Last week at Schollmaier Arena, in the scene for TCU’s game against Baylor, Chris Del Conte saw exactly what he pictured for men’s basketball.
“When we made that investment in that facility, and then got Jamie to come home, you envisioned that packed house,” the university athletic director said. “It was just a matter of time, where I envisioned that environment Saturday night, sooner rather than later.”
TCU put more than $70 million into a remodel of the former Daniel Meyer Coliseum, lowering the floor, reconfiguring seating, installing new concourses and building a new facade. The project was complete in December 2015.
Three months later, Del Conte hired Jamie Dixon from Pittsburgh as head coach. The Frogs’ 14-3 start, which included a 3-2 record in the Big 12 — the first time they had been over .500 in the league since joining — created a fervor among fans and students, back from winter break, in time for last Saturday’s game against Baylor.
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The third-largest crowd in the arena’s history and the largest since its remake, 7,276, watched Baylor take a 62-53 victory.
People had a hard time believing if we built it, they would come in basketball. But the people that did invest, they were so happy to see the crowd.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte
“People had a hard time believing if we built it, they would come in basketball,” Del Conte said. “But the people that did invest, they were so happy to see the crowd. It just reaffirms my belief that Horned Frog nation knows that if you build it, if you put a quality product on the field or on the court, people are going to come.”
Saturday against Auburn, the Frogs are back in Schollmaier for the first time since the Baylor game.
TCU is 11-2 at Schollmaier Arena this season. Since joining the Big 12, TCU has not been better than 13-6 at home.
“It was crazy. That’s what I expected when I came here, honestly,” freshman guard Desmond Bane said. “I didn’t come to a game on any visit, so I didn’t know what the atmosphere was actually going to be like. Playing in the Big 12, I expected that the games would be rowdy, sold out, especially when I saw the size of the arena. I said, yeah, this seems like a fun place to play.”
Sophomore guard Alex Robinson, who played in the SEC two years ago with Texas A&M, said it was unlike any environment he’s been in, even including a two-overtime thriller against Kentucky at Reed Arena.
“But I don’t think collectively it was ever like it was versus Baylor,” he said. “The whole stands were rocking the whole game. It was non-stop. The fans were so into it. If we get that for the rest of the season, we’re going to have a lot of success.”
TCU vs. Auburn
5 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU