Hoops season is here. Finally.
Expectations are high going into Jamie Dixon’s third season. The Frogs are ranked No. 20 in the country, just the second time in school history to enter a season ranked in the preseason (they were No. 24 prior to the 1998-99 season).
Seeing Dixon turn TCU into a contender hasn’t surprised anyone in the college basketball world.
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“Jamie is a heck of a coach,” West Virginia’s Bob Huggins said. “He’s a heck of a coach. His guys play really hard. They play the right way.”
The 2018-19 campaign gets underway tonight with TCU hosting CSU Bakersfield. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena.
What to watch for going into TCU’s season:
TCU hasn’t made consecutive NCAA Tournaments since the 1951-52 and 1952-53 seasons. In that era, the NIT was the more prestigious postseason tournament.
So TCU is looking to do something that hasn’t been done in school history this season by making consecutive trips to the Big Dance. The players certainly have bought in.
“You can feel the energy,” junior guard Desmond Bane said. “Us older guys, juniors and seniors, are ready to lead and step up. It’s going to be a fun year.”
TCU has started strong in the Dixon era, posting 7-0 Novembers in each season.
TCU is looking to win its 12th consecutive home opener tonight.
Getting off to a strong start is important, of course, particularly with how grueling the Big 12 schedule is.
Dixon joked last month that TCU is the “most veteran young team in America.”
The Frogs have an experienced backcourt with players such as Bane, Alex Robinson and Jaylen Fisher returning. In fact, the Frogs rank 16th among D-1 schools for the most points scored by players on their roster with 3,245.
On the same hand, TCU is just one of 21 D-1 teams with two or fewer scholarship seniors on the team and are just one of 16 with a combined eight or more scholarship freshmen and sophomores on the team.
At the end of the day, any coach would prefer having an experienced backcourt such as TCU. Teams with deep, experienced backcourts are usually the ones making runs in March.
Much focus will be on Jaylen Fisher this season. He is a dynamic player for the Frogs when he is on the court.
But Fisher has been injury prone so far in his career and is working his way back after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in September. It’s the same knee that Fisher underwent surgery on for a torn meniscus last January, ending his sophomore season.
TCU is focused on having Fisher healthy for the entire season, so expect him to ease into game action early on.
For his part, Fisher has handled the rehab well.
“I’m just amazed at how he’s handled it and how his energy is,” Dixon said. “Anybody that’s had an injury when they’re tyring to play, it can be devastating. Physically, as well as mentally, but he’s handled his energy, his enthusiasm, his involvement, camaraderie with the team has been amazing.”
To borrow a phrase from Dick Vitale, TCU has a few diaper dandies on its rosters worth watching.
Freshman forward Kaden Archie had a standout career at Midlothian, earning a four-star rating by 247Sports. He joins the Frogs as the No. 3 player in the state and No. 19 small forward in the nation.
Oh, and Archie has a chance to become a fan favorite early on. He is into fashion, declaring himself the best dressed player on the team, as well as writing poetry.
“I just freelance, I freestyle kind of like rapping,” Archie said of his poetry.
Another freshman to watch? Guard Kendric Davis, a four-star prospect from the Houston area. Davis put up impressive numbers in high school, knocking down 51.3 percent of his 3-point attempts and shooting 79 percent from the field.
Davis was the No. 23 point guard in the nation, according to 247Sports, and will benefit by learning under veterans such as Robinson and Fisher.