March 23, 2009

Rollercoaster season ends in familiar place

It was a rollercoaster ride for the Texas A&M men's basketball team once again during the 2008-09 season, but just like the first season under A&M head coach Mark Turgeon the Aggies advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament where they were beaten by a No. 1 seed.

This year, the Aggies ran into a dominating Connecticut team that just outplayed them in every facet of the game. It does, however, give the Aggies something to aspire to in the future, and that future probably isn't as far away as you think.

But before we take an early look at the Aggies next year, let's take a look back at the 2008-09 season.

A&M burst out of the gates quickly with a 14-1 non-conference record that included wins over Arizona, Alabama and LSU, but with the gaudy record came question marks as the Aggies started slowly out of the gate and played many close games against weak opposition.

That would catch up to the Aggies in a 1-4 start to the Big 12 conference season that would eventually grow into a 3-7 Big 12 mark. But A&M would rebound to win six straight to finish the regular season, which ultimately earned the Aggies a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament despite a first round loss in the Big 12 tournament to Texas Tech.

During the six-game stretch, it became more and more apparent as to the style the Aggies are going to play under Turgeon. A&M began to run more in transition, the offense began to gel and the Aggies routinely put up points in the 70s and 80s. With an influx of scoring guards next season and the added experience of bench players like B.J. Holmes and Dash Harris, you can expect to see the Aggies get out into the open and run the court from the outset next season.

In the NCAA tournament, the Aggies had a first round rematch from a year ago with BYU with the same outcome as the Aggies trounced BYU, 79-66. The win allowed A&M to join five other teams (North Carolina, Texas, UCLA, Memphis and Pittsburgh) as the only teams to win a game in each of the last four NCAA tournaments.

Overall, A&M enjoyed its fifth consecutive 20-win season and fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. Before the streak, A&M had six 20-win seasons in a history that has dated back to 1912. The Aggies had also never gone to back-to-back NCAA tournaments.

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