The Huskies are currently 5-2 after an they were able to knock off the Cal State Fullerton Titans 87-69 as they were powered by a seventeen-point performance from Dejounte Murray and a career high 16-point outing from Matisse Thybulle. They now turn their attention to the 4-3 TCU Horned Frogs. Andrew Felts - the basketball editor from our sister site Frogs O'War - was nice enough to give us some of his time and discuss tonight's upcoming game.
UWDP: TCU Basketball is a bit of an unknown commodity to many casual Husky basketball fans. What should Husky fans know about fourth-year head coach Trent Johnson's team? Specifically, can you summarize how the Horned Frogs like to play on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?
FOW: The Frogs are unquestionably a defense-first team. Team defense has been a strength for Trent Johnson-led squads for most of his coaching career, and that is certainly the case at TCU. The Frogs' biggest strength on the defensive end is their physical toughness in the paint. The team has really excelled at blocking and altering shots, leading to some dismal shooting percentages for opponents. Unfortunately for TCU, the team's top two defenders from a year ago, Chris Washburn and Kenrich Williams, are both missing time with injuries. This has led a decrease in production on the defensive side, but guys like Vladimir Brodziansky and Karviar Shepherd have stepped up in their absence.
On the offensive end, things are still a bit of a mystery. As a whole, the offense has looked good against bad teams and bad against good teams, which is less than ideal. The biggest element that sticks out to me so far is three-point shooting. On a couple different occasions this season, the Frogs have (unsuccessfully) abandoned trying to work inside and instead started shooting the deep ball like there was no tomorrow. The team is full of talented shooters, but the shot selection is still a work in process. Overall, it looks to me like an offense still trying to find its identity.
UWDP: The TCU Horned Frogs are currently 4-3 on the year and seem to have put up a tough fight against the number 22 ranked SMU Mustangs. What has stood out about the team's performance so far this season?
FOW: After finishing dead last in the nation in non-conference strength of schedule last season, the coaching staff at TCU really upped the caliber of their non-con schedule this season. Through the first seven games, TCU has faced four different teams that participated in the postseason a year ago. What has impressed me the most is the fight that the Frogs have displayed against superior opponents. TCU was either leading or within one possession in the last 3:00 of each of their three losses this season. With injuries resulting in a bench that is only three scholarship players deep, the Frogs have displayed some impressive fight and resiliency. In years past, the close losses suffered by this year's team would likely have been blowouts. The continued development has been positive so far.
UWDP: The Horned Frogs are led in scoring by sophomore forward Vladamir Brodziansky, who is currently averaging 14.9 points per game while shooting an impressive 61 percent from the field. He was dubbed a "double double machine" by one scout.com writer during his recruitment and seems to be a nice get for Johnson's staff, considering that he was being recruited by Gonzaga, Memphis and Oklahoma (among other schools) coming out of junior college. Can you describe for our readers what his game is like and how he ended up in Fort Worth?
FOW: First off, I am a huge fan of Vlad. He has been an unexpected spark for this team and is a big reason why TCU has been competing in games so far this season. The best description that I can give is that he has a very European style of play. It sounds silly since he actually is European, but he really embodies that style of play. His shot selection is fantastic, which has led to his 61.2% average from the field. He leads the team in points, shooting percentage, and made field goals. In addition, Brodziansky is a very smart player. He doesn't try to play outside of his range, and has been great handling the ball so far. In nearly 200 minutes of play, he has just nine turnovers and 14 fouls committed, the fewest of any starter for TCU. And as if that wasn't enough, he leads the team in rebounds and blocks.
To answer the second part of the question, I think a big reason why Brodziansky ended up in Fort Worth is because of Trent Johnson's recent success with transfer students, particularly at the juco level. Kenrich Williams transferred to TCU from New Mexico Junior College and quickly entered the starting lineup while emerging as one of the team's best defenders last season. Chris Washburn and Trey Zeigler each transferred to TCU from other Division I schools and started every game for the Frogs last season. I can't speak directly for Brodziansky, but I would think that the opportunity to follow the precedent set by other transfer students in starting right away and making an immediate impact was a big factor in his decision.
UWDP: Finally, what in your mind do the Horned Frogs need to do in order to emerge from Seattle victorious tonight?
FOW: I think a lot has to go right for TCU to come away with a win tonight. On the offensive end, the Frogs are going to need big performances from the guard position. I think Malique Trent, in particular, needs to have a good night, as he will be the top point guard with Chauncey Collins not 100% after suffering from a quad injury last week. On top of that, the Frogs are going to need their bigs to help generate offense. If Brodziansky and Shepherd are clicking, the Frogs might be alright.
On the defensive end, TCU needs to keep Andrew Andrews in check. He is somebody that has probably kept the TCU coaching staff up at night. He's going to score, and he's going to pull down rebounds, but if the Frogs can keep those numbers in check, TCU might have a chance. It's hard to win on the road against power conference opponents, but if the Frogs can keep things competitive, I'll be pretty happy.
Thanks again to Andrew for taking the time to answer our questions. You can find my answers to his questions here.