The past two weeks have required TCU to be “really, really resilient,” coach Trent Johnson said.
Speaking after a loss to Kansas that eliminated TCU from the Big 12 tournament Thursday, Johnson laid out the adversity the Horned Frogs have faced since Feb. 27, when an unplanned train trip, that took eight hours because of a delay, got them to Norman, Okla., at 1 a.m. for a game 12 hours later against the Sooners.
“There are a lot of things you have to play through, and we talk about it all the time as a group, as a team — keep your poise, play through whatever else is going on out there,” Johnson said.
He said in the past two weeks, team trainer Chris Hall had a death in his family and guard Dalton Dry had a family emergency.
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“Going back to Oklahoma, when we had travel issues, we compete our tail off, have an opportunity to win that game, and then we play a really, really good Oklahoma State team on the road and find out that Chris Hall had lost his father, have to tell the kids that after the game, they stayed the course. Never batted an eye,” Johnson said.
TCU led by 12 in the first half of the Oklahoma game but lost the lead and the game in the closing minutes. Against Oklahoma State, the Horned Frogs gave up a season-high 11 3-pointers.
The Horned Frogs led Iowa State after the first half in the season finale, but lost 89-76. It left them with a three-game losing streak after a 3-1 stretch that was the best of the season.
But the Frogs believed they were still playing well, despite the losses, and opened the tournament with a victory Wednesday against Kansas State, their first victory in the Big 12 tournament.
Hours later, they were in a one-possession game against No. 1 seed Kansas until the final minute.
“To come here and compete and beat a very, very good Kansas State team and play at 6 o’clock and turn around and play these guys at 1 [p.m.] and have an opportunity to win, it speaks volumes to the resilience of these guys,” Johnson said. “Because last time I checked — we all get caught up in rankings — there is not a bunch of guys on this team that are McDonald’s All-American players and all that other stuff. But this is a pretty good basketball team that stayed their course in a very, very good league.”
Now TCU waits to see if its resiliency is rewarded with a postseason tournament bid.
The Frogs have 18 wins, five against Big 12 teams and two against SEC teams. In 2012, TCU went to the College Basketball Invitational with an 18-14 record. In 2005, the Frogs earned an NIT bid with a 19-13 record.
“I will say this, my last year at LSU, we were 17-14, we won a game and went to the NIT, and it was a no-brainer,” Johnson said. “And that league was nowhere near as strong from top to bottom as this league.”
▪ Senior guard Trey Zeigler played all 40 minutes against Kansas and was 8 for 8 at the foul line. He averaged 18.7 points in three games against KU.
▪ Sophomore forward Chris Washburn Jr. set a team record for the tournament with four steals against Kansas.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760