 6-foot-9-inch presence will be missed in the post.
At the end of the year, expect TCU to finish around the middle of the pack in the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State University received 21 of the 30 first place votes in the MWC preseason media poll, and is ranked No. 25 in preseason Associated Press poll. Brigham Young University sits directly behind the Aztecs in the conference poll, but is ranked No. 24 in the AP poll. TCU is the seventh-ranked team in the conference, a seemingly unfair assessment of the team’s potential.
The Horned Frogs can’t expect to compete with BYU and San Diego State and will most likely finish behind talented teams in the University of New Mexico and UNLV as well. However, TCU has the coaching, talent and experience to beat out the four remaining conference teams. Either way, the talent and potential of this team promises to provide an entertaining season for all TCU basketball fans.
Brett Anderson is a sophomore business major from Fort Collins, Colo.