Texas A&M unveiled a new men's basketball team Thursday night in an 89-65 exhibition win over Texas A&M-Commerce, and it might just be the most athletic team A&M fans have ever seen on the court at Reed Arena. A&M head coach Mark Turgeon isn't sure if it's the most athletic - his first team in College Station with DeAndre Jordan and Chinemelu Elonu is high on that list - but there is definitely one thing Turgeon points to that is much different.
This team is his fastest. And that was evident Thursday as the Aggies continued to push the envelope in transition, pushing the ball up the court quickly and getting easy looks at the basket. If not, the Aggies brought it out and ran the secondary break and then went into motion. As the final score illustrates, however, the Aggies didn't need much time to score.
"I don't think I have (coached a more athletic team). My first team here was pretty athletic," Turgeon said. "This team is faster. It's really fast. B.J. is quicker than you think. Bryan is faster than you think. Naji is a big time athlete. We're getting there and we're going to overcome certain things with our speed."
A lot of the newfound speed came from two veterans who made their debut as starters in the same backcourt. Junior B.J. Holmes and sophomore Dash Harris started with bring technically being point guards with last season's starting point guard Donald Sloan as the third man in the Aggie backcourt.
Holmes picked up where he left off last season, scoring 16 points with seven assists and shooting 4-6 from behind the 3-point arc. Holmes even pulled down six rebounds.
"I just like winning so I try to do the little things like get a loose ball or get a steal or get a charge, different things like that to help the team win," Holmes said. "I didn't know I had six rebounds. One just rolled to me and I made a layup. When you're in the right positions good things happen."
Harris, meanwhile, was a completely different player than a year ago. The Inglewood, Calif., native was always a factor on defense as a freshman last season but his offense was at times a hindrance. He improved throughout the season and was always good with the ball in his hands, but he lacked confidence in scoring the ball.
That lack of confidence was erased Thursday night as he poured in 10 points on 60-percent shooting and seven assists with two steals.
"His six assists early in the first half really got things going and got B.J. going. He hit his first jump shot which was nice," Turgeon said. "He's a better player. I've been saying to him and Loubeau, and Loubeau didn't play really well tonight, but they've both really improved. Dash's leadership skills just keep get better and better. I was pleased with him."
Sloan led all scorers with 17 points.
A&M senior Bryan Davis played just 20 minutes in the game but recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two blocks. Sophomore David Loubeau started in the frontcourt with Davis and produced 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
Thursday night was also the debut of A&M's vaunted freshmen class led by Naji Hibbert and Khris Middleton. After a shaky start for both freshmen, which were caused by painfully obvious butterflies during their first game at Reed Arena, the two calmed down and showcased some of their skill.
Hibbert had eight points, three rebounds and two blocks at guard in 21 minutes while Middleton had six points, six rebounds and a steal in 16 minutes.
"I think everybody was a little anxious. We haven't played in seven or eight months, so everybody came out with a few butterflies in our stomach. It took about five minutes to get over that and then we started playing," Holmes said. "Naji and Khris got a lot of minutes tonight but Jeremy (Adams) is really coming along. It didn't show tonight in his minutes but he's doing really good."
A&M will face TCU in a closed-door scrimmage Sunday and will open the regular season Friday, Nov. 13 against Angelo State at 7 p.m. at Reed Arena.