Bonzer plays poker at the Winstar World Casino in beautiful Thackerville, Oklahoma at least three days a week. Why work when you can play poker? But Poker is not a sport and Bonzer is a sports fan. So Mr. Wolf is taking a break from playing poker this week to enjoy some games that are also sports. The week started with Bonzer watching 14 college basketball games in 23 hours on the ESPN family of Networks. The only disappointment was that half of the games were not in High Definition and one of the games was a women’s college basketball game thanks to Title IX. Oh well, it was a good start for a week of marathon sports viewing.
Tonight, it was off to Fort Worth for the home opener of the TCU men's basketball team against Nebraska. It was easy to secure a good seat, Row 3 on the aisle right behind the TCU bench. Right after the NCAA Tournament in March, TCU hired Jim Christian as the head coach. Christian is a no nonsense hard-nosed coach who will demand that his team play a physical brand of basketball. San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State when Christian was an assistant coach there.
Christian inherits a struggling program that had endured three straight losing seasons under Neil Dougherty. TCU hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1998. Christian was 138-58 at Kent State the past six seasons. He became the first Mid-American Conference coach to win 20 games in each of his first six seasons. The Golden Flash were knocked out of the 2008 NCAA tournament in the first round by UNLV, the same team that ended TCU's season. Christian also was an assistant on the 2002 Kent State team on which Gates was a starter. That year Kent State made it to final eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Tonight Paul Velander came off the bench to score 11 points to lead Nebraska to a 62-50 victory over TCU. Nebraska put as many as five guards on the court at the same time during the game. The Corn Huskers used a 14-3 run in the final five minutes of the first half to take a 37-24 lead at halftime. TCU hit only 4 of its 21 field goal attempts in the first half, making only 10 field goals the entire game. TCU (1-3) could get no closer than seven points in the second half. Kevin Langford scored 19 points for TCU, 13 of those at the free-throw line.
TCU has a way to go. But I look for them to shoot much better than tonight’s 27% from the field over the rest of this season. I would not be surprised if TCU could limit their turnovers to fewer than ten a game during the remainder of the season. Tonight the Frogs had 14 turnovers against a very athletic, pressing defense. Coach Christian stood and coached his players through the entire game.
The game officials were David Hall, Ed Hightower and Rick Hartzell. These are three of the most respected college basketball officials in the country. Hightower and Hall have officiated the NCAA Championship Game and all three have worked deep into the “March Madness” Tournament for over 15 years. Ed Hightower has worked 11 Final Fours, including seven straight from 1988 to 1994. He also was on college basketball's biggest stage in 1996, 2002, 2005 (in St. Louis) and 2006, working five national championship games in the process. David Hall has directed national college referee training camps for each of the past 13 years. Hall has officiated in 17 NCAA tournaments, two final four games and the 2000 National Championship game. Rick Hartzell is a former athletic director at Bucknell University and the University of Northern Iowa. Hartzell has officiated extensively in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Big 12 Conference, having worked the NCAA tournament for over 15 years. Hartzell has also served on the NCAA Division I Rules Committee.
It was fun to watch a NCAA Division I game at the always viewer friendly Daniel Meyer Coliseum. The game was broadcast live on the CBS College Sports HD Network. Freebies always make for an even better evening. Bonzer scored a Opening Night #1 Purple Foam Finger & a TCU team tee tossed into the crowd by a "rag" arm but otherwise healthy Horned Frog cheerleader. Tomorrow night it’s off to the American Airlines Center in Dallas for a Chicago Blackhawks vs. Dallas Stars NHL game. Bonzer won’t be quite as close to the action as he was at TCU but the Wolf did manage to secure StarsClub Preferred seats, just seven rows from the glass for tomorrow night's action.
Rick Hartzell Ed Hightower
Go, Go, Horned Frogs Go
TCU Frogs Fight