Nov. 2, 2011
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FORT WORTH--Entering its final season of Mountain West play, the TCU men's basketball team has selected one simple motto to define its upcoming campaign: COUNT ON ME.
The Horned Frogs look to erase the taste of a disappointing 2010-11 season by getting back to basics--playing solid fundamental basketball while giving maximum team effort every second of every game. To do so, they know they will need to be a close-knit squad that trusts that each teammate is up to the task of embodying that team slogan.
Fourth-year head coach Jim Christian's squad has a solid leadership core already in place to make sure the team does just that, starting with three returning starters in senior guard Hank Thorns, senior forward J.R. Cadot and junior forward Garlon Green.
Thorns, one of five players selected to the Preseason All-Mountain West Team, emerged as one of the nation's top point guards a year ago in his first season on the court for TCU.
A third-team All-MW pick as a junior, Thorns was the only player to finish last season ranked among the nation's top-12 players in both assists (No. 4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 12). His 225 total helpers ranked No. 2 on the MW's single-season charts and No. 3 on TCU's all-time list. When the Frogs needed an additional scoring threat in the second half of last season, Thorns stepped up by averaging a team-high 12.6 points over the final 12 contests.
Green proved to be the team's most dependable offensive threat last season, as he led the team in scoring (11.2 ppg) while shooting just under 50 percent from the field. He became truly dangerous from long range, shooting 47.6 percent from 3-point range, and finished the season just one made 3-pointer shy of qualifying for the MW rankings in the category, which he would have led. The Frogs look for Green to take another step forward this season as a junior.
Adding to a lineup featuring the team's top scorer and assist man is Cadot, last year's leading rebounder who pulled down 6.0 boards per contest, including 2.5 on the offensive end. Cadot, who was in his first season at TCU after previously playing junior college ball at Sheridan College, is an athletic player who flourished at the end of last season, scoring in double figures in seven of the final eight games. His final field-goal percentage (65.9 percent) ranked No. 2 as the No. 2 season all-time at TCU for players with at least 150 attempts.
Four other Frogs return this season, including a pair of sophomores in forward Amric Fields and guard Jarvis Ray. The TCU coaches see both as high-ceiling players with the potential to make huge gains in their second seasons on campus after seeing extensive action last year. Fields played in all 33 games and ranked fifth on the team in total scoring (6.8 ppg), while Ray appeared in 27 contests.
Senior guard Marin Bavcevic, junior center Cheick Kone and sophomore Thomas Montigel also return and will battle for playing time.
The Frogs added six players in the offseason, and each will be looked at to make significant contributions in their first year on campus. The dimension the squad lacked most last season, size, was one of the biggest areas addressed.
Junior Adrick McKinney, a 6-8, 260-pound forward from Angelina College, and senior forward Craig Williams, a 6-8, 265-pound transfer from Temple, appear to be just what the doctor ordered for a TCU team that struggled to find a presence in the low post last season.
Both McKinney and Williams will bring high-energy, physical presences to the TCU lineup. McKinney, the nation's No. 45 junior college prospect last season, averaged 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for Angelina College in 2010-11. Williams is a well-rounded player who features great touch from outside among his strengths.
The frontcourt also received a boost with the arrivals of two junior college teammates, guard Nate Butler (6-6, 200) and forward Connell Crossland (6-7, 195), and one local prep star, freshman guard Kyan Anderson (5-11, 165).
Butler is a strong, athletic guard who will give TCU one of the MW's largest players at the guard position. He also is a dangerous threat in transition. Crossland is a versatile player who possesses the ability to play both the small and power forward positions for TCU. Christian has singled out his high-level rebouding ability as a strength.
Anderson, who starred locally for North Crowley High School, was one of the state's top point guard prospects. Anderson has outstanding court vision and high-level scoring ability. Look for him to be used in a role as both a shooting guard and backup to Thorns at the point in his final season.
Also looking to contribute in his first season for TCU for is walk-on sophomore Chris Zurcher, a native of San Antonio.
The Frogs face a challenging schedule in 2011-12 featuring more than half of their games against teams that advanced to postseason play a year ago. Depending on its draw at the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam in mid-November, TCU could face at least one team from seven of the top-eight rated conferences in the final 2010-11 RPI rankings: the Big East (Marquette in the Paradise Jam), Big Ten (Nebraska), Big 12 (Texas Tech), Mountain West (seven opponents; 14 games), ACC (Virginia in the Paradise Jam), SEC (Ole Miss in the Paradise Jam), Pac-12 (USC) and Conference USA (Houston, Rice, SMU and Tulsa).
The Frogs tip off the regular season at home Friday, Nov. 11, when they face Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. The squad will first take on Cameron University in an exhibition contest this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Admission to the exhibition game is free, while season-ticket packages and single-game tickets are available now through the TCU Athletics Ticket Office.