Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Baylor Recap

Game Recap

I am not sure where to start here.

Look – despite everything you are going to read below, just remember that the Aggies managed a 61-51 win on the road over Baylor to move to 2-0 in the league. That is the bottom line. If that makes you happy, you can stop reading right here.

We should certainly call the first half of the game ugly, but if we do that I am not sure what we would call most of the second half. Needless to say, the 40 minutes on Tuesday night were not a thing of beauty.

Early on, neither team was able to settle into a rhythm as the game had a very choppy pace. I think part of this was due to the quick turnaround from Saturday to Tuesday for both teams, but I also know that the refs calling a combined 22 fouls in the first half did not help either.

The first half was so spastic that both teams shot below 35%, with the two teams combining to miss a total of 32 shots. The one positive by-product of all the missed shots was the fact that A&M was able to out-rebound Baylor 20-14 in the first frame.

Donald Sloan, coming off the bench, played a very Jekyll and Hyde first half showing flashes of brilliance followed by flashes of typical freshman mistakes.

Dominique Kirk and Antanas Kavaliauskas spent huge chunks of the first half on the bench, both in early foul trouble.

It was too bad that AK picked up two quick fouls because he came out of the gates on fire scoring 5 quick points and grabbing 2 rebounds in the first 6 minutes.

For the second game in a row, the big Lithuanian only managed to play a handful of minutes due to foul trouble. AK is vital to this team’s success, and they need him on the floor, not on the bench.

Acie Law was the only reason the Aggies were ahead 26-24 at the break, and without his production, the Aggies would have been in serious trouble.

Also, for some inexplicable reason Josh Carter only took one shot (a miss) in the first half and finished the game 1-for-2 for 3 points with 4 rebounds.

It is no coincidence that the Aggies offensive struggles over the last two games have been due to the fact that AK and Josh Carter have been non-existent. Looking on the bright side, you can say that both of these guys are too talented not to produce at a higher level than we have seen over the past couple of games.

Unfortunately, the second half brought more of the same for Kavaliauskas. In the first 2 minutes it was 2 more fouls. This of course sent AK right back to the bench. What it all adds up to is that less Kavaliauskas means more Pompey. That can not be good, right?

The second half started out with Baylor’s Kevin Rogers scoring the first 7 points for the Bears. Baylor seemed to be feeding off of Rogers’ energy and found themselves ahead 39-34 at the 13:48 mark.

After Gillispie called a timeout to stop the Baylor rally, Josh Carter hit his only basket of the day, a three-pointer from the corner.

The two teams traded free throws for a couple of possessions before Baylor held their last lead of the night 43-41 at the 10:58 mark.

The last 11 minutes of the game were dominated on both ends of the floor by A&M.

I do not think it is a coincidence that once the refs stopped calling fouls with great frequency (16 fouls in the first 10:45 of the 2nd half - - 48 total in the game) that the Aggies were able to finally get in a rhythm and pull away at the end.

From the time Baylor held their last lead at 43-41, the Aggies went on a 20-8 run to close out the game. The furious rally was fueled by Acie Law who absolutely took over the game. It was a gutsy performance by one of the, if not the, best point guard in the league.

Acie finished the day with 20 points 4 rebounds and 2 steals and 0 turnovers, but it was his 7 consecutive points including back-to-back driving layups against overmatched freshman Tweety Carter that sealed the deal for A&M.

It was a fairly emotional win for the good guys and there were two very visible outbursts where you could see how relieved they were to finally pull away from Baylor.

The first of these was Acie Law declaring, “THIS IS MY TEAM…… THIS IS MY……” – well, you can read lips so I will let you figure out what else he says. You can see it in the following video:

The second one was a frustrated and relieved Antanas Kavaliauskas slamming the ball to the floor as the final buzzer sounded. I am not sure if he was happy, mad, or both. He did shoot a pretty nasty glare at the Baylor students, so maybe he was mad, who knows. It was slightly odd, but hey, do what feels good.

I cannot express to you guys how good Acie was last night. He is playing like you would expect your 4-year starting point guard to play, but he is also taking over games in key moments.

After the game – the first question the media asked Coach Gillispie was, “What allowed you guys to break open the game in the 2nd half?”

His response was simply, “Acie.” After a few moments of silence, he added, “Baskets were so hard to come by, but that's what a senior, big-time, future pro guard is supposed to do."

Quick Hits

- The bench was a revolving door for Coach Gillispie as 10 players saw time. Sloan, Lee and Pompey led the way off the bench each seeing double digit minutes.

- One of the only good stretches of minutes in the first half saw a quick lineup featuring three A&M small guards Acie Law, Donald Sloan and Logan Lee all on the floor together.

- Dominique Kirk owned Baylor sharpshooter Aaron Bruce defensively for most of the night. Bruce finished 0-for-3 with 2 points in 25 minutes of action.

- A&M players not named Law only made 9 buckets on the night. Baylor players not named Rogers only made 8 buckets on the night. U-G-L-Y.

- We talked on Sunday bout Baylor center Josh Lomars doing a good job of nothing more than getting in the way. Well, he did not disappoint by fouling out in 7 minutes of action with 0 points and 0 rebounds. He also stopped by the A&M bench to shake Billy Gillispie’s hand after he fouled out on his way back to the Baylor bench. It was quite weird.

- Joe Jones is leading the Big 12 in Free Throw Percentage at .872 (68-of-78)

- Speaking of Joe, he has a bizarre habit of throwing up either during the game or at halftime. Yes, I know, it is very strange and yes, it happens every game. Apparently it was particularly bad last night as Coach Gillispie commented, “I've never heard anybody throw up quite like that, and for as long. He kept saying 'I'm fine.' But that's only because he's a tough guy and a team player."

(I’m sorry for ruining your lunch. I know it is gross.)

- The Aggies are the only team in the country that has not allowed an opponent to score more than 65 points.

- The win over Baylor pushed the Aggies’ record to 14-2 this season, their best start since 1959-1960.

- The Aggies have won 9 straight conference games (dating to last season) and are 2-0 for the first time ever in Big 12 play.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies head to Boulder on Saturday to play Colorado and their “lame duck” coach Ricardo Patton. The weather for their trip is supposed to be downright awful on Saturday with temperatures nearing 0° and snow showers.

Despite having one of the top players in the league, Colorado is the worst team in the Big 12. Richard Roby is simply outstanding, and it is very surprising he did not enter the NBA draft last season. Roby is averaging 19 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this year. The only other offensive threat on the Buffs roster is Dominique Coleman, a guard who averages 11 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Colorado is so bad that they are only averaging 2,793 people per game. I guarantee you that is the “tickets sold” number and not “people in attendance”.

Good luck to the poor guy who takes over for Ricardo Patton next season.

The Aggies should win this game rather easily (10+ points), but know that Colorado is going to pull at least one major upset at home this year. Let’s all just hope it doesn’t happen on Saturday night.

I do not know the full TV clearance as of yet – DishNetwork, DirectTV, and TWC-Houston are all showing the game on regular Fox Southwest on Saturday night at 6:00. As soon as the full TV clearance list is released I will let you guys know.


At 1/11/2007 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aggie ball has arrived brotha!

At 1/11/2007 2:45 PM, Blogger James said...

I have noticed a fairly common trend in your recaps regarding the ugliness A&M basketball. While I agree it is, at times, difficult to watch for stretches. I also think that my expectation as to how the team should play is founded on a false premise.

On paper, you would think a team that (1) accomplished what they accomplished last year (2) is ranked has high as they are and (3) has the record they do would be an exciting/fun team to watch. But, for me, every time I watch an Aggie basketball game I find myself questioning why they get the recognition they get. And then the final score shows the good guys winning, save for two games, and somehow it all makes sense.

I guess my point in all this is that, for now, A&M basketball, for the most part, is not 'a thing of beauty' but it is a result of tenacity, persistence, team focused, no quit, defense first, gut it out, breaking their will basketball. So I have decided to no longer let the record/ranking/last weeks victory fool me any longer. I will enjoy it for what it is in anticipation for what it will, hopefully, become.

At 1/11/2007 4:27 PM, Blogger Steven said...

James - You are absolutely right - 9 out of 10 games are ugly, but it is no doubt by design.

Coach Gillispie would probably like for them to win every game 10-6 if they could, although then he would probably say the game was WAY too close.

I think there are a couple of things we can point to.

1.) Something we have all heard Coach G. say is that the 2006-2007 roster is not where he would like it to be just yet.

I think that until he has the roster where he would like it, he knows that he has to get this group of guys to do things outside the normal offensive flow of the game.

This is a huge contributor as to why the offense does not flow very well at times.

This roster is good enough to get it done in flashes - i.e. Auburn, Grambling, Winthrop, etc. But they are not good enough to do it over 16 games in the Big 12.

(Did you guys see Kansas last night? That is a darn good group of athletes.)

2.) Gillispie's defense-first approach with some of the most intense man-to-man pressure you will ever see is intended to not let teams establish a rhythm or to get teams out of rhythm. This by nature will not allow for the game to flow very well.

Look - the bottom line is this - "Billy Ball" is never going to be a thing of beauty (in the traditional sense) but my goodness is it effective.

You are right - sit back and enjoy it for what it is.

"junk it up."

(I'm just glad it matters....)

At 1/13/2007 8:54 AM, Blogger Malaise said...

I was at the Baylor game - the law school let us out to play - and here is the one thing I noticed: Our guards are incapable of throwing a post entry pass.

I love our high-low game between the two post players, but when any of our guards get the ball on the wing - they almost never feed the post the ball despite the post having good position. There were a number of times Jones had someone pinned and the guard would do a couple of ball fakes and then rotate the ball out to the top - usually to Acie. There just seemed to me be a number of opportunities to reward either Jones or AK (when he was on the court) for their effort of battling down low which were missed.

The only reason I mention this is b/c in my basketball days my only offensive option was to feed the post the ball - if that was taken away then I had nothing - so I respect a good post entry pass.

Carry on.

At 1/13/2007 4:16 PM, Anonymous Joey said...

agree with malaise--having been raised on the Rockets feeding Akeem and Hakeem the rock at the post everytime down the court, that is something I always notice as well.


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