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Larry Brown Can Make Things Change at SMU

Larry Brown is definitely in new territory running the show at Moody Coliseum. After the guy isn’t used to fans being satisfied with simply playing a ranked opponent tough.

“You walk around here and people congratulate you after you get beat, that’s pretty strange” he said of the days after the Mustangs lost to Louisville. “You’re in Lawrence, Kansas or Westwood or Chapel Hill, they have a heart attack after every loss.”

That comes with the experience of playing and coaching at the highest levels. The experience of being the only basketball coach in history with an NCAA and NBA championship. You don’t know the meaning of moral victories.

And that is exactly the type of attitude needed if things are going to turn around on the Hilltop. And after less than two years, it looks like things already are.

With Tuesday’s win over Rutgers, SMU’s team already matched its win total from last year. With 15 wins already and at least 13 games left against the likes of Memphis, UConn and Louisville again, the path is set for SMU to build a good enough record to get into that magical field in March one way or another.

It’s not just the fact that other coaches within the American Athletic Conference are saying SMU looks like a Tournament team this year. Could DFW actually have a program that could be able to aim for the NCAA Tournament every single year?

Well, that’s what Larry Brown’s mission was when he took over this program. Some people who have been jaded by decades of college basketball mediocrity might be hard to convince. But you just know someone like Brown would love to prove them wrong.

Ask him, and he’ll tell you he can look into players’ eyes and see when they know they can win. He saw it in the players at Louisville and Cincinnati when the Mustangs traveled there. And little by little, with each victory, that look is starting to appear in his own players.

This is naturally a different animal that he’s dealing with in Dallas. Whether it was playing at SMU or coaching at UCLA or Kansas, Brown was with a program that was a big dog in the area. Now, it takes something special to get people away from Valley Ranch or the American Airlines Center and show up to the media center at Moody Coliseum.

But when you’ve accomplished almost everything else at so many stops, maybe that’s the one challenge that remains. And it’s the challenge that those college basketball fans that do exist in the Metroplex have hoped someone like Brown would take on – and succeed at.

For years those of us who have followed college basketball in this area have had to hope that one of the multiple programs in North Texas could simply get luck in the conference tournament for an automatic bid, or otherwise be thankful for an NIT, or even a CIT, bid.

Even those of us who have ties to one particular university in the area would be ecstatic to see any one of them send a Metroplex representative in The Dance each year.

TCU could have had something like that in the late 90s under Billy Tubbs. But an NCAA season in 97-98 was overshadowed by a 1-10 football season, so the school put all its efforts to what went on at Amon Cater Stadium, and Tubbs was gone a few years later, clearly seeing the writing on the wall.

Things are different in University Park now. With their major upgrades to Moody and the completion of the Crum Basketball Center, it’s clear SMU is committed to taking its basketball program to another level.

Larry Brown wouldn’t have come here if he didn’t think that was possible. And even though it already looks like things are being fast-tracked compared to what we’ve been used to in this town, he knows there is still a lot more work and improvement to do.

And maybe very soon, he’ll start being congratulated for the Mustangs winning against the likes of Louisville.

College Baseball Championship Central

WAC TOURNAMENT – UTA/DBU
QuikTrip Park, Grand Prairie

CHAMPIONSHIP – DBU 4, UTSA 11
The Patriots’ quest for another NCAA bid came to an end as the Roadrunners rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to score all their runs in their last four innings at bat, including a four-run eighth to finish it off.

DBU 12, New Mexico St 4
By scoring four runs in the first inning and never looking back after that, the Patriots earned a spot in the WAC title game against San Antonio on Sunday.

DBU 7, Texas State 5
Michael Miller’s three-run homer in the fifth inning drove the Patriots forward to get their fist WAC Tournamnent win.

UTA 2, Texas State 11
The Mavs’ season ends with a 1-2 record in the WAC Tournament after the Bobcats rocked them for 15 hits. Starter Daniel Milliman only lasted two innings, allowing three runs on five hits.

UTA 3, New Mexico St 4
Down 4-0 with four outs to go, the Mavs could not complete a comeback and saw their shot at the WAC title game dashed.

UTA 2 DBU 0
The Mavs made the Patriots look foolish all night, recording 14 strikeouts, 11 of them from Brad Vachon.

BIG 12 TOURNAMENT – TCU
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Oklahoma City

TCU 8 Oklahoma State 4
The Horned Frogs were two outs away from going down in their first tournament game but then exploded for six ninth-inning runs, starting with six straight base runners to take the lead. Keaton Jones took one for the team to go up in front, getting hit in the knee with the bases loaded.

TCU 3 West Virginia 10
The Frogs were completely sloppy in the field with nine errors that led to six unearned runs, as WVU scored four in the first two innings and another six in the 6th/7th.

TCU 0 Kansas 4
The Frogs’ season ended as they could get nothing off of Robert Kahana and the Jayhawks, stranding 11 runners on base for the game.

Amazingly, it may be the Horned Frog baseball team to see the most disappointment in the move to the Big 12. At least the basketball team had few expectations and can claim a win over Kansas. But barring a miracle run through this tournament, the Frogs are likely seeing their streak of making the NCAAs come to an end.
The tournament has been delayed by one day in light of the tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma.