Friday, January 30, 2009

Tech Rewind / OSU Part II (ESPN - 1:00)

A few quick thoughts from Wednesday's 79-70 win over Texas Tech

- BJ Holmes was simply outstanding - The Sophomore had 24 points in 20 minutes including a ridiculous 6-for-7 from behind the arc, 7-for-8 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Holmes has now made at least 1 three pointer in 19 straight games, the 3rd longest streak in school history (the record is 27 straight games by Bernard King).
- The Aggies only scored 2 field goals in the game's final 10:48, and 17 of their final 22 points came at the free throw line.
- The Aggies got off to another terrible start, falling behind by 9 points (11-2) only 4 minutes into the game. They spent the remainder of the half scrapping back and finally got the game tied back up at 33-33 with just over 4 minutes to play in the first half.
- The Aggies' bench outscored the Tech bench 35-1.
- The Aggies had a very impressive +11 rebounding margin (40-29)
- A&M started off 2-for-8 from the free-throw line before making 17 of their next 20.
- Carter and Sloan were both terrible shooting the rock as they combined to go 2-for-16 from the field.
- 5 Aggies (Carter, Roland, Davis, Holmes and Loubeau) scored in double figures.
OK - That's it.

Let's take a quick peak at the Aggies' game vs. OSU tomorrow (ESPN - 1:00)

I think the two biggest things that we should all keep an eye on tomorrow are 1.) Can the Aggies establish Davis, Elonu and Loubeau against the smaller Cowboys? and 2.) Can the Aggies get enough pressure on the perimeter to not let OSU get in a rhythm offensively?

Both teams are struggling a little bit coming into Saturday's game. A&M had lost three straight (OU, KU, UT) before beating Tech on Wednesday night. OSU has lost three of their last four, losses to Baylor, MU, OU, coupled with an overtime win over Nebraska in Lincoln.

If you tune in for this one, hang on until the last second. When they get hot, OSU can score points as fast as anyone in the league. They live by the 3 and die by the 3. Here is to hoping they have an off night shooting the ball tomorrow.

This is a huge game for both teams as they continue to battle for positioning at the top of the 2nd tier in the Big 12.

(Homer Alert!!!)
Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Oklahoma State 76
Texas A&M 77

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Carry on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aggies Take On Tech Tonight (8:00 - ESPN-U) & A Quick Look Back At Texas

A quick look at Tech

First things first - The Aggies take on Tech tonight at the Brown Barn On The Brazos. The game can be seen on ESPN-U at 8:00.

I think the Aggies are going to come out and get a great dose of some much needed medicine tonight. After a grueling stretch to open league play, the Aggies finally get a bit of a breather when the Red Raiders come to town tonight and Pat Knight's bunch is merely a shadow of teams from year's past as he just does not have the horses he needs to compete night in and night out.
John Roberson (14.1 PPG / 5.9 APG), Alan Voskuil (13.6 PPG / 4.5 RPG) and Mike Singletary (11.1 PPG / 5.8 RPG) are about the only three serious ballers on Knight's squad and they don't carry enough fire power with them to carry the Raiders to levels that fans became used to when Bob Knight was running the show.

I think that Pat Knight could certainly be a successful coach in Lubbock, but he is going to need a few years to restock the cupboard.

I would look for the Aggies to come out very angry and ready to prove a point tonight.

I think the Aggies walk handily.

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Texas Tech 66
Texas A&M 85

A quick look back at Texas

Last Saturday, the Aggies dropped a game to Texas in Austin by a final score of 67-58. The Aggies came out in the first half and played great and were only down 30-28 as they went to the break. Junior Elonu started the show scoring 11 of his 12 points in the first half as he helped pace the Aggies.

In the 2nd half, the Longhorns came out and put the defensive clamps on Elonu and changed the pace for the Aggies.

The Aggies got as close as 1 point at 36-37 before Damion James put the game on ice with a very impressive scoring outburst (11 points in 2 minutes). When James was done, UT was up 52-40 and from that point, the Aggies just did not have enough left in the tank to get back in the game.

They played much better than I think most of us were expecting them to and I thought their effort was great all night, especially on the defensive end (AJ Abrams only had 9 points on 3 of 10 shooting).

OK - That's it, not much else worth spending too much time on from the loss to UT.

The one thing I am taking away from the game was that I now feel fairly certain that the Aggies can and will take down UT when they come calling on Reed Arena in mid-February. I thought they matched up pretty well with the Longhorns.

Alright - Talk to you guys later this week.

Carry on.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bounce? Texas Preview - Saturday - 7:00 ESPN-U

Alright - I think the Aggies actually make a game out of it on Saturday night and here is why:

1.) They just got killed on the road at Kansas.
2.) Everyone I have talked to this week just told me about how bad the team is.
3.) It's a rivalry game.
4.) I do not think that this group can possibly shoot the ball as poorly as they did for two consecutive games.
5.) I think we have seen enough from this group to know that they are a pretty resilient bunch, and I expect a rather large chip to be on their shoulders come 7:00 Saturday night.

I think when you add all of this up it just leads me to believe that we are are going to be pleasantly surprised on Saturday night.

I don't think the Aggies will win this game, but I think it is going to be much closer than people think.

I think it will go something like this:
- First 10 minutes -- Aggies will show a decent effort and be highly energized because Turgeon will over-preach not starting terrible for the umpteenth time in a row. Texas will be up by about 3.
- Second 10 minutes -- Texas will make a big run and establish a 10 to 12 point lead (at this point, most of you will probably change the channel), and then over the last couple of minutes the Aggies will cut it to 4 at the half.
- Third 10 minutes -- The Longhorns will re-establish themselves with Conner Atchley hitting a couple of "you must be kidding me" three point buckets. Texas will be up by 9.
- Final 10 minutes -- Old Army will rally and get back within 1 or 2 points and everyone will get all excited. AJ Abrams will then bust the Aggies' bubble and hit a couple of big buckets down the stretch. Texas wins by 4.

Here is the one thing I am hanging my hat on. The Aggies are pretty terrible shooting the ball from behind the arc. On average, they make 34.1% of their attempts, which is good enough to rank 163rd nationally and 11th in the Big 12. Who is the one team that actually shoots it worse than A&M from downtown? Your 2nd favorite team, the Texas Longhorns - UT shoots an even-worse-than-A&M 32% which is good enough for 215th nationally and 12th in the league.

If I'm the Aggies I simply sag back on Damion James and the other big bodies on the UT roster, and I force AJ Abrams, Justin Mason, Conner Atchley and the rest of Barnes' bunch to beat me by shooting over the top.

That of course is easier said than done and hanging with the Longhorns will be a pretty tall challenge.

It should be a pretty entertaining game, and I'm VERY curious to see how they bounce back.

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Texas A&M 67
Texas 71

Other games in the Big 12 tomorrow:
Texas Tech (+18) at Missouri 12:45 Big 12 TV
Kansas (-8) at Iowa State 1:00 ESPN
Oklahoma State (+4) at Nebraska 3:00 Big 12 TV
Baylor (+8) at Oklahoma 3:00 ESPN-U
Kansas State (-6) at Colorado 5:00 Big 12 TV
Texas A&M (+13) at Texas 7:00 ESPN-U

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Carry on.

.....10 Steps Back (Kansas Recap)

I am glad that I have not had time to start typing this until a couple of days had passed since the Aggies got taken behind the woodshed in Lawrence on Monday. I was pretty mad (disappointed) that evening and have now of course had some time to think about bigger picture things with regards to this year's squad.

I'm not going to spend a huge amount of time talking about the game Monday. The Aggies got absolutely whipped by a slightly above-average group from KU, and they were never in the contest.

Turgeon did not have them ready to play, and it was apparent very quickly they were in for a VERY long night.

The numbers from the first 10+ minutes of this game were just staggering:

Texas A&M Field Goals 3-for-8
Kansas Field Goals 9-for-17
Texas A&M Turnovers 9
Kansas Turnovers 3
Texas A&M Assists 1
Kansas Assists 5

When the opening 10 minutes was all accounted for, the Aggies had comfortably settled into a nice 24-to-8 deficit, and from that point they just sat back and enjoyed the show that KU put on.

When all was said and done, the Aggies were thoroughly embarrassed on ESPN's Big Monday (SportsCenter lead in....) and got thumped by Kansas 73-53.

Not a single Aggie managed to score in double digits, and the only positive thing on the stat sheet was that they finished the night a very respectable 17-of-22 (77.3%) from the free-throw line.

The other thing that went well was that Jerry told me that a few players even got to meet George Brett and get his autograph during timeouts - so that's good!!!! What a special night in Lawrence.

OK - Look - Here is the deal. Here is what I love about College Basketball and the grind of conference play. Things are never as good as they seem and never as bad as they seem. It's not like College Football where one loss can ruin your season. A loss here and a loss there can actually be a good thing from time to time, help keep a group of kids grounded.

And remember, when I say "never as bad as they seem", this of course does not include the Aggies' 0-17 conference season in 2004. That was actually maybe worse than it seemed.

Anyhow - I think the end game for this team needs to be a 9-7 conference record and then at least 1 win in Oklahoma City in the B12 tournament. When you look at the remainder of the schedule, I certainly think they can get there. Don't give up on them just yet. They were as bad as bad can be on Monday night, but we have also seen them play at a level that shows they can win some of the "up" games on their schedule.

After a trip to Austin tomorrow night, the Aggies return home for 3 of their next 4 games and the schedule will lighten up substantially.

We'll have a look at the Aggies' game against UT for you later today or Saturday morning. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 and will be broadcast on ESPNU.

I hope you all have had a good week.

Carry on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Look Back At Oklahoma / Look Ahead To Kansas (8:00 Tonight - ESPN)

Oklahoma Rewind

On Saturday afternoon - it was a very similar pattern for the Aggies.

Similar to games against Alabama, Arizona and Oklahoma State, they got off to a terrible start, dug down deep and put together a huge rally.

This time, kind of like what happened in Stillwater a week ago, the Aggies came up just a bit short in falling to OU at Reed Arena 69-63. The Aggies' start was so bad against the Sooners that through the first 10:28 of the game they only managed to score 6 points. Turgeon had this to say, "We looked like we were walking on eggshells. I thought that we were really nervous. When you are not aggressive, that gets you farther away from the basket, and I think that was all just nerves and not being ready to play at the start."

At that point in the game (9:32), the Aggies were trailing 19-6 before Josh Carter scored 5 straight points to start a little run to get them back into the game.

The Aggies rallied all the way back to being down five at 25-20 with 3:20 left to play in the first half, and the 14-6 run put the scoring margin back at a manageable level. As the two teams headed to the break, the Aggies were still down five points at 30-25, and Reed Arena was rockin' as the crowd of 12,720 (the biggest of the season) was instrumental in helping to sustain the rally.

Coming out of the half, OU came out and decked the Aggies a few times and pushed their lead all the way back up to 14 points, two different times. Their last 14 point lead was at 51-37 with 10:04 on the clock.

Just when it started to look as if the Sooners may be ready to seal the deal and close out the game, the Aggies made another improbable run and cut the Sooner lead all the way to two points when Donald Sloan hit a three pointer to make it 59-57 in favor of OU. The 20-to-8 run by the Aggies was very impressive and with every basket or defensive stop the crowd at Reed rose to nearly deafening levels. I have not heard Reed that loud since Acie dropped "The Shot" on Daniel Gibson and the #6 Longhorns in March of 2006, nearly two years ago.

Unfortunately for Turgeon's bunch and the folks at Reed, there was just too much Austin Johnson.

If you did not get to see the game, Austin Johnson (who by the way needs to go ahead and graduate already, seems like he has been there for 7 years now....) hit two crushing three's to help stave off the Aggie rally in the 2nd half.

The first of Johnson's huge shots was from about 26 feet (5 feet behind the three point line) as the shot clock was expiring - this was right after Carter hit a three to cut the OU lead to 56-52.

The second of Johnson's crushing three point baskets came right after Sloan hit his three to cut the Sooner lead to 59-57. In fact, Johnson scored 7 of the Sooner's final 10 points to help put the final score at 69-63, in favor of OU.

OK - A real quick note on the job that the Aggies did on All-Everything Blake Griffin. The Aggies held Griffin to his 2nd lowest point total of the season (16) and held him to a tie for the fewest number of rebounds this season (6). The Aggies did a masterful job holding him below his averages of 22.4 points and 13.8 rebounds. I also think it is worth pointing out that the Aggies held the Big 12's best freshman, Willie Warren, to only 9 points and 3 rebounds. Entering the game, Warren had scored double-digits in 9 of his last 10 games, including outbursts of 35 points and 31 points.

In the end, there was just too much Austin Johnson.

I also told a couple of you guys that Oklahoma played man-to-man defense about as good as you will ever see on Saturday. I never gave their defensive efforts a second thought, but after seeing them in person for the first time, they were quite impressive on the defensive end.

I think the only other thing I want to point out is, "What happened to Junior Elonu?" The Aggies' best player over the course of the last 5 or 6 games got into early foul trouble, 2 fouls in the first 3:13 of the game and was relegated to the bench for most of the first half. The big guy only played a total of 7 minutes in the first half. He did however battle back in the second half (played 18 of a possible 20 minutes) and had 7 points and 5 rebounds on the night. Both of the calls on Elonu early in the game were highly questionable and the crowd let the officials know as much (yes, Aggies do boo and yes, that is ok....). I am not at all blaming the refs for what happened with Big Chin, I just think you need to have #41 on the court if you have any hope of knocking off the #5 team in the country.

OK - That's it on OU - The Aggies gave it a great effort and once again this group of guys proved that they are going to be resiliant and continute to battle back. This team is really starting to develop a real toughness about them.

Texas A&M Leaders vs. OU
Josh Carter - 17 Points, 7 Rebounds
B.J. Holmes - 11 Points (6-for-6 from the Free Throw line)
Davis, Roland, Sloan - 8 Points each

OU Leaders vs. Texas A&M
Austin Johnson - 19 Points, 7 Assists
Blake Griffin - 16 Points, 6 Rebounds
Taylor Griffin - 11 Points

Alright - Now that we have that out of the way - no rest for the weary - the Aggies get right back at it tonight when they take on the Kansas Jayhaws in Lawrence on ESPN's Big Monday.

Kansas Look-ahead

The biggest storyline here is that Mark Turgeon will be returning to Phog Allen Fieldhouse for the first time ever as an opposing coach. Turgeon spent all of 1984 through 1992 as either a player or coach in Lawrence as part of the KU program, but this will be the first time he will be back in the building as an opposing coach.

After Saturday's game, when asked about the visitor's locker room at Allen Fieldhouse, Turgeon said he didn't know anything about it but was sure that "it is not very nice....". You can tell that Turgeon will be a touch emotional tonight, especially when asked about his big return to Lawrence, he added statements such as, "I can tell you, that place makes me feel good. So I know I’m going to coach well that night."

There has also been a lot of talk on the internet the past couple of days about this quote from Turgeon's wife Ann to a reporter from Wichita, "I don't think it will be hard for him, I don't think that. Will it be fun? Gosh, I hope so. That means we will have walked out of there with a win. Walking out onto that court for the first time, before the game, might be a little hard. But then his competitive side and his pride and dedication to his team will kick in. He wants to make this university proud, so he's going to hopefully kick KU's tail."

Give 'em hell Ann!!!!

OK - Let's look at a few nuts and bolts.

Bill Self lost his entire starting 5 and his top 6 scorers from last season, not many programs can recover from that, but KU is hanging pretty tough this year. They are nowhere near an elite team, but they are still pretty darn good. They are led by senior guard Sherron Collins who is averaging 18.5 points and 5.2 assists per game this year. Another couple of names to keep an eye on are freshman Tyshawn Taylor (10.4 ppg) and Cole Aldrich (15.3 ppg).

The Jayhawks are 13-4 on the year and are coming off a 73-65 win over Colorado in Boulder on Saturday night.

If there is ever a year that you can pick-off the Jayhawks, this may be it. The defending national champions are just a shell of last year's team, and Bill Self is really having to work his tail off to get these kids to play at a high level.

The bad news for Aggie fans? There is not a tougher building to win in on the road than Allen Fieldhouse. How tough is it? Well, here is some perspective for you. The last team to win there? The Texas Aggies in 2006 when Acie again dropped a huge 3 to upset KU. So, they have not lost at home in nearly 2 years, but does this year's Aggie bunch have it in them to pull off the upset?

I think that the game will go one of two ways. I think the Aggies either lose by 5 or lose by 20. I don't think this year's team has the offensive fire-power to go into Lawrence and leave with a win, but I also think this game feels a lot like a "two steps forward, 10 steps back" type of game. I can easily see the wheels coming off and having them commit way too many turnovers, miss way too many shots and get sloppy on defense. If they get off to another bad start and the crowd gets all over them it could get ugly. Again, I hope like heck that I am wrong and they can take what they learned against Baylor and Oklahoma and contiune to build on it and go up there and steal a win.

If they can just keep their head above water and never fall behind by more than ~3 possessions, I think they may also be able to put themselves in a position to pull the upset. They will have to play smart, they will have to force the tempo of the game, and they will have to keep the crowd out of it.

Here is to hoping it is a heck of a game!!!

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Texas A&M 66
Kansas 71

This has been a wicked stretch for the Aggies -- 3 games in 6 days, but after this, they get the week off before traveling to Austin on Saturday to take on Rick Barnes and his UT Longhorns.

We'll talk to you guys tomorrow.

Carry on.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Finally, 40 Minutes Worth!!!...... (Baylor Recap)

For 40 minutes on Wednesday night we finally got to see just how good the 2008-2009 Aggie Basketball team can be. From the opening tip, the good guys came out focused and played with an intensity that we had only seen flashes of throughout small stretches of the non-conference slate.

Then end result? A thorough beating of the #21 Baylor Bears. A&M dispatched of Scott Drew's bunch by a final score of 84-73 in a game that saw the Aggies hold a double-digit lead for nearly the entire game.

The Aggies jumped out to an early 11-5 lead and that margin held around 5 or 6 points for nearly the entire 1st half before they put together a closing 9-to-2 run to push their halftime lead to 39-28.

Pacing the Aggies in the 1st half was Junior Elonu who again continues to assert himself as one of the premier big men in the league. At the break - the big fella had 13 points and 9 rebounds (6 of which were offensive).

I would also be remiss if I did not "welcome back" Bryan Davis. Big #0 had his best game in a while and played with the passion and emotion that seemed to have gone missing since his big 2nd half at Rice on Dec 31.

Welcome back Bryan - Please feel free to sick around thru March.

Coming out of the break - the Elonu and Davis show turned into the Sloan and Carter show.

Derrick Roland hit a three pointer to start the 2nd half scoring and then Donald Sloan proceeded to score 8 straight points on three consecutive buckets and a free throw. By the time everyone had settled back in their seats, the Aggies had extended their lead to 16 points at 49-33 and were well on their way to putting the game on ice.

What happened with Carter in the 2nd half was certainly something that Aggie fans had been looking for all season long. Coming off of his terrible night in Stillwater, the coaches appeared to try and jump-start Carter by taking him off the three point line and sending him to different spots on the floor.

Carter shot more two-point field goal attempts (9) than at any other point in his entire career at A&M. I can not tell you how awesome it was to see them get Carter more involved and in a different manner. I thought it was great to see 23 flying around again, going to the rim, catching on the short wing and hitting shots from 12 feet, etc. etc.

The question I have with Carter going forward is, was this a flash that we'll see for one game? or is it something we can expect to see more of going forward? Let's hope it's something we see MUCH more of in the coming weeks and months.

Alright - One final thing I want to point out. The Aggies defensive pressure on the perimeter against Baylor was simply awesome. It was night and day compared to the effort (or lack of effort) we saw 4 days prior in Stillwater. There was great rotation, great help, the bigs were flashing out. Heck, their man-to-man defense was so good that Turgeon even flipped them into a zone for 2 possessions. That's right, he even threw a zone look at them.

OK - Up next for the Aggies is the #5 (AP) team in the country when the Oklahoma Sooners come calling on Reed Arena on Saturday at 1:00 - ESPN-HD.

We'll have a very brief look at the matchup with OU later this afternoon.

So, is it ok to get excited after the big win over Baylor? Feel free, but I'm waiting until after Saturday's game.......

Carry on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aggies Take On Baylor Tonight - 8:30 - ESPN2

OK - So, will tonight be the night the Aggies give us hope for 2009? I sure hope so.

Standing in the way? The MIGHTY Baylor Bears.

I am having a little bit of a hard time being entirely objective about the game tonight. I really want to say I think the Aggies are going to come out pretty amped up and ready to prove something, but I can not say that without letting the anticipation of the game cloud my judgement. I am a homer, what do you expect? Let's just hope they come out more focused than they did on Saturday night.

Here are a few notes from the media release for tonight's game:

No. Player P Ht. Wt. Cl-Ex PPG RPG APG
15 Donald Sloan G 6-3 205 Jr-2L 11.6 3.6 3.5
3 Derrick Roland G 6-4 185 Jr-2L 4.9 2.3 --
23 Josh Carter F 6-7 200 Sr-3L 13.1 4.1 --
0 Bryan Davis F 6-9 240 Jr-2L 10.3 6.4 --
41 Chinemelu Elonu C 6-10 235 Jr-2L 10.1 7.3 --

No. Player P Ht. Wt. Cl-Ex PPG RPG APG
0 Curtis Jerrells G 6-1 205 Sr-3L 16.5 4.5 5.9
45 Tweety Carter G 5-11 185 Jr-2L 11.2 3.0 2.9
5 Henry Dugat G 6-0 173 Sr-3L 13.5 3.5 3.12
3 Kevin Rogers F 6-9 250 Sr-3L 12.3 7.7 --
15 Mamadou Diene C 7-1 255 Sr-3L 2.0 1.6 --

- The Aggies have won 7 of the last 8 in the series. Each team won on the road last year
with Baylor winning 116-110 (5OT) in College Station and A&M put up a 71-57 win in Waco. With tonight's tip at 8:30, we better not see 5OT again tonight......

- Baylor won its Big 12 opener against Texas Tech (73-61) at home on Saturday. The Bears have won seven of their last eight games.

- Baylor is one of the Big 12's most experienced teams, with four senior starters who have played together for four years.

- The Bears' two losses this season were to No. 3 Wake Forest (87-74) at a neutral site and to South Carolina (85-84) at home. They beat No. 15 Arizona State (87-78) on a neutral court in late November.

- A&M's 77 home wins in the last four years are the second most in the nation in that period behind Memphis (82).

- Junior Chinemelu Elonu scored a career-high 20 points with 12 rebounds at Oklahoma State. He has had a team-high five double-doubles this season and in the last eight games has averaged 13.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. Elonu's season field goal percentage of .700 ranks third nationally (min. 90 FGA). A&M is 19-1 when Elonu scores at least 6 points and is 21-1 when he has at least 5 rebounds.

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Baylor 71
Texas A&M 74

Special thanks to for the game notes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Additional Thought: Aggies Drop Opener at OSU (long)

My editor pointed out that I apparently struggled with the difference between BJ Homes and BJ Holmes.

I'm sure BJ Homes is a nice guy, or a nice place to work, but I clearly meant for all references to be to Aggie guard BJ Holmes.

Also - Chris Wall wondered why I left out my thoughts on Josh Carter. Short of using too many words already, I guess I just already filed his horrible night away.
But, since you asked Chris, Carter was held scoreless for the first time since a game at Tech on Jan. 24, 2007 - two years ago - he played 30 minutes and was 0-for-4 that night.

I guess part of the deal with Carter is that I also fail to understand why more offensive sets are not run to spring the guy. Carter is not much more than a great spot-up shooter. He still has a very hard time creating his own shot or creating off the dribble. That being said, you have a ton of things you can use and do to help get him open looks, but that is something very rarely seen from this year's squad. I would love to see him run off of double screens (we see this sometimes) or even off of triple screens (we hardly never see this) or even see the bigs step out against zone defense and zone screen for him on the wings. Again, there are tons of things you can do to get him open.

What happens way too often is that Carter just gets comfortable standing around on the perimeter or in the corner waiting for a wide open look. All you have to do is half-shade a defender his way and he's accounted for. Carter and Turgeon need to find more ways to force defenses to use extra energy and extra effort to account for him - in other words - keep Carter on the move all the time - don't just have him camp out on the perimeter.

OK - Now I'm done - seriously this time.

Carry on.

Aggies Drop Opener at OSU (long)

Well, from the opening tip on Saturday night, it was apparent that the Aggies were going to be in for a heck of a fight if they wanted to upset the Cowboys in Stillwater.

I've got a couple of things I want to talk about, but let's first take a look at what happened in a forgettable 40 minutes in Stillwater.

OSU came out with tons of energy and bounce in their step and used a whole slew of Aggie turnovers to whip the crowd into a frenzy and propel themselves to a commanding 16-4 lead. The Aggies looked like they got busted in the chin and had no idea what hit them. I guess that is what can happen when you simply sleepwalk for 7 straight games before conference play. Must be hard to wake up.

The two teams traded buckets for a couple of possessions before OSU Fresman Keiton Page hit a three pointer with just under 8 minutes left that pushed the OSU lead to 30-16. Turgeon called a 30 second timeout in an attempt to stop the bleeding and I am not sure what he said, but it apparently worked.

Just when I was about to think that they were going to pack it in and call it a night, the Aggies dug down and decided to actuall make a fight out of it. Behind BJ Homes and Chinemelu Elonu, the Aggies fought all the way back to cut the OSU deficit to 2 points at 32-30. The 14-2 run is exactly what the good guys needed and it came at the hands of two guys that are looking like they want to become the face of the 2009 conference run for the Aggies. Of the 14 points scored during the run, 7 were scored by Holmes who again continues to prove that he wants to be a difference maker on this squad.

Heading to the break, the Aggies managed to cut the OSU lead all the way back to 4 points at 36-32 and I will tell you this, the guts that they displayed in order to get back into the game caught me by surprise. The easy thing to do would have been for them to pack-it-in and just cruise along and try not to lose by 30. If you did not see the game, I can not tell you how awesome Elonu and Holmes were over that stretch. These two guys both look like they are on the verge of breaking out and becoming big-time impact players.

Look, the A&M run was certainly aided by OSU deciding to miss a ton of shots all the sudden, but you don't crawl out of that kind of early hole without showing some grit and determination. I will certainly give the guys credit for fighting back.

Well, whatever happened in the Aggie locker room at halftime certainly did not match what happened in the OSU locker room because the Cowboys came out and immediately hit back-to-back three pointers and again punched the Aggies in the face. The precarious OSU lead of 4 points was suddenly 10 and the Cowboys never looked back.

OSU scored their 6 points right out of the break while the Aggies scored 6 points over the first 7 minutes of the second half. During that same 7 minute stretch the Cowboys scored 19 points which more or less put the game on ice at 55-38, even with 13 minutes left. The Aggies could have dug out of one hole like that, but they were not going to do so twice in the same game, they simply do not have the offensive fire-power to continuously battle back from behind.

The Aggies did go on a little run to cut the OSU lead to 8 at 62-54 with 5:36 left, but that was as close as they would get before OSU put the final number at 72-61.

A few things to think about:
A&M Assists - 6
A&M Turnover - 16
OSU Points Off Turnovers - 27
A&M Points Off Turnovers - 6
Josh Carter Points - 0 (0-for-7 from the field)
Bryan Davis - 4 points, 5 turnovers, 26 minutes
Guys not named Homes - 0-for-8 from behind the arc

OK - That's enough about the game, but I do want to talk for a moment about three things:

1.) Junior Elonu and BJ Holmes - Elonu is quickly becoming one of the best big men in the league and a force in the paint for the Aggies. The big fella had 20 points and 12 rebounds in Stillwater on Saturday and if everyone else on the team would have played with his passion and emotion I guarantee you that the final would have been closer than 11. Another guy that is playing the best ball of his career is sophomore guard BJ Homes. The baby faced guard is killing opponents and has become the best (and most reliable) shooter on the team. Holmes was awesome off the bench on Saturday night adding 19 points including 4-of-7 from downtown (the only Aggie to make a 3) and was an awesome 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. Isn't it about time Holmes was moved into the starting lineup?

2.) Defensive switching and help - I, for the life of me, can not figure out what A&M's defensive philosophy is when it comes to defending ball screens. Are they supposed to fight through? Are they supposed to switch? Are they supposed to flash help? Are they supposed to back-side rotate? I have seen flashes of all, but not very often when all 5 defenders seem to be on the same page. More often than not what it seems to be is some sort of controlled-chaos based system. Obviously, Turgeon has a philosophy he is trying to teach, but at this point I can not seem to figure it out. What kills me is when a defender comes up with a guy setting a screen and both Aggie defenders stay with the man setting the screen and let the guy with the ball simply run free on the wing or to the basket. It was frustrating to see them continuously make the same mistakes over and over and over and over again on Saturday night. Thanks for letting me rant.

3.) What if I offered you 1-and-1 on Friday? If we went to lunch on Friday last week and I offered you and A&M conference record of 1-and-1 after two games (at OSU and home vs. Baylor) would you have taken it? My guess is that to a man, the answer would have been "yes". What am I getting at? Well, I'm not about to say that a win vs. #21 Baylor on Wednesday will fix all of the Aggies' problems, but it sure will help to settle things down quite a bit. I'm a little concerned that the students are not back until next week - Lord knows Turgeon's kids need all the help they can get at Reed on Wednesday - and having a full slate of 4,000 students there can make The Brown Barn on the Brazos a heck of a tough place to win. I guess what else I am trying to say is that these first 5 games for the Aggies are as tough as it is going to get and we talked about needing to win 2 of them. I'm not going to jump ship after one horrible performance in Stillwater, but I'll tell you this much, the Aggies sure do need to play a heck of a game on Wednesday night to prove that they belong. Is it a proverbial "must win" game? Probably not, but if you drop one to Baylor, you better be ready to beat #6 Oklahoma on Saturday............

OK - I think I'm done. Sorry this was so long - I had a lot of things to say I guess.

We'll have a few quick hits for you guys before tip off on Wednesday (8:30 ESPN2-HD).

Carry on.

(p.s. - my editor did not review this, so sorry for all the poor grammatical errors.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Few Quick Notes On Tonight's Game

The game tonight is on ESPN-U at 8:00 with Brad Sham (yes, the voice of the Dallas Cowboys) and Stephen Howard calling the action.
No. Player P Ht. Wt. Cl-Ex PPG RPG APG
15 Donald Sloan G 6-3 205 Jr-2L 11.5 3.5 3.6
3 Derrick Roland G 6-4 185 Jr-2L 5.3 2.2 --
23 Josh Carter F 6-7 200 Sr-3L 13.9 4.2 --
0 Bryan Davis F 6-9 240 Jr-2L 10.7 6.5 --
41 Junior Elonu C 6-10 235 Jr-2L 9.5 6.9 --

No. Player P Ht. Wt. Cl PPG RPG APG
00 Byron Eaton G 5-11 210 Sr. 12.9 3.5 6.1
1 Terrel Harris G 6-5 205 Sr. 14.7 5.3 2.6
23 James Anderson G 6-6 205 So. 18.4 5.6 --
2 Obi Muonelo G 6-5 215 Jr. 15.4 9.6 2.1
44 Malcoln Kirkland F 6-8 230 So. 3.2 2.9 --

Game Notes:
- - A&M has won two straight at Gallagher-Iba Arena, the first team to do that since Texas in 2001/2002. The last time a team won three straight in Stillwater was Kansas, which won four straight from 1985-88. In addition, the Aggies have won four of the last 6 meetings overall.
- - The Aggies have never won a Big 12 opener on the road. In fact, they have only won 2 conference openers since the leage was formed (both were at home).
- - The Cowboys are a perfect 8-0 at home this year and Gallagher-Iba Arena is still one of the toughest places to win in the conference.
- - OSU's Terrell Harris and A&M's Josh Carter were teammates their Junior year at Lake Highlands HS in Dallas.

About the Cowboys:
- - As we mentioned yesterday - OSU leads the Big 12 in scoring (85.9), three-point percentage (.424) and three-point field goals per game (10.7). Live by the 3, Die by the 3 - let's hope it's the latter tonight.
- - James Anderson ranks 2nd in the Big 12 in scoring with an 18.4 average.
- - Terrel Harris averages 14.7 points and leads the league in three-point percentage (.489).
- - Byron Eaton contributes 12.9 points per game and also leads the Big 12 in steals (2.6). Eaton also ranks second in assists per game (6.1).
- - Obi Muonelo averages 15.4 points per game and also ranks 3rd in the conference in rebounds per game (9.6).

OK - Here's to hoping the Aggies can find a way to steal one on the road.

I'm standing by my score prediction from yesterday.

AHR Score Prediction:
Texas A&M 68
Oklahoma State 74

We'll have more for you guys tomorrow or Monday.

Carry on.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Big 12 Week 1

Here is a look at the first weekend of confernce games which start tomorrow (Saturday):

Noon CBS Kansas @ Michigan State (-6.5)
12:45 Local Big12 Oklahoma (-1.5) @ Kansas State
12:45 Local Big12 Texas Tech @ Baylor (-12.5)
1:00 ESPN2 Missouri (-2.5) @ Nebraska
3:00 Local Big12 Iowa State @ Texas (-17.5)
8:00 ESPNU Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State (-7.0)

OK - Tomorrow it all starts over new for Turgeon and the Aggies. I think over the next 10 days we'll find out just what this year's team will be made of.

With regards to the Aggie's game in Stillwater tomorrow - I think that Bryan Davis and Junior Elonu will have a field-day inside on the smaller OSU defenders, but at the end of the day, I think there will be too much pressure from OSU behind the arc. I would look for the Aggies to keep it close the entire game, but come up a couple of possessions short in the end.

AHR Score Prediction:
Texas A&M 68
Oklahoma State 74

I'm also not very smart, but I don't understand how Oklahoma is only a 1.5 point favorite at K-State tomorrow. Just something to keep an eye on.

I hope you guys all have a great weekend and enjoy watching the Big 12 get underway.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

......Heading Into Big 12 Play

We'll have 2 notes for you guys tonight/tomorrow as the Aggies finally hit the trail in the Big 12.

In this note I want to pass along a couple of thoughts on the Aggies' final 3 games of the pre-conference slate.

Rice Recap
The Aggies played their best 20 minutes of basketball all year long in the 2nd half at Rice. It was the first time this season that I thought to myself that Turgeon may have a group on his hands that could make a little noise as we move into 2009. I don't know what was said at halftime, but the Aggies came out and quickly erased the 5 point lead (34-29) that the Owls held at the break.

Over the final 20 minutes, the Aggies played with defensive intensity that just made you shake your head. The Owls were held to 6-of-21 from the field, a paltry 28% over that time span, and even one of those buckets was a free gift from the refs.

I could spend hours talking about a crazy play that resulted in a free basket for Rice and then two technical free throws. The short story is that Turgeon and the Aggies never broke their huddle following a 30 second timeout called by Rice. The refs kind of looked around and then handed the ball to the Rice player on the sideline, and he threw it to his guy under the basket who then dunked the ball as the Aggies had no players on the court. When Turgeon looked up and saw what was going on, he went bonkers. I'm amazed he didn't get kicked out of the game.

Back out those 4 points, and the Aggies held Rice to only 22 points and 5 field goals in the 2nd period.

Anyhow, the Aggies played so well in the second half I actually allowed myself to start thinking that they may be starting to play some of their best ball as we headed into league play.

That fun lasted 4 days until the Good Guys returned home to play McNeese State on Saturday the 3rd......

Game leaders:
Bryan Davis (18 points / 10 rebounds)
Junior Elonu (14 points / 8 rebounds)

McNeese Recap
Well. I'm not sure what to say here. The Aggies followed up their outstanding 2nd half at Rice with what was likely their worst 40 minutes of the season (yes, worse than the Tulsa abomination). In the proces the Aggies were on the verge of losing any credibility they had built and nearly lost to the McNeese State Cowboys.


This game featured another patented Aggie-Scoreless-Streak as they went nearly 6 minutes without scoring a point, and the game stood tied at 52 each with 3:20 left to play.


Anyhow, they did manage to hold TMSC scoreless for the final 3:20 and held on for the 57-52 win.

Book the win and move on - Yawn. Same song, different dance.

Game leaders:
Junior Elonu (15 points / 7 rebounds)
Josh Carter (13 points / 6 rebounds)


North Dakota Recap
As they closed out the non-confernce portion of the schedule, the Aggies hosted the Fighting Sioux from North Dakota. This game was also a bit of a mystery as the Aggies looked bored and disinterested (see Turgeon comments below) and again just acted like they were sleepwalking. Sound familiar?

North Dakota hung around and was within striking distance at 37-33 with 17 minutes left to play before the Aggies pulled away.

Led by two huge 3's from BJ Holmes, they finally started to widen the gap and put the hammer down as they built an 18 point lead at 56-38. The 19-to-5 run put the game on ice and the Aggies cruised to the 76-62 win.

Turgeon added after the game, "I do know our guys think they're good. Maybe they are bored with the schedule, I don't know."

Turgeon's candor is great but can also be confusing at times. I'm never sure I've ever heard a coach wonder out loud to the media if his team is bored with the schedule he put together for them. I do know this though, their non-conference slate this year (ranked 316th out of 344 in the nation by was somewhere between awful and terrible. If the kids did get bored playing horrible teams, I can not say that I blame them. I hope Turgeon realizes this and puts together a better schedule next season.


Book the win and move on - Yawn. Same song, different dance.

Game leaders:
Josh Carter (18 points / 4 rebounds)
Junior Elonu (13 points / 11 rebounds)

Random Thoughts

Alright, what does all of this add up to?

Well. I think the Aggies are going to be okay this year. I don't think they are going to be great, or even good, but I think they certainly have the guys on the roster to win 8 or 9 league games and be able to get into the NCAA Tournament as a 7 to 10 seed.

We will touch on it more in the Big 12 preview, but I will add this, they did pick a heck of a year to not have their strongest squad relative to the rest of the Big 12. When you look at the league this year relative to A&M, I would say it shakes out kind of like this:

-- Better Than A&M:
Baylor (somehow)
and probably Kansas (especially when the Aggies have to go to Lawrence)

-- About The Same As A&M:
Kansas State
Oklahoma State

-- Worse Than A&M:
Texas Tech
Iowa State

I will also add this. I think you will be hard pressed to find a tougher opening 5 game stretch than what faces the Aggies in the next two weeks.

They have to play the following kick-in-the-pants schedule to open league play:
- at Oklahoma State
- vs Baylor
- vs Oklahoma
- at Kansas
- at Texas

YIKES! If the Aggies can go 2-3 through that stretch, take it! I won't much care how you add it up, but you have to win 1 of 3 on the road and split those home games. Anything on top of that is just gravy, and who doesn't love gravy?

OK - That should take up enough of your time for today - plus I need to get started on that Big 12 preview.

Carry on.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Aggies Take On North Dakota Tonight

The game can be seen on Fox Southwest tonight - check your local listings. Tip off is slated for 7:00 from Reed Arena.

We'll have a look back at the Rice (good), McNeese (bad) and North Dakota (unknown) games this week. We'll also have our full Big 12 preview for you guys before league play gets underway on Saturday.

Carry on.