WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Richard Croome, who covers Texas A&M men’s basketball for the Bryan-College Station Eagle, about Wednesday’s CBI first-round game with the University of Wyoming at 6 p.m. at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.
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Is there a sense of excitement or apathy about the Aggies being in the CBI and Wednesday’s game with Wyoming?
From the fans it’s more apathy. Even though the Aggies improved this season many believe A&M should be a player nearly all the time. The six year run of success prior to this spoiled many people, especially those that became A&M fans during that time. Since that time period was the beginning of the social media era those are the ones heard from the most.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Texas A&M?
A&M plays good team defense and uses the clock offensively to help with number of possessions. Because of an injury and two guys leaving the team (one school suspension and the other a coach thing) A&M has no depth. They play six guys and are really thin along the front line. Jamal Jones is a good shooter and Alex Caruso, although not the prototypical point guard, is a great passer and one of the more intelligent players around.
Was the ninth-place finish in the SEC this season expected. Did the team over or under achieve at all?
Ninth place was not as bad as it sounds, because with a week to go it seemed like everyone from fifth to 10th was within a game of fourth and would have had a double-bye at the SEC Tournament. Everyone was OK, if not thrilled with the season until the home loss to Auburn the last game. A&M had just missed winning at Missouri and then fell to 8-10 with the loss to Auburn. That upset a lot of people.
Coach Billy Kennedy’s name was bantered around when Wyoming was looking for a new coach three years ago. How has his first three years been at Texas A&M and do you think the program is heading in the right direction?
Not having gone to the tournament in three years has rubbed people the wrong way. He has had a lot of turnaround, none of it really his fault. With his openly enthusiastic feeling for next season — a few newcomers coming in — and with every starter back, he is going to have to produce next season.
What are some of the keys to Wednesday’s game, and how do you see the game unfolding?
Hard to say because I don’t know enough about Wyoming outside of their scores of which I was impressed with the New Mexico games, and of course San Diego State. Really a lot depends on how A&M shoots the ball. Sounds like that is a no-brainer for who wins a basketball game, but A&M does really struggle scoring the ball at times. If Jones is off or Caruso isn’t getting the ball to others in positions to where they are just laying it in, A&M can go a couple of media timeouts without scoring.