For TCU Basketball, UNLV is the Model


As Jim Christian and the TCU men’s basketball team lost another tough game to UNLV last night, UNLV showed off what makes them one of the best programs in the Mountain West.

Each season UNLV flirts with being ranked while winning big games each season. Coach Lon Kruger has his program winning year in and year out. They are rarely great, but always good.

Each year Kruger attracts a solid freshman class, and he brings in transfers from all over the country. On his 2010-2011 roster, Kruger has two transfers from UCLA as well as one from Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa State, Memphis and St. Joseph’s.

Jim Christian would love to attract transfers as Kruger does. Former Kentucky player Derrick Jasper is just one example of disgruntled player who Kruger lured to play for him.

UNLV was tougher, bigger, and stronger than the Frogs on this night, but what UNLV has is very attainable for TCU.

Jim Christian attracted several transfers last offseason including Hank Thorns, Nikola Gacesa, and Sammy Yeager. Thorns is now a Bob Cousy award finalist for the best point guard in America.

Lon Kruger not only has attracted these players, but he has convinced them to play his style of basketball and play within his system. Christian has not had the same success with his players. He has preached defense to them all season, but his preaching has failed to materialize into results on the floor.

When TCU’s offense is on, they struggle on defense, and while playing good defensively, their shots do not fall.

TCU needs more depth and size on their roster to invigorate the team and the program. Fans and students are quick to show disinterest, and Jim Christian must bring in some players for the fans to take pride in.

One can only guess where TCU would be without Hank Thorns this season. He has led the team on the court while producing results as well. The good news for TCU is that they will lost only seniors Greg Hill and Nikola Gacesa next season while the rest of the squad will return with more experience and knowledge of what you must do to win Mountain West Conference games.

The Mountain West is one of the most underrated conferences in America, and to compete, TCU must add two or three more players this offseason who can provide depth next season. Transfers will be more ready to contribute than freshman who are often not ready physically to play.

Coach Jim Christian spoke about Amric Fields and the amount of minutes that he has been forced to play this season. “Amric is getting 35 minutes a night against [good players] when he probably should be getting 18 minutes a night,” Christian said. “That’s invaluable experience that’s going to help him. He’s learning every game. He’s learning against really good players every night. Ideally he would be learning it in practice, but he’s having to learn it in games.”

UNLV came to Daniel Meyer Coliseum knowing exactly what it would take to win. The Frogs jumped out early and made wins, but the depth and talent of UNLV allowed them to weather each comeback that TCU mounted.

As it stands right now…TCU has no transfers coming in next season. Jim Christian should keep searching. Though the Frogs may be getting much needed experience this season,

Garlon Green, Amric Fields, Hank Thorns, Nikola Cerina, Jarvis Ray, and JR Cadot will have a difficult time winning with no other depth to speak of. TCU needs to go 9 or 10 deep with talent. They need to wear people down and make sure that each win someone gets off TCU is earned.

Jim Christian knows his team must get tougher. “Against San Diego State, we were tougher than they were,” TCU coach Jim Christian said. “[Against UNLV] we got out-toughed. They were tougher than we were. They probably ripped the ball out of our hands 15 times.”

A Jim Christian coached TCU team will eventually figure out what it takes to win meaningful Mountain West Conference games that they absolutely must have. And soon they will find out just how tough it will be to win in the Big East.

In two years on the biggest stage that TCU basketball will have been on in years Garlon Green, Amric Fields, Nikola Cerina, Andre Clark (redshirted this season) and Jarvis Ray will have only two options in the Big East, sink or swim.

So will these be the players be the ones for Jim Christian that eventually “figure it out,” only time will tell.

These youngsters are the foundation, but it is time to start completing the house.

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