TCU basketball’s success helps raise profile on campus: ‘That’s something that’s new here’

Alex Robinson once could walk around TCU’s campus unnoticed, blending in with the rest of the undergrads.

That was three years ago.

Today, the TCU guard and his teammates carry a higher profile after leading the Horned Frogs back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years under coach Jamie Dixon.

TCU’s season begins against Cal State Bakersfield at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Schollmaier Arena.

Season tickets are sold out for the 6,800-seat arena, but that didn’t stop Dixon and his players from giving fans and students a free preview Friday night.

The team held a scrimmage, put on a dunk contest and Robinson even hit a half court shot while sitting on the floor that earned a TCU student $1,000 out of Dixon’s checkbook. Dixon, who turns 53 on the Saturday, is up for anything that will help build on the team’s relationship with their fans, especially the student body. The fans interest and intensity has noticeably improved the past few seasons.

Of course, winning will have that effect. The No. 20 Frogs start this season with six consecutive home games in November before playing at SMU on Dec. 5. Non-conference, single-game tickets are still available.

It’s no secret how the team recaptures that fan magic.

“I think we do that with our play. We’ve never been ranked this high before this early,” Robinson said. “I think that will draw a good crowd from the get go. I know football is struggling a little bit so we’re here to give hope to our school. We’re here to compete for a championship.”

Dixon’s comedic turn in a couple of promotional videos produced by the TCU athletic department last season were a big hit. He’s up for whatever it takes to spread the word on the program.

“I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I’m past being embarrassed at this point. I’m too old to get embarrassed now,” Dixon said. “We’re sold out but it’s about getting your brand out there and letting people know the kids and know us. We have good, outgoing kids who like to get out and talk to people. It’s important that we get them out there and they see their personalities.”

On campus, at least, that’s no longer an issue.

“You walk around campus and you can feel the love and how they’re excited about basketball,” Robinson said. “That’s something that’s new here.”

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