No arena is bigger than the game James Naismith bequeathed to generations, TCU basketball coach Trent Johnson asserted on Monday.
So anyone who suggests that one reason the TCU men’s basketball team has held opponents to 35 percent shooting in home games is because Wilkerson-Greines presents a shooting disadvantage to opponents is full of horse hockey.
The field-goal percentage trend held through the first half of the Horned Frogs’ Big 12 opener against West Virginia, which shot 35 percent in the first half but heated up in the last 20 minutes, sending TCU to its first loss this season.
The Mountaineers, though, were much more effective in getting to the basket and converting in the second half.
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The Frogs are playing their home games this season at Wilkerson-Greines, an athletic facility owned by the Fort Worth school district, while Daniel-Meyer Coliseum undergoes renovation.
“The rim is 10 feet,” Johnson told an inquisitor during the Big 12 men’s coaches conference call on Monday. “The only advantage we have, if any, is that if we come out and play extremely hard and rebound. It creates an advantage against certain teams regardless of where you play or when you play.
“We could play outside for all I care.”
The Frogs (13-1) return “home” on Saturday for a game against Baylor (11-2, 0-1). TCU first travels to Manhattan, Kan., for a game against Kansas State on Wednesday.
Johnson said he hasn’t said much to his team about any inconvenience the off-campus arrangements pose for his team. The team’s responsibility is to prepare to compete at the highest level every day.
“It’s about respecting the game and learning how to play the game the right way,” Johnson said. “Every team in this athletic department has done a lot of winning before they had better facilities.
“We need to hold up our end of the deal in terms of how we compete.”
Johnson said the challenge of overcoming a culture of losing and the need to cultivate leadership were on display Saturday when his team lost its poise during West Virginia’s decisive run on Saturday.
“I think it’s a combination of both, no question,” Johnson said. “Leadership is 13 guys being accountable to each other. When things get tough you have to fight through your comfort zone, stay together and stay the course.”
The Frogs have displayed balanced scoring on offense over the first 14 games, illustrating a deeper, better roster, Johnson said.
It also signifies what hasn’t emerged at TCU yet: A player who can take over games. Kyan Anderson leads the team with 13.8 per game.
“We don’t have a guy capable of going out there, against good teams and good players, and scoring 20 and 10 and that stuff,” Johnson said. “We’re only as good as the sum of our parts.
“For us to beat the people we need to beat and achieve the goals we have it has nothing to do with offense, but sticking our nose in there and being a little tougher [on defense] and rebounding.”
Big, Big 12
The Big 12, considered by many to be the best basketball conference in the nation, displayed its prowess with a nation’s-best .825 winning percentage during the nonconference season.
Six teams — Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia and Baylor — are ranked and nine of 10, including TCU, have had a stint in the Top 25.
Against the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, the Big 12 is 25-16.
“It’s great for our league,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “When other people are good all it should do is raise your own level.”
OSU guard honored
Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte, a Flower Mound Marcus product, was selected Big 12 player of the week after averaging 20.5 points in victories over Missouri and Kansas State. In two games, he shot 58 percent from the floor and against Kansas State, Forte became the 40th player in school history to score more than 1,000 points for his career.