For years, the start of basketball season at TCU was a quiet affair. No midnight practices, no hoopla.
Just a weekend in November.
Now in Jamie Dixon’s second season as coach, the Horned Frogs are showcasing basketball like a major program, with a free scrimmage and skills contest — including a chance for a student to sink a half-court shot and win $1,000 — and pizza party on Friday at Schollmaier Arena.
“I think it’ll be good,” Dixon said. “I have no idea how many people we’ll get. We’ve kind of made it a student thing, but anybody can come.”
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The “Frog Army Scrimmage” starts at 5 p.m., a dunk contest and 3-point shootout follow at about 6, and pizza will be available for students. Jamie Dixon bobbleheads will be given away, and the first 1,000 students get a Frog Army t-shirt.
It’s another sign of the growth of TCU basketball, which has not been to the NCAA tournament in 20 years. Scrimmages, public practices, fan events and alumni games — such as TCU held in August — are the trappings of big-time college basketball programs.
It’s what Dixon was used to at Pitt.
“It gives a wakeup that the season’s a week away,” he said.
Indeed, TCU begins the season on Nov. 10 with an 8 p.m. tipoff against ULM. The Horned Frogs are coming off a 24-15 season in which they won the school’s first postseason championship, the NIT. Returning their top six scorers, the Frogs were picked third in the Big 12 coaches poll, their highest spot ever, and lauded at the conference media day last week.
The Frogs narrowly missed out on a preseason AP Top 25 spot, which would have been only their second ever. They received the 29th-most points in the poll released Wednesday.
Dixon initially considered an exhibition game for hurricane relief, similar to the effort by Texas and Texas A&M on Oct. 25 and a game played by Kansas and Missouri on Oct. 22, but the logistics could not be worked out.
“I’d like to get us playing in front of some people one time before the season starts,” Dixon said. “Felt this was the best way, make it an event for the students, with a pizza party, chance to meet the players after. As soon as the game’s over, we’re not going into the locker room, we’re staying out there, interacting, having pizza, relaxing.”
Guard Alex Robinson is ready to see people in the stands.
“That’s the most exciting part is being able to play in front of our fans again,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun experience before we get into the actual season next week. Because the energy that the fans bring and we’re going to bring, it’s going to be an exciting year.”
Frog Army Scrimmage
5 Friday, Schollmaier Arena (free)