#41 Texas A&M: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #41
Conference Rank: #6 Big 12 Conference
2009-10: 24-10, 11-5
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Turgeon (73-31 at Texas A&M, 226-150 overall)
After Derrick Roland was lost for the season with a leg injury just a dozen games into the 2009-2010 campaign, many wrote off Texas A&M. For a program that once had a long history of losing, that was an easy thing to do. Yet, the times have changed for the Aggies and this is no longer a program that will fall apart when something goes wrong. Last season their resilience resulted in an NCAA Tournament appearance. It may again this season.
Key Losses: F Bryan Davis, G Derrick Roland, G Donald Sloan
The entire Aggie nation started the off-season off on a very sad note when top recruit Tobi Oyedeji was killed in a car accident. Once again Texas A&M has to overcome adversity on and off the court. On the floor the pressure falls to freshmen Daniel Alexander, Keith Davis and Kourtney Roberson. Alexander may be 6-8 and 210 pounds, but he shoots like a guard and his ability to stretch out the defense will come in handy. Davis is the more traditional post player, but he will likely need some time to develop his skills and add strength. Roberson could make an impact this season with his defensive skills. If he can develop into a decent scoring option that would be beneficial, but all three newcomers bring different skills to the table and Coach Mark Turgeon has options with this group.
Donald Sloan was the only player on the team that could create his own shot and now he is gone. Replacing his 17.8 points per game will have to be a team effort, but finding somebody who can be trusted to take the big shot will be the biggest issue. B.J. Holmes is the likely candidate to step into that role after averaging 9.3 points during his junior campaign. At 5-11, Holmes is undersized for a shooting guard in the Big 12, which is one reason he was used off of the bench last season, but he can score in bunches and that is all that matters. Naji Hibbert saw quite a few minutes during his freshman campaign, but never really found his shooting touch. The 6-6 guard will have to play some minutes, but he needs to start scoring. Dash Harris is the point guard and did a fine job running the show last season, dishing out 3.4 assists per game. Harris is not a scorer and it will be his job to find out who the new scorers on this team will be in 2010-2011.
The frontcourt has a star to replace as well…this time being Bryan Davis who averaged 9.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during his senior campaign. The new starters under the basket will likely be Nathan Walkup and David Loubeau. Walkup has been around for a while and started half of the Aggies’ games last year. He has never been much of a scorer, but he is a strong rebounder and defender. Loubeau will be the new big scoring threat in the paint. In fact, he nearly outscored Davis on average despite playing fewer minutes. Loubeau was just a sophomore last season and shot 53.7 percent from the floor. He figures to improve with age and experience and the 6-8, 230 pound Miami, Florida native should be a tough force to stop in the paint. Ray Turner’s playing time was very limited during his freshman season, but he performed extremely well when given the opportunity. Those opportunities should come more often this time around.
Who to Watch:
Khris Middleton is the glue between the undersized backcourt and the bruising frontcourt. The 6-7 sophomore has a ton of potential after starting 22 games and averaging 7.2 points last season. It would be beneficial if he could help the frontcourt on the glass a little more, but his offensive upside will be more important. If Middleton can turn into a consistent double-digit scorer, this is a team that will be tough to beat.
Losing Sloan and Davis will hurt the offense for a little while, but Texas A&M does not win games with their offense. As long as this group continues to play superb defense and a few players can step up their game a little bit to replace the lost production, the Aggies should be right in the mix for an NCAA appearance.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Dash Harris, Junior, Guard, 4.9 ppg
B.J. Holmes, Senior, Guard, 9.3 ppg
Khris Middleton, Sophomore, Forward, 7.2 ppg
Nathan Walkup, Senior, Forward, 5.1 ppg
David Loubeau, Junior, Forward, 9.2 ppg
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