Game to be televised on HDNet
TCU 83, Milwaukee 73
Frogs to make first postseason appearance since 2005
No. 4 CSU 81, No. 5 TCU 60
Frogs tip off March Madness as No. 5 seed in MW tourney
Jim Christian served four seasons as TCU men's basketball head coach from 2007 through 2012 after joining the Horned Frogs from Kent State. He resigned in April 2012 in order to accept the head coaching position at Ohio after guiding the Frogs to a 56-73 overall record.
Christian's final year at the TCU helm in 2011-12 proved to be the most successful in his Frog tenure, as he helped the program break a seven-year absence from postseason play with an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament. The squad posted an 18-15 overall record, four more wins than in any season since 2004-05, and garnered its best finish ever in the Mountain West Conference at fifth place.
TCU finished 2011-12 with a 7-7 record in MW play, more victories than in any of its previous six seasons as a conference member despite playing two fewer games (14) than in past campaigns (16). Highlighting the Frogs' league season was the program's first six-game conference home winning streak since 1997-98. Included in the streak were wins over a pair of ranked teams in No. 11 UNLV and No. 18 New Mexico, only the second time in program history the Frogs earned consecutive victories over rated opponents.
Christian's final squad featured several award winners, most notably point guard Hank Thorns, a two-time All-Mountain West player who earned first-team all-league honors during TCU's breakthrough season.
Thorns, who transferred to TCU from Virginia Tech following his sophomore season, emerged as one of the top point guards in program history during his two seasons with the Frogs, climbing into sixth place on the school's career assists chart and becoming the first TCU player to be named first-team all-conference in 12 years. He produced one of the top seasons ever for a TCU point guard in his first season on campus in 2010-11, finishing as the only individual ranked among the nation's top-12 players in both assists per game (No. 4) and assist-turnover ratio (No. 12). His 225 helpers ranked No. 2 in MW single-season history and No. 3 for top outputs by a Frog.
Joining Thorns in earning postseason attention in 2011-12 were guard J.R. Cadot, a third-team All-MW honoree, guard Kyan Anderson, the Mountain West Freshman of the Year, and forward Amric Fields, the conference's Sixth Man of the Year. Cadot, who like Thorns joined the program as a transfer, was among the MW's top rebounders from his guard position. An underrated offensive player, he ended his career ranked No. 2 among Frogs all-time in career field-goal percentage. Fields became the first TCU player ever to earn a sixth man award, while Anderson became the fifth Frog to be named top conference freshman.
In addition to the crop of Frog award winners accumulated in 2011-12, three others earned all-conference honors under Christian's watch: Ronnie Moss (2009-10 All-MW Second Team), Kevin Langford (2008-09 All-MW Second Team) and Zvonko Buljan (2008-09 MW Newcomer of the Year).
Perhaps the top individual season during TCU's Jim Christian era came during Moss' sophomore campaign in 2008-09, when he became the first Frog to lead the team in both scoring (14.9 per game) and assists (5.9 per game) in nearly a decade since former great Corey Santee (2001-02). Moss' assist numbers ranked him first in the MW and among the nation's leaders. By the end of his junior season, Moss had become only the fifth player in program history to amass 1,000 points and 300 assists in a career.
Christian was introduced to the Dallas/Fort Worth community on March 29th, 2008, as the 19th head coach in TCU history. In front of representatives of the TCU athletics department, campus leaders, media members and lifelong Frog supporters, former TCU Athletics Director Dr. Danny Morrison described Christian as a "slam dunk" in finding the right person to lead the program.
The introduction of Christian was made with praise not only around the DFW Metroplex, but also around the nation as Mike Huguenin of Rivals.com stated that "Christian is the best hire of 2008 in college basketball." ESPN College Basketball Analyst Jay Bilas stated, "When you watch Christian's team play, you see just how good of a coach he really is. I have been surprised that someone hasn't plucked him out of Kent State sooner, but this was a tremendous hire by TCU and one that will pay dividends for them in the near future."
Christian arrived at TCU from Kent State, where he won at least 20 games in each of his six seasons and collected a record of 138-58 for the highest-winning percentage (.704) in Mid-American Conference history. In his six seasons as head coach of the Golden Flashes, Christian climbed to second place on the school's all-time career victories list.
Under the guidance and leadership of Christian, the Golden Flashes garnered five post-season appearances in six campaigns, including a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 and 2008. He was selected as the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in two of his final three seasons and led his team to its first-ever top-25 ranking after peaking at No. 23.
Christian's time as Kent State head coach was highlighted by numerous individual standouts, including two honorable-mention All-Americans (Antonio Gates, DeAndre Haynes), two MAC Players of the Year (DeAndre Haynes, Al Fisher), three MAC Defensive Players of the Year (Demetric Shaw, John Edwards, Haminn Quaintance), one MAC Sixth Man of the Year (Kevin Warzynski) and a total of 19 All-MAC selections, including six first teamers.
Among Christian's all-conference picks was Gates, who would go on to an NFL All-Pro tight end career for the San Diego Chargers, as well as two-time honoree Eric Haut, who Christian later spent three seasons on Christian's TCU staff. Former Golden Flash Armon Gates, an academic All-MAC selection, also spent one season as a Frog assistant coach.
Christian originally joined the Kent State staff in 2001-02 as an assistant coach under former head coach Stan Heath, and the Golden Flashes went on to reach the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament that year. Following the season, Heath moved on to be the head coach at Arkansas, which created Christian's first opportunity to lead a college program.
Prior to his time at Kent State, Christian spent two years with Octagon Sports Marketing and Management in McLean, Va., as a college basketball talent evaluator following three seasons at Pittsburgh, where he served as an assistant coach under his former high school coach Ralph Willard. He also held assistant coaching positions at Miami (Ohio) (1995-96), Western Kentucky (1990-92, 1994-95) and St. Francis (Pa.) (1992-94).
A native of Bethpage, N.Y., Christian was an all-state guard at St. Dominic High School while playing under Willard. Following his prep career, former Boston University head coach Rick Pitino recruited him to the University of Boston, where he played two seasons as a Terrier before transferring. He spent his final two campaigns playing at Rhode Island for head coach Tom Penders. Christian helped the Rams reach the Sweet 16 of the 1988 NCAA Tournament, as the squad posted victories over Missouri and Syracuse before dropping a 73-72 decision to Duke for the right to advance to the Elite Eight.
After earning his bachelor's degree in consumer affairs from Rhode Island in 1988, Christian spent one season playing professionally in Australia for the Sydney City Comets.
Christian and his wife, Patty, were married in the summer of 2005. The couple is parents to a daughter, MacKenzie, and two sons, Zach and Jay.
JIM CHRISTIAN YEAR-BY-YEAR
* Regular-season champion