"We have no freshman on this team. There is no learning curve in this gym," said Coach Christian to his players in TCU's Saturday morning practice. The truth is TCU has seven players with no Division I basketball experience, so Coach Christian's job will be as a teacher and there will be some major learning curves throughout the season.
"It's obviously going to be a factor, but we can't use that as an excuse," stated Coach Christian to BigPurpleNation.com. "We have to go compete learn and get better. We hold the bar high and that is what we are going to do."
Today's morning practice was an upbeat and energetic one. The squad focused their attention to defense and rebounding. "I think it very well. I'm excited. I think the team is playing very hard and the guys are having fun and enjoy what they are doing. They are starting to pick things up," said Coach Christian.
The Frogs wearing their practice jerseys this morning, have lost the names on the back of their jersey. They have been replaced with the word "trust".
"For us to win I think we have to trust each other. It can't be about you," said Coach Christian. "We have to believe in the system that we are playing. We have to believe that if we execute the things that we are doing we can beat anybody we play."
If you go to a TCU practice, one of the most impressing things you will see is Coach Christian's activeness in practice. While some coaches watch from the sidelines and let their assistant coaches handle the drills, Christian is in the middle of everything. "It's just the way I am. I love being out on the floor. I love being on the floor with these kids. I have a great coaching staff so I do delegate some things, but I just want them to understand and see me energy and enthusiasm. It starts with me."
Way To Early Scouting Reports:
Edvinas Ruzgas- if you aren't talking about Ruzgas yet you should be. Obviously the hoops in Fort Worth are the same height as they were in Weatherford. After shooting over 50% from three-point land in junior college (Weatherford College), Ruzgas is again lighting it up from long distances in practices. If the Frogs can get good post play and penetration from their guards, Ruzgas could knock down a lot of opener jumpers on kick outs. The great thing about Ruzgas is that at 6'6, he can not only shoot over charging defenders, but also be taller defender for perimeter players. He will add much needed height to TCU's wings.
Kevin Butler- Deemed by some as a working project, the freshman from Duncanville High School, is already showing his athletic ability in practices. On more than one occasion, Butler changed what would be a normal tip by many, to a high power dunk. Butler is 6'5 and playing on the perimeter, but can mix it up down low. In high school he averaged over 13 points a game with 7 rebounds.
Zvonko Bulijan- is impressing his teammates in the post. Whatever good things you have read about Bulijan believe them. He received praise after practice from senior leader Kevin Langford. Bulijan, who barely spoke English two years ago, had a good day in the post. The native of Croatia showed he is an excellent rebounder and has a good arsenal of post moves. His biggest criticism from Coach Christian today was that he needed to be more physical and not such a finesse post player. Buljan came to TCU from Vincennes University (Indiana) where his team went 28-6 overall. As a sophomore he averaged over 15 points and 9 rebounds a game.
Freshman Kavon Rose, who is near full strength after some lingering minor undisclosed injuries, was sporadic from three-point land. Rose started the practice shooting very well, but couldn't hit anything late.
So far the most improved players from last year's squad are John Ortiz and Keion Mitchem. The two have become vocal leaders on the floor. Ortiz who came on towards the end of last year recording 15 total starts, has improved his upper body and is looking strong in the post. He drew praise from the coaching staff more than once today for his ability to position himself on rebounds. Both Mitchem and Ortiz should be nice role players coming off the bench for the Frogs.
Walkon Nick Metzger missed today's morning practice for a important school project. Metzger is studying business.