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November 27, 2013

Passion reborn, Green off to a strong start for A&M

The 2012-13 basketball season for Texas A&M was a frustrating one nearly everyone in the program, as the Aggies finished with a 7-11 mark in SEC play and missed out on the postseason. One of the most frustrated players on the team was shooting guard Jordan Green, who went from being an expected key element to a largely forgotten man by the end of the season.

At the end of a sophomore season in which he averaged just 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds a contest, the 6 foot, 5 inch, 190-pound Green found he was lacking some of the passion he once held for the sport.

"I had lost a little love of the game," he admitted.

A trip home to Flower Mound and a familiar environment helped recharge not only his love for the game, but his level of play as well.

"After last season, I had a break and went home and I went to my old high school, shot around, just fell back in love with the game," he explained. "So you're going to see a lot more confidence and relaxation in the way I'm playing."

The boost of confidence is evident: after serving as a reserve for 31 games last year, Green has started all six of A&M's games to this point in the 2013-14 campaign. After leading the Aggies in points during the season opener, Green has continued to maintain his high level of play; in A&M's 88-55 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Reed Arena Tuesday night, he hit four of six shots and all three of his foul shots to tally 11 points, three rebounds and a block in 21 minutes.

Once considered primarily an outside shooter, Green has become more of a slasher in his junior season. He's hitting nearly 66% of his shots while averaging 9.3 points per game, and only eight of his 32 shots have been from three point range (he's hit three, for a 37.5% percentage).

"It's total confidence," Green said of his turnaround. "I've been working a lot on my game, and my outside shot.I'm taking the pressure off of myself, having fun."

One thing that has helped Green improve is the increased level in competition when the Aggies (6-0) practice, as more depth and tougher scrimmaging has shown early results.

"We've got a lot more depth than last year. Guys are a lot more confident than they were last year because of the competitive nature in practice," he said. "We've got about eight, nine guards attacking every day in practice, so when we get to games, the competitive nature is natural for us. It's not going to be something we have to turn on."

Green said the 2013-14 squad would be more of a "collective scoring threat" after last year's team was more dependent on senior Elston Turner as the primary option.

"We've got Alex (Caruso), J-Mych (J-Mychal Reese), Jamal Jones, Kourtney (Roberson), Antwan Space. So you're going to see more scoring from all positions," he said. "Instead of seeing a 40-point game, you may see 12, 12, 12, 8, more like Villanova from a year ago."

To this point, Green has been right; Roberson leads the team with 14 points per game, followed by Caruso (10.8 ppg), Jones (10.3 ppg) and Space (9.7 ppg). The team's versatility, he said, should help as the season goes on.

"Our competitiveness is at a whole new level now. Everyone is competing. I feel our bond is a lot tighter," he said. "We can all handle the ball, we can all run, so it's a lot different."

While the Aggies are off to a better start than last year, they realize early season wins mean little in comparison to conference play. When the SEC portion of the schedule arrives, Green said, the team will be ready.

"We're all hungry because we have something to prove. The hunger and competitive level this year is much better," he said. "In the SEC, The crowd is into it. Every road game is rocking. It's also up-tempo; the first team that usually punches the other team in the mouth will probably win that game."

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