It happened more than once, especially early in the TCU men’s basketball season a year ago.
Horned Frogs point guard Kyan Anderson would spot a streaking teammate near the basket and hit him with a laser-sharp pass, but the ball was fumbled out of bounds and the easy basket was lost.
The swift pass comes naturally for Anderson, a former star at North Crowley High School, who dishes out assists with innate instinct.
But most of the time those lost opportunities were Anderson’s fault, coach Trent Johnson said. Because the point guard has to know who he’s throwing to and what his teammates can handle.
“He knows what’s best,” Anderson said during Big 12 media day at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City. “You just need to know this player may not be ready for this type of pass or ready for this fast pace. It’s up to me to call those shots and to pull it back and make the nice, simple bounce pass. So he’s right, it is my fault. I’m working on it and doing better at it.”
That’s not to say Johnson is asking Anderson to take it easy on his teammates. That hasn’t been the case as Anderson has kept the intensity high and the passes coming. Just ask his teammate Christian Gore, who was plunked in the head during a fast break.
“I told him to run with your head up,” Anderson said. “I’m going to hit you in the head every time if you’re not.”
Gore taking one off his noggin elicited a laugh, including from Johnson, but it served as a wake-up call for the rest of the team. Be alert when Anderson has the ball.
“He knew what I was doing,” he said. “It will only help us in the end.”
Johnson wants him to become more of a vocal leader, something that doesn’t come naturally for the soft-spoken Anderson. But he doesn’t hesitate to lead by example on and off the court and give advice in his own understated way, especially to the crop of young players on TCU’s roster.
“I’m trying to preach to these guys that I’m just an extension of coach Johnson on the court,” said Anderson, who was third in the Big 12 with 33.9 minutes per game last season. “There’s nothing really different. These guys listen and do everything right, anyway, so there’s not much for me to be saying.”
Anderson improved physically with a tough off-season weight-lifting program that has made him stronger and faster.
Freshman center Karviar Shepherd, who watched many of TCU’s games from the stands last spring, saw the physical toll on Anderson against Big 12 competition.
“He had some hard times last year, but it’s only influencing his awareness and his demeanor and his passion towards the game,” said Shepherd, who represented TCU with Anderson on Tuesday.
Johnson said Anderson is still adjusting to becoming more vocal.
“He’s had the biggest improvement in terms of his own personality because he’s soft spoken,” Johnson said. “He does have a high basketball IQ. It’s been a progression. There’s good days and bad days. With his personality, I don’t expect him to be totally vocal with anybody and anything but it’s been a gradual process for him.
“Our team chemistry is really good right now because we haven’t been tested.”
TCU has a scrimmage Friday at Texas A&M. It’ll be the first time Johnson gets to see how much his team has progressed since a four-game tour of Canada in the summer. The season opener against SMU at American Airlines Center on Nov. 8 is just a little more than two weeks away.
Anderson is optimistic about the Frogs’ chances of turning around the program after going 11-21 and 2-16 in the Big 12.
“I honestly do,” he said. “I don’t know what other teams have, but just from a TCU standpoint, I see we’re progressing, especially on the offensive end.
“Defense kept us in a lot of games last year, we just didn’t necessarily have enough weapons. But now I feel like we have the weapons, so it’s going to be real interesting to see where we could end up.”