Big 12 basketball: Trent Johnson trying to build up TCU program

Big 12 basketball gained a softie when TCU joined the conference. With old facilities and little winning history, former LSU coach Trent Johnson has a tall task ahead of him.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 15, 2012

FORT WORTH, Texas — Big 12 basketball is about to get easier. A softie is entering the conference.

Trent Johnson's job is to change that. It won't be easy.

TCU joins the Big 12 with a new coach but the same old facilities and the same old tradition, neither of which is up to Big 12 standards.

Which is why Johnson, who in April jumped a sinking ship at LSU, knows what kind of players he needs to succeed with the Frogs.

“They're going to have to be tough-minded individuals coming into the program, who want to build tradition,” Johnson said.

Hoops tradition is in short supply at TCU. Horned Frog basketball rarely has competed at a high level. Jim Killingsworth, hired away from OSU, had the Frogs competitive in the '80s. Billy Tubbs, hired away from OU in the '90s, did the same in the '90s.

But the Frogs have made just seven NCAA Tournaments in their history, only two in the past 40 years, and has just one NCAA victory in the last 44 years. And except for the Southwest Conference of the 1980s (when Arkansas and Houston were national powers), TCU never has been in a big-time basketball league.

Plus, the building boom that has been the hallmark of TCU athletics in recent years has not extended to basketball. The Frogs play in 51-year-old Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, an old-school arena that seats 7,201. It's the kind of place that would ultra-cool if packed and rocking to a great product. Otherwise, it's outdated. Think the difference between Gallagher Hall and Gallagher-Iba Arena.

“I think we have the right coach in Trent Johnson,” said TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte. “It is our responsibility to re-do Daniel-Meyer. We're going to do that. Recruiting today, it has to. We're behind facility-wise.”

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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