Texas A&M men’s basketball head coach Billy Kennedy along with senior guard Elston Turner and freshman guard Alex Caruso addressed the media on Monday in advance of the Aggies’ trip to Nashville for the 2013 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.
HEAD MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH BILLY KENNEDY
"We're disappointed we lost the last two games. I thought we had opportunities to win. At Arkansas, we missed a 3-pointer that would have cut it to three points in the second half and really put the pressure on them. We'll continue to fight and battle but sometimes we come up a little bit short. This time of year, you've got to have your guys playing at their highest level. We haven't had that in the last two games."
On Elston Turner returning from injury:
"We're not sure. He's going to try and do some things today. He didn't practice with us at all the last few days but his treatment is going well. He obviously wants to play and I think he'll try to play. We'll know more after practice this afternoon. He won't do anything drill-wise, but he'll try and do some other things."
On the positives from the Arkansas game:
"I thought we did a lot of good things. We gave ourselves some good opportunities but we just turned the ball over too much. We didn't get good performances from some of our upperclassmen. We still had an opportunity. The one thing I was proud of is we didn't break. That's a tough place to play. We were able to stop some runs and give ourselves a chance in the second half."
On Ray Turner's performance:
"Ray didn't play well. He had played the last two really well. That was a pressure game and there was a lot of intensity. He wasn't the only one who didn't play well. We had opportunities early with him in the game and we struggled."
On preparing for Elston Turner to play or not:
"We're preparing for him to play. We're hoping he'll play. There are not a whole lot of things we can change defensively or offensively with him not playing. It's a new season and we need to be excited to play which I think we will be."
On starting the conference tournament:
"It's a new season. We're not new anymore. We've talked about the guys without playing experience, but they're not new anymore. They've played a full schedule. We still have a chance. We've got to embrace the opportunity and go for it. That's my approach toward it.
"They lost another close game, Mississippi State hit a late 3-pointer to send it into overtime. They've lost a lot of close games. They're probably approaching it the same way. It's a new season. The game's on a neutral site. I expect them to do the same thing they've been doing"
On the team's draw for the conference tournament:
"I think we've beaten five out of six teams on our side. We're going to sell all that. We want to go in as positive as possible. We have to go in with as much energy and enthusiasm as we can. It'll be a great experience for our team. We need to build off of this."
SENIOR GUARD ELSTON TURNER
On the injury:
"I'm getting there. It's still a little bit sore. I went to the doctor this morning and was able to get a second look at the X-ray. It looks like I will be playing on Wednesday."
On not being able to contribute in the last game:
"It was painful to watch. I wanted to be out there so bad. I could tell the team was out there giving it their all. It was definitely not a good feeling to sit on the bench, knowing you couldn't really contribute."
"They're a great team. They start four guards so it's always a tough matchup. We played hard and I remember Alex had a great game. It's going to be a good matchup."
On the conference tournament:
"It's very winnable. Every team that we could play (until the finals) we've already beaten. I feel confident that we can do the same thing. We're going to have to play the best basketball we've played all year. Besides maybe one or two games, we've been in every game so far through the season. We have the talent and the players to make a run. We have to do whatever it takes, that's what we have to do. We still want to have a postseason."
On Alex Caruso:
"We're definitely a better team when he's on the floor. He's always a spark plug. He makes the hustle plays and gives us energy. He gets us all excited. That's something special. The thing that amazes me is his basketball IQ. He's one of the smartest players I've ever played with and I've played with a lot of great players. He has the opportunity to really leave his legacy on this program."
On the favorable draw:
"With the draw that we have, we definitely feel like we have a great opportunity to make some noise in the conference tournament. We're going to approach it like it's win or go home. Everybody's all in. It's just a matter of doing it."
FRESHMAN GUARD ALEX CARUSO
On starting the conference tournament:
"Coach likes to talk about how there are three different seasons. Now that we're done with conference, it's a new season. The slate is wiped clean. It doesn't matter what you did in the preseason or in conference, if you can win four or five games in a row, you have life."
On the team's confidence entering the tournament:
"I think it's a mix of that and confidence. We played everybody in conference close except Florida. We feel like we can beat any team in the conference."
On the favorable draw in the tournament:
"We've talked about it as players. The road is there and the opportunity for us to do something is there. It's all about us preparing and then executing."
On pressures of playing in his hometown:
"I didn't really worry about what I did, just as long as I was out there. I'm just out there having fun playing basketball. I'm so happy I could get out there and play and help out the team."
On how much he's grown this season:
"It's definitely been a growing experience. I'm leaps and bounds ahead of where I came in over the summer. It's crazy to look back on it. I think everyone's done a good job of trying to prepare me for this upcoming postseason. I had postseason in high school, but I know it's nothing compared to what's coming next."
On how he thought he would fit into the team:
"I was always confident in my abilities. I didn't know how I was going to fit in with the program and the scheme coach had. I found a niche that I was able to fill."
On being a former ball-boy:
"I did a story with 12th Man Magazine. They found an old picture of me as a ball-boy. My dad likes to show it to me every chance he gets. It's definitely a humbling experience. It's something I've looked forward to my whole life and looked forward to. Being able to play out here is really fun."
On the future for this team:
"The future is bright. We have a lot of young guys that are hard working. You can't replace Elston, Ray and Jared but you can fill in different spots. Whatever it takes is our motto from now on. I think the future is looking very good."