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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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Jordan Jones returns to the hardwood to spark the Aggies season opener

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

Last year started with all kinds of potential for the Texas A&M women’s basketball team. They played well all season, were ranked No. 12 in the polls and had a 10-4 conference record with only two games left in the regular season.

Then, star point guard Jordan Jones tore her ACL against Missouri, and the Aggies proceeded to lose three of their last four games, including the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Head coach Gary Blair said despite not living up to the expectations at the end of last season, it was in no way a lost season. The Aggies still accomplished many things and are now in a position to be even better.

“We had an injury last year that we should have been able to overcome, with as much talent as we had,” Blair said. “We didn’t. When you talk to people around town, they act like we had a down year. Maybe we didn’t live up to the expectations at the end, but it wasn’t a down year.”

This year looks promising. As the Aggies are projected to finish third in the SEC preseason poll. Blair has said multiple times this year’s team could be the deepest one he has had in his 13 years at A&M, including the 2011 group that won the national championship.

“The second group, offensively, might be the strongest second group we’ve ever had,” Blair said. “They can score.”

The Aggies return four starters from last year’s squad, including Jones and Courtney Williams, both of whom were named to an Associated Press All-American team last year. It is the first time in school history that A&M has returned two All-Americans.

“The depth that we have, the talent at every position,” Williams said when asked what was the most impressive thing about this year’s team. “I think that we’re a lot faster at each position than we were last year.”

The Aggies installed a new motion offense this offseason that should take advantage of their talent and depth as well as increase their scoring output.

“I think it helps everybody,” senior guard Courtney Walker said of the new offense. “Just being a guard-oriented team and having that space and the motion with everybody out high and wide is going to really help everybody get to the basket and create their shot a lot easier. It’s just a lot harder to guard because we’re so spaced out, and it gives us a lot more 1-on-1 opportunities.”

And while Jones, Walker and Williams — all of whom garnered All-SEC preseason honors — form a trio of leadership and experience, there are plenty of other players that have impressed this offseason and in the exhibition contests.

Jones, meanwhile, continues to get stronger after her knee surgery last year.

“Physically, I felt pretty good,” Jones said after the Aggies’ win over Texas Wesleyan earlier this month. “I feel like I’m where I’ve worked so hard to be, but I feel like I still have different levels that I can reach, and it’s going to be a process.”

She has progressed nicely – Blair said that she is at about 90 percent physically but 105 percent mentally – and fans should expect a little different style of play from their point guard in 2016.

“She’s ready to play, she’s really worked on her outside shot,” Blair said. “I think you’ll be seeing her shoot more threes this year than she has in the past, and until she gets a lot of confidence in that knee, the driving layup will not be there as much as it’s been in the past. I think what she will do is come in and just try to find out what the teams needs from her in that particular game.”

The Aggie women open the regular season against Texas State on Friday at 6:00 in Reed Arena. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network +, and the men’s team will tip off their season opener after the conclusion of the women.

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