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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Double-double man

 
 

When a basketball team is in the midst of a six-game losing streak, there usually isn’t anything good to point out, but senior center Andy Slocum is definitely a bright spot on the Texas A&M roster.
Slocum is averaging nearly a double-double on the season with 9.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Slocum has become so dominant in the paint that opposing coaches have to develop entire game plans around beating him.
Slocum’s defensive presence was effective enough to shut down both of Kansas’ big men in the Aggies’ 71-65 loss to the No. 12 Jayhawks. Slocum held Kansas forward Wayne Simien and center Jeff Graves to a combined 17 points and eight rebounds, prompting Kansas head coach Bill Self to say that he loves the way Slocum plays.
Simien and Graves average a combined 20.8 points and 13.7 rebounds a game.
“I personally love Slocum,” Self said. “I’d love to have him. He gets 14 rebounds from the (center) position and (Graves) gets zero.”
For Slocum to receive praise from opposing coaches is something new to him.
“I respect Coach Self a lot,” Slocum said. “It’s good for my confidence.”
Ever since Slocum stepped foot on A&M’s campus, on-the-court and off-the-court problems have followed. Every season prior to now, Slocum has fallen prey to the injury bug.
During his freshman season, Slocum eased into the Big 12 by playing in 27 games, starting 14, but he was unable to participate in the Big 12 tournament because he came down with mononucleosis. Then, before the start of fall practice in 2000, Slocum injured his shoulder while lifting weights, which required surgery to insert two pins into his left shoulder.
Slocum had to sit out the season.
The 2001-02 season was supposed to be Slocum’s breakout year, but the injury bug struck again. This time, after leading the team in rebounds through the season, Slocum broke his left hand in a game against Texas Tech, forcing him to miss the next eight games.
His junior year of eligibility brought with it expectations of a big man the Aggies had desperately needed, especially in Big 12 conference play, but the season didn’t even start well for Slocum. He missed the first seven games due to back surgery in late October.
Then, on Jan. 18, 2003, Slocum was arrested outside the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house for felony possession of steroids, leading to a seven-game suspension.
The incident, as well as his recovery from back surgery, led to a disappointing season in which Slocum averaged only five points and 5.2 rebounds per Big 12 contest.
But now, with the off-court problems behind him and injury-free, Slocum is making the most of his senior campaign as he has finally become the force in the middle that the Aggies have been waiting for.
“I kind of don’t want to go (into the injuries),” Slocum said. “I don’t want to jinx it.”
Slocum has always been a rebounding presence and a defensive obstruction to opposing players as is evident by his 7-foot, 275-pound frame, but his offense has been lacking. Early in his career, Slocum was known as a player who would shoot the ball whenever he got his hands on it, but now he has developed into an offensive post threat. He can either score or, if defenses collapse on him, he has the ability to find the open teammate for a jump shot.
“Andy has gotten better offensively, but I’m not sure if the team has caught up to him yet,” Watkins said. “In the past Andy has always been more of a rebounding, physical player, not the go-to guy. Now that his offense has gotten better we have to trust him a little more. Now when he is posting up we want him to get a touch.”
With A&M reeling for a win in conference play, Slocum could be the man who ignites the Aggies. A few early buckets from Slocum in the post would free up A&M’s lethal shooters from the outside.
A few more double-double games to add to the six he has already accomplished this season could easily earn him some more accolades from coaches on the opposing bench. Either way, other teams still have to develop game plans around Slocum’s inside presence and rebounding dominance.
“Andy’s a big presence,” Watkins said. “We want to get the ball to him a little bit more.”

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