College Confidential

TCU basketball: SMU on schedule next season; Johnson had no interest in ASU job

TCU guard Hudson Price goes for a steal and brings it downcourt in a November 2013 game against SMU at the American Airlines Center, a 69-61 SMU victory that was the last meeting between the schools. They have played every year since 1919 except 1920, 2011 and 2014.
TCU guard Hudson Price goes for a steal and brings it downcourt in a November 2013 game against SMU at the American Airlines Center, a 69-61 SMU victory that was the last meeting between the schools. They have played every year since 1919 except 1920, 2011 and 2014. Star-Telegram

TCU coach Trent Johnson said SMU is on the schedule for next season, plus a trip to the Cancun Challenge with Maryland, Rhode Island and Illinois State, part of an upgrade of the non-conference schedule.

SMU and Maryland were NCAA tournament teams last year, and Rhode Island and Illinois State were NIT teams.

There will also be a January game against an SEC team.

The Horned Frogs went 13-0 in non-conference last season for the first time, earning a No. 25 national ranking, its first in 15 years. It included victories against three Power 5 opponents, Washington State, Mississippi and Mississippi State. But TCU had the second-worst RPI rating in the Big 12.

Johnson said part of the reason for the makeup of last season’s non-conference schedule was to protect his team’s health coming off an injury-filled season.

“I have a responsibility for kids’ health No. 1, and No. 2, their confidence and development, and to make sure we get different styles of play that get us ready for league,” Johnson said. “The schedule is going to be challenging.”

TCU and SMU have played ever year since 1919 except for 1920, 2011 and 2014. The 189 games are the most played by TCU against any other school. The Horned Frogs are 85-104 in the series.

The full schedule will be announced in summer.

No to Arizona State

Johnson said he never had interest in the Arizona State opening, which was filled by Bobby Hurley last week. Johnson, who formerly coached in the Pac 12 at Stanford and has a daughter who ran track at Arizona State, was among the candidates mentioned in media reports in Arizona.

“Big N-O,” Johnson said. “This is my last job. I’m going to finish what I started. We’re going to build this program. It’s not even flattering to me anymore that your name gets thrown out for a job.”

Johnson, 58, will start his fourth season at TCU. He has previously coached at Nevada, Stanford and LSU.

“The word went out when I took this job – that’s it,” he said. “My commitment is to the players that made a commitment to us, to be in this thing for the long haul, to this institution. This athletic department, this administration led by Chris Del Conte, gave me an opportunity. Trent Johnson has always been very loyal, very committed and very respectful of opportunities given. I have never, ever gone after another job.”

Big 12 bust

Johnson said the Big 12’s showing in the NCAA tournament can be traced to the toll the conference season took on the teams.

“I looked at the way Iowa State was playing against UAB – they were tired,” Johnson said. “You don’t go through a year in this league, where every game, with the exception of maybe one or two teams, is like an NCAA tournament game. That Iowa State team, did they look like the same team you’d been seeing all year? Kansas, they limped into the deal. Why was that? It’s because every week ... “

Johnson said the league’s non-conference record in November and December spoke to the quality of the conference, which had the country’s top RPI.

“As much as all the experts want to say, that speaks volumes,” Johnson said. “It’s a long year.”

Criticism addressed

Johnson, a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors, acknowledged that changes in the shot clock and other rules are possible for the college game. But he disagreed with some of the criticism from people like NBA owner Mark Cuban and UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma about the quality of the game.

“Are there certain things that need to be addressed? Yeah. Are we trying to address them? Yeah,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is there were a lot of people watching the Final Four games, a lot of people watching college basketball.”

Johnson said the NBA, as a professional league, can be about entertainment and product. But college basketball, he said, also involves teaching.

“The NBA rules are what they are. The international rules are what they are. The college game is different,” he said. “It’s evolved into something that probably needs to be changed. But if we want to make our game like the NBA, there are going to be a lot of guys who are going to be left out. There are going to be a lot of guys who won’t have an opportunity to play.”

Briefly

Kenrich Williams, Chris Washburn and Karviar Shepherd were named team captains for next season, Johnson announced on Twitter on Monday.

Trey Zeigler said he has a workout scheduled April 30 with the Utah Jazz.

Kyan Anderson won the MVP award, Kenrich Williams the defensive MVP award, Chris Washburn the most improved award, Trey Zeigler the inspiration award, Amric Fields the sixth-man award, Dalton Dry the coaches award and Christian Gore the academic award at the team banquet last weekend.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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