Aggies and Providence a showdown of inconsistency
Texas A&M enters the NCAA Tournament with a 20-12 record and a 9-9 mark in the SEC. Providence comes in with a 21-13 record and a 10-8 conference mark. They're similar in more than just their records, but also in how they got there.
Last 5 games: both 3-2. Last 10: 6-4. Providence started off hot in non-conference play; so did A&M. They got in to conference play and became extremely average, just like A&M. They had a four-game conference winning streak that was bracketed by a pair of two-game losing streaks. They're a veteran team that frequently doesn't play with maturity or desire.
They average 74 points a game. The Aggies average 75.
The Aggies aren't looking at mirror images of themselves, to be sure. The Friars actually showed up for their conference tournament, advancing to the Big East Tournament finals before getting knocked off by Villanova. The Aggies can't say that. Providence is driven by their guards; A&M relies on the three guys up front, Tyler Davis, Robert Williams and DJ Hogg.
We've seen the Aggies play extremely well at times this season, good enough to knock off anyone in the nation. They've also played like garbage, beating Xavier two out of three and tacking a W on to top seed Villanova. But they've also frustrated fans by dropping games they had no business losing.
A&M fans can sympathize.
Weekend arms dominating for Aggie baseball
The Aggie baseball team is now 16-1 and is ranked as high as 6th in the nation, depending on who you ask. They've played a lot of early season punching bags, but have also acquitted themselves well by taking out Baylor and Cal, both of whom have played good ball since the Aggies took them out in Frisco. They completely destroyed Long Beach State, a historically solid program, over the weekend.
A&M has the ability to bash teams into submission, with guys like LF Logan Foster (.397, 5 HR, 25 RBI), SS Braden Shewmake (.352, 1 HR, 19 RBI) and Chris Andritsos (.314, 3 HR, 17 RBI) mashing in the middle of the order. But there's something else happening here, and it may be more important.
Opponents aren't scoring, especially on the weekends.
Last year, it took a while for the Aggies to settle their weekend rotation behind Brigham Hill, but this year it looks like Rob Childress had at least two guys -- Friday starter Stephen Kolek (3-1, 1.46 ERA) and Sunday starter Mitchell Kilkenny (4-0, 1.30 ERA) set in stone from the beginning. Both have repaid Childress's confidence in them, and it looks like sophomore John Doxakis (3-0, .81 ERA) has moved into the Saturday slot for the time being.
Not that it matters a great deal so far. None of the Aggie pitchers to start more than one game so far this season (and there are five of them) has an ERA over 2.35. The bullpen so far has been just ok, but the starters are really beginning to get stretched out.
One thing about college baseball is that things can change really fast when you get into conference play -- especially in the beast that is the SEC. But when you've got guys who throw hard and pound the strike zone, you're going to have a chance to beat anyone. And that's what A&M's rotation has done so far.
Nick, we barely knew ye
Nick Harvey's announcement Monday that he'll be leaving Texas A&M to play his final season elsewhere came as a surprise. With his experience and the cornerback corps showing itself with less than glory last year, it seemed like he had a pretty decent shot at getting back into the mix.
Apparently not. While he was never afraid of contact, Harvey is somewhat undersized (5'10", 185 lbs.) compared to the rest of the corners on the Aggie roster. With a coaching change and a year off to recover from an ACL injury, maybe both sides felt like this wasn't a fit anymore.
So ends an Aggie career that can only be considered disappointing. A&M fought hard to get the Rivals100 prospect and he showed signs of tremendous talent at times, but ends his time at A&M with just one interception, one punt return for a touchdown and a final game in the Texas Bowl where Kansas State was content to throw at him rather than a guy making his second career start (Charles Oliver).
Still, with his 12 starts and appearances in 38 games, he was certainly the veteran of the cornerback corps, and that experience could have been useful. Competition is never a bad thing, and the Aggies could sure use some at corner.
So who benefits from Harvey's departure? Oliver is probably the surest bet to start, even though Mike Elko will have a lot to say about that. I think there are three other guys who would get more of a boost: Debione Renfro, Myles Jones and Clifford Chattman. Renfro was the starter most of last year and made some plays, but was a better tackler than defender as a freshman. Jones also struggled in the passing game, but has a massive upside. Chattman may have passed both of them up last year, but was academically ineligible. He's back now and should be a fascinating guy to watch starting in 10 days.
The Aggies still have a ton of options at corner: Oliver, Jones, Renfro, Chattman, Devin Morris, Travon Fuller, Kemah Siverand, Speedy Howard and even Roney Elam and Deshawn Capers-Smith if they're not going to be used in the nickel. You've also got Jordan Moore coming in this fall. Having bodies isn't really the issue. It's finding a couple of guys who deserve to be out there and can help this team win.
That list, unfortunately, got shorter by one Monday.