Column: Reed doldrums
Drew Chambers: Billy Kennedy a good coach, not the right one
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 00:01
At the beginning of the basketball season I tried to tell my friends that this year's men’s basketball team was going to struggle; I knew exactly why.
After all the hype from the football season I saw Aggie faithfuls come out to Reed in numbers for the beginning of the basketball season. Excitement was everywhere.
Then they started winning games. Senior guard Elston Turner put up 40 points in beating the defending national champion Kentucky and all was right with the world as we stood on top of it. At that point the Aggies even made me second-guess my feelings on the matter.
Enter the next four games. The Aggies have been inconsistent, lacked depth and have no idea what offense to run. These are things head coach Billy Kennedy said himself.
The Aggies have lost to the lowest ranked team in the SEC twice in a row while giving up 14-point leads against Alabama and Louisiana State University. In the game Saturday they watched a Georgia team that didn’t even have its scheduled practice the day before the game leave the Aggies behind in a 59-52 take-over.
A take-over it was. One gets the sense that at some point, after losing to the worst teams in the conference, you become that team. After a four game losing streak, Texas A&M sits one game from last place at 2-4. Just in case you thought the SEC was a good basketball conference, that conference record looks exactly the same for South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State.
However, like I said earlier, I know the solution. I love Billy Kennedy as a person and I even like him as a coach, so don't get me wrong when I say he is not the guy for the job here at Texas A&M.
My stance has not changed since he coached his first game here more than a year ago. When he returned from his illness-related leave of absence, I couldn’t shake the feeling of discomfort I felt.
We're in Texas, so I'm sure you won't mind if I relate this to football.
I've had many talks with my dad — Class of 1990 — during the past years about Aggie football and he has always stayed consistent on the idea that we need a fiery head coach.
From R.C. Slocum to Dennis Franchione to Mike Sherman, he always told me that we would never make the upper echelon of teams until we had a coach that would get excited about the game with the players.
Case in point: this year under Kevin Sumlin.
We've had some pretty good basketball seasons at A&M in the past decade, We even made the tournament six straight years prior to Kennedy's arrival. Excuse me if I don't want to miss out on the NCAA tournament 19 straight years like the drought we had from 1987 to 2006. Let's get some fired-up, chair-throwing, media-cussing coaching in here.
Yes, Kennedy’s start was rough. Yes, he hasn't had his four years to see how his players will fare, but look at the talent we have.
We have one of the best pure shooters in the game today in Elston Turner, one of the greatest defensive presences I've seen watching Aggie basketball in freshman guard Alex Caruso and what should be one of the best combinations of big men with senior Ray Turner, junior Alex Young and sophomore Kourtney Roberson.
Kennedy took over a team with nine losses and it doubled that in his first year. Now Texas A&M is in the SEC where, fortunately, the basketball teams don't compare to the Big 12. The Fighting Texas Aggies, and I use the term “fighting” loosely, got off to a 12-3 (2-0) start only to fall to a laughable 12-7 (2-4) record as Kennedy repeatedly said his team lacks effort and that there’s no foreseeable way to see its offense get off the ground.
In a year where football, volleyball, soccer, tennis, swimming and diving, golf and women’s basketball have excelled all expectations, I’m aware you can’t win them all. But is an NCAA tournament appearance too much to ask for? All I see is a slippery slope that I pray ends soon, even if that means it’s time to let Kennedy go.