TCU ready for another positive step in Big 12

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU took some positive steps last season, getting off to its best start ever and getting into the Top 25 poll for the first time since January 1999.

After going 13-0 in non-conference play, the Horned Frogs were only 4-14 in the Big 12. But even that produced their most wins since getting into the league in 2012, and included their first conference road victory before their winning a game in the league’s postseason tournament game for the first time.

“Moving forward, we have an opportunity this year with a lot of new additions,” fourth-year coach Trent Johnson said. “We have some guys that have been through it, so to speak.”

The Frogs also have some big voids to fill with the loss of starting guards Kyan Anderson (13.4 points, 4.3 assists per game) and Trey Zeigler (10.1 ppg), the seniors last season who were the only TCU players to average double-figure scoring.

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TCU returns two starting front-court players in juniors Karviar Shepherd (6-10) and Chris Washburn (6-8).

“The key for us is leadership, and then obviously guys having opportunities to score the ball and doing that with confidence, and taking care of balls, doing that with confidence and being able to pass and catch and doing that with confidence,” Johnson said. “Hopefully that will put us in a situation where we get over the hump”

Some things to know about the 2015-16 Horned Frogs:

UNEXPECTED LOSS: The Frogs expected to have 6-foot-7 junior guard Kenrich Williams (8.6 points, 6.7 rebounds per game), their top returning rebounder. But he had microfracture knee surgery in September. “He’s probably one of the most competitive individuals I’ve been around. He has great instincts and rebounds the ball well,” Johnson said when asked how to replace the edge Williams gives the team. “So it’s going to be done by committee.”

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NEED BIG SEASON: Shepherd averaged 9.1 points and 6.8 rebounds a game as a highly touted freshman, but his numbers dropped last season to 6.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. Johnson said the junior big man had a good spring and a very good summer. “He needs to play within himself,” the coach said. “He’s been developed to where he shoots the mid-range jump shot effectively. … His continued improvement is important, but I think he needs to play within himself. That’s the most important thing, as opposed to trying to do things he can’t do.”

NEWCOMERS: TCU has four newcomers, and all could make immediate impacts. Junior college transfers Vladimir Brodziansky, a 6-foot-10 forward from Pratt Community College in Kansas, and 6-2 guard Malique Trent from New Mexico Junior College, both averaged more than 15 points a game last season as freshmen. The Frogs also have freshman guard Lyrik Shreiner from Arizona and 6-8 post JD Miller from Dallas.

NEW HOME: After playing games last season at an off-campus facility shared by Fort Worth high schools, TCU is moving into their brand new campus arena. The Frogs’ former arena has been completely redone and rebuilt as part of a $72 million project that is set to be finished in time for the Nov. 13 season opener against Southeastern Louisiana. The Frogs will play their first three games, and eight of their 12 non-conference games, in Schollmaier Arena. They play two games in Cancun, Mexico, the week of Thanksgiving, and also play at Washington and Bradley before their Big 12 opener Jan. 2 at Oklahoma State.