FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Jamie Dixon had some coaching buddies who gave him a hard time over the summer, telling him that he was winning too fast at TCU.
Dixon never saw it that way when returning to his alma mater last year.
After leaving Pittsburgh, the Horned Frogs became NIT champions in Dixon’s first season back in Fort Worth while winning 24 games. It was their first 20-win season since 2004-05.
“Everything was new and good and nothing had anything to do with the past. So that was our mentality,” Dixon said. “I never was the guy that was saying it’s going to take some time. … We expected to win and we expected to win now, and that was our mentality. It was great for us. We won 24 games, nobody ever thought, but in my mind we should have won more, so I wasn’t satisfied.”
The Frogs still have gone three decades since winning an NCAA Tournament game, in 1986-87 when Dixon was a senior guard for Southwest Conference champions. Their only NCAA Tournament appearance since was in 1997-98.
All five starters return from Dixon’s initial team at TCU, including preseason All-Big 12 forward Vladimir Brodziansky (14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds a game) and point guard Jaylen Fisher, who averaged 9.9 points last season while leading all Big 12 freshmen with 4.0 assists per game and 54 3-pointers.
The Frogs also added forward Ahmed Hamdy, a graduate transfer from VCU, and junior guard Shawn Olden, who was one of the West Coast Conference’s top freshmen at Pepperdine before season-ending ankle surgery as a sophomore and then transferring to New Mexico Junior College last year. There are also Lat Mayen and Kouat Noi, a pair of forwards from Australia.
“We have all our guys coming back, that helps, five of our top-six leading scorers,” Dixon said. “You have a guy sitting out that would have played a lot of minutes for us in Kouat. So there are a lot of guys, I think we added the right piece. I think Ahmed is going to give us some great minutes inside as well. … It’s a good group and good balance.”
Some other things to know about the Horned Frogs, who open the season Nov. 10 against Louisiana-Monroe:
Fisher didn’t go with the team for a five-game trip to Australia in August after tearing meniscus in his left knee at practice just days before the Frogs left. Fisher stayed home to have surgery.
“It was something that had already been there from a previous injury and we’re lucky, really, the timing of it, because we think he will be ready and in pretty good shape to start the year,” Dixon said. “You would like some game situations under his belt, but that may come in the regular season to get him ready. So he’s in good shape.”
The Frogs were picked third by the Big 12 coaches in the preseason poll, behind 13-time defending champion Kansas and West Virginia.
“I guess we’ve been picked last every year in the Big 12, so I guess it’s a little bit of a change for us,” Dixon said.
That was also better than the TCU football team was projected to do in preseason polling. But coach Gary Patterson and the football Frogs were the league’s only undefeated team through seven games, and ranked fourth in the AP Top 25.
“Gary was giving me a hard time at some points, but I guess he’s getting the last laugh right now,” Dixon said.
GOT TO FINISH
TCU was 6-5 in conference play through the first week of February, nearly matching their total of eight conference games the previous four seasons. But the Frogs then lost their last seven regular-season games before their postseason run.
“We were in a good spot. We just didn’t get it done,” Dixon said. “We didn’t look at it as a rebuild because our history hasn’t been good enough to talk about the past. But we look at it as a start-up.”
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