The college basketball season is a long slog. But we are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel, because while the regular season of this sport is grueling and cruel, the viewer still gets the reward of the single best postseason in all of American sports.
The post season isn’t here yet, though. The Texas Longhorns have one final — and important — regular season contest against the TCU Horned Frogs. It is one of the final chances for Texas to boost its NCAA tournament resume.
It has been a weird year for TCU. The Horned Frogs lost some important seniors off of last season’s squad, but returned enough to warrant inclusion in the AP preseason poll. Things haven’t really played out as expected in Fort Worth.
A lot of the problem for Jamie Dixon’s team is due to one thing — injuries. Star point guard Jaylen Fisher has once again had his season derailed by injuries. The junior guard only played in nine games this year for TCU, and is at this point contemplating options such as ending his basketball career or transferring down to a lower level of college hoops to give it one more shot.
Fisher is the biggest loss, but not the only one. Angus McWilliam, Yuat Alok and Kaden Archie all elected to transfer out of the program during this season. Lat Mayen’s season was ended a few weeks ago by a knee injury. Russell Barlow, who came into the year intending to redshirt before being activated after all of the injuries, has now missed the past four games after he also has gotten hurt.
Making matters somewhat worse is that TCU assistant coach Corey Barker has just this week been linked to Christian Dawkins, the character at the center of the ongoing FBI case investigating corruption in college basketball.
What TCU has left is seven guys. These seven guys are all good, but with such a depleted roster in a league where wins are hard-earned even when healthy, the Frogs have lost six of their last seven games and come into Saturday’s contest at 6-11 in Big 12 play.
The biggest threat that TCU presents is the ability to hit shots from the perimeter. You can make a decent argument that Desmond Bane and Kouat Noi are the two best perimeter shooters in the conference, and playmaking lead guard Alex Robinson does a good job of breaking down a defense off the dribble and creating windows for his wings to shoot.
If Barlow is still out, 6’11, 250-pound freshman Kevin Samuel and 6’8 senior JD Miller are the only two scholarship big men that Dixon has available. TCU has been spelling them (or covering for foul trouble) by going small — Noi and Bane both have decent size for perimeter players.
Off the bench, the Frogs will bring 5’11 freshman point guard Kendric Davis (who has played decently this year) and 6’4 redshirt freshman RJ Nembhard. And that is it.
It is hard to get through the late stages of a D-I season with just seven guys, but sometimes you don’t have any choice.
The game tips in Austin at 11 a.m. Central and airs on ESPN2.