Aggie Hoops Grabs Exhibition Win 91-55

Texas Aggie basketball unofficially opened up the 2011-2012 season with a 91-55 exhibition victory over Dallas Baptist at Reed Arena Thursday night. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop was there and provides detailed analysis of the game and critiques the players that made an impact like Middleton, Turner, and Roberson.

It's very hard to watch these early games against inferior opposition with an analytical eye because every player will get open looks at the basket and overall the intensity level just isn't there with the Ags up over 30 points early in the game. It was a sloppy game, but we knew it would be. The Aggies open up the real season next Wednesday against Liberty.

With that said, I was most impressed with Khris Middleton and Kourtney Roberson...aka The Blue Ox. Let me start with the Roberson. He doesn't look like one of those wiry, fluid big men that are in vogue in college ball. He's not a leaper and he doesn't have an exceptional face-up game. But, whenever you look up, he's grabbing a rebound or getting a put-back for a quick basket. In 20 minutes of play he scored 14 points and tallied a game high 12 rebounds. The next closest rebounder was six by Elston Turner. The Blue Ox didn't start, but when he got in the game he dominated the boards. Again, he's not flashy, but he does the hard, dirty work and he does it well.

As far as Middleton, he looked much better in his one-on-one moves than he did last year. He always seemed to look rushed and forcing his shot last year coming off the dribble. He looked a LOT more comfortable creating his shot off the dribble, and you can tell he's worked on different shots including a nice turnaround jumper. We'll see how he does when these better teams start double-teaming him...because they will.

And that leads me to Elston Turner. A&M now has its second pure shooter. If Middleton is doing his job off the dribble, then the recipient of his improved play (attracting double teams) will be Turner who WILL drain an open outside shot. He looked very smooth as he hit 4-of-5 from 3-point land and 6-of-7 overall. He'll be valuable in that role, much like a young Josh Carter who played off Acie Law. Now, the reason why he transferred to A&M from Washington was his desire to be more than a spot shooter. I'm not seeing him being a major force just yet in the paint. I'm not sure he's quick enough to be effective on the drive but I want to see more before I write off that part of his game. Either way, he's a valuable piece of the puzzle even if he becomes the designated spot shooter because he's accurate and he has a very quick, efficient release.

Dash Harris....well, Dash is Dash. So far, I haven't seen anything to make me think he's transformed his game in the offseason. he's still going to be a liability on offense because his outside shot is not respected and he still can't shoot free throws (he made 1of-4 tonight). You know what you get out of Dash, and that's about all I can say at this point.

Ray Turner fits in well with the faster tempo and he did some nice things early in the game and he continues to hit that 10-12 footer with consistency. He got into some foul trouble early and only played 12 minutes. He finished with 9 points on 4-of-4 from the field. He also took a huge charge from a guy who tried to go over him for a monster dunk and hr held his ground and drew the charge.

Naji Hibbert....a new staffer was speaking glowingly of Hibbert in practice and I warned him that Hibbert has looked good in practice for two years but he completely freezes up under the lights. Unfortunately, nothing has changed. He had a pretty bad night, and his confidence level is still low.

Jamal Branch needs more time to mature his game and realize that he can't improvise and play loosely with the ball like he did in high school. He'll get there, but it's going to take a month or so. His outside shot will be a problem when defenses learn they can back off him like Dash. However, with his height, his ability to create in the lane is much better than Dash and that's where I think Branch can help this team when he settles down. He's a true assist man and he's big enough to venture into the paint and create...either dishing off for assists, a runner over the top (which he did a couple of times tonight), or go all the way to the hole.

Jordan Green played 11 minutes and scored 4 points. He needs some seasoning but I like his footwork on defense a lot more than I did in high school. He's definitely quicker on defense which is a good thing. He may get some minutes, but he still must earn his way into the primary rotation. It will be interesting to see if Green can jump ahead of Hibbert in the rotation.

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