Trent Johnson has TCU's future in his sights
01/11/2013 11:30 PM
06/01/2014 12:40 AM
It has been a little more than 10 years since TCU last played Baylor in basketball.
The Horned Frogs left Waco with a 72-64 victory that night, Dec. 7, 2002, in coach Neil Dougherty's first season with TCU. It was Dave Bliss' last year coaching Baylor, before a scandal involving murder engulfed his program and he was fired.
Yes, a lot has changed for the two programs in the interceding decade. Scott Drew took over the Bears after Bliss in 2003, and Trent Johnson is TCU's third coach in the span.
Baylor (10-4, 2-0 Big 12) struggled in its first 11 years in the Big 12, and didn't have a winning league record until the 2007-08 season, Drew's fifth year, when the Bears finished 9-7 and earned their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years. Drew has led Baylor to three NCAA Tournament appearances, with two trips to the Elite Eight, including last season. TCU's last NCAA appearance was in 1998 under Billy Tubbs.
But Baylor's rise isn't the blueprint Johnson is using in his efforts to rebuild TCU's program. He points to his own success at Nevada, Stanford and LSU, taking each to the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't get caught up in comparisons between programs," Johnson said. "I tend to worry about what I can control and my experiences over the years. I'm not worried about anybody else, I'm really not."
The Frogs (9-6, 0-2) play Baylor at 5 p.m. today at Waco's Ferrell Center, which has become a tough place to win for opponents. The Bears are 83-21 at home the past six seasons, including 44-7 the past three seasons.
But this season the Bears have lost at home to College of Charleston and Northwestern, both by four points. The losses sandwiched a nine-point victory at then-No. 8 Kentucky, so Baylor has been a bit Jekyll-and-Hyde this season. Two wins against Texas and Texas Tech, while Drew was serving a two-game suspension for NCAA rules violations, have Baylor back closer to its winning form, however. TCU lost to Northwestern by 24 in November.
"They have four guys who will play after college," Johnson said of Baylor. "It's hard to win consistently, and [Drew] has done a hell of a job doing that. It's a challenge that should be exciting, and it's going to be hard."
Johnson knows that's a line he's going to be using often the rest of the Big 12 season, but he's hoping the foundation he's laying in his first season will lead to a turnaround sooner rather than later.
"I know what we have here and I know what our future is like," he said. "And I know the most important thing for us is establishing to ourselves how hard we have to play, how hard we have to defend, and how hard we have to rebound, regardless of how many injuries we have and who is on the floor."
He's not going to stop demanding his team execute the details, whether it comes with moment-by-moment success or victory when the buzzer sounds.
"If we do the little things, which are correctable -- but they're hard to do versus talented, strong, good teams -- that's what our program is going to be like," Johnson said. "I'm not in this thing looking three years down the line. There's a sense of urgency for me that we need to win as soon as we can."
TCU forward Garlon Green became the 31st player in Horned Frogs' history to surpass 1,000 career points Wednesday against Oklahoma State.
Green also became the 20th Frog to score 1,000 points and grab 400 rebounds in his career.
Green led all scorers with 20 points, the third time he's scored at least 20 in the past five games.
The senior made 8 of 15 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
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