What You Need to Know About TCU
By Matthew Wieselthier
After a heart-racing victory over Arizona State on Wednesday, Jim Boeheim and company must turnaround quickly to take on Texas Christian University. TCU is back in the Big Dance for the first time since the 1997-98 season. For Syracuse, it once again faces a team that started a lot hotter then it finished.
Running a Sprint, Not a Marathon
TCU was one of the last teams in the nation to pick up a loss, making it through the first half of the year undefeated. However, conference play hit the Horned Frogs hard. TCU lost its first Big 12 game to Trae Young and No. 12 Oklahoma 90-89. That didn’t look like a bad loss because it was against such a tough team. However, it was just a sign of things to come. The Horned Frogs won their next game at Baylor in overtime, then lost 8 of their next 12, including at Vanderbilt in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. Their tournament hopes seemed to be dwindling, but a four-game win streak pushed them back into the Big Dance for the first time in 20 years.
Missing in Action
A big reason for TCU’s decline was it lost its best player. Jaylen Fisher did not start the first three games of the season, but after impressive performances off the bench, the sophomore guard earned a spot in the starting lineup and became arguably its best all-around player. Fisher averaged 12.3 points and 5.4 assists per game. He played a huge role in the early season success, and was particularly important in directing the offense. The Horned Frogs lost him in their second loss of the season to Oklahoma and were able to manage an 8-7 record since. But they were 13-4 with their star sophomore in the game.
Respect Your Elders
Jaylen Fisher may be a huge loss for TCU, but the main scoring threats are players that finally are getting their first NCAA Tournament action in their senior seasons. Vladimir Brodziansky is the team’s leading scorer with 15.1 points per game to go along with 5.1 rebounds. The Slovakian forward is 6-10 and uses his size to score most of his baskets from under the hoop, shooting 57.6% on the season. Kenrich Williams is a guard-forward hybrid who also uses his size to his advantage. The 6-7 Texas native averages 13.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest. Most importantly for Williams, he averages nearly 3 offensive rebounds per game, giving his team extra possessions.
Beware the Man-in-Charge
Orange fans are all too familiar with the now-head coach of the Horned Frogs, Jamie Dixon. Dixon took the job down south in 2016, after 13 seasons with Pittsburgh. While with the Panthers, Dixon led his team to 11 NCAA Tournaments, two regular-season Big East titles and one Big East Tournament championship. Most importantly to ‘Cuse fans may be how impressive he was against the Orange. Dixon went 15-6 against Syracuse, a mark that very few coaches can match throughout the Jim Boeheim era. No matter the team they had or how good Syracuse was that year, it seemed that Dixon’s Panthers always had the Orange’s number, something that Boeheim is certainly hoping changed when Dixon left Pittsburgh.
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