First, the bad news... we were a little short-handed for this game... as some suspension news broke about an hour before tip-off: Williams (3 games), Gilder (1 game), and Hogg (1 game) were out. When added to the existing 5 game suspension for PG JJ Caldwell, we were running a little thin. Our lineup basically consisted of Tyler Davis, Tonny Trocha-Morelos, Chris Collins, and a boatload of new faces.
The kids, as they say, are all right. Let’s break it down.
There was a clear difference in our approach on Friday, as our guards repeatedly attacked and finished around the rim. This improvement was likely due to the fact that Tarleton State, unlike Texas, does not have an NBA-ready shot blocker patrolling the paint... but still. It was nice to see.
We also shot pretty dang well (15-20; 75%) from the free throw line for the second game in a row... dare we call it a tradition?
Things were a little sloppy
In traditional ‘compliment sandwich’ form, I do have to nitpick about our ball security. Our offensive sets were still in early season form, and our 11:12 assist-to-turnover ratio is not something I’d expect to see against opposition of this caliber. We were missing our most capable guards, sure, but I still saw some poor decisions from guys that will get minutes against West Virginia next week.
Overall... I’ll take it
Mostly because four of our five starters were out of commission. The win wasn’t terribly pretty or exciting, but we clamped down on defense and held Tarleton State at bay with a squad mostly made of reserves.
A few performances of note
- TJ Starks (8-10 FG; 21 points) was very impressive and staked his claim to the 4th and final guard spot (behind Caldwell, Gilder, and Wilson) in the full-strength rotation
- Chris Collins (2-4 3PT; 8 points) stuck a couple of open threes, which he’ll need to do on a consistent basis if he wants to crack the new guard-heavy lineup
- Duane Wilson (10 points; 5 assists) acquitted himself nicely, and looked much more assertive than he did against Texas. We’re going to need big minutes from this guy during the Caldwell suspension.
- New big man Isiah Jasey (5 rebounds; 2 blocks) is still a little rough around the edges on offense, but he looks capable of filling the “defensive and rebounding for short bursts” role previously filled by outgoing graduate Tavario Miller.
Davis and Trocha looked about how I’d expect, and weren’t featured a great deal. It was pretty clear that Kennedy wanted a deeper look at the new guards, particularly with a high-tempo and press-heavy opponent coming soon.
Texas A&M Basketball opens the season this Friday with a nationally televised battle against West Virginia (5PM; ESPN) at Ramstein Air Base in Germany