Big Weekend in Corpus Christi for Aggie Basketball

Andy Lyons

The Aggies are riding high at 6-0 early in the season, but the Corpus Christi Challenge will serve as a strong barometer for where the team really stands.

It's no secret that i'm a big fan of the way Coach Kennedy has this year's Aggie Basketball team playing on the court. I said it after the first game, and I'll say it again. This isn't the best Aggie Basketball team you'll see on the hardwood, but it might be the most exciting product we've seen on the floor. The team is young and the players have a lot of development that needs to take place to become a title contender in the SEC, but if you take a step back and look at the guys on the court you'll see the look and feel of what a really good college basketball team looks like. Length and athleticism at the guard positions, dominating the rebounding in the paint, distribution of the scoring load, and some new faces showing improvement from game to game.

Being 6-0 is always a good thing regardless of who you've played. Have the Aggies played a game worth hanging their hats on? No, not at all. Have they played in a few games t hat show fans and supporters that the personnel and coaching staff are starting to mesh into a pretty intriguing product on the court? Absolutely. This week provides a big opportunity for the Aggies to establish themselves as a top quarter team among an SEC offering of teams that makes the NFC East look stacked. The good news, Coach Kennedy has his guys halfway through the big week sitting at 2-0.

Four games in a week early in the season is a challenge for any team in college basketball, and that's before you look at the depth and youth of a team. After big wins over Sam Houston State and Arkansas Pine-Bluff, the Aggies will take one Missouri State tonight, and then either Southern Methodist of Virginia tomorrow in the Corpus Christi Classic. There are a number of reasons why these next two games are big for the Ags.

  1. The chance to go 4-0 in 6 day stretch is one hell of a confidence builder for any team regardless of competition. That's a grind this early in the season and requires a lot of focus, stamina, and luck. Having a consistenly solid performer like Alex Caruso serves as a talking point for the other players on the team in stretches like this one.
  2. Speaking of the number of games in the number of days, being able to remain consistent and pull off a string of wins is a massive confidence builder and a coaching tool when conference and....GASP!....post season tournaments get started.
  3. Players are going to have off days at this level of hoops. Seeing other players step up and shoulder the load can be the catalyst a team needs to start firing on all cylinders. The emergence of Jamal Jones is one I told everyone to keep an eye on in the off-season and he's starting to show us why. The young fella can take over a game when he gets rolling, and he's still working on getting into the groove of Division 1 hoops.
  4. Players like to play. Coach Kennedy and his recruiting of Coach Cyprien and Coack Keller have done a great job of getting players to come to Aggieland. All the practice in the world is great and guys at this level of hoops traditionally don't have a solid set of fundamentals to fall back on when they hit a slump. The guys you see out there for A&M right now have a passion for gametime. They want to stare their defender in the eyes and beat him one on one. That's when they get better and learn and develop the most as basketball players. You combine the gamesmanship of our players with the new rules in college basketball this season and this many games in a week is only going to help out the players and staff, regardless of the outcome.
  5. Jordan Green. The young leader on the team has taken a massive stride on the court as the leader of the Aggie Basketball team. A lot of people will talk about Green and say he's made massive strides on the court as a basketball player. I don't agree with that, and here's why: Jordan Green has always had a great basketball skill set. I watched him play more than a few times in high school and it was evident that he was a very solid basketball player. He stood out in high school not just because of his skill or athleticism, but because he led his team like a general going into battle. That's what you're seeing from Green on the court this season. He's accepted the role of a leader on the team and his confidence in his own skills is the benefactor. When his ahtleticism, skill, and mindset upstairs are clicking on all cylinders the Aggies have their glue guy to hold the team together.
  6. I've never seen a team show so many rotations in the lineup, but it's been great to see from our guards and forwards. The coaches have an impressive number of rotations they can throw at teams to keep them off balance and keep distributing the scoring load. Our 3 point shooting as been very meh, but the coaches are seeing guys like Jamal Jones open up a little more and can throw him out there as a 2 guard to slash the zone and use his length and athleticism to create solid looks against the big men at the core of the soft 2-3 and 3-2 zone looks we've been seeing.
  7. Getting the young guys a lot of minutes in a short time frame early is great. This is kind of a repeat, but more guys need to be mentioned in this part. Davonte Fitzgerald has next level athleticism and the more time he is on the court getting minutes the better. Tavario Miller and Antwan Space are going to be rotating on the court with each other a lot due to our lack of depth down low. The Aggies are going to need their confidence and comfort with each other to get higher on both offense and defense as we get into conference play in 7 games.
The Aggies face Missouri State tonight at 9PM on CBS Sports Net. The Bears are a solid shooting team, but the Ags are holding their opponents to below-average shooting percentages this season. Look for the Aggies to come out in a similar defensive strategy to what we saw against Sam Houston State (another solid shooting team before their matchup against he Ags). If the Aggies win tonight, I expect them to be taking on SMU tomorrow (there's no reason SMU should lose to Virginia, but it is college basketball after all). If the Aggies are able to pick up a win against the Mustangs tomorrow, you'll see the Aggies climbing up power rankings, picking up a significant number of votes in the polls, and getting a lot of discussion for one of the season's surprising teams after what could be a truly impressive stretch of 4 wins in 6 days.
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