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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Under new coach, players, Aggies aim to ‘reach new heights’ in 2022-23 campaign

Womens+Basketball+head+coach+Joni+Taylor+questions+a+call+during+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Texas+A%26amp%3BM-Corpus+Christi+at+Reed+Arena+on+Thursday%2C+Nov.+10%2C+2022.
Photo by Photo by Luca Yaquinto

Women’s Basketball head coach Joni Taylor questions a call during A&M’s game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Reed Arena on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022.

The 2022 campaign brings fresh faces and a new head coach to the Texas A&M women’s basketball program, but expectations remain the same.
After Hall of Fame coach Gary Blair roamed the hardwood for the past 19 years, the Joni Taylor era in Aggieland kicked off on a high note on Thursday, Nov. 10, as the Aggies took down Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by a score of 67-45 at Reed Arena. After leading Georgia for the past seven seasons, the 2021 SEC Coach of the Year now looks to place A&M back in the national spotlight.
Taylor is no stranger to that spotlight, having compiled 140 wins during her time with the Lady Bulldogs, good for a 65.1 winning percentage. Under her tutelage, Georgia qualified for four NCAA tournaments, including No. 4 seeds in 2018 and 2021. Taylor knows the SEC as well as anybody, as she played at Alabama for four seasons and went on to coach the Crimson Tide and LSU in assistant roles spanning three years.
“Every time we would go to Reed Arena, come to College Station, the atmosphere, the culture, the tradition was always something that jumped out on the page,” Taylor said of her decision to take the head coaching job. “So when [athletic director] Ross [Bjork] and [deputy athletics director] Kristen [Brown] called and talked about the opportunity to possibly come and continue to enhance the tradition that Gary Blair set, but to get back to that championship level, it was something that intrigued us as a staff.”
The maroon and white compiled a 25-3 record during a 2020-21 season that included an SEC regular season title and was capped off with an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. However, the Aggies failed to live up to expectations in Blair’s final year at the helm of the program in 2021-22, finishing with a 14-15 overall record and a 4-12 mark in conference play.
Eight players return from last season’s roster, led by graduate forward Aaliyah Patty, who’s logged over 100 games during her time in College Station and led the team in rebounds and blocks per game last year, with 7.4 and 1.4, respectively. The Aggies also retain senior center Sydnee Roby, junior guard Sahara Jones and graduate guard McKinzie Green from the 2021-22 squad, who each averaged over 10 minutes a game.
Like last season, the 6-foot-3-inch Roby is set to be the team’s dominant figure in the paint and rebounder, while Jones and Green are looking for breakout years as shooters. Patty emerged as a productive scorer for the Aggies last season and will be looked upon for her veteran leadership.
“We have a unique group,” Roby said. “We have a lot of returners from last year. I think it’s going to be something really unique, really good for us. We have a lot of playmakers, a lot of scores, a lot of pieces that really come together and mesh really well, so I’m really excited.”
While over half of last year’s roster returns for 2022, the production and leadership of many of the departing players will be sorely missed by A&M. Guards Kayla Wells, Qadashah Hoppie, Jordan Nixon and Destiny Pitts each logged over 29 minutes per game on average while leading the team in nearly all major statistical categories. Wells paced the Aggies with an average of 16 points per game, while Nixon tallied 4.3 assists a contest. Hoppie and Pitts each scored 10.4 points per game, while the latter led the team in 3-pointers. The quartet also served as A&M’s leading scorers.
Help is on the way, though, as Taylor imported the country’s No. 7 recruiting class to the Lone Star State from the Peach State, highlighted by freshman forward Janiah Barker. Tabbed as the No. 3 recruit in the class of 2022, according to espnW HoopGurlz, the Georgia native was the highest-rated recruit to ever sign with A&M and is expected to emerge as an immediate scoring threat for the Aggies.
“She’s a very, very good player,” Patty said. “She’s very versatile, she’s able to put it on the floor, she’s able to shoot it. It’s good to see her come in as a freshman and do the things that she can do and help us out with certain aspects on the floor. I’m very excited to see her growth over the next few years, and especially this year.”
Additionally, freshman guard Sydney Bowles, the class’s No. 37 player, flipped to A&M after initially committing to the Lady Bulldogs. The 2021-22 Gatorade Player of the Year in Georgia averaged 21 points per game for her state championship-winning team.
Rounding out the signing class is freshman guard Mya Petticord, Blair’s lone recruit. The Detroit native was rated a four-star out of high school and the No. 81 prospect of the class en route to leading Arbor Prep to a state title her senior season.
Taylor also managed to sway sophomore guard Tineya Hylton to transfer to the Aggies after spending her freshman year at Georgia, where she averaged two points and 6.3 minutes a game. While those numbers may not be eye-popping, the Toronto native had a stellar high school career in which she was named a junior All-American.
The newcomers are already making their presence felt on the court, as Bowles led the Aggies in scoring in Thursday’s win over the Islanders with 13 points, while Jones and Hylton added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Hylton’s six assists led the team as Barker paced A&M with eight rebounds and six steals.
“We’re definitely taking things one step at a time,” Roby said. “‘Becoming’ is our word for the year, just moving forward every single day, getting 1% better is the objective for all of us on the team, just collectively getting better and reaching new heights.”

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a junior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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