The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: Texas A&M

Texas AMDespite being defeated by Baylor in the semifinals of Southwest Regionals, Texas A&M is still widely considered the top team in the game.  They went 20-0 in the fall, racking up championships at the unofficial Breakfast Taco, Diamond Cup, and Collegiate Cup.  Before that, they had a solid spring and fell to Middlebury in the Final Four of World Cup VAs is the mark of any great team, they’ve since put incredible effort into building on previous disappointments and, more importantly, they’ve been incredibly successful at it.

Best Wins: vs. Marquette x2 (180*-40, Nov. 18, 200*-90, Nov. 17), vs. Baylor (70*-30, Oct. 27)

Worst Losses:  None

Key Players: It’s impossible to deny the defensive dominance of Kifer Gregoire.  Lightning quick and able to consistently take down players several times his size, Kifer is the first, and often only, necessary line of defense.

It’s also ridiculous not to mention Drew Wasikowski.  A force on offense and defense, Drew’s long legs allow him to get up to incredible speed.  His versatility and ability to read the field makes it look easy for him to throw, catch, or run the quaffle exactly to where you don’t want it.

Players to Watch: Sean Fry and Andrew Cantu are two fast dudes.  Against a lot of teams, that’s enough to rack up points on fast breaks.  The extra level they bring though is ball skills.  They throw and catch like nobody’s business, all while running circles around your defenders.

Strategy:  The biggest element of TAMU’s strategy is their ability to completely turn it around on the fly.  The biggest fault this team had last year was their reliance on passing and shooting and inability to effectively drive to the hoops.  This year, they’ve turned that around.  If you catch on to their passing, they can and will drive and dunk it.

Strengths:  The most obvious feature of this team is an incredible depth of solid players who do not get tired.  When you’re up against the A&M hydra and the player burning you up on the field subs out, a fresh one equally adept at utilizing their own personal skill set to their advantage takes their place.

Weaknesses:  This is a team that’s used to being able to rely on their seekers.  When that three player rotation wasn’t so hot at SW regionals, they were bounced by a pair of Baylor grabs.

Prediction:  The only thing that can stop this team is running into a familiar Southwest foe before the finals.  Anything below the Elite Eight would be a shock and anything below final four is unlikely.

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