Those who want Billy Kennedy fired are back, then again, they never left.
The 71-70 loss to Alabama doesn’t change a thing, nor did the three-game winning streak that just ended. A&M basketball seems stuck in the same rut that eventually got Kevin Sumlin fired. He beat Arkansas and he beat Florida, but the ugly losses just wouldn’t go away.
Kennedy seemed to have turned the corner in a big way with the 11-1 start. The season had the championship feel of the Sweet 16 run two seasons ago, putting the disappointment of last season and his first four seasons behind. But then came the 0-5 to start league play. A&M recovered from that to finish at .500 in league play by winning nine of 13 but other than a four-game winning streak against Arkansas, South Carolina, No. 8 Auburn and No. 24 Kentucky, there’s been some ugly basketball. That last three-game winning streak saw A&M almost blow a big lead at lowly Vanderbilt and Georgia choke down the stretch. And before that, the Aggies in a three-game losing streak lost a game it probably shouldn't have at Missouri, got spanked at Arkansas, and slept-walked for a half in a home loss to Mississippi State.
Opposing coaches keep saying Kennedy is and has been doing a great job, with Alabama’s Avery Johnson being the latest. But the bottom line is A&M is unranked after being a Top 10 team, a la the football team. Throw in all the suspensions and it’s been tough, frustrating season.
Now on the flip side, if A&M had held on to beat Alabama after trailing by 12 points, it could have been a turning point. The Aggies probably beat Auburn and get a better seed for the NCAA tournament and then win a couple games to reach the Sweet 16 and this place would – and still could – be hopping. A&M having that kind of success after all these troubles would be so satisfying, but it’s not being realistic.
It’s just hard to see this team reaching the Sweet 16 after Thursday’s loss. A&M is 8-10 against teams that are currently in Joe Lunardi’s 68-team bracket. That’s not good enough after the way this team started, nor with all the talent. A&M’s had injuries, being crippled by the loss of point guard Duane Wilson, but A&M wasted a scholarship on JJ Caldwell who got dismissed. Things like that always seem to cost you.
It’s hard not to like Billy Kennedy and you want to give him not just one break, but several, because he seems snake-bitten. He’s a class guy, a family guy, a Christian, but he’s got to win more big games. If not this month, then for sure next season, provided he wants to come back and athletic director Scott Woodward indeed opts to bring him back
Will he be back, should he be back? That's not my call. That's why Woodward gets the big bucks. The folks who buy those court side seats probably will let Woodward know how they feel.
Good news is, things change all the time. That’ll be the case next week for Kennedy and the Aggies, either it could be really good or really bad.
Who knows what’s ahead. Looking back, what if Ole Miss had hit that buzzer shot to leave A&M 0-6 in the SEC? And more recently, what if Collin Sexton’s floater yesterday had floated by the bucket?
Well, I probably wouldn’t have done this blog, because I wouldn’t have received those emails. People are talking about A&M men’s basketball, it’s just not good.