Reed Rowdies prime for A&M tipoff
Basketball's 12th Man anticipates upcoming season, attendance boost
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 22:10
The Texas A&M men’s basketball program unofficially opens its season Friday as the reengineered squad tips off with the annual Maroon and White Scrimmage at 7 p.m. in Reed Arena.
The Aggies enter their third season under head coach Billy Kennedy and their second in the Southeastern Conference. The team finished last season 7-11 with no invitation to a postseason tournament.
Kennedy said the unit has made positive strides in the right direction, but needs quick maturation in order to compete for a postseason slot this year.
“The team is doing well,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got six new guys, a lot of freshmen and sophomores. One day we look like we’re doing a lot better than we were last year. The next day we look like we’re high school players. We’re making young mistakes. So I think that’ll be our team for a while and hopefully we’ll mature quickly.”
Meanwhile, the 12th Man’s presence at home basketball games — the Reed Rowdies — have been preparing for the upcoming season, hoping to draw heavier crowds than the Aggies’ first season in the SEC.
Michael Lockwood, junior agribusiness major and vice president of game day operations for the Reed Rowdies, said A&M is set up offensively to create an exciting game atmosphere behind a team Kennedy personally recruited and developed.
“I think this will probably be the most offensively potent team we’ve had in the past couple years,” Lockwood said. “I think we could see some high-scoring games. I feel like this is Billy Kennedy’s team, he has a lot of his players in here now.”
The 1,000-plus member group, according to its website, hopes to drastically improve the attendance for home basketball games, particularly within the student section.
“I think it’s a challenge to get fans acquainted with SEC powerhouses,” said Alex Coleman, Reed Rowdies president and senior communication major. “Everybody knows about Kentucky and Florida, but getting them acquainted with the Ole Misses and the Georgias and the Mississippi States of the conference is difficult.”
Chris Puig, senior mechanical engineering major and vice president of promotions and social events for the Reed Rowdies, said the organization has been working with the athletic department to generate ideas to boost fan attendance both within the student section and the general public.
“We did this a couple times last year, but bringing a basketball hoop around campus just to let people know today is a game day,” Puig said. “We’re trying to improve the overall atmosphere of the game so that students don’t want to miss the games, just like with football. We don’t want it to just be a game, we want it to be an experience.”
While the Aggies’ entrance into the conference was rough, the Rowdies are encouraged by the learning experience the team received and look forward to conference play down the stretch.
Junior civil engineering major and vice president of social media for the organization, Phil Betancourt, said the volatility of the sport should also serve to attract fans, especially if the Aggies show improvement early in the season.
“I’m most excited for the possibility of something big happening with SEC basketball,” Betancourt said. “We had some people come in and give us a scare and we had other teams come in and beat us, and we didn’t expect that. With college basketball, we all know that anything could happen.”