The Aggies picked up their first victory of the season against the formidable Ospreys of North Florida on Wednesday night, 64-46. While an 18-point victory may signal a dominating performance for the Ags, this score is a bit deceiving. Texas A&M had to rely on a 18-5 run over the final 10:23 to put the game away.
The highlight of the night was the emergence of Henry Coleman, the 6’8” transfer from Duke, who led the team with 27 points and finished second in rebounds with 7. Coleman did not play in the exhibition against Texas A&M-Kingville, so this was the first game action for the sophomore forward. He did not disappoint.
Coleman’s high school highlight films showcased a talented player who had tremendous athleticism. However, in one season with the Blue Devils, he only made 19 appearances, averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5 minutes per game. Obviously, he was a talented player to be recruited by a blue blood program like Duke, but the minimal playing time with limited production for the worst Blue Devil team in the last 25 years left some questions about how much he would be able to contribute.
Coleman answered those questions emphatically, showcasing an ability to drive to the paint as well as a knack for moving without the ball to create easy scoring chances at the rim. He was confident and decisive with the ball in his hands. Coleman also hit 7 of 9 free throws on the night, demonstrating a fluid shooting stroke. The only real misstep was a haphazard heat-check 3 point attempt that missed badly in the first half. However, he was far from the only Aggie to struggle from distance.
The Aggies shot 36.9% from the field on the evening, including an abysmal 2-14 from behind the arc. It was certainly not the improvement in field goal percentage that many were hoping for, but we should withhold judgement as it is just the first game of the season. Many of the misses were bad in a nervous excitement way, not surprising for such a young group, many of whom were in high school or playing in front of very limited crowds last season.
Coleman wasn’t the only story of the night. Tyrece “Boots” Radford was everything he was billed to be - a gritty, tough, tenacious player who makes plays all night long. It’s not often that you see a 6’2” guard leading his team in rebounding, with 5 board on the offensive glass. Boots is going to be a fan favorite. Marcus Williams also showed glimpses of the explosive quickness and offensive skill that made him the Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season. It seems certain that he will become a more prolific scorer over the course of the season.
The team showed signs of improvement over prior seasons in the turnover department. The Ags game the ball away 13 times on the night, but this isn’t as egregious the performances that many fans have witnessed over the prior 4 seasons, especially considering that 7 of the 10 players who saw the floor weren’t even with the program last year.
My suggestions of patience with the program will certainly be a theme for this non-conference slate. Wednesday night’s victory wasn’t stellar performance for the group collectively, but the team did show a promising glimpse of being able to close out a game down the stretch. The Ospreys lost by 15 to a veteran Texas Tech squad on Tuesday night, scoring 74 points. So coming away with an 18 point victory while holding a strong shooting team under 50 points may give reason for cautious optimism moving forward.