TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon was sitting on the team bus during the ride back to Fort Worth late Monday when inspiration struck.
The Horned Frogs had just beaten Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., for the first time since 1925. Up next is No. 10 Texas Tech Saturday afternoon at Schollmaier Arena. The roars from TCU’s last home game were perhaps still echoing in Dixon’s head.
“You think last Monday was loud inside Schollmaier arena wait till you hear this Saturday vs Texas Tech. Calling out @TCUFrogArmy,” Dixon posted on Twitter.
The last time the Frogs (16-6, 4-5 in the Big 12) played a game in Fort Worth they were upsetting then-No. 7 West Virginia before a sold-out crowd. It was arguably the loudest the arena has ever been. Add to that a national television audience watching it all on ESPN.
The raucous atmosphere was integral to TCU’s big win and Dixon and his players celebrated with students on the court afterward. They’d love a repeat performance against the Red Raiders (18-4, 6-3).
“There’s nothing like college basketball done right and we’re doing it right right now,” Dixon said. “The atmosphere you saw on Monday and the atmosphere we’ve had here in recent years, I mean it shows ... it’s important to your school, it’s important to your students.”
And, of course, it’s important to the players.
“There’s stretches in games where you just have to push through that level of fatigue and the crowd really helps you,” TCU guard Desmond Bane said. “Whether it’s the defensive chants or the loud roars throughout Schollmaier Arena, it’s a big-time energy boost.”
The improved atmosphere is getting through to television viewers, too. Dixon, who played at TCU in the 1980s, said high school coaches during a recruiting trip earlier this week were commenting on the change.
“It just brings a smile to my face,” he said. “There’s no question one of my reasons for coming back here was sitting in Pittsburgh and watching games at TCU on TV and the atmosphere. It was not fun to watch as an alumnus when there was nobody in the stands and there was more of the other team’s fans there. That’s not what you want to see.”
And that’s not what you will see Saturday afternoon. Things have changed.
TCU vs. No. 10 Texas Tech
1 p.m. Saturday, Schollmaier Arena