Story Poster
Buzz Williams
Manny Obaseki
Jace Carter
Texas A&M Basketball

Undefeated Aggies face different type of proving ground in Orlando

November 22, 2023
4,575

Different opponents. Different venue. Different prep.

Very little is normal about early-season tournaments.

This time around, Texas A&M looks to handle things differently.

"I'm very much routine-orientated. I think our program is that way," head coach Buzz Williams said. "In a tournament setting, three games in four days, some of that lack of success is for sure a reflection of me in the inability to prepare them at the level that they need to be prepared, which is why we've changed some of what we're doing going into Orlando."

Now ranked No. 12 in the country, A&M (4-0) embarks on yet another road trip as the ESPN Events Invitational begins Thursday in Orlando, Florida.

More experienced and more mature, the Aggies meet Penn State (4-0) at 11 a.m. CT on Thanksgiving Day, and revenge is in consideration.

"Ever since we lost that day against Penn State, that lingers in my mind," Manny Obaseki said. "I can't let that feeling go. I know my teammates feel the same way too."

Of course, the Nittany Lions ended A&M's season in the opening round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

"In a tournament setting, three games in four days, some of that lack of success is for sure a reflection of me in the inability to prepare them at the level that they need to be prepared, which is why we've changed some of what we're doing going into Orlando."
- A&M head coach Buzz Williams

But Penn State won’t be the only test this week.

The trip to Disney World will present different challenges due to multiple quick turnarounds.

A&M will face either No. 19 Florida Atlantic or Butler on Friday before playing a third game on Sunday.

"We're trying to do something none of us have every done, which is be successful in November in a tournament," Jace Carter said. "In order to do something different, you can't do the same things you've been doing."

Early-season tournaments have caused problems in the past.

Murray State and Colorado beat the Aggies in Myrtle Beach last year. In 2021, A&M shockingly blew a 16-point lead to Wisconsin in Las Vegas. 2019 saw a winless venture to Orlando with losses to Harvard, Temple and Fairfield.

Always looking to learn, A&M's preparation is different this go around.

"Since we've been here, we're 3-6 in November tournaments," Williams said. "I hope that some of the changes we've made help me. I hope that some of the changes we've made in the last six or eight days help our guys, but I hope it helps both groups be better on Friday and Sunday."

But Thursday will be full of changes too.

This Penn State squad is almost unrecognizable compared to last March.

Head coach Micah Shrewberry is now at Notre Dame. Gone are Aggie tormentors Andrew Funk, Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy.

Although unblemished, these Nittany Lions return just 7.47 percent of last year's offensive production. Ten of the top 11 scorers from a year ago have departed Happy Valley.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
In their last meeting with Penn State, the Aggies suffered a 76-59 beatdown in the First Round of the 2023 NCAA Tourney.

Conversely, A&M brought back 88.4 percent of its scoring.

Still, the sight of Blue & White uniforms could make the Aggies see red.

"Anybody that beats you in March Madness, you're always going to feel some type of way about them," Carter explained. "They still have 'Penn State' across their chest, so there definitely is a tension there."

Differences this week will be plentiful, but this A&M team also appears to be... well, different.

The Aggies are 4-0 for just the second time under Williams.

They have proven themselves early at Ohio State and SMU.

Rebounding appears stronger than ever.

With Wade Taylor IV off to a slow start, Henry Coleman III and Tyrece Radford have picked up the slack.

The offense has appeared unphased despite shoddy 3-point shooting.

Signs are there. More reps need to be had, and more tests need to be passed.

"All these different teams that are in there are high-level teams, and moving forward, it helps you for December," Carter said. "There is only one more month until you're in conference play. Going into December 7-0 is a lot different than going into December 4-3."

This week represents a different type of proving ground.

"I just want this team to win," Obaseki said. "I want this team to go where we've never been able to go before."

And with more early-season success, perhaps this campaign will indeed be different.

Discussion from...

Undefeated Aggies face different type of proving ground in Orlando

3,328 Views | 0 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by Big Shooter
There are not any replies to this post yet.
Refresh
Page 1 of 1
 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.