Hop's A&M Hoops Thoughts

Battered and bruised, the Texas A&M basketball went into the hardest building in America to win a game and hung tough with the Kansas Jayhawks before falling 64-54. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop analyzes their performance and takes a quick look into the future of Aggie hoops.

You know, I'm really torn about this program right now. These guys are fighting hard and playing better in the face of mounting injuries. So in terms of this season, I'm really proud of this team, especially the seniors Dash Harris and David Loubeau. I know some people will jump on the Loubeau for getting his shot blocked 4-5 times, but the defender is 7-foot and Loubeau is being asked to play the No. 5 at a small 6-foot-8...probably closer to 6-foot-7.

Dash has had an incredible turnaround to his season and his career. You just wish the light could have gone off for him two years earlier and then you have to wonder just how good the teams from 2011 and 2010 could have been. Dash actually led the team in rebounding with 8 and he was one assist shy from a career high. He had 7 assists to just 2 turnovers for a +5 assist-to-turnover ratio as the primary ballhandler against the No. 5 team at Phog Allen Fieldhouse with a severely sprained foot for half the game. Most of those stats came in the fist half when he was healthy. Imagine what his stat line would have looked like had he not hurt his foot. What would the outcome have been seeing that the Ags only lost by 10 with basically no functional point guard for the last 20 minutes.

Let's hope Dash's foot won't be a lingering issue or this team really is in a hole. Elston Turner can put his finger in the dyke for a few minutes each game, but he can't run the point for 30 minutes a game. At least Dash will have five days to get treatment.

Loubeau finished with 15 points and seven rebounds against a pretty salty front line at Kansas. Then there's Elston Turner who I think has flourished as the offensive "go-to" guy with Middleton out. To be honest, I like him more as the go-to guy than Middleton because he is a better ballhandler in traffic and can create his shot without the turnovers that you get with Middleton. In the first half of the season, Middleton was the go-to guy in the offense and Turner was the pick-and-pop guy from the outside. If I were Kennedy, I would reverse those roles when Middleton gets back. I don't want Middleton handling the ball. He's just not good right now with his knee navigating the lane. He gets stripped far too much. Middleton should be your pick-and-pop guy. Set plays for him to come off screens, catch, and shoot. Even post him up on smaller wings and play some inside-out game. Turner scored 24 and in the last two games has proven he can find a way to get his shot and be effective.

I'd also like to see Daniel Alexander get more minutes. Yeah, he's light and he can be a liability defensively against the better bigs in the Big 12, but I liked what I saw after he hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Aggies back in the game. Bill Self decided to send his big man out of the post area to guard Alexander on the perimeter and that's when Loubeau got some of his best looks at the basket.

But anyway, back to my original point...I'm torn about this program. If you noticed, all of the performers I discussed were seniors and a junior. Harris and Loubeau are gone in six weeks. Let's look at the post guys that will be returning next season. Ray Turner and Keith Davis combined for 31 minutes and combined had ZERO rebounds, two points, and eight fouls. Those are your two starting posts next year barring a JUCO rabbit pulled out of the recruiting hat this spring.

At the point, A&M will have one ballhandler next year although I suspect they will snag a JUCO point guard somewhere. Just remember that the pickins' are pretty slim this time of year. That one guy will be a true freshman who is still recovering from a fairly significant knee injury and who hasn't even played his senior season in high school (although he is expected back very soon).

A&M has gotten basically nothing from its freshman class. Branch is gone, and Jordan Green can't get any meaningful playing time anymore because he's simply too much of a liability on both ends of the court because he has lost his confidence.

So for next year, A&M has Elston Turner, possibly Khris Middleton, and.....

Unless Glynn Cyprien and Kyle Keller can work some recruiting magic over the next 80 days, is there any reason to expect that this team will be any better next season? And can any program survive on the recruiting trail with back-to-back sub-par seasons?

I know that's a lot of assumptions to make. For all I know, the staff will sign three quality JUCO's and J'Mychal Reese will be a great point guard that really enhances this team in 2012-2013. I'm just saying a lot of things have to fall into place in the offseason for this to happen.

But for now, let's try to enjoy a team that is battling hard out there and is getting better each game despite all of the setbacks. I can tell you it will be a lot easier for Cyprien to sell Texas A&M to a JUCO with an 8-10 Big 12 record than it would with a 2-16 record.

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