Aggies need Sydney Colson on the court

December, 7, 2010

DURHAM, N.C. -- Sydney Colson played anything but the perfect game Monday night against No. 5 Duke, and there's no denying Texas A&M suffered without its starting senior point guard on the court for much of the second half because of foul trouble.

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Sydney Carter
Mark Dolejs/US PresswireSydney Carter (above) is a more-than-capable point guard, but the junior and Texas A&M are at their best when Sydney Colson is on the court.

Playing with three fouls and more than 16 minutes remaining, Colson was called for a reach-in foul well beyond the 3-point line on the defensive end and had to sit for nearly eight minutes. Considering Colson still finished with more assists (eight) in her 26 minutes on the court than Duke did in the entire game (seven), her absence was pronounced for a team that shot 34 percent on the night.

"It was huge," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "There was no excuse for her foul. We were playing soft, just trying to get [the clock] down to the last five minutes. She made that fourth foul with 16-something to go. It was just a reaching foul. But she knows. We've had that problem a lot over the years because she either strips you or they go the other way with it.

"That's just something we've got to get better on, and she knows it."

And yet losing a game on the road in December against a top-five opponent won't hurt the Aggies nearly as much as losing Colson for an extended period again -- a point driven home as the injury-plagued guard lay on the ground holding her ankle in the first half. After a few moments to gather herself, she walked off under her own power and returned not long after.

The intervening minutes might have set a record for the longest time a fan base held its breath.

Texas A&M is a different team with Colson on the court and at something close to full strength. That combination was in short supply last season and early this season (Monday was just her third start) due to a litany of injuries. There was a foot problem early this season and a stress reaction in her left fibula last season, none necessarily related to the sizable brace she still wears on her right knee because of an ACL tear prior to the 2008-09 season.

Colson has 29 assists in just 127 minutes this season, or 9.1 assists per 40 minutes, an amount of time on the court Blair might be happy to have her average for two games. When Texas A&M jumped to an early 10-point lead on Friday, Colson was right in the middle of it, pushing transition and ballhawking on defense. In the first three minutes of the game, she had assists to three different Aggies.

Texas A&M does have alternatives, a necessity considering the ever-changing state of Colson's status.

"Sydney Carter's a pretty good point guard," Blair said of the junior who finished with 13 points against Duke. "She's leading the Big 12 in assist-turnover ratio. … Those two have shared the position for a long time; we've got no problem with Carter playing."

But if Colson is playing alongside her or in relief of her, other teams have a substantial problem. And even if Monday wasn't Colson's best game, the fact that it also wasn't her last for any length of time is good news for Texas A&M.

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.



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