Larry Brown unveils his new look SMU Mustangs in win over rival TCU as part of the Buckets and Boots Showcase
By Tommy Smith
DALLAS – Despite returning all five starters from last year’s team, the SMU Mustangs (1-0, 0-0) certainly have a new look. The Mustangs opened the 2013-2014 season with a 69-61 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs (0-1, 0-0) in the Buckets and Boots Showcase. Nic Moore, a sophomore transfer from Illinois State, has assumed the point guard duties for Head Coach Larry Brown. Moore earned player of the game honors, scoring 13 points in 36 minutes. The 5′ 9″ guard added eight rebounds – seven in the first half – and four assists to lead his team in the box score.
Despite the honors, Moore did show signs he is a work in progress. “He’s playing faster than anybody else on our team, shot some balls that we weren’t ready, didn’t take advantage of our size, the fact that maybe they were in foul trouble, but he’ll learn,” Brown said. “This is the first time he has played in a long time. He really wants to be great and I am confident he’ll do better and better.”
Kimball High School’s Keith Frazier is one of three SMU freshmen who saw action against TCU. Frazier finished 8-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Frazier was efficient, scoring 11 points in 18 minutes, but, like Moore, he is a bit unpolished.”There’s not a shot he doesn’t think he can make,” Brown said of Frazier after the win. “As soon as he walks in this area code, he is ready to let it go. I have confidence he can make shots, but for him to play as well as we all know he can he’s got to learn how to guard.
“He’s got to learn time and score. There’s a lot of things, you know, he needs to get better at, but he comes every day and tries,” Brown added. “He just wants to play. He’s like a young Kobe.He’s dyin’ to play.”
SMU landed the 14th best recruiting class in the country this offseason. Ben Moore and Sterling Brown also saw limited action as true freshmen. As the season progresses they, along with Frazier, will continue to improve, making SMU a much deeper squad than they have been in recent seasons. “Our three freshmen are terrific, ” Brown said. “I wanted to get Sterling and Ben in more, but the way the game played out it was hard. It was scratching to win.”
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Yanick Moreira is a 6′ 11″ center from Angola who the Mustangs added to be a presence in the middle, alongside junior Cannen Cunningham. Moreira earned the start against TCU and their standout freshman Karviar Shepherd. Shepherd was one of the most sought after big men in the nation, and the 6′ 10″ center is the highest rated prospect to ever sign with the Horned Frogs. Moreira tallied four points in 17 minutes while adding eight rebounds. Shepherd played well for TCU Head Coach Trent Johnson. Shepherd had eight points and eight rebounds in his collegiate debut. To protect Shepherd, Johnson employed some zone coverage against the Mustangs, which allowed the Horned Frogs to shrink an early 18-6 SMU lead.
SMU guard Jalen Jones was not with his team for the opener. When questioned about Jones’ absence Brown answered, ” We’re gonna talk about that a little later. Jalen, you know, I think wants badly to be a starter and wants to be a small forward, and wants to play 30 minutes, 35 minutes a game, and I don’t know if that is in the cards right now.”
“So we’re trying to figure it out, but he’s done everything I asked. He’s been great,” Brown added. “He’s right now trying to think this thing through, but I can’t guarantee anybody on our team minutes. You know, I’m gonna play guys positions I think they help us win. So we’re gonna try to figure out what’s best.”
Now that this much-anticipated season for SMU Basketball is underway, the Mustangs will continue try to figure out who can play where, and who can do what on this new and improved team when they resume play Monday night against Rhode Island at the Curtis Culwell Center.