Two Events To Look Forward To
It's hard to believe we're less than two weeks away from spring football.
Kentucky vs Texas A&M - Women’s Basketball The Aggies take on top 10 Kentucky tonight at 6 at Reed Arena (and on ESPN2). With a win, Gary Blair’s team would be tied atop the SEC with Tennessee.
Baseball vs Pepperdine Early season baseball is one of my favorite times of the year because of how quickly teams can change and find out who they are. The Aggies play five games this week, starting with midweek games against SFA and Texas Southern on Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting Pepperdine this weekend at Blue Bell Park.
Four Storylines We’re Watching
Midweek Pitching One thing Rob Childress’ teams have done in the past is have a tendency to lose some midweek games. Normally that’s not a big deal because the Aggies are almost a sure-fire bet for the NCAA Tournament, but it could have an impact this year if A&M is “on the bubble” because of the much tougher SEC. Corey Ray will get the nod Tuesday against SFA, so we’ll get the first glimpse of whether or not the pitching staff is deep enough to help the Aggies in the midweek.
NIT Hopes In a usual year, Billy Kennedy’s basketball team would still be in fairly good position to make the NIT, but this isn’t a usual year. The Aggies are tenth in the SEC, and in a league that’s only expected to get two or three NCAA bids at most, that’s making them a longer shot for the NIT. It’s still a little early for those things to start shaping up, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
2014 Evals As Taylor reported in this morning’s pulse, the Aggies have continued their evaluation process of the class of 2014, and as a result more offers and junior day invites should be going out soon.
Spring Practice Approaches It seems like just yesterday we were breaking down the aftermath of the Cotton Bowl, but spring practice starts next Saturday for the Aggies. We’ll continue to break down the areas of concern and the biggest position battles heading into next week.
Seven Thoughts for the Week
With less than three weeks left in the regular season, Florida is still the SEC's only sure-fire NCAA Tournament team.
- The charge/block call is helping ruin college basketball right now. Defenses are being rewarded for sliding under payers late, and even worse, flopping. Just this weekend I must have seen eight or ten calls that would have been blocks a couple of years ago get called charges. Could part of the problem be the introduction of the restricted area? It seems like officially are more likely to give charge calls now just because a defensive player is outside of the area. Are more charge calls 5 feet from the basket the price we have to pay for non charge calls underneath it? If so, we should consider going back to the old way.
- On that note, the entire SEC is horrible at basketball, except Florida. Even for someone who bleeds college basketball like me, watching SEC games is just rough right now. The teams in the middle of the pack have to ugly up the game to have a chance, and officials seem to be letting them do it. As a result, SEC games are just tough to watch. Another one of the huge problems facing college hoops right now is what teams can get away with at home, versus how they’re called on the road, and that’s as apparent in the SEC as it is anywhere. Look at Arkansas, a team that’s undefeated at home in conference play, including a bashing of Florida, but only has one win on the road.
- This week is one of my least favorite events in sports, the NFL Combine. It’s become such a media spectacle that it has also become worthless. Players spend tons of money, or at least their agents do, preparing them not to get better at football, but to run the 40. Then ESPN will spend two hours breaking down “what it means” that whoever ran a 4.51 instead of a 4.48 and whether that will drop them down the list. By week’s end the internet will be buzzing about a player who “wowed people” by being slightly faster than expected. It’s the same reason I put less stock in camps than some people in this industry. Sure it’s good to know how fast someone really is, that’s especially true of players from smaller schools who don’t have the week in and week out competition, but some players also just have football speed, and football smarts, and you don’t get any of that in these settings.
- And to not just be complaining about everything, this is also the week of one of my favorite sporting events on the calendar, the Daytona 500. Grab your cooler and get to the TV Sunday, because it’s going to be great. Also, there are two big midweek Champions League matches. Arsenal and Bayern Munich play Tuesday, and AC Milan play Barcelona on Wednesday.
- With spring football approaching, I keep coming back to the thought of just how big the early season game with Alabama is. A&M isn’t going to be a perfect team next season, I think anyone who dives into the defensive depth chart realizes that, but can they hide their weaknesses enough to get that win in September? These are the kind of things I’m already having thoughts about, and it’s not even March yet.
- Billy Kennedy needs to find a guard late in this recruiting cycle. They’re out looking at all kinds of guys from JuCo players to under-the-radar types and even some guys that fans have heard of, but they desperately need more shooters on the roster. This year’s team plays hard, and they defend fairly well, but on the offensive end they just have absolutely no options when Harris or Turner aren’t shooting well. Alex Caruso hitting a couple on Saturday was hopefully a glimpse of his future.
- Finally, Gary Blair is putting together a hell of a season for the women’s team. They’ve dealt with some adversity and weathered a brutal early season schedule, but here they are in mid-February in the top 15. If they can beat Kentucky tonight, the Aggie women will be tied atop the SEC with Tennessee, where they play next week.