Texas A&M basketball plays a tough non-conference schedule this season, and we will find out real quick if Billy Kennedy’s new style is going to be successful.
Billy Kennedy had one of the better three-year stretches in Texas A&M basketball history. He guided two different teams to a Sweet 16 appearance, something A&M has only done four other times in its history. It took some growing pains and even a subpar season in between, but he has done enough to be given the opportunity to rebuild the program.
That’s exactly what he has to do after losing most of the historic 2015 recruiting class of Tyler Davis, DJ Hogg, and Admon Gilder, plus Robert Williams, who was a first round pick this year. Davis and Hogg are scrapping to make the NBA when they still had one year left of eligibility. Gilder is the only remaining hold over. A&M lost about 63 percent of their scoring production from last year an most of that came from their front line.
TJ Starks and Gilder are the returning starters and make up all of the starting back court. Guard Jay-Jay Chandler (Top 160 recruit) and wing Savion Flagg (Top 100 recruit) also return, both of whom played sparingly in 2017-18 but will see big minutes this year. Their only recruits in the 2018 class were two JUCO guards who can score and a graduate transfer big man who can run the floor and play defense.
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All of this leads to the realization Kennedy had to change the offense to feature his guards. An Aggie team that leaned on inside dominance for three years will now run and gun and rely on the three-point shot.
We won’t have to wait long to see if the team can be successful in 2018-19, either.
Kennedy’s squad has an early three-game stretch with No. 3 Gonzaga on the road before returning home for Minnesota and No. 25 Washington. Gonzaga is a powerhouse at this point. They will likely be heavily favored over a Texas A&M team that’s barely expected to compete in their own conference, much less on a national level.
Minnesota should be a pushover, but they have a pretty good inside game and could really test the Aggies’ ability to run teams off the floor. Kennedy said he spent the offseason studying Villanova, Duke and Michigan, teams who excel with elite guard play. Washington obviously comes into this season with some expectations but the Aggies are good at home. They at least have to compete.
This three-game stretch will tell us everything we need to know about the 2018-19 season. It’s good to see the Aggies taking on tough opponents in the non-conference. Hopefully they can come away with at least two wins and surprise those who expect them to finish near the bottom of the SEC.