December 17, 2008

Back-to-back big games gives Elonu hope

Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon has been looking for another consistent big man in the frontcourt opposite Bryan Davis all season. It started with junior Chinemelu Elonu and in recent weeks has rotated between Elonu, freshman David Loubeau, sophomore Denzel Bowles and even sophomore Nathan Walkup who moved to the post from the wing last season.

After two back-to-back solid performance, it appears that Turgeon may have found his man where he originally started with Elonu. The 6-foot-10, 235-pound junior had five points, eight rebounds and two blocks in a career-high 28 minutes against an Alabama team that prides itself on playing big. Monday, Elonu followed his Alabama performance with a career night with career highs in rebounds (14), blocked shots (6) and one point shy of a career high with 17 points.

"The last two games Chin has been great. He was so up and down in practice and games leading up to Alabama. I had him fifth on our depth chart going into the Alabama game. I had Denzel starting because he had practiced better. I had Bryan Davis because he has been consistent. I had Loubeau who can score the ball and I had Nate in there," Turgeon said. "That's the thing with our bigs, I never know what I'm going to get and the last couple of games Chin has really stepped up. And that's what I had envisioned with Chin. He's not going to get 14 rebounds and six blocks every game, but we envisioned him if not blocking shots but intimidating shots every game and getting him close to double-figure rebounds every night."

The rarity of Elonu's double-double stat line Monday was the 17 points. Elonu, who goes by Junior or Chin, isn't usually the offensive output type. He's able to get points off putbacks and has developed a solid hook shot from about three-five feet away from the basket, but his abilities remain with rebounding and defense.

After accumulating just three rebounds through A&M's first seven games, Elonu sent back eight shots in the last two and has intimidated countless others. Having an athletic big man of Elonu's caliber in the middle is a force the Aggies must have when the Big 12 season gets underway in January.

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