TCU’s road to national relevance under first-year men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon will conclude in New York, with the chance for an NIT championship.
The Horned Frogs knocked off Richmond 86-68 in Tuesday’s tournament quarterfinals in Schollmaier Arena to secure a spot in next week’s NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Behind a 20-point performance from forward Vladimir Brodziansky and the first triple-double in school history, by guard Kenrich Williams, TCU (22-15) extended a turnaround season that has seen the Frogs top the 20-win mark for the first time in 12 years. TCU also secured the school’s first victory over the nation’s top-ranked team, March 9 against Kansas.
But the biggest step came Tuesday. Ironically, and perhaps appropriately, TCU established itself as one of the final four teams left standing in a postseason tournament for the first time in school history on the one-year anniversary of Dixon’s hiring at his alma mater.
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Dixon, a former TCU player who spent the previous 13 seasons at Pittsburgh, joined the team’s four seniors in addressing the crowd while Frank Sinatra’s iconic version of New York, New York blared during the postgame victory celebration.
“This is just about perfect, how it all played out,” Dixon said. “I’m pretty happy, emotional. A year ago, we came here and this may be a little ahead of schedule with atmosphere and what we’ve got now. But I’m not real good with slowing down and being patient. I like where we’re at.”
So does guard Brandon Parrish, a senior from Arlington Seguin who holds the school record for games played (134) and contributed eight points in his final home game. Parrish reflected on being a starter on a TCU team that posted an 0-18 record in Big 12 play during his freshman season.
This is just about perfect, how it all played out. I’m pretty happy, emotional. A year ago, we came here and ... I like where we’re at.
TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon
“Simply amazing,” Parrish said, summing up the difference between that season and Tuesday, when the Frogs took the lead for good at 6-5 with 16:53 remaining in the first half. “This program has come so far. I was here my freshman year with a winless conference season and now I’m here as a senior, about to go to the semifinals of the NIT. This is phenomenal.”
Brodziansky got things started by scoring 16 of his team-high 20 points during the first half, helping the Frogs build a 41-26 lead at intermission in front of an announced crowd of 5,946 (capacity: 6,700). Williams (11 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists) took it to another level with his triple-double, getting his final assist on Desmond Bane’s layup with 2:05 remaining.
“I didn’t even know I was close to a triple-double until my teammates told me. So I finally got the extra pass at the end,” said Williams, who missed last year’s 12-21 season because of a knee injury. “It’s a blessing because last year, I was sitting on the sidelines. This is big. Our whole career, we’ve been working for this.”
TCU extended its advantage past 20 points for the first time, 54-33, on a Parrish three-pointer with 15:47 remaining. The Frogs were never pushed thereafter while punching their ticket to next week’s semifinals in Madison Square Garden against Illinois or Central Florida.
I didn’t even know I was close to a triple-double until my teammates told me. So I finally got the extra pass at the end.
TCU guard Kenrich Williams, who posted the first triple-double in school history (11 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists)
Four Frogs finished as double-digit scorers and all four seniors (Parrish, Karviar Shepherd, Chris Washburn, Michael Williams) contributed at least four points, led by Parrish and Shepherd with eight each. TCU won the battle of the boards 39-22 to allow Dixon to make his deepest tournament run as a college coach since Pittsburgh captured the 2012 CBI Championship.
Dixon, who led Pitt to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in his 13 seasons at the school, reached the Elite Eight during March Madness in 2009. But he acknowledged there is added luster in taking TCU this deep in the postseason because he was part of the last Frogs’ team to win an NCAA tournament game in 1987.
“This means a lot,” Dixon said when asked to rank Tuesday’s triumph among his career achievements. “I’m not going to rank them. But this does mean a lot because of the personal part of it.”
Brodziansky, a junior, said the Frogs were motivated to seize control quickly because of the stakes on the table.
“We’ve been talking all week about coming out ready to play because this was a game to go home or go to New York, basically,” Brodziansky said.
The Frogs, as the postgame music will attest, will be heading to New York.
RICHMOND (22-13): Cline 15-24 3-4 33, Jones 3-10 2-2 9, Buckingham 4-8 0-0 11, Fore 4-8 1-2 10, Sherod 1-1 0-0 2, Abakah 0-0 0-0 0, Friendshuh 0-0 0-0 0, Wood 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-3 1-2 1, Kirby 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 28-57 7-10 68.
TCU (22-15): Brodziansky 5-10 10-11 20, Miller 2-5 0-0 5, Bane 5-9 0-0 13, Robinson 6-10 0-0 12, K.Williams 5-9 0-0 11, Shepherd 3-4 2-2 8, Washburn 2-3 0-0 4, B.Parrish 3-8 0-0 8, M.Williams 2-5 0-0 5, Dry 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-64 12-13 86.
Halftime—TCU 41-26. 3-Point Goals—Richmond 5-21 (Buckingham 3-6, Fore 1-2, Jones 1-5, Wood 0-1, Kirby 0-1, Johnson 0-2, Cline 0-4), TCU 8-23 (Bane 3-6, B.Parrish 2-6, K.Williams 1-3, M.Williams 1-3, Miller 1-3, Robinson 0-2). Fouled Out—Fore. Rebounds—Richmond 19 (Cline 7), TCU 39 (K.Williams 14). Assists—Richmond 20 (Cline 6), TCU 23 (K.Williams 10). Total Fouls—Richmond 16, TCU 13.