Sunday, January 27, 2008

Anyone who is genuinely a fan of a particular team (read no one who is a fan of a Boston team now or a Laker fan in the early 2000's; everyone who was a fan of a Boston team in 2000 or a Laker fan now) finds some reason that a loss, or series of losses, were a good thing. The reason is usually strong enough such that the fan is convinced a win would have actually hurt the team. Reasons include a reduction in pressure, increased maturity, and the old "getting a loss out of the way" for statistical-probability's sake (this is particularity popular when postseason is near) .

We just lost a bunch of times, what is our reason? Turge offered up one that I like. "This adversity has brought us together. I now feel like I'm in charge, the players are playing for me and it's just brought us together. Our team unity is better. The guys are cheering for each other, our team defense has gotten better. It was a tough, tough stretch and, knock on wood, we don't have another one. But it's brought us closer together and we're becoming a better basketball team."

- increased team unity
- coach now in charge
- better team defense
- guys cheering for each other
- better basketball team

Wow! Good thing we lost those games.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Texas A&M 59, OSU 56

We won 1) a road game and 2) a Big-12 game! Brain Davis came up with a HUGE rebound and hit two fouls shots at then end to put us up by 3. Just before that, Sloan missed a must-make free throw (again), but made up for it by stealing OSU's last-chance inbound pass. When Kirk got the rebound and passed to Sloan (at that point were were only up 1) I was sure we going to be 1-3.
Good news all around...Yemi Babalola and Brandon Joiner were indicted on two counts each of aggravated robbery, senior guard/defensive specialist LaToya Gulley is out for the season with a torn ACL, and the men play today in Stillwater and attempt to stop the bleeding.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1-3 in Big 12 play with a road game in 3 days.

[0:00 in 4th OT]
Texas A&M 99, Baylor 99. This is stupid.

[0:00 in 3rd OT]
Texas A&M 90, Baylor 90. 4 overtimes? Seriously, I have to work in the morning. Seriously, MAKE YOUR FREE THROWS. Sloan missed 1 of 2 that would have put us up 3.

[0:00 in 2nd OT]
Texas A&M 80, Baylor 80. Missed a great opportunity to take the W at the end of this one. Dave South thinks there was contact but no call. Joe fouled out in that OT.

[0:00 in 1st OT]
Texas A&M 76, Baylor 76. We got just enough to force more time. It is a school night!

[0:00 in 2nd]
Texas A&M 64, Baylor 64. Overtime. This team showed a lot of toughness to come back from down 9. Wow.

[6:00 in 2nd]
Texas A&M 51, Baylor 56. We have not scored in about four minutes. This is not looking good.

[17:01 in 2nd]:
Texas A&M 37, Baylor 38. Baylor just took the lead, once again we star a half completely flat.

Texas A&M 35, Baylor 29.

First the bad: 3 of our starters are O-fer (Davis 0-2, Kirk 0-1, Jones 0-4). Baylor had as 12-0 run to tie the game at 20. We still cannot make free throws (9-17).

Now the good: We closed out the half very strong. With 1:43 left and the game tied at 29 we shut them down, forced some turnovers, and ended on a 6-0 run. Despite the 12-0 run, our defense is doing well enough to keep them shooting only 25% from the floor.
I don't live in College Station, or Texas, or anywhere else with a sufficient density of Aggies to get a feeling for how the faithful are reacting to the state of our basketball program. My geographic deficiency requires me to rely on a handful of beat reporters. So what are they saying? The fear-mongers (i.e. my boy Brent Z) think that Texas A&M is desperate and tonight is a gigantic game for the Aggies' self-preservation, while the more reasonable reporters out there understand that it's hard to call any game a must-win, especially the fourth game into the conference season.

I won't argue that a win would be nice, but I am pretty sure the sky is not falling.... yet.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It looks like CSTV will have a live video stream of the game versus Baylor tomorrow night.
Acie Law's postgame text message to Donald Sloan asked the obvious question, "What's going on? That's not Texas A&M basketball."

Basketball is a balancing act. To gain something you must give up something. A team that plays pressure-man defense makes it difficult for opposing guards to get the ball inside, but gives up some offensive rebounds. A team that is big can dominate the paint on both sides of the ball, but has a hard time guarding big guys who can hit outside shots.

Teams are successful when the balance is in their favor, and right now the balance is not in our favor. We are getting all of the bad and none of the good. Our bigs have a hard time getting out of the paint and contesting shots, but they aren't able to use their size to score over smaller players. Turge has seen the down side of this balancing act since the Texas State game, but it was not until conference play that our bigs stopped scoring. Turge pointed out that "if we win, Gillispie gets the credit. If we lose it's my fault." That may have been true a week ago. But now that we have seen just how bad our guys can play, if he can figure out a way to get this team back into balance I will personally give him all of the credit.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A 21 point conference loss. Under 500 in the Big 12. "Hopefully we will play somebody whose big guys can't shoot" because we sure as hell can't do anything about it when they can. Tech and K State spread the floor and forced our bigs to guard outside the paint.

Hilarity did not ensue.

At one point Joe tried to face up Beasley (maybe it was Walker) at the three point line, and got a great cross-over dribble lesson for his troubles. As of now, Big 12 teams are shooting 52.3 against us. So what changed from last year to this year that made our D so laughable? "The difference is that last year we had a guy named Pompey who could get out and guard a [power forward] and Antanas, who could get out and guard."

We can rail on defense all we want, but the dirty little secret that lead to last year's success was an efficient offense. Acie with a clutch shot. Joe in the paint. Carter from downtown. All phrases that have been redacted from Dave South's play call. You are not going to win many games scoring 53 points; I don't care how well you defend.

Thank god this road stretch is over. We need to get back to the BCS and figure this one out. "It takes toughness to get out of this little slump we're having right now. It takes character, and it takes heart; lots of heart."

We shall see.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

So much for Joe Jones being "back in the grove", or our whole team for that matter. Last night's 53-68 loss to Texas Tech has to be one of the worst basketball performances I have seen since Texas A&M Corpus Christi beat us at home back in the Melivn Watkins era. We lost by 15, but it actually was much worst than that. In our second road game of the year, "we were ... dribbling off our legs and couldn't make a layup." The only thing we could do effectively was turn the ball over. We had 20 turnovers to 8 assists, which is almost a mire image of what we did to Colorado a few days ago (22 assists to 7 turnovers).

So Bob Knight has 900 and we are winless on the road. I am looking forward to Manhattan.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


6 - 0 10 - 2 run to start the 2nd half. I like Very nice.

17 points in the first half? As a team we are shooting 23.1%, and we have three guys that have more fouls than points. Things are not looking good. The last poster was right, I should have avoided getting my hopes up.

I just saw Joe Jones make fast-brake fingertip layup. No lie.
With out knowing anything more than our record (15-1), Tony Kornheiser picked us to beat Tech tonight. His confidence gives me confidence.
I was very confused by previous reports that ex-Texas QB Major Applewhite might accept the QB-coach spot under Shermie. Why would a guy who is currently an offensive coordinator at a major school (Alabama) leave to be a position coach a few miles from his alma matter? It turns out that he wants out because d-bag Saban "has been reluctant to give [up] total control of the offense." It also turns out that his boys in Austin found him a spot on their staff. Running backs coach is a perfect fit for a QB who averaged -2.8, -2.5, and -1.5 rushing yards per game in his last three seasons.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We have been take personnel from Nebraska for a while now (AD $Bill, baseball coach Rob Childress, strength coach Dave Kennedy, associate athletic director for football Tim Cassidy, defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt, and most recently running backs coach Randy Jordan), but now we have begun to take their recruits. Three-star defensive end Eric Harper originally committed to Nebraska, switched to La Tech after the coaching change in Lincoln, and then switched again to Texas A&M to follow our new defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt.

I find it a bit odd that we have picked up so many guys from NU even considering the $Bill connection. $Bill left Nebraska in 2003. Bill Callahan was hired as the head football coach of the Huskers in 2004. So I would be surprised if any of the football guys were at Nebraska at the same time as $Bill, yet they are headed south in droves. I realize that there were a ton of guys looking for work in Lincoln once Callahan got canned, but the same was true when Michigan's Loyd Carr "retired", but we didn't get any of those assistants. Maybe my buddy Brent from the SA-Morn can crack this one.
Just in case anyone wasn't able to watch the Colorado game...

Wow. Anyone who still thinks that kid will not be in the League next year is kidding themselves.

On a night when our offense at its best (22 assists on 7 turnovers, 6 guys has +10 points, +60% shooting), our defense was at its worst. We were completely unable to defend a ball screen. "We tried everything. We squeezed, doubled, showed, and switched," but nothing worked. Our D was particularly bad in the second half when Colorado went 17-22 from the field. That is 77.3%! Jay Billas may think we are "the most underrated team in the nation, bar none"; but if we can't learn to defend screens, we will be in trouble against teams with coaches whose name rhymes with Bobby Flight.

About Wednesday... Bobby Knight will be going for this 900th win against us in Lubbock, but we tend to play Tech very well when the number of Knight coaching victories ends in 99. In 2003, Knight rolled into College Station with 799 W's and was beat (anyone remember Antoine Wright's baseline dunk over two defenders? anyone remember how skinny he was as a freshman?). I have not seen Tech play this year, but they lost to some pretty crappy teams (e.g., Sam Houston State), so I like our chances of keeping this streak alive.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The move from a strictly hi-lo game to a motion(ish) offense, and the arrival of man-child DeAndre Jordan has seriously hurt Joe Jone's stats. Joe went from "getting 15 to 20 touches on the post" to stepping back and giving other "guys (DJ, JR, Davis) chances to get out there and show what they can do because at some points during the season you're going to need them to do big things."

Is this a kinder, gentler Joe? Or is he taking a lesson from Shaq, and easing into the season? His performance in the past two games points to the latter. Turge noted that in "the last two games, he's had a lot more touches, a lot more shots. But I think he's working harder. It's not anything I've done for him." Other improvements include outrunning DJ down the court, and defending without fouling; both major weaknesses.

I am looking forward to seeing him explode in conference play.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some notes from Sherman:
  • Stephen McGee's surgery on his non-throwing shoulder will keep him out for three months, which overlaps with the start of spring drills. McGee's downtime will give him to more time to learn the offense and allow Jerrod Johnson to get more snaps. Sherman believes "these injuries, even though they frustrate the heck out of you as a coach, they end up making your team stronger. " I am not sure I buy that.
  • Sherman has challenged J-Train to lose some weight.
  • Our biggest challenge next year is rebuilding the offensive line. Loosing 5 starters is never easy, especially when one of them is name Martellus Bennett.
Sherman has hired another Corn Husker. Buddy Wyatt will be our new defensive line coach, a position he held for tho years under R.C. Slocum. Wyatt's last job was Nebraska's defensive line coach.

I think we are now employing half of Nebraska's recently-canned staff. But seriously that has to be at least 4.
Freshman QB Ryan Mallett has left Michigan, and, according to his dad, Texas A&M is in the running for the 5-star recruit. It seems most likely that Mallett will follow one of the Michigan assistants if they get picked up by a major program, but he is "open-minded about any program that runs a pro-style offense." Now that Fran is gone and we have a guy that has been running pro offenses for a number of years, we would fit that bill.

Mallett was rated as the #2 overall QB recruit in 2007, just behind Notre Dame's freshman tackle dummy QB Jimmy Clausen. Behind Clausen... that makes the #2 tag seem a lot less sexy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kentucky has dropped bellow .500, again, with a double digit loss to Louisville. The loss breaks UK's 3 year winning streak, and marks the first time in almost a decade that UK will start SEC play with a loosing record.

On the other hand... as you well know, the good guys ended a streak of losses to LSU by beating the Tigers into a pulp this weekend. The win gives us our best start in school history.

I am over Billy dumping us, but that doesn't mean it isn't still fun to point out how much better off we are than he is.
The Texas A&M v Texas football game is moving back to Thanksgiving day!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Nolan Cromwell is our new offensive coordinator. Any guesses as to where Brain Davis from the D-Morn News pulled his "Clancy Barone has agreed to become Texas A&M's offensive coordinator" story from?

I guess Barone could have agree to become our offensive coordinator, but Sherman disagreed, so Cromwell got the gig.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Martellus Bennett is expected to forgo his senior season and declare for April's NFL draft today. :(

Friday, January 4, 2008

Blake Stouffer was named to the Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America first team. Last year he hit .385 with 12 home runs, 85 RBI and a .668 slugging percentage while swiping 22 bases. His 102 hits and 23 doubles in 2007 ranked third all-time at A&M.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Shermy has hired Dave Kennedy away from Nebraska to be our new strength coach. Half of our players ended up injured after our previous strength coach was hired, let's hope Kennedy has better luck (and skill).
I am loving this...
According to a "well connected person" Ma Bennett's NFL jump is only 50-50 at this point. I have no clue what that means. Texas RB Jamaal Charles waited six days to announce, maybe Bennett is doing this same.
The Alamo Bowl turned out not to be an exhibition on what the Aggies can do without Fran in the way. J-Train still didn't get the ball, we still didn't convert on 3rd down (6-16), and we still did really strange things in long yardage situations. But none of that matters. As a fan of Texas A&M football, I am able to dismiss all previous failures and look forward to a bright future.

Last year I looked forward to a vertical passing game, a stronger Goodson, a thinner Lane, and the solidified 4-2 defense. Ooops.

This year I am looking forward to the Sherman Era.

Sherman's coordinator spots are still officially open, but all signs point to Reggie Herring on defense, and either San Diego Chargers tight ends coach Clancy Barone or Seattle Seahawks’ receivers coach Nolan Cromwell on offense.

Four-star wide receiver Aaron Boyd is now considering TAMU after his older brother Shane Boyd, who just completed his first season as a backup with the Houston Texans where Sherman was the offensive coordinator, "put a little bug in his ear and coach Sherman saw his highlights and loved him."