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TCU 360

TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

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Connell Crossland expects to lead team next season

Connell Crossland expects to lead team next season

On the shoulders of seniors like Hank Thorns and J.R. Cadot, the men’s basketball team completed its most successful season in seven years, earning a College Basketball Invitational berth and an 18-15 record. 

With five seniors leaving before the jump to the Big 12 Conference next season, players like forward Connell Crossland are ready to step up and fill the void.

The six-foot-seven junior from St. Louis, Mo. made vast improvement during his first season out of junior college and earned a starting job for the final five games of the Frogs’ season. He has gone mostly unrecognized, but he has silently put himself in position for a key role on the Frogs’ squad next season.

“Basically, all I did was just play harder and practice harder,” Crossland said. “Everything starts in practice, so I just started trying to practice harder and do whatever I can to get out on the floor and help my team.”

Crossland averaged 2.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and .8 assists throughout the Frogs’ 2011 campaign, but he peaked at the end of the season improving to 4.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and one assist for the final five games. Head coach Jim Christian said he was pleased with Crossland’s improvement.

“He has really good basketball instincts, and I think that’s what enabled him to have some success this year and give him something he can build on, on both ends of the floor,” Christian said. “He has a total team mentality. He understood and relished his role. And that’s what good teams have.”

The switch from junior college to Division I basketball presented Crossland with a bit of a learning curve. But, he found his role on the team and began to quickly improve.

“Coming out of high school and juco I was a scorer, but this year that wasn’t really my role,” Crossland said. “So I just stuck with my role and that was defensive rebounding.”

Crossland said he hoped to fill Cadot’s role next season, both as a leader on the court and in the stats column. Although Christian was reluctant to name next year’s starters, both Cadot and Christian said they believed Crossland was ready.

“There’s only going to be one J.R. Cadot and Hank Thorns, but he’s really a heck of a player and the sky’s the limit for him,” Cadot said. “You never know, he might be able to outdo me. The guy’s got potential, honestly man, he reminds me a lot of me. He’s a great defender, great rebounder, he’s confident and if he continues to work on that outside shot and dribble he’ll be great.”

Christian said he believed Crossland was capable of reaching his full potential quickly because of his good work ethic and attitude.

“The one thing that’s great about Connell is he understands his strengths and non-strengths,” Christian said. “He doesn’t have an overblown opinion of himself. He understands what he can do. Guys who have that are the guys that get better.”

Crossland said he was motivated to put in all the work necessary to be a leader for the Frogs and make his senior year a memorable one. He said he was driven by his faith and family and he did not take this opportunity lightly. 

“Growing up in St. Louis, my family motivates me,” he said. “Seeing all the stuff in St. Louis and how bad it is, it motivates me more to play hard and try to be the best I can, because I know there’s a lot of people out there like me, but don’t have the opportunity that I have. I give all the praise to God.”

Crossland and Christian said they agreed the men’s basketball team had only one goal for next season and it was a goal that has been consistent for years.

“The goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament and anything you accomplish along the way is a byproduct of pursuing that goal,” Christian said.

Crossland and Christian said they were confident heading into next season and they believed that with the upcoming seniors at the helm, TCU could be on the verge of a special basketball season.

“We are in the midst of history right here,” Crossland said.

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