Friday, March 31, 2006

2005-2006 Recap

2005-2006 Season Recap

The 2005-2006 basketball season was without a doubt a magical ride for the Aggies and one that will be remembered for years to come.

At the stroke of midnight on October 15th, 2005 the public got their first look at the 2005/2006 Texas Aggies when “Maroon Madness” took place in front of approximately 30,000 people at Kyle Field.

The basketball practice/exhibition was held in conjunction with that evening’s Midnight Yell Practice. The event currently holds the record for largest crowd to ever attend a basketball Midnight Madness event (even if it was parlayed with a football event).

The biggest question coming out of the 2004/2005 season was who was going to replace Antoine Wright?

Antoine is arguably the most dynamic player to ever lace them up at A&M and the Junior, who left school early, was selected as the 15th overall pick by the New Jersey Nets in the 2005 NBA draft.

“We probably can’t replace Antoine,” Gillispie said. “The best thing he turned into was he was the hardest worker on our team and was the best leader on our team, and those are the things that while it is very difficult to replace 17 or 18 points a game, it's going to be even tougher to replace his leadership and work ethic. I think everyone is just going to have to do a little bit more to piece it together. I don't think we're going to have one player that is going to be able to fill that role.”

Coach Gillispie, ever the teacher, also knew the importance of not letting the departure of Antoine to the NBA or last season’s NIT quarterfinal loss to St. Joe’s linger on his player’s minds.

“I’m really excited because I don’t think anybody has worked harder from the time we lost to St. Joseph’s until now,” Gillispie said. “We’ll possess toughness and we’ll be a very, very close team. We’ve already exhibited those kinds of things. We’ll be better in every phase of the game.”

Exhibition Season

The Aggies rolled through their two exhibition opponents – Arkansas Tech and TAMU-Commerce – by a combined score of 206-126.

The only curious items to come out of these two games was not only the fact that Acie Law (35 points combined) and Joe Jones (61 points combined) were outstanding, but that the next two leading scorers were a true Freshman named Josh Carter and a JUCO transfer named Antanas Kavaliauskas.

Josh Carter hit 7 of his 11 three-point attempts over the two games and AK chipped 9 points against Arkansas Tech and 16 more versus TAMU-Commerce.

Looking back – I find it curious that from the beginning of the season there were two clear superstars and two major role players making major contributions. (More on these guys later.)

November Review - Out Of the Gates

The Aggies came out of the gate swinging - knocking off two SWAC opponents and one team trying to act normal in otherwise unbearable circumstances.

Southern and Mississippi Valley State both proved out to be not much of an upgrade from the Aggies exhibition opponents. Old Army rolled through Southern 88-44 and knocked off MVSU 84-53.

Eddie Smith, the 2005 JUCO Player of the Year, was looking as if he may be a major contributor for the Aggies in putting up 15 points, 5 boards, and 6 assists vs. Southern. Couple that with 9, 3, and 6 against MVSU and Mr. Smith was off to an impressive start.

Possibly the most disappointing thing about this season was the fact that Eddie ran into a nasty ankle injury followed up by a lingering personal situation. These two events led to him never really being a factor in the long run for the Aggies.

At 2-0 the Aggies next played a “road” game at Reed Arena against Tulane – a team displaced by hurricane Katrina.

Behind Joseph Jones’ 20 points and 7 rebounds, the Aggies rolled past the Green Wave 83-57 and were heading into December at 3-0.

December Review – Highs and Lows

The Aggies started off December with their first two “brand name” opponents on the schedule – Penn State and North Texas.

The outcome of both games was probably closer than we all would have liked to see, but they did knock off Penn State by a score of 60-55 and squeaked by UNT at 72-70.

Against North Texas Joseph Jones scored a career-high 35 points and tied his career-best with 13 rebounds.

Coming off of the PSU and UNT lows, the Aggies then called on Grambling and Savannah State to help right the ship.

The good guys steamrolled both opponents in winning by a combined 63 points (101-71 and 67-34) and the wins appeared to be just what the doctor ordered.

Against Grambling, Josh Carter scored a then career-high 20 points, this included 7-of-7 from the field and 5-of-5 from three-point range.

The Savannah State game also came at an opportune time because both Acie (concussion) and Joe (ankle) missed the game due to injuries.

After taking 5 days off, Auburn came calling on Reed Arena and again proved to be another “brand name” opponent that the Aggies struggled to beat.

Both Acie and Joe were back in action against the Tigers and led A&M to a 72-67 win.

The Aggies closed out the non-conference home schedule with games against Texas Southern (yes, it was their 4th SWAC opponent of the year) and Northwestern State.

After beating TSU by 25 (81-56) the Aggies faced a “giant killer” in Northwestern State.

NSU had knocked off Mississippi State, Oregon State, and Oklahoma State – ALL ON THE ROAD. They also lost 75-77 at Wichita State and narrowly lost to Iowa State (77-81) in overtime. Needless to say, The Deamons were not going to be intimidated by coming to Reed Arena to face the 9-0 Aggies.

All of the pre-game worries about Northwestern State proved to be for naught as the Aggies came out and took care of business in soundly defeating NSU by a final of 73-61.

The Aggies closed out 2005 with a perfect 10-0 record before heading out on the road for the first time in their pre-conference slate of games.

January Review – Letdown and a Long Season?

The first road-trip of the season got the Aggies’ New Year off to a disappointing start.

A visit to Stockton, California to take on the Pacific Tigers resulted in the Aggies’ first loss of the season. Pacific closed the game on a 30-16 run that did in Old Army as Pacific won 63-56.

Heading into league play with an overall record of 10-1, Old Army opened up Big 12 play when our best friends from Lubbock came into Reed Arena. The Aggies rallied from a 25-34 halftime deficit to defeat Bob Knight’s Red Raider squad by a final of 63-55.

With the win over Tech, the Aggies were above .500 for the first time EVER in Big 12 play (at 1-0). This also set the table for a key 5 game stretch that featured 3 games on the road and two home games versus ranked opponents.

The first road game of conference play found the Aggies in Stillwater to take on OSU at Gallagher-Iba. Acie Law was in a zone all night long and paced the Aggies with 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Acie had a great look at a 3 to win the game as time expired, but the shot careened off the front iron. There was no doubt that the better team on this particular night did not win the game.

Hoping to shake off the disappointment from the loss in Stillwater, The Aggies welcomed #22 Oklahoma to College Station 4 short days later.

The game was a low scoring, ugly, defensive affair where both teams combined to only score 89 points. Terrell Everett broke the hearts of Aggie fans for the second game in a row when he knocked down a 3 with 6.1 seconds left. Joseph Jones’ lay-up attempt at the buzzer missed badly when he lost control and slipped in the lane.

Two games and two losses that are as tough to swallow as you will ever find. If we as fans were getting frustrated, imagine what these kids were feeling.

Coach Gillispie, searching for the right words after another tough loss had this to say, “We are in the Big 12. It is a 16 game schedule. We play the next game just like we played the one tonight. You play them all the same and add them up in the end.”

Is he also a prophet?

League game #4 found the Aggies in Manhattan, Kansas to take on a feisty KSU team that was coming off of a big win in Lawrence over their archrival, the Kansas Jayhawks.

K-State was ahead by between 5 and 10 points most of the game before the Aggies mounted a 17-6 run late in the second half to tie the game with just over 1 minute left. KSU made two free throws with 0:19 left to go ahead by 2. Acie Law found himself in a familiar situation not once, but twice as he had two great looks back-to-back at three pointers that would have won the game - both missed.

3 games, 4 game winning shots, 3 losses by a combined 7 points and no rest for the weary.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

At 1-3 in the league, the hard luck Aggies headed to Ames to take on Iowa State. The Cyclones seized control of the game with a 10-2 run right before halftime. The 8 point margin at halftime seemed safe and ISU never trailed during the entire second half.

After chipping away at the ISU lead the entire 2nd half, the Aggies finally got within 3 points and had the ball with 0:32 left.

The basketball Gods are not that cruel.

Oft used guard Kenneth (Red) White was substituted into the game for one reason and one reason only – his three point shooting ability. ISU did not guard him in accounting for Carter, Jones, and Law, and Red made them pay. He knocked down a HUGE 3 that tied the game and sent it into overtime - (A&M never led in the 2nd half). The Aggies luck had finally turned as they cruised in the extra period to an 86-81 win.

The 5th game in this early stretch was against Gillispie’s mentor and friend Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks. Too much Brandon Rush and a 14-0 KU run after halftime led to the Aggies second home loss of the month as they fell to KU 73-83.

At 2-4 in conference play and in need of a win, nothing could have looked better than the Baylor Bears coming to town. The Aggies 72-70 win was much closer on paper than it was in all actuality. Baylor hit 16 threes on the afternoon including three in the last minute of the game, one of which was well after the final buzzer sounded.

The Aggies finished January a disappointing 3-5 overall, but had managed to claw their way back to 3-4 in the Big 12. They were at 3-4 in the league, but very easily could have been at 6-1 with the three near misses in a row.

The season record showed them standing at 13-5.

February Review – Pedal to the Metal.

February got off to a tough start with two VERY difficult road games (at OU and at Texas) before you had 5 in a row that had to be considered winnable games.

The Aggies visit to Norman didn’t result in a win, but they did play well in losing to the Sooners 63-71. They got within 3 with about three to play but couldn’t get it any closer from there as OU pulled away late.

The first matchup with our neighbors in Austin was another “close but no cigar” effort as the good guys fell to Texas 70-83. This game was much closer than the final indicated and Joe Jones was a beast in putting up 31 against Tucker, Buckman, and Aldredge.

The meat of the Aggies 2006 conference schedule was finally over and 3 of the next 5 games in February were at home - couple that with a quick visit to Waco and Columbia and the writing was on the wall for a late season kick that would be one for the ages.

Who would have thought, looking back, that a bizarre “carrying” call on Colorado forward Richard Roby would have turned the tide for the Aggies?

With Colorado ahead by 1 and 0:21 left in the game, Roby intercepted an Aggie pass and was on his way for a breakaway dunk to likely seal the game for CU.

To avoid stepping on the sideline after picking off the pass, Roby made a little touch-pass to himself. The referee, right on top of the play, was quick on the whistle with the carrying call. He was also very explicit in his explanation to Roby with what he was being whistled for.

It was a bizarre call, but it was the correct call, I’m just not sure it was the right call. Does that make sense? I didn’t think so either.

Oh yeah – A&M won 61-58.

Up next, a revenge game against OSU.

The OSU game was another ugly game chalked full of misses by both teams and some serious man-to-man defense. Joe Jones hit a soft jumper in the lane with 1.1 seconds left to give the Aggies a 46-44 win.

How ugly was it?

“It was a hard fought game by two teams playing gritty, hard, tough, and determined.” said Gillispie, “To me this is beautiful basketball. Most people wouldn’t look at a 46-44 game and think it was beautiful, but I really do. The uglier the better for us. This one was really high on the ugly scale.”

The win over the Cowboys allowed the Aggies to get back to within one win of the .500 mark in the conference at 5-6.

The next two games were both on the road at Baylor and at Missouri. Road wins in the Big 12 are huge anytime you can get them and these two games would be no exception.

The boys in Maroon managed to escape Waco with a 64-60 win, a game in which they took control late in the second half after letting Baylor sneak back into it.

In Columbia they held Missouri to 4 points over the final 11:41 of the game and got out of Columbia with a 54-51 win. This team was not only learning how to play some stifling defense, they were also learning how to win games on the road.

The win over Mizzou not only was their 4th in a row, it also put them at 7-6 in the league, they were over .500 for the second time ever (Remember 6 weeks ago when they were 1-0?).
The final game in the month of February was back at the friendly confines of Reed Arena against a Nebraska team the national media had termed a “bubble team”.

Leading up to this game, you were starting to hear a few whispers using Texas A&M and “bubble team” in the same sentence.

I got the feeling that most people in the media were quick to dismiss the 17-7 overall mark and 7-6 league mark due to the lack of a “marquee win”.

While Nebraska would not have provided a “marquee win”, it would have proven that the Aggies can compete with other teams on this proverbial bubble.

The Aggies not only defeated Nebraska, they flat out beat them down. They were solid on both ends of the floor and the cornhuskers didn’t stand a chance.

This win, the 5th in a row, was their best all-around victory to this point in the season. It was also their 8th conference win of the year, matching their league total from the previous season with two games left to play.

The Aggies finished February a surprising 5-2 and were now 8-6 in the Big 12. The season record had them at 18-7.

March Review – Get Out Your Dancing Shoes!

On March 1st A&M beat Texas 46-43 and they are now 9-6 in the league.

The final game of the regular season saw the Aggies close out league play the same way they opened it, by playing Texas Tech. A trip to the high plains of West Texas to take on the Raiders is never an easy…..

Wait – A&M Beat Texas?

Yes – It was no big deal.


The win over Texas on March 1st was possibly the biggest win in Aggie basketball history. A national television audience on ESPN2 saw Acie Law knock down a shot he and most of us will remember for the rest of our lives.

(for a clip of “the shot” – click here and hit the video icon listed on the right side)

(for Dave South’s call of “the shot” – click here)

We could go on and on about this game, but considering we are now on page 9, let’s just all give it another big smile.

The final game of the regular season saw the Aggies close out league play the same way they opened it, by playing Texas Tech. A trip to the high plains of West Texas to take on the Raiders is never an easy task, especially after you just took down your biggest rival in dramatic fashion.

The Aggies not only avoided the letdown bug, they flat out kicked the tar out of Tech. This game easily supplanted the Nebraska win as their best all around win of the season. They laid a 75-59 beatdown on the Raiders and no, the game was not as close as the score indicated. Tech scored 8 unanswered points in the final minute.

The victory over Tech was their 7th in a row and put their league mark at 10-6, good enough for 4th place and a first round bye in the Big XII tournament. The victory also put them at the 20 win mark for the 2nd straight year.

"For us to be able to string seven in a row together when things didn't look so good says a lot about the kind of people we have," Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said. "I've never seen a tougher team."

Postseason Play

In all of my trips to the Big 12 tournament, it was a little strange donning my maroon gear on Thursday and not seeing the Aggies play. Nice problem to have, right?

Colorado beat Baylor on Thursday afternoon setting up the rematch that Mr. Roby had been hoping for.

Mr. Roby, you better be careful as you may get what you ask for.

If you thought the Tech game was an impressive win, that game had nothing on how well the Aggies played in their rematch with Colorado.

It was a rare thing of beauty where A&M could do no wrong in anything they did on both ends of the floor. They jumped all over the Buffalos and routed Colorado 86-53.

Richard Roby bowed out gracefully by slamming the ball to the floor and getting a technical foul with about 5 minutes left in the game. Goodbye Richard, good luck in the NBA (it was however a good idea to not hire an agent just yet).

The Aggies’ win streak was now at 8 games. The win also represented another first for Aggie Hoops – Their first ever Big 12 tournament win.

The win over Colorado set up a rubber game with the top seeded Longhorns. The 3rd time did not prove out to be as dramatic as the last time out, but the Aggies and Longhorns did put on another great show.

The Horns jumped out to a quick lead and were able to maintain it heading into halftime with a 43-30 lead. The Aggies came surging back behind a 19-7 run out of the break that got them back to within one at 50-49.

The teams traded buckets for a few possessions before two free throws from Acie Law gave the Aggies the lead at 66-64 with 3:39 left to play.

In the end, UT was just the better team once again and went on to win 74-70. The Aggies put up a good fight and proved once again that they can play on the same level as any of the top-tier teams.

Selection Sunday brought about yet another first for Texas A&M – Their first ever “at-large” selection to the NCAA tournament. Any stress regarding their inclusion in the field was alleviated rather quickly as they were the 6th team out of 64 to be announced.

(for a clip of their announcement on CBS - click here)

Up next for the Aggies was a trip to Jacksonville, Florida as a #12 seed taking on the 5th seeded Orange of Syracuse.

Syracuse was one of the hottest teams in the country coming in to the tournament but they quickly found out just how fast the tide can turn.

Behind stifling man-to-man pressure like they had not seen all season long and Gerry McNamara’s worst outing of his career (was he injured?), the Orange were defeated 66-58.

The Aggies continued on their own hot streak playing well on both ends of the court.

I was concerned that A&M might have had some problems with Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, but they were able to knock down a few shots from the outside and had a decent high-low game working well enough to put a few points on the board.

I’m still not entirely sure, but I think the Aggies just won an NCAA tournament game.

This is the same program that two years ago was 0-17 in the league, right?

Pretty cool isn’t it?

Just remember when you’ve had a few too many pops and are celebrating a big win with a dance that you clear it left, clear it right, and then bring it in and out. I’m an idiot.

After pulling the ever popular 12 over 5 upset, the Aggies next faced a very athletic LSU team, the #4 seed in the Atlanta region.

The Aggies and Tigers were locked into an interesting battle in a first half that featured both teams going on pronounced runs. LSU led by as many as 12, A&M led by as many as 5, but at the intermission, the game was locked up at 29 each.

The second half happened to flow in a much more traditional manner as each team battled for buckets. The Aggies trailed by as many 7 late in the game before rallying to take a 2 point lead on Acie Law’s fade-away jumper with 18 seconds left.

On the next possession, LSU guard Darrel Mitchell hit a deep 3 with 4 seconds left to give LSU the one point win. Mitchell’s shot was a slug to the gut for all Aggie fans that still stings, but hey, full credit to Mitchell for knocking down a huge shot in an even bigger situation.

Mitchell’s shot and the loss to LSU brought closure to what was possibly the best all-around basketball season ever at Texas A&M.

"We didn't come here today to lose," Gillispie said. "We didn't come here to get experience. We came here to win, and we fell short, and it's very, very disappointing for us to not be on the right side of the scoreboard.”

The Aggies finished March with a 4-2 record which put them at 22-9 overall.

After the dust had settled and the players and coaches had some time to reflect, it was hard to not be disappointed after the loss to LSU.

Billy Gillispie:
"Every single game this year, we were in a position to win in the last four minutes. I've never been a part of a team that did that before. You always have one or two games where whatever is going to happen just happens (in a loss). But this team put itself in legitimate position to win every game."

Acie Law:
“It’s good we were able to do something for the school and accomplish so much this year. It wipes away the feeling we had (after the LSU game) to see the fans and how they feel about us. Each day, we work extremely hard and bring our hard hats to practice. Every time we go out, the fans show unbelievable support. This is great. I love it and am looking forward to next year.”

Billy Gillispie:
“It’s a very important time for us. As captivated as a lot of folks are around here, there are a lot of (recruits) who are interested across the state. We’re going to try and build on the momentum and take advantage of it and see what we can do. You can’t rest. We have a lot of work to do. That was a great year, but that’s not exactly where we want this thing to end up in the long run.”

Dominique Kirk:
“I hope we just continue to build. We came a long way this year, and we want to keep building toward the top….hopefully our best is yet to come.”

The Aggie Hoops Report – 2005-2006 Season Awards.

Team MVPAcie Law – The key that drives the car.

Most ImprovedDominique Kirk – The Sophomore developed into one of the premier defenders in all of the country.

Freshman of the YearJosh Carter – Silky smooth shot with the potential to be the next superstar in College Station.

Newcomer of the YearAntanas Kavaliauskas – Solid JUCO signee for Gillispie last year.

Best Win33 point victory over Colorado in Dallas – secured NCAA tournament spot.

Biggest Win3 point victory over Texas – put them in the national spotlight.

Best Loss74-70 loss to Texas in Dallas – played well enough to win, just couldn’t get it done.

Worst Loss - 1 point loss to LSU in NCAA 2nd round – still stings. 1 bucket or 1 stop away.

2005-2006 was an amazing year for basketball fans in Aggieland.

Gillispie is laying the foundation for what should be many years of an enjoyable brand of basketball to watch.

People have often referred to A&M Hoops as a “sleeping giant”. I don’t think that bad boy is sleeping any more, do you?

197 days until midnight madness, but hey, who’s counting?

Sometime in the next couple of weeks I will put together our look ahead to 2006-2007. I will include a complete breakdown of what is possibly the best incoming freshman class Aggie Hoops will have ever seen.

Well, that turned out to be much longer than I had planned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Carry on.

Monday, March 20, 2006

LSU Review

Sorry for the delay in getting out the LSU recap.

I tried to start typing a couple of times today and either something came up at work or I still just wasn't quite sure what to say.

Most of what I want to say right now we ll cover in the 2005-2006 season recap.

For now let s go back to last Saturday night when arguably the best season in Texas A&M basketball history came to what many of us feel was a premature end.

LSU Recap

The first half got off to a very shaky start for the Aggies as they managed to only put 3 points on
the board in the first six and a half minutes. In that time LSU had managed to put up 15.

Nevermind the fact that in that same timespan, both Acie Law and Joseph Jones each picked up
not 1, but 2 quick fouls.

Down 12, having both superstars in quick foul trouble, and staring down the barrel of an outright disaster, the Aggies dug in deep and let LSU know they were in for a long night of basketball.

Rallying behind stifling defensive pressure led by Dominique Kirk, Martellus Bennett, and Antanas Kavaliaksuas, over the next 8 minutes the Aggies held LSU without a single point for 17 straight possessions. During that span, the Tigers missed 12 shots and committed 5 turnovers.
While LSU was coming up empty, the Aggies were fighting to not only get back in the game, but to take control of the first half.

The boys in Maroon and White made 6 of their next 9 field goal attempts. Throw in a couple of Acie Law free throws for good measure and before you knew it, the Aggies were on a 17-0 run and leading 20-15 with 6:23 to play before the break.

As the first half developed into a series of runs, the next go at it belonged to LSU. They scored the next 9 points to take back the lead at the 4:41 mark ahead 24-20.

Not to be outdone by their friends from across the border to the East, The Aggies scored the next 7 points to go back ahead 27-24. I think it was at this point that most everyone watching the game knew we were in for a nervous evening.

Heading into the break, LSU managed to knock down a few free throws to put together another
mini-run of 5-0 before AK tipped in a missed 3 by Acie Law.

At 29-29, the teams headed to the break right back where they started the evening, all tied up.

A few numbers that stood out from the first half:
Fouls FG (%) 3-pointers (%)
A&M 14 A&M - 11-23 (48%) A&M - 4-9 (44%)
LSU 6 LSU 8-25 (32%) LSU 1-6 (17%)

The second half did not feature the Aggies shooting the ball as well as they did in the first half, but it did feature the Tigers continuing to shoot it rather poorly.

The first ten minutes of the final frame featured the teams trading misses and makes with neither team posting anything larger than a 4 point lead.

At the 8:58 mark of the game, the 7th tie of the night came about when the score was all knotted up at 41.

The evening was taking the form of what we have all become accustomed to with this bunch of
Aggies, low scoring, good defense, forcing the tempo, hustle, and determination. (This is also
known as "Billy Ball").

The next 5+ minutes of the game saw LSU claw their way to a 7 point lead ahead 53-46. At the
3:16 mark, Josh Carter missed a 3 that was rebounded and put-back by AK to cut the lead to 53-48.

AK s put -back was the beginning of a 9-0 run over a nearly 3 minute stretch.

With 1:09 to play the Aggies were tied with LSU at 53 before Joe Jones hit a soft floater in the lane to give them a 55-53 edge.

LSU came right back when Glen Davis hit a little jumper of his own to tie it up again at 55 all.

The Aggies got the ball back with about a 7 second difference between the game clock (0:42) and the shot clock (0:35) with a chance to put themselves ahead.

None other than Acie Law showed us again what makes him such a special player and reproved his mettle as a clutch late game go-to guy. Acie knocked down a tough fadeaway jumper from about 17 feet over the outstretched hands of an LSU defender to put the Aggies up 2 at 57-55.

LSU called timeout with 18 seconds left to set up the final play of the game.

You knew it was going to either Davis or Mitchell. Sure enough they set up a screen and roll with
those two guys. Dominique Kirk and Antanas Kavaliauskas switched off in a move that left AK
guarding Mitchell on the perimeter.

AK did everything you would have expected him to do defensively. He got his butt low, he had his feet active, he got wide, and he had his hands in the air. Mitchell took about two dribbles
backwards to create separation and he let a bomb go from about 23 feet that hit nothing but the
bottom of the net.

The Tigers were up 58-57 with 0:03.9 left to play.

The inbounds pass to Josh Carter was mishandled and the clock rolled to 0:00.0.

(I will not get on my soapbox about Acie getting pushed down on the inbounds play.) (See below.)

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that the Aggies did everything they needed to do to win
this game except make one more score, or one more stop.

It was a tough pill to swallow for the Aggie faithful, no doubt.

One tricky thing about college basketball is that unless you win the NCAA tournament or the NIT you end your season on a losing note. It's tough not to be shortsighted and let this put a damper on what was otherwise a magical season. (We'get into this more in the season recap).

Acie Law vs. Gerry McNamara

Remember what a classless jerk Gerry McNamara was after the loss to A&M?
"I feel great. I feel great about it. My last game, we lost, probably because of me. It's fantastic. It's a great feeling." Gerry McNamara when asked about his final game.

Compare that to what Acie Law had to say when asked about what many of us viewed as a blatant foul on the final play of the game:
"I wasn't fouled. It was incidental contact," Law said. "I wouldn't expect the referee to make that call in the NCAA Tournament second round with a chance to go to the Sweet 16. I wouldn't expect him to make that call to bail us out and I wouldn't expect him to make that call if they were in that situation. With the game on the line, let the players make a play to win it. I got tripped up and was unable to make a play to win it."

Class. Grace. Dignity.

Good job kid!

A couple of good articles worth reading:

I hope to have out the season recap sometime by the middle of next week and the look ahead
shortly after that.

Carry on.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

LSU Preview

NCAA Tournament Preview
2nd Round Edition
Texas A&M vs. LSU
Saturday, March 18th
4:50 CST (approx.)
CBS (non-HD)

Are we really looking at a newslet ter previewing Texas A&M s 2nd NCAA Tournament basketball game this year?

Kidding, right?

Well thats super cool, isn t it?

I agree.

OK - Let s get into the nuts and bolts of this game.

The first thing that comes to mind with LSU as opposed to Syracuse is their athleticism. This team is MUCH more athletic than Syracuse and plays a contrasting style that gets out and pushes the tempo of the game and will likely see a major dose of man-to-man defense.

LSU comes into the game with a 24-8 overall record. They got to the 2nd round by knocking off a pesky Iona team by the score of 80-64 on Thursday night.

LSU is 1-3 vs. ranked teams this season with their only win coming against #13 West Virginia back in November. Much like A&M they are hot at the right time of the season in winning 8 of their last 9.

They dont have a tendency to blow people out , nor do they get blown out. Their 8 losses have come at an average of 5 points each. Their D-1 wins have come at an average of 12 points. Since February 1, that number has dipped to nearly 9 per game.

When looking at conferences, the SEC is very equivalent to the Big 12. LSU s st rength of chedule was 13th and bolstered by games vs. West Virginia (a 71-68 win in OT) and UConn (a 66-67 loss).

Backcourt Match-up
LSU s backcourt is best described as good but not great .

Manning the ball will be Darrel Mitchell, a 5 11 guard who is the team s 2nd leading scorer chipping in 17.3 per game while adding 4 boards and 4 assists.

My guess is that Gillispie will try to neutralize Mitchell with his best defender, Dominique Kirk.
If Mitchell proves to be too quick for Kirk, look for Law to pick him up.

Joining Mitchell in the backcourt is 6 5 freshman Garrett Temple. Garrett is an interesting guy on paper. He averages 33 minutes per game, but only 5 points, 2 boards and 3 dimes. What does he do the whole game?

Temple will obviously be picked up by whichever Aggie guard is not on Mitchell.

Advantage Push +/ - 0

Frontcourt Match-up

Be afraid, be very afraid.

LSU s frontcourt is one of the best in the count ry due to four factors:
1.) A great big man acting as your anchor
2.) Size + Athleticism
3.) Depth off the bench
4.) Tyrus Thomas

If you have not heard of Glen Davis yet , it s probably t ime to go ahead and commit his name to

The 6'9" sophomore checks in at 310 pounds and is one of only a handful of players in the nation to average a double-double. Big Baby averages nearly 19 points and 10 boards per game. He is an absolute beast inside and Joe will have his hands full.

Joining Davis in the LSU starting frontcourt are:
Darnell Lazare - 6'8" 240 - Junior - 7 points 4 boards
Tasmin Mitchell - 6'7" 230 - Freshman - 12 points 5 boards

Pompey and Walker will have their hands full on the defensive end here also. Hopefully Walker canlockdown on Mitchell and force them to look to Lazara more often. AK and Martellus may also help out.

Not only are the LSU starting 3 very good, they also bring the SEC Freshman of the Year Tyrus Thomas off of the bench. Thomas is back from a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him late in the season.

His first game back was the Iona game on Thursday. Thomas averages 13 points and 9 rebounds per game. He is an ideal complement to Davis on the inside and when both guys are on the court at the same time they are extremely tough to defend.

One area where the Aggies may have a leg up is the fact that these guys are more offensively oriented than they are defensive minded. I am sure Gillispie will cook something up that can keep them offbalance.

Moderate Edge for the Tigers (+2)

Bench Match-up
LSU uses a very constant 8-man rotation with all 8 guys averaging more than 13 minutes per game.

What will set the benches apart is that the Tigers bring one of the most dynamic young players in thegame off of their bench in Tyrus Thomas (see above).

Joining Thomas off the bench are:
Magnum Rolle - 6' 10" 215 - Freshman - 2 points 2 boards 9 minutes
Ben Voogd - 6'1" 175 - Freshman - 1 point 1 board 13 minutes.

Bottom line is that if Thomas were not the 6th man for the Tigers the Aggies would have a nice leg up on the bench. The reality of the situation is that he does come off the bench and yes, he can be that good.

Minor Edge for the Tigers (+1)

Coaching Match-Up
John Brady is in his 9th year at LSU and is enjoying his best season yet. This is the 4th time he has led the tigers to the big dance compiling a 3-3 record. His first trip in 2000 he led them to he sweet 16 behind Stromile Swift. He also led them to the tournament in 2003 and 2005 osing both times in the first round.

Did anyone else watch A&M take on Syracuse last night? If you missed it, Coach Gillispie did just ok in his first trip with the Aggies. (/sarcasm)

Is John Brady a coach that scares you?

Is Gillispie?

Me too.

Let s ride the hot hand here.

Minor Edge for the Aggies (+1)


Both teams are playing well at the best time of the year.
No issues here. Both teams have been in Jacksonville since Tuesday.
Both teams sold their full allotment of tickets from the NCAA.
My guess is that both teams will be represented nicely.
At this point , I don't know that saying LSU went to the dance in 2005 and A&M didn't is applicable.

Seems to me that with one game each under their belt in Jacksonville that both teams are of the same mindset when it comes to experience/nerves.

Push +/ - 0

I hope this report helps for tomorrow - This should also be a great game.

Old Army Fight!


The Aggie Hoops Report s Game Outcome Prediction -
LSU Tigers - 71
Texas A&M Aggies 68

Carry on.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Syracuse Review

The 2005-2006 Texas Aggie Mens basketball team continued their improbable late season
run on Thursday night by taking down the nations media darling and the hot test team in
the nation , the Syracuse Orange.

Next up for the Aggies? They will face a long-time rival, the LSU Tigers. The game is on Saturday at 4:45 (approx) on CBS with a trip to the sweet 16 on the line.

Syracuse Recap

Old Army came charging out of the gate attacking two key areas that were going to be necessary to stay in the game with Syracuse, stifling defensive pressure and knocking down
a handful of 3-point shots.

The boys in maroon jumped out to a 13-5 lead behind two Chris Walker three pointers. Not only were they big on the scoreboard, they were also big because it meant that Syracuse was going to have to account for Chris for the remainder of the game.

The two quick, yet untypical, Chris Walker threes also prompted Mike Olsen at our watch party to declare, America is so confused right now.

It was highly comical.

Syracuse rallied to take a 17-16 lead before Acie Law and Josh Carter got the good guys headed back in the right direction. They did it again by knocking down a pair of threes to put the Aggies up 5 and they never looked back.

As the first half was coming to a close, Josh Carter hit one of the biggest shots of the night. Acie, using dribble-drive penetration found Josh camped out in the corner, hit him with a perfect pass and Carter buried the Aggies 6th three-point bucket of the half. The bucket also gave them some much-needed additional momentum going into the break.

The basket capped a 17-7 Aggie run that put the halftime margin at 9 points, 33-24.

Throughout the entire first half, Gillispie had his guys using great balance on the offensive end centered around the inside-out game. They were working the high-low post game with Jones, Pompey, and Kavaliauskas. They were also fortunate enough to knock down a handful of big baskets early, allowing them to seize control of the game.

The Aggies were so good at times they may have appeared to be running a clinic on how to
beat the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone

On the other end of the court, the Aggies defensive pressure played a major role from the opening tip. Syracuse, on the offensive end, appeared out of sync and confused on multiple occasions. The Orange were 7 of 20 overall from the field and 1 of 8 from deep in the first half.

Coming out of the break, both teams appeared to be settled in and played some decent basketball for the first ten minutes. The teams were rather evenly matched and continued to trade buckets for multiple possessions.

At the ten-minute mark of the game, the Aggies still maintained an 8 point lead at 45-37.

Over the next two minutes, The Orange put together a mini-run of 6-0 to cut the Aggie lead to 4 points at the 8:15 mark. Needless to say, this is when Aggie fans watching nationwide began to feel a little stressed.


To say that Acie was clutch down the stretch would be a massive understatement. He scored 16 of his team high 23 points in the final 8 minutes. These points also accounted for 16 of the Aggies final 21 points.

Furthermore, he was a key player in one of Gillispie s best coaching moves of the night . Jim Boeheim moved his guys into a full-court trapping press that rattled the Aggies and allowed Syracuse to cut the lead to 4 for a second time at 49-45 with 5:59 to play.

During the under 4:00 media timeout, Gillispie made a switch as to who would receive the inbounds pass, and it was no longer Acie Law. He set it up where Josh Carter, Joe Jones, or Dominique Kirk would catch the inbounds pass.

The player receiving the ball inbounds would then make a pass out of the Syracuse trap and at the same time Acie would break toward the A&M basket. The person receiving the pass out of the trap would immediately hit Acie as he was on his way to the hoop slipping behind the Syracuse press.

The move worked on three consecutive possessions and netted Acie two breakaway layups
and two free throws as he was fouled on his way to the hoop.

When you hear people say that Gillispie out-coached Boeheim last night, there is a perfect
example of what they are referring to.

Some Quick Hits

- The Aggies hit 19 of 22 free throws on the night in a game where every one of them
mattered. This also included making 11 of 12 down the stretch.

- Chris Walker played a great all-around game notching 9 points (all 3 s) and 6 rebounds.
The best stat for Walker is that 4 of his 6 rebounds came on the offensive end.

- Joe Jones had an off night shooting the ball in going 3 for 13. The big guy was getting
some good looks, they just were not dropping for him.

- Syracuse as a team finished 4 of 19 from behind the arc - their two starting guards
finished the evening 5 of 19 overall, which included 1 of 11 from deep.

- Gillispie used his 7 usual suspects and they were the only guys that played. Joe led the
way playing all 40 minutes.

Gerry McNamara Fan Club
- This was the only time in Gerry McNamara s career he was held without a field goal.

After having the worst game of his career, statistically speaking anyhow, he had this to say
when asked to analyze his performance:

"I feel great . I feel great about it . My last game, we lost , probably because of me. It s
fantastic. Its a great feeling."

Needless to say, he was being curt and sarcastic with the guys in the media room.

I guess he must have still been frustrated from the pressure Dominique Kirk put on him all

John Lopez of the Houston Chronicle also had this great line in his column this morning.
could you really recognize either Kirk or Walker at the mall?

"Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara surely would. They'd be the ones inside his shirt. They'd be the inexplicable itch on the back of his neck. They'd be the ones walking uncomfortably close and dancing inside his head."

You can read his full column here:

If you want to hear how gracious Jim Boeheim and Gerry McNamara were after the game,
you can listen to the audio of their press conference here:

Looking Ahead

I am hopeful to have an LSU preview out tonight. Stay tuned.

Carry on.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Syracuse Preview

NCAA Tournament Preview Edition
Texas A&M vs. Syracuse
Thursday, March 16th
8:40 CST (approx.)
CBS (non-HD)

Are we really looking at a newsletter previewing a Texas A&M NCAA Tournament basketball


Kind of cool, isn’t it?

OK - Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of this game.

One thing to keep in mind with this match-up is that this is a Syracuse team can be a VERY
good basketball team, one that has the capabilities to beat A&M by 15+ and not even blink.

Their last three games were all wins and came over #1 UConn, #20 Georgetown, and #16

I would also be remiss if I did not point out that this is the same Syracuse bunch that lost by 17 to tournament snub Cincinnati at home and lost at DePaul by 39, less than 2 weeks ago. DePaul is so bad that they finished 12-15 and did not even get an invite to the NIT.

The 2006 version of the Big East was loaded from top to bottom, so much so in-fact that Syracuse faced a ranked opponent 11 of their last 18 games. Over those 18 games, they finished with a 9-9 record but have currently won 4 in a row.

Overall, the Orange have played a much tougher schedule than did the Aggies. They also played in a much better league, the Big East, than did A&M in the Big 12.

Syracuse finished the 2005-2006 season with the strongest strength of schedule in the
country. A&M’s schedule was ranked a reasonable 65th.

Backcourt Match-up

Any look at Syracuse’s backcourt must begin with Gerry McNamara, a 6’2” Senior. He is the heart and soul of their team and their only “brand name” player. McNamara averages 35+ minutes per game and averages just over 16 points and 6 assists per night. For Aggie The Aggie
fans he should be known as public enemy number one. This should not be tough as he is one of those scrappy white guys that is easy to dislike.

Joining McNamara in the starting backcourt is 6’4” Freshman Eric Davendorf. Davendorf averages just over 12 points per game and shoots the ball very well at around 45% on the season. A secondary role he has provided is moving defensive pressure away from McNamara. Davendorf shoots the ball well enough that you can not afford to focus squarely on McNamara.

The Aggies feature a guard duo of Acie Law and Dominique Kirk that can hold their own with anyone in the country, including McNamara and Davendorf.

While Acie provides more of a scoring threat and a quick first step allowing for dribbledrive
penetration on the offensive end, Dominique provides a nasty dose of lockdown man-to-man defense on the other end of the floor.

I will be curious to see how Coach Gillispie chooses to match his guys up with the Syracuse
guards. Whichever route he decides to go, I guarantee you that the boys from Syracuse will not have seen the type of fierce in-your-face man-to-man pressure they are going to see from the Aggies.

One other thing to keep an eye on is that both teams can really struggle shooting the ball from the outside. The Aggies do however have a slight edge in both overall field goal and 3 point percentages - .450 vs .439 in total and .358 vs .343 from downtown.

Advantage – Push +/- 0

Frontcourt Match-up

Syracuse features a frontcourt of three guys all with good to above average size.
Demetris Nichols – 6’8” Junior
Terrence Roberts – 6’9” Junior
Darryl Watkins – 6’11” Junior

Nichols is the team’s second leading scorer and third leading rebounder averaging 13.6 points and 5.7 boards per game. Roberts is the team’s leading rebuonder pulling down an average of 7.6 per game. Roberts also adds 10.6 points per game to round out the 4 guys from Syracuse that average in double figure points (McNamara/Davendorf/Nichols/Roberts).

Watkins appears to be more of a role player (think Pompey or Walker) in averaging 7.1 points and 7.3 boards per game. He will also be the big body camping out in the middle of the lane as the anchor of Jim Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone.

The Aggies frontcourt of Walker, Pompey, and Joseph Jones will have their hands full trying to bang inside with the big bodies from Syracuse. As Jerry (most people know him as The Dude) pointed out to me this morning, the officials could play a key role in how the big guys from both teams fare in this contest. This should be more of a concern for Syracuse as they do not have the depth in the frontcourt that A&M has.

One key for the Aggies, and certainly more so for Pompey, will be to stay as active as possible without getting into foul trouble. We will need for Marlon to crash the boards hard and keep Syracuse second chance opportunities to an absolute minimum.

Walker will need to lock down on Nichols and not let him get above his scoring average of 13.6. Hopefully he will be able to keep Nichols off balance and disrupt him enough to lure him into a couple of cheap fouls early in the contest.

There are two areas where I think the Aggies have a frontcourt advantage over Syracuse.
1.) Joe Jones
2.) Frontcourt Depth

Joseph Jones can be a difference maker on the inside. If Joe can extend his game away from the block and take the 6’11” Darryl Watkins with him it will help draw the inside of the Syracuse zone further away from the rim. If they can establish Joe extended from the block and open up the back-cut lanes and the high-low post game, there is no doubt the Aggies can establish a post presence in this game centered around big Joe.

Frontcourt Depth is a serious issue for Syracuse. The supporting cast off the Orange bench is less than admirable. If the Aggies can somehow get Nichols, Roberts, and Watkins in foul trouble this could be a big advantage for the Aggies.

Advantage – Slight Edge for the Aggies (+1)

Bench Match-up

Neither team has extraordinary depth off the bench nor should either bench be considered a major asset at this point. That being said when you look at the first few guys off the bench for either team I think you will definitely notice a difference.

Syracuse has three reserves that log double digit minutes each game out, two guards and a
forward. Josh Wright and Louie McCroskey (both guards) average around 13 minutes each and average 4.1 and 3.8 points respectively. The third contributor is Matt Gorman, a senior forward that averages around 10 minutes per contest and 2.7 points.

In aggregate the top three reserves off of the Syracuse bench average around 10.6 points per game. The Syracuse bench in total averages 12.9 points per contest.

The Aggies have two major contributors coming off of their bench in Josh Carter and Antanas Kavaliauskas. Carter plays 20.3 minutes and AK 16.1 as both players have gotten much better and matured greatly as the season has progressed.

Carter has provided much needed scoring presence on the outside while AK has provided a
secondary force on the inside to compliment Joe Jones. Kavaliauskas can also use his outside shooting touch to help extend the block and widen the Syracuse zone.

Both Carter and AK have seen their minutes increase substantially as the big 12 season wore on. I would look for these guys to play a major role in the outcome of Thursday’s game.

So tell me this, who would you rather have coming off of your bench, Wright, McCroskey,
and Gorman and the Orange’s 12.9 points or Josh Carter, Antanas Kavaliauskas and the
Aggies 21.3 points per game?

Advantage – Moderate Edge for the Aggies (+2)

Coaching Match-Up

This one is a no brainer.

Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is a coaching legend and a hall of famer (elected in 2005). He has an overall record of 726-252. Coach Boeheim has 1 national championship (over Kansas in 2004) and has been a runner-up twice (to Indiana 1987 and to Kentucky 1996).

In 30 seasons at Syracuse he has led his team to the big dance 25 times (including this year) with an overall record of 40-23. 11 of those 25 visits have seen his teams advance to the sweet sixteen or beyond.

Billy Gillispie of Texas A&M is one of the hottest young coaches in the country and has done an amazing job of transforming the face of Aggie basketball.

Coach Gillispie has a career record of 72-50, but is 66-24 in his last three seasons.

He led the UTEP Minors to the 2004 NCAA tournament as a 13 seed where they lost to Maryland in the first round.

Advantage – Major Edge for the Orange (+3)



Syracuse comes into the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country making an improbable run through the Big East tournament capturing the 2005 tournament championship. This run however seems to have erased all memory of the 39 point loss at
DePaul not even two weeks ago.

The Texas Aggie’s late season momentum seems to be overlooked at this point. Most people fail to mention that Old Army won 8 out of 9 down the stretch, including 8 in a row before falling to Texas in Dallas at the Big 12 tournament last weekend. In contrast, the loss to Texas seems to have erased all memory of their own improbable run in winning 8 straight.


Both teams will have to travel about equal distance to Jacksonville with neither having any
complex issues in arriving.

Both teams sold their allotment of tickets from the NCAA. Who will have an edge in the scalpers market? My guess is that it will be a push.

A&M will draw nicely because of the newness and excitement of an invite to the dance that has been nearly 20 years in the waiting.

Syracuse will draw nicely because of the prestige of their program.

Much along the same lines as the coaching breakdown, Syracuse will have a leg up in the “been there, done that” category. This group of Syracuse seniors will be making their 4th straight trip to the tournament.

Advantage – Minor Edge for the Orange (+1)

There you have it, hopefully now you feel caught up to speed. This should be one of the best first round games of the 2006 NCAA Tournament and I hope it lives up to the hype.

The Aggie Hoops Report’s Game Outcome Prediction -
Syracuse Orange – 62
Texas A&M Aggies - 61

Monday, March 13, 2006

Big 12 Tournamnet Recap

The Aggies were awarded their first ever NCAA at-large bid on Sunday as a 12 seed. They drew one of the hottest teams in the country matching up against Syracuse in a 5/12 game from Jacksonville, Florida at 8:40 central time on Thursday evening (Much more to follow in a separate note before Thursday).

There is a great video of the team’s reaction on the A&M website:

Big 12 Tournament Recap

A&M / Texas (Saturday) Recap

Both of Saturday's games in Dallas were entertaining, but it was tough to be too excited after the Aggies dropped another close game in falling to Texas 74-70.

The good guys fell behind 43-30 at the half due to some poor shooting and a VERY active and effective 2-3 zone from Texas.

The three bruising frontcourt players from Texas (Buckman/Aldredge/Tucker) did not allow the Aggies to establish an inside presence and simply shutdown the paint. Couple that with a nasty dose of poor shooting from the outside and before you knew it, the Aggies were down by 13 at the break.

Josh Carter and Acie Law sparked a 14-4 run out of the half to get the Aggies back in the game at the 14:05 mark. The run also forced the Longhorns to switch back to man-to-man defense, a move that really opened things up for the Aggies on the offensive end of the court.

The two teams then traded baskets for a few possessions before the Aggies mounted their second run of the half. Acie Law made two free throws to cap an 11-4 run and give the Aggies a 66-64 lead with 3:39 to play.

Unfortunately for Old Army, Kenton Paulino drained a 3 on the next possession for the longhorns and they never looked back in-route to Sunday's championship game against Kansas.

PJ Tucker more than atoned for his shot-clock mistake in College Station 10 days ago by torching the Aggies for 26 points and 13 rebounds.

On the brightside for the Aggies, Josh Carter had a career weekend playing back in his hometown for the first time this season. Against the Horns on Saturday afternoon the 6' 5" freshman posted a career high 25 points and a team leading 7 rebounds. Carter was 8 of 12 from the field including 6 of 10 from downtown on Satruday.

On Friday against Colorado, Carter contributed 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Josh's performances earned him a spot on my 2005 all-tournament team (see below).

Kansas / Nebraska (Saturday) Recap

Kansas jumped all over Nebraska from the opening tip and was never threatened en route to a 79-65 free pass to Sunday’s championship game vs. Texas. Mario Chalmers led the way for the Jayhawks with 18 points and 6 boards.

Texas / Kansas (Sunday) Recap

Kansas again denied our friends from Austin their first ever Big 12 tournament crown by dropping the Longhorns 80-68 in the title game on Sunday afternoon. Kansas was led by 5
players in double figures and outscored the Longhorns by 32-7 in points off of turnovers.
Kansas’ top 7 scorers are all freshman or sophomores. They will likely be a preseason top 5 team next year and a heavy favorite to repeat as Big 12 champions.

The Aggie Hoops Report’s Big 12 Tournament Awards

Tournament MVP
Mario Chalmers – Kansas – Averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game

All Tournament Team - (averages)
Mario Chalmers – Kansas – 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists
Russell Robinson – Kansas – 10.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists
P.J. Tucker – Texas – 17.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4 assists
LaMarcus Aldredge – Texas – 11.3 points, 10.6 rebounds
Josh Carter – Texas A&M – 20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists

The media chose Chalmers-MVP/Tucker/Aldredge along with Julian Wright-Kansas and Acie
Law-Texas A&M. Good to see Acie get some respect, but he was not A&M’s best player –
Josh Carter was.

Best Fan T-Shirts
1st Place – Kansas Fan – “Missouri Fans Wear Jean Shorts!”
2nd Place – Kansas Fan – “Why play with Roy when I can play with my Self?”
(FYI - Bill Self replaced Roy Williams as the coach at Kansas in 2003)

Looking Ahead – NCAA Tournament Edition:

I will put out a full preview of the Aggies and Orange later in the week. After being out of
the office for a few days I need to tie up a few loose ends this morning.

As you were.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mine are a size 13 - And Yours? (Big 12 Tourney Day 2)

That's right kids, get out your dancing shoes! The Texas Aggies are going to the big dance for the first time in nearly 20 years.

2006 will represent the first time the Aggies will have ever earned an at-large bid to the tournament. My goodness this team is red-hot right now and playing with a lot of confidence. (more below).

Big 12 Tourney Recap - Day 2

Game 1

Texas knocked off Tech yesterday by a final score 77-70 and the game never felt as close as the final score indicated. Tech hit 11 three pointers to keep it close and to put it in perspective, they only made 22 field goals in the entire game. Texas looked ok, not great, but not bad. They advance to face the Aggies today in the first semifinal game.

Game 2

Texas A&M just squeaked by Colorado 86-53 - (more below).

Game 3

My upset prediction nearly came to fruition as Kansas held off a late OSU rally to win 63-62. The Jayhawks did not look overly impressive and 1st team all big-12 guard Brandon Rush had a terrible game scoring only 6 points. Kansas advances to face the surprise team of the weekend, Nebraska.

Game 4

Nebraska upset our friends from Norman last night in what actually turned out to be a pretty entertaining game. The Huskers won 69-63 and face Kansas in today's second semifinal game.

Big 12 tournament semifinals

Texas vs. Texas A&M - 1:00 today ESPN2
Kansas vs. Nebraska - 3:20 today ESPN2

Aggies Recap

The Aggies fell behind 2 to 9 early before opening it up and absolutely routing Colorado. A&M scored 27 of the game's next 31 points (a 27-4 run) to take a 29-13 lead and the boys in Maroon and White never looked back.

The Buffs did get back within 8 at one point late in the first half at 30-22, but fear not, this was just a minor bump in the road.

Right after halftime the route was on as the Aggies pushed the lead to 20, then 30, then 35 en route to an 86-53 win over a pretty good Colorado team.

Josh Carter (15) and Joe Jones (21) led the way offensively for Old Army.

The Aggies are now 21-7 overall and have won 8 in a row, which is tied for the 3rd longest current winning streak in the nation. Coach Gillispie has this group of cagers playing at unprecedented levels and has them believing not only in themselves, but also in each other.

Yesterday was one of those magical days where everything clicked on both ends of the floor. Not only did they drop an 86 on Colorado, they shot 55% from the field, 57% from behind the arc, and 71% from the free throw line.

Defensively they were amazing as well. Colorado was 18 of 60 on the day and 4 of 25 from deep. Couple that with a 13 of 21 from the charity stripe and you are not going to win very many basketball games.

Another 1st team all big-12 guard, Richard Roby, was also terrible yesterday. He was 3 of 18 from the field and got a technical foul with 7 minutes left after slamming the ball to the floor in frustration. I guess some old fashioned man-to-man defense got to him.

Oh yeah - Colorado opened as a 1 point favorite yesterday. Wow.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies and Longhorns hook up today in the rubber game for the two teams. Texas will be out for revenge and the Aggies will be looking to prove that last week's win over the short-horns was not a fluke.

As you will recall, Texas has no more than their 5 starters and is VERY beatable. If the Aggies can stay hot there is no reason why they can't take down our colleagues from Austin for the second time in as many weeks.

One thing to keep an eye on is that A&M's starters only played an average of 24 minutes yesterday in a blowout win.

Texas had two starters (Aldredge and Tucker) play all 40 minutes vs. Tech and Daniel Gibson played 38 of the 40. Buckman was in foul trouble all day long (5 fouls, no points) and only played 8 minutes while Paulino played 26 minutes.

The Aggies will be in a back-to-back situation for the first time this season.

Texas played in two tournaments early this year and has been in a back-to-back situation twice.

Let's hope the good guys can stay hot and make this weekend even better.

More tonight.

As you were.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Quick Big 12 Tourney Update - Day 1

It's been a long day, so here is a quick update.

Game 1
Texas Tech took down K-State 73-65 behind a huge rally which saw the Red Raiders outscore the Wildcats 41-29 in the second frame. K-State enjoyed the game so much they fired their coach immediately afterward - Hopefully they gave him $20 to catch the Greyhound Bus back to Manhattan. The raiders face UT tomorrow in the first quarterfinal game of the afternoon at 11:30.

Game 2
Colorado overcame a feisty Baylor team to prevail 65-61. Colorado did not look overly impressive and 1st team all big XII selection Richard Roby had a very mediocre day. Colorado takes on A&M tomorrow at 2:00 in the second quarterfinal game. (See notes below)

Game 3
OSU came out as impressive as any team on Thursday and thwarted a late Iowa State rally to hold on for a 79-70 win. OSU faces Kansas in tomorrow's 6:00 quarterfinal. OSU over KU may be the most likely game to end in an upset on Friday.

Game 4
Yawn. Nebraska beat Missouri 71-64. Does this conclude the Melvin Watkins era at Missouri? Nebraska and OU play the final quarterfinal game of the day at 8:30. There is only a 30% I will stick around to see all 40:00 minutes of that game.

OK - Aggies and Buffaloes - real quick.

I don't like the fact that Richard Roby had an off day vs. Baylor. He is good enough of a player to know that the odds of him having bad games back-to-back are slim at best. That being said there are two things that are very encouraging:

1.) Colorado will be playing back-to-back in consecutive nights for the first time this season. Hopefully they will have some tired legs come late in the 2nd half.

2.) You shut down Richard Roby, you shut down Colorado. I have no doubt that Coach G and his staff will be burning the proverbial midnight oil tonight coming up with a game plan which will make stopping Roby a priority.

Aggies and Buffaloes lock horns tomorrow at 2:00 on ESPN+ and ESPNU.

NCAA Update:
Wins by Colorado, UAB and Syracuse did not help A&M's tourney cause.
Losses by Florida State and Michigan did help A&M's tourney cause.

Bottom line - Beat Colorado and there is no way the committee will deny you an invite to the big dance.

More tomorrow night.

I'm going to bed.

As you were.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Is It Enough To Get In? - Tech (long)

On Saturday afternoon, the Aggies traveled to the high plains of west Texas and put a gigantic beat-down on an already struggling Texas Tech team. In doing so they have in all likelihood also clinched a spot in the 2006 NCAA tournament.

The Aggies were heading directly into a textbook letdown situation on Saturday when they traveled to Lubbock to face the Red Raiders. They were coming off of an emotional win, over your biggest rival, on a last second shot, with postseason aspirations on the line, etc. etc. etc.

How did they manage to avoid the letdown? I think it all starts with the man at the top, Coach Gillispie.

From the moment the UT game went final he began saying one thing in particular that stood out to me in every interview I read and sound bite I heard. He repeatedly alluded to the fact that “We are not confused about what we are. We can not trick ourselves into believing we are something we’re not.”

He has also articulated numerous times “We have to go to practice tomorrow and get ready for our next biggest game.”

I think his being so grounded and focused has really rubbed off on the guys and played a huge role in allowing them to move past the Texas game so quickly.

The Aggies and Red Raiders got off to a quick start in Saturday’s game, trading buckets at
an untypical hurried pace for two teams notorious for their great defense.

None other than Marlon Pompey keyed the Aggies effort out of the gate. The dreadheaded
Canadian had 8 of the Aggies first 13 points and was not only scoring the basketball, he was also playing great interior defense against Tech’s frontcourt guys.

Much of Marlon’s success was generated from Tech choosing to double Joe on the block. Joe did a great job of finding guys for wide-open and uncontested looks all day long. The highlight play of the day had to have been when Joe made a no-look, behind the head, wraparound pass to a cutting Pompey for an easy lay-up. I wasn’t sure whether to cheer or laugh - I chose to do both.

With the game tight and the Aggies leading 24-23 with 5:45 left to play in the first half, we
witnessed an offensive explosion seldom seen out of the boys in Maroon and White.

The Aggies closed out the first half on a 17-4 run to take a commanding 41-27 lead into the
locker room. The run saw Josh Carter nail a couple of threes and Antanas Kavaliauskas joined the action as well by knocking down a couple of buckets.

The second half featured more of the same, as the good guys were able to push the lead to over 20 points on multiple occasions. They took their biggest lead of the day (23 points) at 71-48 with just over 7 minutes to play. Tech made two threes in the final minute of the game to make the 75-59 final score appear much closer than the game actually was.

I am pretty sure the win was the Aggie’s 7th in a row. Amazing.

This was undoubtedly the best all-around performance we have seen from the good guys this season. When all was said and done, they had 5 guys in double figures:
Pompey – 17
Jones – 14
Law – 14
Kavaliauskas – 11
Kirk – 11

Old Army also had their best day shooting the ball since the win at Iowa State back in January. They converted 50% of their shots in going 27-54 from the field.

They were also MUCH better at the free-throw line in making 15 of their 19 attempts (79%).

The victory over Tech allowed the Aggies to win 20 games in the regular season for the first time since the 1979-80 season. It is also the first time they have won 10 conference games (or even 9 for that matter) in the history of the Big 12.

Billy Gillispie has completely transformed the Aggie Basketball program in less than two full seasons. It’s even more amazing when you think that he is winning games with guys that, even by his own admission, are not nearly as athletic and talented as he would like.

Some quick hits:
- Acie Law did not have his best game scoring the basketball vs. Tech, but he did manage
to pull down a career high 9 rebounds.

- The 7 usual suspects (Kirk/Pompey/Law/Jones/Walker/Kavaliauskas/Carter) played 194
of the 200 minutes yesterday. Acie lead the way with 39 minutes.

- The Aggies only committed 16 fouls on Saturday.

- Since committing 32 fouls at Texas on February 4th, they have only averaged 18 per game
over the 7 game win streak. This was a big problem earlier in the year they seemed to
have fixed.

- Dominique Kirk was named to the Big 12 All-Underrated team.

- Antanas Kavaliauskas was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer team.

- Acie Law was named Big 12 Player Of The Week for his performances in last week’s
games. In the two games, Law averaged 11.0 points, and 6.0 rebounds, with eight assists
and five steals. He is only the second Aggie to be named Big 12 POTW (Bernard King two
other occasions).

Bizarre Rotation of the Game – Same 7 guys, same rotations.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - Not much stood out. The Aggies did manage to out
rebound the Raiders 38-28.

Looking Ahead:

OK – What did Saturday’s win in Lubbock do for the Aggies NCAA tournament hopes?

My heart says yes and my head says not yet.

I can’t imagine a team that has won 7 in a row, finished alone in 4th place, and compiled a
league record of 10-6 in a power conference like the Big 12 not getting in.

In every other year their league accomplishments would undoubtedly be enough, but this year the Big 12 has been labeled as weak by all accounts. Is the league as top heavy as they have been historically? No way. That shouldn’t change the fact that the Aggies are deserving of a spot in the big dance nor should it take some of the shine off of their accomplishments this season.

I think the reason my head is saying no at this point is that I have been listening to the “experts” on ESPN too much. They still will not make A&M a lock, and all indications are that they need to win one more on Friday in Dallas to secure their place and become a lock.

I don’t know that I agree with their assessment, but I cannot be entirely objective about the situation. My biased opinion is that Gillispie and the boys have done enough and that they will get in.

One major thing I don’t understand is how the Missouri Valley may get as many as 5 or 6 teams in the tournament. The MVC is much improved over year’s past and they do have some darn good teams in their league, but are they worthy of 5 or 6 spots?

The MVC is the 6th rated league in terms of RPI. Which league is rated 5th, just in-front of the “The Valley”? That’s right, the Big 12. If the 6th rated league is going to get 5 or 6 teams in, shouldn’t the 5th rated league get more than 3? You would think so, but who knows.

I also know this. Every year a team or two that are VERY deserving of a spot get screwed out of one. Wouldn’t it be just our luck that this year A&M is one of those teams?

I also wonder if the selection committee will take into consideration the fact that the Aggies are actually a pretty good story when you look at where they were projected to finish in the league. The league coaches picked the Aggies to finish 7th in their preseason survey behind Texas, OU, Kansas, OSU, Tech, and Iowa State.

Hopefully Bill Byrne will call all of his fellow AD’s that sit on the selection committee and at least let them know Texas A&M does in-fact have a basketball team and that they have had an amazing and deserving year. (The selection committee is comprised of various conference AD’s and league commissioners)

There is of course a simple solution to this problem - Just keep winning games and eliminate all doubt.

If they win on Friday, they are a 100% lock to get in. (In my highly biased opinion ofcourse.)

Final Big 12 Standings & Tournament Seeds
(Teams in Blue are on A&M’s side of the bracket.)
1. Texas 13-3 (co-champions)
2. Kansas 13-3 (co-champions)
3. Oklahoma 11-5
4. Texas A&M 10-6
5. Colorado 9-7
6. Nebraska 7-9
7. Oklahoma State 6-10
8. Texas Tech 6-10
9. Kansas State 6-10
10. Iowa State 6-10
11. Missouri 5-11
12. Baylor 4-12

Big XII Tournament Schedule.
Thursday - March 9

Game 1 - TTU vs. KSU – 11:30
Game 2 - CU vs. BU – 2:00
Game 3 - OSU vs. ISU – 6:00
Game 4 - NU vs. MU – 8:20

Friday - March 10
Game 5 - UT vs. TTU/KSU – 11:30
Game 6 - Texas A&M vs. CU/BU – 2:00
Game 7 - KU vs. OSU/ISU – 6:00
Game 8 - OU vs. NU/MU – 8:20

Saturday - March 11
Game 9 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner – 1:00
Game 10 – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner – 3:20

Sunday - March 12
Game 11 – Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner – 2:00

The full bracket can be viewed here:

I am hopeful that I will be able to send a mini-update each evening from Dallas after we
get back from the games.

Carry on.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

That Was Fun - Texas (long)

Well - Needless to say that was a VERY big win for the mighty Texas Aggies last night. What an amazing scene at Reed in front of the biggest crowd in the history of Texas A&M Basketball, 13,175 (capacity is only 12,500). If you didn't get a chance to watch or haven't seen the highlight or even just want to watch it about 10 more times as I have done this morning you can find a bunch of videos at

I'm not quite sure where to begin so I am just going to start rambling - please accept my apologies in advance.

For about 4 or 5 weeks in a row now we have talked about how downright ugly all of these games were. Well, the longer this has gone on, the more used to it we have seem to become and last night's game was no exception. The Aggies and Longhorns were locked into a classic out-and-out brawl. Was this Kyle Field or Reed Arena. Did Martellus sack A.J. Abrams or foul him going for a layup?

I know we're all getting used to watching this style of hoops when The Dude replied to my "this is a brawl" text with something along the lines of "Yeah... a brawl that is fun to watch". As ugly and as physical as it was it sure was an entertaining game, I know that much.

The game was as physical of a matchup as I have seen in some time. While the officials missed what appeared to be some blatantly obvious calls when guys had the ball inside, I thought they did a great job of letting the big guys bang away on each other in the paint and overall did a good job. The fact that the game was as physical as it was for 40 minutes and they only called
32 fouls (one of which was intentional) on both teams. This speaks to how loose they called it and how much they let them play.

The first half got off to shaky start with both teams missing plenty of shots. Texas ended up only making 8 field goals in the first frame and the Aggies only 9 with both teams shooting ~35%.

Texas threw a nasty 2-3 collapsing zone at A&M that really flustered the boys in Maroon and White on the offensive end of the floor. There had to have been 4 or 5 possessions in which the Aggies had to throw up some junk as the shot clock was ticking toward zero. The Longhorns did a great job of collapsing down on Joe and AK while at the same time using their athleticism to extend the perimeter and not allow A&M very many good looks.

The Aggies countered with their typical suffocating man defense using a heavy dose of switching to work around the UT motion and screening offense. The Aggies can apply so much pressure to a team on the defensive end of the floor that it not only wears on them physically it also starts to work on them mentally. Throw a deafening crowd on top of that and UT struggled all night long.

The second half featured more of the same - physical play, great defense and missed shots. All told, the Aggies and Longhorns combined to miss 60 shots last night while only making 30. Two teams that get together for some hoops and go 30-90. I'm not too handy with the math, but I think that works out to making about 1 out of 3. That's not good.

In fact, Texas was so bad (or was A&M's defense that good?) that they only made 13 baskets in the game which included just 5 in the second half. A&M outscored UT in the second half 19 to 15. Take away Acie's game winner and they combined for 31 points in the first 19:59.99 of the second half. Under!

We could go on and on about the numbers, the points, the makes, the misses, blah blah blah. A&M just took down UT in the biggest win for that program in the last 20 years. A win is a win, bottom line, and all that matters is that A&M had more points on the board when the clock went to 00:00.

Do you guys want to talk about PJ Tucker? OK good.

That was fun also. As a precursor, PJ was academically ineligible last season for making an F or two in the fall semester. There were plenty of good signs from the students, nothing better than this crafty play on ESPN:


Another one of my favorites was the sign with a fist in the "hook 'em horns" position and the caption - "Hey PJ, how many fingers am I holding up?"

The students killed Mr. Tucker with chants of "StoooooPid - StoooooPid" all night long. There were also about 100 kids holding up newspapers that had a big maroon F painted on them when he was shooting free throws. Call it classless if you want. I will choose to call it being in college and having some fun with your rival - or as Dustin would simply say - "COLLEGE!" - and then he'd just grin.

The Austin American Statesman had this to say about his boneheaded play that allowed Acie to knock down the game winner:

"Tucker just kept dribbling until the clock expired, his seventh turnover of the game on a night when fans had repeatedly called him stupid."

All of this being said, PJ is a heck of a ball player and will in all likelihood be your Big XII player of the year when it's all said and done.

Real quick - I said my solution to shutting down PJ Tucker would have been a steady dose of Martellus Bennett - I was wrong as Gillispie went with a steady dose of Antanas Kavaliauskas. Instead of choosing to go quick and athletic he chose to go big and wide, a gamble that clearly paid off as PJ was rather ineffective all night long. Antanas continues to get better with
every game he plays.

The win over Texas has guaranteed the Aggies the #4 seed in the tournament in Dallas next weekend. They will play the winner of the 5/12 game at 2:00 on Friday afternoon. The 5/12 game will in almost all certainty be either Colorado or Nebraska vs Missouri or Baylor - more on this in the update after the Tech game.

Some quick hits:

- Bryan Davis (2006/2007 signee) was at the game. He and Josh Carter sawed them off together in the mob of people after the game. JC then took him to the locker room to celebrate with the team. Glad to see him fitting in with the guys before he's even on campus.

- Chris Walker (1st team) and Joseph Jones (2nd team) were named Academic All Big XII yesterday.

- Chris Walker and Joseph Jones played all 40 minutes.

- Pompey only played 13 minutes, but was huge for the Aggies early on having a couple of big buckets and 3 offensive rebounds. (Nevermind the two horrible turnovers).

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Nothing really stood out here. As we alluded to in the last note, the rotation appears to be rather fixed at this point.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - Not much stood out here either.

Looking Ahead

Let me take off my maroon tinted glasses for a moment - I think there is a 75% chance the Aggies are in the NCAA tournament at this point. They have been winning a lot of games down the stretch and now they have the elusive signature win to add to their resume. I think in order to get the number to 100% they will need to win one of these last two games - at Tech on Saturday and next Friday at the tournament in Dallas. We will also touch on this more
after this weekend's games.

Know this undoubtedly - At this point, the Aggies now rest squarely on the right (good) side of the proverbial "bubble".

They travel to Lubbock on Saturday to take on the Red Raiders in what will bring to conclusion the best regular season of Aggie hoops over the past 25 years. The game is at 12:45 on ESPN+ (Bootleg 51 in Houston).

As we said a moment ago, if they win in Lubbock, they can punch their ticket to the big dance, guaranteed. The Aggies present some nice matchup problems for the Red Raiders and if they can avoid the big letdown they should come out of Lubbock with their 7th win in a row.

We'll have much more after Sunday's games including a look at all of the tournament matchups.

Big 12 Standings
Texas 12-3
Kansas 12-3
Oklahoma 11-4
Texas A&M 9-6
Colorado 8-7
Nebraska 7-8
Texas Tech 6-9
Kansas State 6-9
Iowa State 6-9
Oklahoma State 5-10
Missouri 4-11
Baylor 4-11

Big XII games this weekend.

Saturday, Mar. 4
Texas A&M at Texas Tech - 12:30 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Kansas at Kansas State - 3:00 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Baylor at Oklahoma State - 6:00
Iowa State at Colorado - 7:00

Sunday, Mar. 5
Nebraska at Missouri - 1:00 ESPN+
Oklahoma at Texas - 3:00 CBS

As you were.