KANSAS CITY — Players from the Texas A&M women's basketball team took up the first four rows of section 101 at 5 p.m. Tuesday evening at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.
They formed a small group of maroon next to the burnt orange of the Texas band, there to watch the seventh-seeded Longhorns take on 10th seed Missouri in a first-round game of the Big 12 Conference Tournament.
The winner would face Texas A&M on Wednesday.
Most of the Aggies players sat in their seats stoically, their arms crossed like they had no care in the world. It would be the third consecutive game they had seen. They had been in those seats for more than four hours, having already seen Kansas beat Colorado and Iowa State defeat Nebraska. And before that, they had practiced in the morning for more than two hours.
They did not seem fazed after Texas defeated Missouri 79-66 to end the Tigers' season.
Texas A&M associate head coaches Vic Schaefer and Kelly Bond along with assistant coach Johnnie Harris had front row seats directly across from Missouri coach Robin Pingeton. They were not relaxing like their players, though. All three sat on the edge of their seats eating popcorn and drinking soda out of 18-ounce cups. They were scouting their future opponents.
"You can get all their plays off of film," Schaefer said. "Scouting gives you a perspective of how quick or fast somebody is. It's hard to detect that on film. We're pretty much looking for tendencies."
Because the event staff only provided the Texas A&M coaching staff with three seats in the front row, head coach Gary Blair sat between the Missouri fans and Texas band with Oklahoma State fans that were waiting for their team to play Texas Tech in the evening's final contest.
Blair saw the Big 12 tournament as an opportunity for players to impress any WNBA coaches and scouts who were at the event. He noted Missouri senior RaeShara Brown in particular.
"A lot of the WNBA coaches would come up and talk to me about some players," Blair said. "Brown still went out on a high note. And this is good for her because the WNBA people are looking at her."
Brown ended her playing career for Missouri with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Schaefer said he also saw potential in another Missouri player, forward Christine Flores.
"I’ve always liked Flores. She's a Texas kid and came to our camps," Schaefer said. "I've just always respected her as a kid and as a player. She's really improved as her career's gone."
Flores, a junior, scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds.
But after a slow start, Missouri trailed 48-33 at halftime, and Blair's scouting abilities could not be contained.
"I looked up with three minutes to go in the half, and Texas only had three fouls. And Ashley Gayle only had one," Blair said. "You got to get her into foul trouble quicker, because then, you can go to work inside with Flores."
Blair now had more insight about how his Aggies would attack the Longhorns on Wednesday. A long day was finally winding down for Texas A&M.
"We've seen three games. I’m dead tired. We worked out for two-and-a-half hours," Blair said. "We're going to get our kids home.
"It's what you want. You want long days right now because that means you're still in it."