Turgeon searching for answers

The Aggie basketball team has gone from one extreme to the other over the course of the last two weeks. They won five straight games, setting them up nicely for the NCAA Tournament, but now they're fighting for their tournament lives after three straight losses. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp visits with head coach Mark Turgeon.

Less than two weeks ago, the Aggies were sitting pretty. They were a No. 5 seed on ESPN's Bracketology and they had just won five straight games.

But after three straight losses, including two home losses to lower tier Big 12 schools Oklahoma State and Nebraska, it's crunch time for the Texas A&M basketball team and first year head coach Mark Turgeon. The Aggies are tied for fourth place in the Big 12 Conference with Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor at 6-6. Those three teams are also the Aggies' next three opponents, including back-to-back road games against the Sooners and Bears.

The desperate tone at basketball practice is not what Turgeon had in mind two weeks ago.

"We're not where we want to be, obviously," Turgeon said. "We've put ourselves in position (where we have to) finish really strong against teams who are all fighting for the same thing. Our guys know our backs are against the wall. We don't like where we are and it's up to us to do something about it. I expect us to play with a sense of urgency, but I just want to play well. I just want to play close to the level we're capable of playing at. It's time for us to step up and play well."

The Aggies have done a lot of soul searching since the loss to Nebraska on Saturday at Reed Arena, trying to find the answers after coming out flat against the Cornhuskers.

"We've met as a staff, as a team and they met as a team (players only)," Turgeon said. "It's a big time for us and for our program. I think it will be there. The sense of urgency can be there but you've still got to play well. Hopefully we can have them prepared to play well by Wednesday."

Turgeon also said on Monday's media luncheon that he hopes the team can regain the edge they had heading into the five-game winning streak, which began with a win on the road at Oklahoma State. Ironically, the current three-game skid began with a loss at home to the Cowboys.

"We had really good practices the week of the Oklahoma St game. We stayed sharp, stayed positive, we were really feeling good about ourselves," Turgeon said. "Since then it hasn't been the same. I expect us to practice well this week."

The Aggies aren't doing the little things they need to do to get better, according to Turgeon, who says the Aggies have got to play better on defense to keep from putting as much pressure on the offense to score points.

Through the last three games, A&M has failed to score more than 59 points, and had two consecutive halves of miserable offensive basketball, scoring 18 points in the second half at home against Oklahoma State and the first half against Texas in Austin.

Turgeon said he's still trying to find an offensive identity for his team.

"(Our identity) was going through our post. I'm trying to figure it out," he said. "They're taking away Josh Carter, they're taking away our post up, we're trying different things, but we've got some limitations on offense. We don't have a lot of natural scorers out there, but we're going to try some things that I think will help us. We're going to keep trying. Hopefully we can get our post guys some touches without three guys hanging on them. That will help."

Turgeon also said that he's got to get more motion out of his offense from players when they don't have the ball.

"We're so stationary," Turgeon said. "We're easy to guard, you don't even have to guard certain guys. We've gotten so stagnant, we're not a motion team, we've tried that, but we've got to do some things in motion to create some more movement and make it more difficult to guard us. We've got five, six, maybe seven sets that have been good for us but teams have adjusted and are guarding it well. There's not a lot of backside to what we can do, so we've just got to get a little more movement."

While adding a true point guard would help with the stagnant offense, Turgeon added that there's more to it than that.

"That's not (the only reason), but we're struggling there," Turgeon said. "We didn't play well there the other day, we're starting our offense out at halfcourt. Coaches keep calling and saying ‘you've got to get your offense down,' and I said I know. I do think that Sloan and Kirk have had fantastic years, it's just not their natural position. They've done really well under the circumstances."




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