January 22, 2009

A&M making changes to start better

It almost seems like a broken record talking about how slow Texas A&M starts games this season. The Aggies have staggered out of the gate so much that when they start strong, like they did in the win over Baylor, it's the exception to the rule.

A&M head coach Mark Turgeon is sick of talking about his team's starts and he's visibly frustrated looking for an answer that no one has found. But the way the Aggies start games isn't completely on Turgeon and his coaching staff. They're not the ones on the court.

And with the bad starts adding up, it looks like it may have become a mental thing that is nagging the Aggie players. They've been talking about starting stronger with the media and with themselves. But after a 1-3 start in Big 12 conference play, which is correctly blamed on those bad starts, it's time for the Aggies to put up or shut up.

"I think it's basically just us needing to stop talking about it and just coming out and doing it," said A&M junior forward Bryan Davis. "We've been talking about it since day one getting off to a better start and we haven't done it yet. We just have to have more execution at the beginning of the game and stop talking about doing it and just come out and do it."

During the non-conference season, A&M continually started games poorly. The difference was that the Aggies were able to up their game later and comeback against weaker competition. The Big 12 is quite different. Kent State, Alabama or even Arizona aren't Oklahoma, Kansas or Oklahoma State. Dig yourself a hole against Big 12 teams, especially the top half of the Big 12, and the chances are you aren't going to climb out.

The only time in Big 12 play when the Aggies came out of the gate strong was at Reed Arena against Baylor, which is a rivalry that has become extra-heated in recent games. Seeing the name "Texas" written across the opposing team's jersey in Austin Saturday in another rivalry game could have the same effect.

At least that's the hope.

"I expect us to play harder Saturday," Turgeon said. "I can't promise that we're going to play well, but we're going to play harder."

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