Nov. 17, 2004
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Setting the Scene
The TCU Horned Frogs open their 94th season of basketball on Friday night against crosstown foe Texas-Arlington. TCU has won four straight season openers dating back to 2000 and 23 consecutive home-opening contests since 1981. The Horned Frogs are 12-3 all time against the Mavericks and have won the last seven meetings. Last year's season lidlifter between the two schools resulted in an 87-58 victory by the Frogs. This is the start of head coach Neil Dougherty's third season in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs were victorious in both exhibition contests and are beginning a stretch in which the team plays six games in the first 10 days of the regular season. TCU went 5-1 against teams from the state of Texas last year.
Many Happy Returns
TCU returns four starters from last year's team, which finished the season with a 12-17 record, including a 7-9 Conference USA mark. In addition to having four starters back from last season (only guard Nucleus Smith, who averaged 8.6 points and 3.8 rebounds, is gone due to graduation), the 11 TCU returnees played 5,038 of the team's total of 5,825 minutes last year (86.5 percent). They also accounted for 86.9 percent of the team's offense and 88.9 percent of its rebounding. The top three scorers (Corey Santee, Marcus Shropshire and Chudi Chinweze) and top two rebounders (Chinweze and Femi Ibikunle) are back in Fort Worth.
Lifting the Lid on the Season
The TCU Horned Frogs are 58-35 (.624) all time in season openers, which includes a 45-12 (.789) mark when the season opens at home. TCU owns a four-game season-opening winning streak and is 2-0 under head coach Neil Dougherty. The last time that the Horned Frogs began a season 0-1 was in the 1999-2000 season when TCU was defeated 91-83 by California at the Top of the World Classic. The TCU Horned Frogs currently own a 23-game home opener winning streak dating back to the 1981-82 campaign. The last time that the Horned Frogs lost a home opener came at the hands of Westmont College (53-52) on Nov. 28, 1980. TCU is 5-0 all time against Texas-Arlington in season openers. The five season-opening wins against UTA rank as the second most for TCU against any school behind only an 8-0 mark against Austin College.
The Last Time vs. Texas-Arlington
It took the TCU Horned Frogs just six seconds to score their first points of the 2003-04 season, and the Frogs never lost that lead in cruising to an 87-58 victory over the Texas-Arlington Mavericks at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. TCU jumped out to a 17-point halftime advantage thanks to better than 50 percent shooting in the stanza. Four Horned Frogs reached double figures in a balanced offensive attack. Marcus Shropshire matched a team high with 14 points and dished out a career-best eight assists in his first game as a Frog. For the game, TCU held UTA to just 29.8 percent shooting (15-for-51) and 58 points, then lows in the Neil Dougherty coaching era.
TCU has a five-person senior class in 2004-05, with three of the members (Corey Santee, Marcus Sloan and Corey Valsin) on their way to being four-year letterwinners. Since 1980, TCU has had just 21 players earn four varsity letters for the Horned Frogs. TCU's other seniors include Marcus Shropshire, who transferred from Texas Tech, and Aaron Curtis, who transferred from Lon Morris J.C.
About the New Faces
TCU has four players officially wearing purple and white for the first time. Nile Murry, a 6-4 junior guard from Houston, sat out last year after transferring from Temple, where he started 20 games over two years. Fellow junior Judson Stubbs (6-7, 228) comes from Miami Dade C.C., where he averaged 18.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The team also has a pair of freshman guards from Texas--Brent Reese-Hackett, 6-3, from Fort Worth, and Neiman Owens, 6-4, from Channelview. Reese-Hackett averaged 25.9 points, 8.6 assists and 3.7 steals at Southwest, while Owens averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists at Channelview.
On the Docket
Here are some notes about the Horned Frogs' 2004-05 schedule.
* TCU's 2004-05 opponents compiled a 430-371 record in 2003-04, good for a .537 winning percentage.
* The Horned Frogs will play a total of 13 games against 12 teams that played in the 2004 postseason, including 10 contests against nine NCAA Tournament teams.
* TCU will play 10 games against nine teams that ranked in the top 50 in the final 2003-04 RPI ratings and will play a total of 14 games against 13 teams that finished in the top 100.
* TCU plays eight schools rated in Lindy's Basketball'sPreseason Top 40: No. 4 Kansas, No. 20 Louisville, No. 25 UAB, No. 27 Cincinnati, No. 33 DePaul, No. 35 Memphis, No. 36 Texas Tech and No. 40 Marquette.
* TCU has games against three schools rated in the top 25 in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Poll: No. 1 Kansas, No. 13 Louisville and No. 23 Memphis. In addition, seven other opponents (Cincinnati, Charlotte, UAB, Texas Tech, DePaul, Vanderbilt and Florida State) received votes in the media poll.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
The Horned Frogs blossomed late in the 2003-04 season, picking up a 25-point win over 10th-ranked Louisville and grabbing a pair of victories over Marquette. The Frogs' win over the Cardinals was the program's first over a top-10 team since 1990, and the Horned Frogs became just the third team in three years to leave Milwaukee with a triumph over the Golden Eagles. TCU's 7-9 league record was the team's best since joining Conference USA, and the Frogs picked up the team's first conference tournament win since 2000.
We Three Keys
In the summer, head coach Neil Dougherty focused on three keys to the season:
1. TCU must rebound on both ends of the floor. The Horned Frogs continue to be smaller than many of their fellow league teams, and therefore must use solid technique to keep the bigger bodies off the boards. Once again, all TCU players on the floor must be willing to crash the glass, especially on the defensive end. Last year, the team's rebounding by committee was obvious, as no Frog averaged more than 5.0 rebounds per game, but seven players secured at least 3.0 caroms per contest.
2. TCU needs to continue to grow defensively. Dougherty saw last year's team improve more on defense than in any other facet of the game, but he knows that the Frogs must be even better this year. Last season's team allowed 70.5 points per game, nearly 10 full points fewer than the previous season (80.4). Additionally, opponents' field goal percentage dipped from 47.4 in 2002-03 to 43.7 last year. A more conditioned team with a better understanding of the defensive concepts should allow that trend of stronger defense to continue. In addition, added depth could allow the Frogs to extend their defense, which will help create the more up-tempo style of play that Dougherty likes.
3. The Horned Frogs must develop more scoring options. Last year, defenses were able to key on TCU's perimeter players Corey Santee (14.5 ppg) and Marcus Shropshire (13.1). Of the team's top five scorers, only Chudi Chinweze (10.7) posed a major inside threat to opposing defenses. However, Femi Ibikunle's improvement late last season and the increased depth at the power forward spot with Marcus Sloan, Judson Stubbs, Corey Valsin and Art Pierce should give the Frogs more options in the low post. In turn, the presence of inside scoring will help TCU's sharpshooters get more open looks, which were hard to come by late last season.
Let's Get It Started in Here
The TCU Horned Frogs get things going full tilt beginning tonight, as the team plays six games in the first 10 days of the regular season. TCU has just one day between each of the squad's first four games, which are Friday-Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday. Following an off day on Friday, Nov. 26, the Frogs then have back-to-back games in Corpus Christi, Texas on Nov. 27 and 28.
Commitment to Hoops
Since Neil Dougherty was named head coach, TCU's facilities have received major upgrades. Inside Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, TCU has built a new locker room (Summer of 2002), installed a new playing floor (Summer of 2003) and upgraded its lighting system (Summer of 2004). In addition, the school completed work on the Ed & Rae Schollmaier Basketball Complex in April of 2004. The Schollmaier Basketball Complex is a $5 million facility which features two full-length practice courts, a basketball-only weight room, coaches offices, coaches locker rooms, conference rooms, a lobby and a courtyard.
Coaches Visit the Polls
TCU has been picked to finish ninth among the Conference USA's 14 teams according to a vote by the league's head coaches. Of the eight teams selected ahead of the Horned Frogs, six went to the NCAA Tournament last year, while the other two earned NIT bids. Last year, TCU placed ninth with a 7-9 record after the coaches predicted an 11th-place finish by the Frogs.
An Elite League
Since Conference USA's inception in the 1995-96 season, the league has received 58 postseason berths, which includes 34 NCAA Tournament participants and 24 National Invitation Tournament appearances. The 58 trips to the postseason equates to an average of 6.4 bids per year. In six of the league's nine years, the league has had at least four NCAA teams and has averaged 3.7 NCAA bids per year. Last year, C-USA was one of just four leagues in the country to receive as many as six NCAA invitations, joining the ACC, SEC and Big East.
Dressed For Success
TCU head coach Neil Dougherty begins defense of his fashion title this November, after the Frogs' top man was the champion of CollegeInsider.com's 2004 Runway to the Fashionable Four. Dougherty, in his first year in the field of 65, became the tournament's first "rookie" to ever win the crown. A Neil Dougherty Bobblehead honoring his championship is currently being designed. Prior to appearing in the national championship last year, Dougherty quipped that he felt good about his chances in 2004-05 because "my fashion consultants are all sophomores. As long as they don't go pro, we should have a strong showing next year too."
Here Comes Santee Claus
TCU senior point guard Corey Santee is moving up the career leaders list in two key categories. Santee enters the season ninth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,331 points and fourth on the assists list with 448. He is on pace to close his career as the second-highest scoring player in TCU history and to finish as the school's top assist man. In addition to his rankings in school history, he will finish his career among the top 10 in Conference USA history in both categories.
About Santee's Knee
TCU senior point guard injured his knee during a practice session on Wednesday, Oct. 20 and is expected to miss 3-5 weeks of action. He suffered a partial tear of the lateral meniscus in his left knee. Santee, who has averaged 32.7 minutes of action per game over his career, has not missed a regular season game during his four-year time in Fort Worth. He returned to action, seeing 14 minutes, in TCU's second exhibition game.
This October, freshman guard Brent Hackett legally changed his name to Brent Reese, which is his mother's last name. The Fort Worth Southwest H.S. product was one of the area's top players and was a second-team all-state selection last season after averaging 25.9 points, 8.6 assists and 3.7 steals per game. His most notable accomplishment was a 73-point performance against Dallas Jesuit, which he followed up with a 52-point outburst the next night against Richland.
Playing With a Full Deck
For the first time since taking over the TCU program in 2002, head coach Neil Dougherty has a full complement of 13 scholarship players at his disposal. TCU had been handcuffed by the 5-8 scholarship rule over the past two years. TCU finally would have been at full scholarship strength this year even before the NCAA voted to get rid of the 5-8 rule, which allowed a maximum of five scholarship student-athletes in one year and a maximum of eight over two seasons.
Home Is Where the Start Is
TCU plays each of its first four games (Texas-Arlington, Shawnee State, Texas Tech and Old Dominion) in the friendly confines of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Following that, the Frogs play four consecutive games away from home--two in Corpus Christi (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 27 and Florida State on Nov. 28) as part of the Corpus Christi Challenge, one in Denton, Texas (North Texas on Dec. 4) and one in Lawrence, Kan. (Kansas on Dec. 9).
Messing With Texas
TCU went 5-1 against teams from the state of Texas in 2003-04, and has won three straight against instate squads. The lone loss last season was a seven-point decision in Lubbock to Texas Tech, a team that went on to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. TCU will play eight games against teams from Texas this season. Of the Frogs' first nine opponents, five are instate foes.
Staying Close to Home
The TCU basketball staff has made an imprint in the Lone Star State. Of the 15 players on this year's roster, 12 hail from the state of Texas, which is up from six just two years ago. Of the 12 players who have come to TCU since Dougherty took over the program in April of 2002, 10 are from within the state borders.
Horned Frog Notes
TCU's Shrop Shooter
TCU senior guard Marcus Shropshire connected on 76 three-point attempts last year, matching the fifth-most in a single season in Horned Frog history. In addition, his free throw percentage of .925 (49-53) rates as the best in school annals for anyone with more than 50 attempts in a season. The South Grand Prairie native averaged 13.1 points per game in his first season in purple and white.
The First Degree
Marcus Shropshire has earned his bachelor's degree in General Studies and is currently working on his master's degree in Liberal Arts at TCU. Head coach Neil Dougherty and the TCU staff has made academic improvement a key area of his program. Prominently displayed in Dougherty's office are plaques from the three Frogs who were named to Conference USA's Commissioner's Honor Roll for the 2003-04 season: junior David Markley, sophomore Neil P. Dougherty and sophomore Art Pierce.
Murry Puts on an Exhibition
TCU junior transfer Nile Murry was impressive in his first outing with the Frogs, as he poured in 22 points in 19 minutes of action against the Interhoop African All-Stars. Murry was 6-for-8 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the contest. He also had three rebounds, two steals an assist and a block. He also led the Horned Frogs in scoring in the second game with 13 points.
The Marcus Sloan Drill
Getting points in TCU practices this year has nothing to do with putting the ball in the basket. This season, players receive points by doing the following: getting offensive rebounds, making deflections, taking charges and by being the first player on the floor after a loose ball. The top three point-getters in each practice will be recognized following the practice session. It was dubbed the "Marcus Sloan Drill" after the senior from Houston dominated the competition for the first few weeks of practice.
Some Early Bracketology
ESPN's guru on the field of 65, Joe Lunardi, has announced his preseason choices for teams that will play in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Among the initial field of 65 picks are eight schools on the Horned Frogs' schedule. The teams and seeds include: (1) Kansas, (3) Louisville, (6) Charlotte, (7) Memphis, (7) Cincinnati, (9) DePaul, (12) Marquette and (13) Old Dominion. In addition, three of his next five near-miss teams (UAB, Florida State and Texas Tech) are on the TCU slate.
Interhoop Exhibition Recap
TCU basketball fans got their first look at the 2004-05 Horned Frogs on Nov. 6 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum where TCU defeated the Interhoop African All-Stars by an 80-54 count. Twelve Frogs entered the scoring column in a balanced offensive attack.
Junior transfer Nile Murry earned a starting nod for the Horned Frogs and scored TCU's first eight points of the game. In his inaugural time suiting up in purple and white, Murry went 6-for-8 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and netted a team-high 22 points.
TCU enjoyed a 41-23 halftime bulge thanks to 21 points from the Frog bench. After leading just 15-14 at the 11-minute mark, the Horned Frogs outscored the All-Stars 26-9 the remainder of the half.
On the evening, the Horned Frogs limited the Interhoop squad to just 31 percent shooting from the floor (17-for-54). In addition, TCU forced 28 turnovers and had 16 fast break points.
TCU played unselfishly, as 21 of the Frogs' 26 buckets were assisted. Sophomore Neil P. Dougherty led the way, dishing out a game-high nine assists. Sophomore Femi Ibikunle dragged down a team-best eight rebounds and added eight points.
Thirteen Horned Frogs saw action in the game, including all four newcomers: Murry, junior Judson Stubbs, and freshmen Neiman Owens and Brent Reese-Hackett. Only senior Corey Santee and junior Chudi Chinweze did not play due to injury.
Midwestern State Exhibition Recap
TCU wrapped up the exhibition portion of the 2004-05 season with a 91-85 victory over the Midwestern State Indians on Saturday night at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. The Horned Frogs officially open their 94th season of basketball next Friday at home against Texas-Arlington.
The game was close throughout the early going. Midwestern State led 30-25 at the 6:00 mark of the first half before the Horned Frogs went on an 11-1 run over the next three minutes to take a 36-31 lead. TCU freshmen guards Neiman Owens and Brent Reese-Hackett each buried a three-pointer in the stretch. Prior to that point, TCU had made just two of its first 12 shots from beyond the arc.
A TCU flurry in the final 1:08 turned a 38-35 Horned Frog advantage into a 46-37 halftime advantage. Junior guard Nile Murry had five points during the streak. Thirty-four of TCU's 46 first-half points came courtesy of players off the bench, led by senior guard Marcus Shropshire's nine.
To start the second half, TCU began where it left off, increasing its bulge to 19 at 56-37 just one minute in. TCU enjoyed a comfortable cushion for much of the rest of the contest. The final margin of the game was the closest that Midwestern State got in the second half of the game.
Senior guard Corey Santee saw his first game action since suffering a preseason knee injury. The all-conference performer played 14 minutes and totaled eight points and six assists. For the second straight game, Murry led the Horned Frogs in scoring with 13 points. Shropshire finished with 12, while Chudi Chinweze, who also missed the exhibition opener due to injury, added 11.