Naturally, the first weeks back on campus come with enthusiasm, but TCU basketball coach Trent Johnson said Tuesday that he has been pleased with the competitive nature of his squad during summer workouts.
“There’s a sense of urgency that comes with what we’re doing in our expectations for them,” Johnson said during the Big 12 men’s basketball summer teleconference. “What’s good about that is they have a high expectation for themselves individually and collectively.”
The veterans have had a year of work under Johnson, but the process of acclimating to the Big 12 program is still developing. Workouts began June 7.
Part of TCU’s plans depend on the recovery of 6-foot-9 junior forward Amric Fields, who is recovering from a season-ending knee injury he suffered in November.
On Tuesday, Johnson said Fields underwent a follow-up procedure and that the setback will keep him out of contact drills until October.
Fields was averaging 7.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game and shooting 64 percent from the field last season prior to the injury.
“He can cause a lot of problems from the standpoint of matching up because he can play on the perimeter and he can play on the post,” Johnson said. “He has a very good skill set.”
The key for Johnson and the TCU training staff is to take things slow, he said.
Junior guard Kyan Anderson also understands that the program is rebuilding and has worked hard in the weight room, Johnson said.
“He needs to get bigger and stronger, which he’s done, but he needs to make better decisions on the floor and off,” Johnson said. “When you look at late-game situations, whether it’s at the half or at the end of the game, he needs to make better decisions.”
TCU was 11-21 last season. But Johnson knows there’s value to being an underdog with some bite.
“I foresee, with the roster of the teams that I saw last year, I see everyone being a favorite [in the Big 12] with the exception of TCU,” Johnson said.
Talk naturally gravitated toward Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Smart, who decided to forgo the 2013 NBA Draft for another year running the point for Oklahoma State.
Smart, who played at Flower Mound Marcus, is in the Czech Republic competing for the United States at the U19 World Championship under Florida coach Billy Donovan.
Asked about Smart, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins compared him to another point guard with Metroplex ties.
“I thought he was terrific,” Huggins said. “I don’t know that we’ve played against someone that’s controlled the game from the point guard position like he did since we played against Jason Kidd.”
Huggins’ Cincinnati Bearcats lost against Kidd and California in 1994.
On Monday, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to change the block-charge rule.
Now a defensive player cannot draw a charge after an offensive player starts his upward movement. Previously, he needed to be in position before the offensive player left the floor.
TCU coach Trent Johnson said this will force coaches and players to make some adjustments heading into next season.
“For me personally, I think it’s helped the in-between game,” he said. “I know I’m going to be reluctant to tell a kid to attack the rim as opposed to pull up and shoot the mid-range jump shot because coaches and teams are so well-coached in getting position to step outside the lane and take a charge.”