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The Battalion

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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The Battalion May 4, 2024

Tipoff weekend

 
 

After months of press conferences, practices and other preparations, the Billy Gillispie era at Texas A&M will finally begin Friday when the Aggie basketball team hosts the North Carolina A&T Aggies.
After sweeping through its two-game preseason schedule, winning by an average of 60 points per game, A&M is now ready to play some more meaningful games.
“It’s exciting to play against somebody else but ourselves,” said A&M sophomore guard Acie Law IV. “It’s very important to start the season right and come out and play hard and try to get a victory. We need to establish ourselves.”
Being a new coach, Gillispie knows the team still needs more time on the practice court, but hopes the players will benefit from the competition.
“I’m excited, but I know that the players are more excited,” Gillispie said. “I’d rather just practice all the time, as most coaches would, but I know it will be fun for the players to play against somebody that really matters.”
A&T struggled through a 3-25 campaign a year ago but is looking to rebound with a deeper squad that returns four starters. Second-year coach Jerry Eaves said he hopes this depth will allow his team to play his up-tempo brand of basketball.
“I like this team because it’s an athletic team,” Eaves said. “Last season we pressed, but other teams were deeper than we were, so it hurt us some. This year we’re young, but we’re deep, too. We have the ability to bring in more fresh bodies.”
A&M junior Antoine Wright welcomes A&T’s pressure defense, as he thinks the fast pace will play into what A&M wants to do.
“That’s the type of game we want to play anyway – an upbeat game,” Wright said. “It should be exciting with the way they play and the way we play. It should be two teams that want to get up and down the court. It should just be an exciting game.”
While applying pressure on defense, A&T lives off the 3-point shot on offense. In three games, A&T is shooting an average of 28 three-pointers every game. If the shots are falling, the team becomes dangerous.
“They’re very capable of making those shots,” Gillispie said. “We’ll just have to defend well and contest them.”
More than a win, Gillispie said he wants his players to do three things: play hard, smart and together. He knows that they’ll need to improve in these non-conference games if they hope to compete in the Big 12.
“It’s important for us to play well and continue to improve,” Gillispie said. “We’ve got a long ways to go – we’re taking baby steps. But more importantly than getting a win on the scoreboard is to just continue to improve.”

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