Aggies survive sloppy debut

The Aggies didn't seem to have the defensive intensity that they've shown the last few years, but they acknowledged it in the post-game press conference. But there were things to be excited about after the first exhibition of the Mark Turgeon era. Aggie Websider has all the news from last night's opener.

The Mark Turgeon era unofficially kicked off Thursday night with a sloppy 85-73 win over a pesky Emporia State team. However, with all due respect to the Hornets, the Aggies did not appear fully focused on the task at hand.

"This is about as ugly as I've seen one of my teams play," Coach Turgeon said afterward. "I was disappointed in our defense because I thought our play was uncharacteristic of what we've done in practice."

The players, especially the veterans, echoed the same sentiments in their post-game comments as well.

"I think we were pretty shaky at the beginning," senior Dominique Kirk said. "We didn't run back on defense like we are supposed to do. We have to get better on transition defense." Josh Carter commented, "It was just an ugly night."

Texas A&M showed plenty of athleticism and depth. Kirk, Carter, Donald Sloan, Bryan Davis, and Joseph Jones started the game, and they were joined by Derrick Roland, BJ Holmes, Deandre Jordan, Beau Mulbach, and Junior Elonu in the regular rotation. However, the team appeared to struggle occasionally with the new offense, and the effort and intensity on defense was non-existent.

Carter led all scorers with 14 points, while Donald Sloan and Deandre Jordan both chipped in 12 apiece in the exhibition victory. The Hornets actually cut the lead to 64-62 with seven minutes left, but the Aggies gradually pulled away in the closing minutes of the contest.

As far as individual play that stood out, Josh Carter appears to be a better ball handler and can create more opportunities for teammates and take some of the heat off of Kirk and Sloan. His trademark shot still looks good and finds the bottom of the net. Kirk was his steady self on offense, although he didn't have his typical defensive effort.

Donald Sloan also appears ready to take on a larger role in this new offense as he made some nice moves to the basket and created some scoring opportunities. DeAndre Jordan showed why he has the potential to be a superstar and take over a game, but he also made some extremely poor decisions that will keep him out of the starting lineup for the near future. Plus, Turgeon will have troubles playing Jordan in a close game during crunch time as he has a long way to go on his free throw accuracy.

B.J. Holmes picked up significant minutes at point guard, and had some good moments with hitting a couple of 3-pointers and setting up scores off his assists. It appears the staff is really working him harder to get him ready to play in case of injury or simply to take the heavy burden away from Kirk and Sloan. Roland still appears to struggle some on offense, but played solid defense Thursday night.

However, the storyline was definitely the lack of defensive intensity. Players didn't seem to hustle getting back down the court in transition, and they didn't play that tight, in your face, suffocating man defense the program was known for the past three seasons. There was very little trapping and helping out on defense, which resulted in some easy layups and open shots by the Hornets that kept them in the game until the final two minutes.

Yes, it's just exhibition and it's the first game of the year, so there's no need to panic. However, the coaching staff needs to reinforce to the players that defensive intensity and focus is a major cornerstone to success.

The Aggies will get back to exhibition action next Monday night when Tarleton State comes to Reed Arena. The games are for real a week from tonight when Texas A&M faces McNeese State at 7:00 pm.

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