Tuesday, October 31, 2006

2006-2007 Season Preview

2006-2007 Season Preview Edition

Well – Sorry it has taken so long to get this preview edition out to everyone – I wish I had a good excuse.

Without further delay – let’s get this thing started.

2005-2006 In-Review

Who would have thought that sitting at 13-7 overall and 3-6 in league play that the 2005-2006 Texas Aggie basketball team would have made the most improbable late season runs in the history of the program?

After falling to Texas in Austin by a score of 70-83 in a hard-fought game on February 4th, the Aggies had officially hit the low-water mark of the season. Team leader Acie Law called a closed-door, players-only meeting after that game.

What was the result?

They rallied to win their next 7 games to finish out the season with a 10-6 conference record, far and away their best showing in the history of the Big 12.

They also won their first ever Big 12 tournament game trouncing Colorado 86-53 in the quarterfinals in Dallas.

Their late season surge was more than enough to earn them an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament where, as the 12th seed, they faced one of the nation’s hottest teams, and media darling Syracuse in the first round.

Dominique Kirk, the Aggies lock-down defender, fought and clawed with Gerry McNamara for most of the game and held one of the nation’s best perimeter shooters to the worst game of his career. McNamara finished 0-6 from the field and only contributed 2 points from the free-throw line as the Aggies prevailed 66-58.

The Aggies faced LSU in the 2nd round and Acie Law (15 points, 8 rebounds) and Antanas Kavaliauskas (12 points, 6 rebounds) paced the good guys for most of the night, but Aggie fans everywhere were crushed when Darrel Mitchell hit a long-range 3 pointer with 4 seconds left to beat the Aggies 58-57.

The loss, while certainly tough to take, brought an end to the greatest season of Aggie Basketball in quite some time.

The 2005-2006 season, not only put the Aggies back on the national landscape, it has raised the level of expectations of fans everywhere.

The offseason also saw Billy Gillispie bring in one of the best recruiting classes ever at Texas A&M. (We’ll have a little more on each guy down below in the “newcomers” section.)

Preseason Ranking / Accolades

National Rankings:
#6 – MSNBC.com
#9 – ESPN.com
#12 – Athlon’s
#13 – Street & Smith’s
#13 – USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll
#14 – The Sporting News
#14 – Lindy’s Preseason Review

In addition to the before mentioned national rankings – the Aggies were also picked to finish 2nd in the league behind Kansas in the annual Big 12 coaches poll.

- Acie Law and Joseph Jones were named 1st team all-Big 12 by the coaches.
- Acie Law was named a candidate for the Bob Cousey Award given annually to the nations top point guard.
- Rivals.com yesterday named Acie a 2nd team preseason all-American.

Departing Players

Part of the reason there is so much hype surrounding the 2006-2007 team is that the Aggies only lost 4 guys from last years squad.

- Chris Walker – The heart and soul of the team’s hard-working defense-first mentality. Chris’ hustle and team-first approach will certainly be missed. Chris was a senior and has used all of his eligibility.
- Eddie Smith – Eddie was great when he was able to find the court. The former JUCO player-of-the-year was a nice asset for the team last season, but his production should be fairly easy to replace. Eddie was also a senior.
- Kenneth “Red” White – The oft-used shooting guard who was instrumental in a win at Iowa State last season hitting two late 3 pointers to help the Aggies escape Ames with a victory. Red decided to transfer away from Texas A&M.
Departing Players (cont.)

- David Devizen – David was a highly regarded prospect out of Sugar Land, Texas in 2004, but his brief career in College Station was plagued by injuries and a very crowded bench at the point guard spot. David has also decided to transfer out of the program.

Returning Players

The Aggies return 4 full-time starters and their top 6 scorers from last season.

- Acie Law – The team’s leader and top player, Acie is coming into the season as the top retuning scorer from a year ago averaging 16 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game last year. Easily the biggest moment of #1’s career had to have been when he knocked down a 3 at the buzzer to beat Texas at home. Who will ever forget “the shot”? Acie will of course be a full-time starter.
- Joseph Jones – The big fella from tiny Normangee, Texas. Joe is one of the league’s premier inside players in averaging over 15 points 6.5 rebounds per game last year. Big Joe’s best game last season came in the 1st game against Baylor when he pitched in 29 points and pulled down 10 boards. Joe will also be a full-time starter.
- Marlon Pompey – What to say about Marlon? Marlon is very athletic and a quick interior defender. Marlon’s biggest role on this year’s team will be to help lock down opposing big-men inside the paint. Marlon will likely be a spot-starter this year depending on the match-up, but either way, he will surely average 20+ minutes per game.
- Josh Carter – Easily the team’s best freshman last year, late in the season Josh became one of the premier outside shooters in the league in knocking down 15 threes over his last 4 games including 6 against Texas in the Big 12 Tournament. He added 20 pounds in the off-season that should help him become more physical when heading to the basket. Josh should be one of the team’s new starters this season and the good news is that we have not seen the best from Josh as of yet.
- Dominique Kirk – I’m biased of course, but I would challenge anyone to find me a better lock-down perimeter defender in the big 12 besides DK. This kid is Billy Gillispie’s ideal defender, quick, smart, even-keeled. Dominique will be a full-time starter and key contributor this year.

- Antanas Kavaliauskas – Last year’s biggest surprise and probably most-improved player, AK was getting the job done on both ends of the floor. Antanas really started coming on late in the Big 12 season last year and was a key factor in their 7 game win-streak. AK will likely split starts with Pompey, but he too will average 25+ minutes per game.
- Martellus Bennett – Young Money. Well – Unfortunately for Aggie Basketball fans, Martellus is on the verge of having a spectacular season on the football field for the Aggies. I would look for 2006-2007 to be Martellus’ last season in an Aggie Basketball uniform. That being said – Martellus will be a key contributor off the bench for the Aggies once conference play rolls around.


The Aggies hauled in the 21st ranked recruiting class in the nation last year according to Rivals.com. This put them ahead of national powerhouses Arizona, Syracuse, and Oklahoma, and one spot behind defending national champion Florida who came in at 20th.

- Bryan Davis – The big power forward (6’8” 225 lbs.) from Grand Prairie will be competing for minutes inside with Joe, Marlon, and Antanas. I would look for Brian to be a key player off the bench this year. Averaged 18.1 ppg, 15.3 rpg, 3.4 bpg and 3.1 apg as a senior.
- Donald Sloan – A solid point guard (6’2” 170 lbs.) from Seagoville in the Dallas area who should help contribute in a small roll off the bench this year. Averaged 21.0 points and 8.1 rebounds as a senior.
- Derrick Roland – Also from Seagoville, Derrick (6’4” 185 lbs.) is a quick-handed shooting guard who, according to early practice reports, is possibly the most impressive guy out of the whole bunch. Certainly someone to keep an eye on. With his size he can play and defend all 3 perimeter positions, which will clearly please Gillispie. Averaged 17.2 points and 3.4 assists as a senior.
- Bryan Beasley – Another point guard, this one a little smaller (5’11” 170 lbs.) out of Pflugerville. Bryan will need to work very hard to find his way into the rotation.
- Jerrod Johnson – Please see Martellus Bennett. Jerrod is currently a scout-team all-star for the Aggie football team. He will join the team in January after their bowl game. Jerrod is very athletic and his commitments to football will limit his ability to work into the rotation in basketball. Averaged 13.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 4.8 apg as a senior.
- Chinemelu Elonu – Just stop. Don’t even try to pronounce this guy’s name. Everyone is calling him “Junior”, which is much easier. Junior Elonu (6’10” 225 lbs.) is going to help spell the big guys inside in a reserve roll off the bench. Junior is long and athletic and his biggest strengths are on the defensive end of the court. Junior has the big advantage of spending last year practicing with the team full-time while he got his academics in order. Of all of the newcomers he will most likely be the first contributor.

Final Thoughts

With the addition of the talented group of newcomers plus the veteran mix of talent returning from last season’s NCAA Tournament team, you can see why this year could be a lot of fun for Aggie Basketball fans.

This year’s roster will be much improved and easily the deepest and most talented Gillispie has had in his 3 years in Aggieland. That being said, Gillipsie was quoted as saying “Our roster is not exactly where we want it to be, but it is closer to being where we want it.” I am certainly glad to hear that he is not completely satisfied.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge, outside of back-to-back games at LSU and at UCLA in December, will be how this year’s team manages the expectations that come with the success they achieved last season.

The Aggies have two exhibition games this week against Midwestern State (Wednesday) and Lithuanian Academy (Friday). I will not be able to make it to either game, but we are planning on attending the home opener on Friday the 10th vs. Prairie View so we’ll have more of a hands-on approach after that.

I don’t know about you guys – but I am certainly looking forward to watching this team play a little ball this winter.

If you are interested, you can find the 2006-2007 Aggie Basketball Prospectus here:

November Schedule

Nov 1 – Wed - Midwestern State - College Station - Reed Arena - 8:00 PM – Exhibition
Nov 3 - Fri - Lithuanian Academy - College Station - Reed Arena - 8:30 PM - Exhibition

Nov 10 - Fri - Prairie View A&M - College Station - Reed Arena - 8:30 PM
Nov 17 - Fri - Lamar - College Station - Reed Arena - 7:00 PM
Nov 18 - Sat - Louisiana Tech - College Station - Reed Arena - 7:00 PM
Nov 19 - Sun - Saint Louis - College Station - Reed Arena - 5:30 PM - Televised on FSN
Nov 25 - Sat - Idaho State - College Station - Reed Arena - 2:00 PM
Nov 27 - Mon - Arkansas-Little Rock - College Station - Reed Arena - 7:00 PM

Cheap Promotional Plug

We will be unable to attend the games on the 17th, 18th, and 19th if you are interested in purchasing the tickets (2 for each game), please let me know. They are $24 each and are in section 106, row A, seats 14 & 15.


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