Aggie Hoops Gears Up For New Season

With an exhibition game against Texas A&M - Kingsville on Wednesday, the Aggies will open their season in what is poised to be a tough one for the Aggies, as many teams in the Big 12 look stocked and ready to go this year. Can the Aggies compete? Websider's Taylor Freeman takes a look.

In less than 48 hours, Texas A&M Basketball will suit up for the first time in the 2008 season with an exhibition game against Texas A&M Kingsville. This will mark the beginning of year two for the Turgeon era, as the Aggies look to build on a year which they were a no call away from being in the sweet sixteen. The Aggies are currently rebuilding after losing 4 of their top 8 from last year, and are projected to finish 5th in the Big 12. However, as Turgeon called it at his media day, the Big 12 is "wide open", and if the Aggies can get production out of their newcomers they can be in contention for the trophy in March. Let's take a look at each position and what must happen for the Aggies to win the Big 12.

Point Guard

Projected starter:
Donald Sloan

Other contributors: Dash Harris, B.J. Holmes

What must happen: Last year, the Aggies were led by Donald Sloan controlling the flow, and given his natural ability at the #2 position he performed well as a fill in. However, to compete for the Big 12, A&M needs to find a more consistent ball handler such as Dash Harris. If Dash can limit costly turnovers and make other teams pay for aggressive defenses, along with creating assists by penetrating the lane, the Aggies will be in good shape. Also, Sloan must improve on his free-throws especially during crunch time, as this has become a liability in tight games.

Shooting Guard

Projected starter:
Derrick Roland

Other contributors: B.J. Holmes, Donald Sloan, Derrick Lewis

What must happen: It has been a long time since A&M has had a deadly scorer at the #2, although Dominique Kirk was a very underrated player as a whole for the Aggies through his career. Texas A&M will fill his shoes by swapping several into this position, but the key may be the sophomore from Houston B.J. Holmes. Turgeon raved about Holmes on Monday, calling him possibly the best shooter on the team and saying he has perhaps made the most improvement on the team. He has lost weight, gotten quicker, and as Turgeon puts it, "every time he shoots I think it's going in." He compared Holmes to Abrams, the impressive but undersized guard from Texas, saying B.J. could end up being like him. If he can, the shooting guard position will definitely be a strength for the Aggies.

Small Forward

Projected starter:
Josh Carter

Other contributors: Derrick Roland, Nathan Walkup

What must happen: Josh Carter must return to sophomore year form, when he led the nation in 3-point percentage. The line may have been moved back, but the word is that Josh is still hot from behind the arch and he has been working hard all camp to improve. Josh must also be ready to shoot off of the dribble, as many defenders last year pressed him hard to not let him get a clean look. After workouts with the NBA this year, if Josh can improve upon his drive to the basket he could be the MVP of this team his senior year.

Power Forward

Projected starter:
Chinemelu Elonu

Other contributors: Nathan Walkup, David Loubeau

What must happen: A hole was created with the departure of Joseph Jones, DeAndre Jordan, and Beau Muhlbach after last season, and Junior Elonu must be there to pick up the pieces. Last season he was a big play defender but lacked a strong under the basket offensive game and was a foul liability late in the game. The Aggies will require more minutes from him this year so he must improve on both aspects to be successful. Additionally, Nathan Walkup will try to provide mismatches at the 4 position to give Elonu a breather. Walkup must turn this into a strength instead of a weakness, as he will be undersized against many of the Big 12 posts. He also continues to hit the three, however, and should be a tough draw for any opposing forward to guard.

Center

Projected starter:
Bryan Davis

Other contributors: Denzel Bowles, James Blascyzk

What must happen: Bryan Davis must pick up right where he left off, as this team will rely on him early and often throughout the year. Davis showed great moves last year with his back to the basket game, but must also be ready to find the open man as teams may double team him more frequently with the departure of Joseph Jones. This unit must also find support from its two underclassmen, Blascyzk and Bowles. Blascyzk is raw and Bowles is a bit out of shape to start the season, as Turgeon said he was coming off of an injury, but in the event Davis gets injured their needs to rise a reliable and capable backup.




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