February 10, 2013

TCU senior Crossland making end of career count

Recent surge has Connell Crossland feeling “free.”

TCU forward Connell Crossland senses a freedom on the court he hasn't felt for years.

The senior has been in a groove for five consecutive games in which he has found himself at the right place at the right time on the court to make plays.

He has been the Horned Frogs' most consistent performer since Jan. 23, when he scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds at West Virginia.

Crossland looks at ease on the floor and has come up with some of TCU's best plays during the stretch, including an electrifying, rebound-dunk in last week's upset of Kansas.

"It kind of reminded me of my juco days," said Crossland, who came to TCU from John A. Logan College in Illinois prior to last season. "I always had a knack for the ball and it just seems like wherever the ball was, Connell Crossland was right there. I feel free right now."

He and the Frogs (10-13, 1-9 Big 12) play at Oklahoma (15-7, 6-4) at 6 tonight in Norman, Okla.

Crossland's playing time increased when Jarvis Ray was sidelined with a foot injury Dec. 18. Ten days before the injury, Crossland started for Ray at Tulsa and had 10 points and six rebounds. He started five of the next six games and played well, averaging 7.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the stretch.

But a poor performance at Oklahoma State, in which he was 0 for 4 from the field with four turnovers, sent him back to the bench for five games.

He found his current rhythm at West Virginia and kept it going against Baylor, scoring 12 points on 6 of 9 shooting and grabbing three steals. In the past five games, he has made 20 of 32 shots and is averaging 9.4 rebounds.

Even his free-throw shooting, which was just above 40 percent, has shown improvement. He made 7 of 9 Saturday against West Virginia.

"What Connell has done right now is he has stayed, finally, to his strengths," TCU coach Trent Johnson said. "Defensively, he's talking more and he's playing within himself. All his points are coming from rebounding, from setting screens and being a guy who's in a position to roll. He's making it happen because of his effort.

"His concentration has probably been better and he's more active to the ball. The better the player, you know what you're getting every day. He's been doing what he's supposed to do."

For the past five games, Johnson has known what to expect from Crossland.

"Conference hit and I hadn't been playing to the best of my ability throughout the season," Crossland said. "This is my last year and I don't want to regret anything. I just want to try to leave everything out there on the floor and do what I can to help my team."

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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