Texas A&M Aggies
Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #2 Big-12
Long time coach Gary Blair was rewarded for his efforts last spring at Conseco Field House with his first national championship in Women’s College Basketball. They roll into the 2011-12 season with a lot of talent but also with a huge obstacle in Baylor in their way during their swan song in the Big 12. Next year the Aggies will be off to the SEC, escaping the shadow of arch in-state rival Texas. A team with experience and the heart of a champion returns to College Station in what should be a fun journey to follow as Texas A&M will have an even bigger target on their back as the reigning national champions.
2010-11: 33-5, 13-3
2010-11 postseason: NCAA 2011 National Champions
Coach: Gary Blair (188-79 at Texas A&M, 596-242 overall)
Danielle Adams was a force down in the post for the Aggies. She averaged over 22 points per contest, along with 8.5 rebounds and went on to be drafted in the WNBA by San Antonio. She all earned the 2011 Women’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. Sydney Colson was the floor general and was huge in running the offense with great consistency and leadership. She was a major factor in the comeback in the national semifinal against Stanford that set the stage for the national title game win over Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame.
The Aggies reaped the benefits of winning a national title by bringing in a very highly rated top 5-10 caliber recruiting class. Kelsey Bone, a transfer from South Carolina, will be counted on heavily to step in for the departure of Danielle Adams. Coach Blair and staff also brought in 6-7 center Rachel Mitchell out of Houston to help counter Brittney Griner. The highlight of the class is projected Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year Alexia Standish, a 5-8 guard who should immediately complement Sydney Carter and Tyra White in the backcourt
Who to Watch:
Tyra White and her veteran presence is going to be crucial in leading a very experienced, but yet youthful squad. She is a projected first round pick in the Madness 2012 WNBA Draft. She has that toughness that Sydney Colson had last season and should seamlessly transition into the team leader out of the backcourt. The competition at center should be interesting between Kelsey Bone and Rachel Mitchell and should be a fun battle all season long, with Bone having a head start as she was the 2009 SEC newcomer of the year while at South Carolina.
Usually, the reigning national champion starts at preseason number one until someone knocks them off. However, Coach Blair and company probably don’t mind being able to sneak in just below the top couple spots and just go about their business of defending their championship. They lost three of four to Baylor last season in what were epic meetings, especially the Dallas Regional Final. Hopefully, the committee won’t allow that to happen again and these teams can be set up for a potential Final four showdown. If the Aggies find a way to replace Danielle Adams by March, look for another strong potential of a return trip to the Final Four. It won’t be easy but there is enough experience and will to win that knocking them off the throne of national champions will take a tremendous effort by someone in the NCAA Tourney.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Sydney Carter, Senior, Guard, 10.4 PPG
Tyra White, Senior, Guard, 13.8 PPG
Alexia Standish, Freshman, DNP last season
Adaora Eionu, Senior, Forward, 8.4 PPG
Kelsey Bone, Junior, Center, DNP last season
Madness 2012 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#12 Tyra White
#31 Sydney Carter
Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#24 Alexia Standish
#28 Rachel Mitchell
#29 Tori Scott