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Texas A&M Aggies

by Jonathan Wall | March 14th, 2009

Good Wins: LSU, Arizona, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma State, Stephen F. Austin
Bad Losses: at Baylor

Strengths

1. The guards. It took a while for A&M’s guards to gel early on, but anyone who’s seen the team late in the year knows that this group has finally started to find its groove. Derrick Roland is one of the five best defenders in the Big 12 and has the ability to guard a team’s best ball handler. Freshman Dash Harris was the one question mark on the team due to his lack of experience, but the guard who’s been compared to a young Jason Kidd has really come into his own when Mark Turegon has needed him the most. His speed and vision have been assets for a team that lacks a true point guard. Plus, when you throw in irreplaceable seniors Josh Carter, Donald Sloan and B.J. Holmes you have what is essentially one of the best guard groups in the Tournament.

2. Camaraderie. You can see it in their eyes when they’re on the court: this group just loves to play with each other. When A&M hit the worst stretch of their season losing six of eight, Turegon turned the team over to the players and let them work things out. Team meetings were made and the seniors started to take control of the team once again. You live and die with the guys on your team, and you have to believe A&M learned a lesson when everyone wrote them off early on. Nobody expected them to reel off six wins to end the season and the tournament. It’s moments when people doubt you the most that can galvanize a squad. The love is there, and you have to believe Mark Turegon couldn’t be happier knowing that.

Weaknesses:

1. Scoring droughts. It’s been A&M’s biggest problem this season. On multiple occasions this year the Aggies have gone cold around the rim and looked out of synch. The one game that really comes to mind is the road loss to Kansas this year. A&M scored eight points in the first 10 minutes of the game and never recovered. You can’t have an off night like that in the tournament. A&M will need to find a legitimate scoring threat that can get them through those rough patches — which leads me to my second weakness…

2. No legitimate scoring threat. Past A&M teams included the likes of Acie Law IV and Jospeh Jones to get the offense going when it’s needed a spark. While this team is full of young talent they still don’t have a go-to guy when they needed a big bucket. Josh Carter is the closest thing to a go-to guy, but even he has trouble finding his range when the team needs him the most. Plus he has a big problem going to the hoop and that could prove to be an issue if A&M faces a team with a strong perimeter defense.

Other Factors:

B.J. Holmes: He’s quite possibly the best three-point shooter next to Carter on the team. The sophomore can stroke it from outside when A&M need a big bucket. Plus he’s fearless with the ball in his hands. Did I mention he was only a sophomore. Currently averaging nine points per game, he’s the secret weapon if A&M need a boost off the bench. Note to A&M’s first round opponent: Don’t sleep on this kid.

Tournament Prediction:

A second round exit seems about right for the Aggies. They’ll most likely be a very dangerous 9 or 10 seed that could surprise people, but I still think this Tournament is too deep for a team of their skill level. They have a lot of great pieces in place, and the run towards the end of the season was impressive, but you have to be realistic about your chances. This team still doesn’t have a legitimate scoring threat and that could prove to be a problem against a tough man-to-man team.

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