while sufficiently obvious to many, further proof was provided last week when it took me much longer than 3 days to rise from my bronchitis-induced death.
whilst confined to the underworld, I was out of touch with not only my blog and all sports blogs, I was out of touch with class, work, and life in general. It's test week here at A&M, so with class being infinitely more important than the blog (emphasis added for the 12MC's parents/tuitionpayers/recent lurkers on this site), I'll have less time than normal to catch up. Thus, I'll be busting out my favorite style of writing: Hollow Point-by-Point Bullets
- Last Week's 48Hrs of Primetime Lime
It was a landmark weekend in Texas A&M Athletics history. When those two games went out across the nation, it was clear(720p to be exact) to basketball observers everywhere that A&M Basketball was for real, and here to stay. In 30 years, when Dick Vitale's grandchild interviews Billy Gillispie, standing in the new arena bearing his name, they'll point to that first weekend in February 2007 as the starting point of Texas A&M Basketball's national significance.
getting back to the smaller picture, while the two wins over Kansas and Texas were significant wins for the program, they were more importantly two signature wins that the Ags' resume had been lacking. Those two wins, coupled with the Ags' remaining home schedule should ensure the Aggies remaining in the top 10 up to selection sunday (a bolder than usual prediction, i know). With the way this team continues to rise, it's hard not to start talking about a #2 Seed.
Yet, if A&M has any hope to continue it's streak of Big XII domination and beyond, it must work to strengthen to major flaws exposed during those 48 hours:
- Foul Trouble
It's what continues to weaken us on the road, and to make games much more interesting than they need be. It's getting to the point where it feels like we're playing a "great" game if Jones and AK don't go into halftime with 3 fouls. Jones managing to play most of the 2nd half against Kansas with 4 fouls is nothing short of divine intervention. When Kirk went to the bench with 3 early in the 1st against Texas, we lost our best defender, giving Augustin the greenlight to slice and dice his way to the hoop. We've been fortunate so far, we've been able to get incredible play from the bench and our team has played with liquid nitrogen in their veins. Yet, the road to the final four isn't paved with +20 foul games.
- Transition Game
perhaps the simplest flaw, and easiest to exploit is the apparent fact that we're used to an transition tempo. Our vaunted defense will be all over your guys and up in your face, but only as long you allow us to transition at our own pace. As Augustin & Durant proved last monday night, if you push the ball hard down the court on every possession, you will negate one of our biggest guys and best rebounder: Joseph Jones. No one is calling the big guy out of shape, but anyone who watches the Ags play knows that Jones takes a lot longer to get down the court (hence, the often used play of the surprise Jones shot from the key). By upping the tempo of the game, the Longhorns forced Gillispie to pull Jones and make a lot of personnel changes. Although the game wasn't close in the end, the Longhorns came into Reed and forced the Aggies to play a different style of game, and you can bet coaches on NCAA bound teams took note.
- Foul Trouble
- Acie Law up for Cousy Award
if becoming a national household name wasn't enough, Acie is currently considered the front runner for the Bob Cousy Award, awarded to the nation's best point guard. vote here
Signing Day was last week. So i'm not gonna do a copy/pasted run through of our pickups along with their respective Rivals/Scouts annointed star level. While I look upon recruiting as an indicator of future success very skeptically, I do think it's a very indicative tool for measuring trends of perception. A glaring outlier in 2007 was Oklahoma State. The okies made significant inroads in Texas, poaching a couple of high value A&M targets, specifically: Dez Bryant and Will Cole. Both were early A&M offers, Bryant was a verbal. What boggles me is what is going on in Stillwater to attract that kind of talent away from a very similar environment in College Station. Both programs are on the rise in the Big XII South (A&M much closer to a championship). Both programs well funded and with top facilities (OSU only recently, stadium expansion on the way). Both programs located in majority white, small college town settings (OK beer is diluted). I'm not trying to analyze the thought process of 18yr old athletes, I'm only curious to discover what product OSU is selling that separated itself from A&M in this case.
Meanwhile, Billy Gillispie's been busy in H-Town. The center piece of his 2007 class will be F DeAndre Jordan (6-11 240), a rather timely haul with the impending loss of AK to graduation. While many may be fretting over the threat of a storied basketball program attempting to poach Gillispie from A&M, one only need to look at the pipeline he's quietly yet quickly constructed flowing from Houston to College Station. Imagine the kind of team A&M will have once Billy has a couple years with players he handpicked, the future looks good for A&M basketball.
- Breakfast of Champions
In a recent article, Gillispie admitted that his breakfast usually consists of peanutbutter crackers and Dr. Pepper from a convenience store near his home. The "Billy Breakfast" will soon be sweeping a dorm room near you.