2nd season in Big 12 presents new challenges

TCU will take on West Virginia Saturday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in their first Big 12 game. Tip off is set for 3 pm central time.

The TCU basketball team starts conference play on Saturday when the West Virginia Mountaineers come to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

The Frogs sit at 9-3 in their second season under head coach Trent Johnson. The head coach said on the phone Thursday that he believes a different set of challenges present themselves this season.

"Kyan [Anderson] has been through it and he is playing extremely well," Johnson said. "Last years team to this year's team is completely different, but still the lack of experience going into it is pretty much the same."

"Amric didn't play in the Big 12. Jarvis didn't play in the Big 12. When you look at it from that standpoint, the one guy that has logged a lot of minutes has done a good job of playing well and becoming a leader, that's Kyan. Other than that, it's really no different."

Johnson continues to stress to his players that regardless of their opponent, he seeks to set a standard of competition that must be met on a daily basis.

"It is amazing to me in this day in age, so many people put so much stock on conferences, March Madeness, as opposed to being competitive and treating each game as important as the next game," Johnson explained. "You look at good teams and good players, it's about being competitive, not who you're playing."

One difference from a season ago is that TCU is able to simulate opponents in practice, something they were not deep enough to do last year. Transfers Trey Ziegler and Chris Washburn are integral in giving the starters a good look at what the opponent runs.

"Trey and Chris have been unbelievable," Johnson said, "because they are good; they can play. They have a high basketball IQ, so in running the scout team, they can simulate and give us a good look at who we're playing against. One of the advantages of being a deep and healthy team is in practice, and we haven't had that since I've been here, but Trey and Chris give us two guys on scout team, and then...Karviar has to play; Parrish trying to guard Trey is a handful. Trey is a handful for anyone for that matter."

?Both Parrish and Ziegler will be eligible to play in 2014, but in focusing on the present, they are useful in simulating West Virginia's schemes. Ziegler has simulated Mountaineers' guard Juwan Staten who is the key in the Mountaineers' attack.

For us, it's sprinting back and making sure we level off Staten and keep him out the lane," Johnson said in discussing the keys to Saturday's game. "We have to get to their best players and best shooters, but then what we have to get a lot better at is 50/50 balls and rebounds. When you talk about physicality, those will be key."

West Virginia likes to play a high pressure defense that forces opponents into turnovers. In 2012, the Mountaineers pressure kept TCU from executing, and the Frogs struggled handling the ball.

"We have certain pressure releases we do offensively," Johnson explained. "It's about keeping your poise and executing. It's gonna be physical. Staten, Harris, Henderson, they are good players. Huggins has a nice freshman signing class."

The Frogs will play their first two Big 12 games at home, and if the hope is that the team's improvements will lead to more wins, winning one of the first two at home is very important.

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