The Gonzaga Bulldogs are welcoming the Texas A&M Aggies to The Kennel on Thursday, Nov. 15. It is the first game of a home-and-home, with the Zags returning to College Station next season.
Thankfully, David Dold over at Good Bull Hunting was kind enough to take some time out of his day to answer a few questions about the Aggies.
TSSF: Outside of TJ Starks, there aren’t a whole lot of carryovers from last season’s Aggies squad. Does anyone have any real idea on how good Texas A&M will be this year?
DD: The early consensus is “not very good.” We were projected to finish 12th (out of 14) at SEC Media Days, and we had no representation on the media’s All-SEC Preseason 1st and 2nd teams. The returning strength of this team lies in the back court, and we have a fair amount of help via four incoming transfers, but it’s going to be awfully tough to replace our losses. The 2017-2018 outgoing class was responsible for 73% of our scoring, 77% of our rebounding, and 92% of our blocked shots.
TSSF: It has been a couple of rough years for three point shooting. Through two games, the Aggies are shooting just a tad bit over 20 percent from long range. Does this team have any consistent shooters to keep an eye on?
DD: That’s a hot button issue in College Station. We transitioned to a faster, guard-friendly style of play that promotes three point shooting... but we don’t appear to have that many pure shooters. Brandon Mahan is a spot-up guy that shot at a 50% clip in Junior College, but the remainder of the squad is streaky at best. Our inability to shoot UC Irvine out of a zone was a huge factor in our late game demise on Friday.
TSSF: The Zags are definitely the huge favorites in this game. What do the Aggies need to do right to keep the game within striking distance for a potential upset?
We need all hands on deck in the back court. Admon Gilder and Wendell Mitchell were projected to be starters, but they were held out of the opening two games due to injury. As a result, TJ Starks was asked to fill the distributor role, and the results have been disastrous. If we can get Gilder and Mitchell back, Starks can slide to his preferred role as a scorer, and our bench contributors can go back to playing in small bursts. Hopefully the aggregate effect can lead to a game that’s entertaining and possibly even competitive down the stretch.
But if you see a tweet like this on gameday... run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookie and lay the points.
TSSF: Prediction for the game?
DD: Christian Mekowulu (well-rounded offensive game) and Josh Nebo (rebounding and rim protection) have been really solid front court additions. If they continue to produce at their current levels, and if our guard play improves... we’ve got a chance. But given our recent performance, I just can’t see a positive result in a true road game against the #3 team in the nation.
Let’s call it a competitive 25 minutes, with Gonzaga ultimately pulling away to win 91-75.
You can follow David on Twitter at @gigthem08 and Good Bull Hunting at @GBHunting.