- Created on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 00:56
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by Travis Pulver
That could all change if Billy Kennedy is able to continue building on the success of the Texas A&M Men‚Äôs Basketball program.
Kennedy was announced as the new head coach of the Aggies, taking over a job left vacant by the popular Mark Turgeon who departed to head up the Maryland Terrapins program. Left behind by Turgeon is a growing legacy of success that has been building for the last six seasons.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very rare as a coach that you take over a college program that‚Äôs in good shape,‚ÄĚ Kennedy said.
What the Aggies are hoping is that they can continue to have incredible luck hiring coaches from smaller programs that can keep the momentum going.
It all started with Billy Gillispie whom they plucked from the UTEP Miners. Gillispie succeeded in accomplishing one of the biggest turnarounds in college basketball history in his first season (2004-05) taking the Aggies from 7-21 to 21-10. He went on to lead the team to three consecutive 20+ win seasons for the first time in the history of the program before departing for Kentucky.
Normally coaches don‚Äôt want to be the one to follow up such a successful tenure, but the school was able to convince Mark Turgeon to leave Wichita State. What they saw in a coach whose team was nothing special the year before (17-14 in the 2006-07 season) is not clear, but whatever it was must have been good. After three seasons of leading the team to 20+ wins he was snatched away.
After six solid seasons, Texas A&M fans have come to have expectations. Should Kennedy fail to deliver they will not hesitate to call for his head.
If his success at Murray State is any indication than the Aggie faithful can rest assured that their basketball team is in good hands. In his time leading the Racers, the team compiled a record of 107-53 that included two Ohio Valley Conference championships the last two seasons. Much like the latest Aggies team, he did so with a strong defensive mindset.
"We're going to build this team on defense," said Kennedy. "Pressure and man-to-man and trying to speed things up; if your personnel allows that -- and I think we have personnel allowing that."
If he is going to be the guy to take the team to the next level he will have to do more than just play stout defense. Last season the Big XII was home to three of the top 15 scoring teams in the nation (Kansas, Missouri, and Colorado).
Fans that are concerned about Kennedy‚Äôs offensive prowess need not worry; the players like what they see in Kennedy.
"I really like his offensive style. It's very fast paced," forward David Loubeau said of Kennedy. "I think it's going to be a great year."
Kennedy has high hopes for the team and with seven of ten players returning the fans have every reason to think the same.
The most important thing that Kennedy has indicated to the Aggie faithful has nothing to do with next season though. He made sure to tell fans that he has no intention of leaving after a few seasons of success.
"I believe in this place," he said. "And I'm very thankful to be here."