ATLANTA--Coach Kennedy, Alex Caruso and Kourtney Roberson met the media Wednesday afternoon inside the Georgia Dome as they prepare for the Aggies' SEC Tournament opener Thursday vs Missouri.
Video of the press conference is available through the link above, while quotes are below (courtesy ASAP Sports and the Southeastern Conference).
THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with Texas A&M. We'll ask coach for an opening statement and then take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH KENNEDY: Glad to be in Georgia. New season with the tournament being starting on today. We just played Missouri it seems like just the other day, and it's going to be a quick turnaround, but I think that we're very familiar with them.
We're minus one of our guys, but that seems to have been the case all this season. Right now Jamal Jones has been sick and we're hoping to get him to fly him in tonight some time.
So that's kind of where we're at. But we're excited to be playing in the tournament and our guys have prepared themselves well the last couple of days.
THE MODERATOR: Alex your thoughts, please.
ALEX CARUSO: Our thoughts as a team is just to win each game. Got to take it one game at a time. If we don't beat Missouri, there's no way we can play Florida. So we have to beat them first. We played them really well a couple weeks ago and so we're confident that we can beat them and play with them, we just have to go out and do it and just take it one game at a time, too.
THE MODERATOR: Kourtney.
KOURTNEY ROBERSON: Just same thing, we just played them a couple weeks ago and we know what we have to do to win. Everybody is focused. We had a couple of good practices before we came and everybody is focused and we're ready to play tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Take any questions just for the two student-athletes and then finish with them and then take questions he's for coach.
Q. What do you guys remember about that game with Missouri? What stands out?
ALEX CARUSO: Remember most about us letting up the 10-point, 11-point lead we had in the second half at some point. We have done that a couple times this year and I think that we finally realized that, what it takes to finish off a game. I think that's probably the most stinging thing for me and most of my teammates is that we should have won that game.
KOURTNEY ROBERSON: I think it was the ball screen defense on the post guys. We were getting there late and coach showed us on film that we have to be attacking and stay with the man until he gives his dribble up, so on all the post players we got better at that and we are ready to keep moving forward.
Q. You mentioned about you guys realize now what it takes to finish off games, what does it take?
ALEX CARUSO: It's just a conscious effort for 40 minutes. You can't have any lapse in mental or physical ability. You just have to go out and be ready to play as long as the clock's ticking. You got to be focused and ready.
I think that we have had a couple mishaps and letups in a couple road games this year. So I think that until the clock hits zero, we'll be focused.
THE MODERATOR: All right. You're excused and we'll continue on with questions for coach.
Q. What is Jamal's illness and what's, how much to a hundred percent can he be?
COACH KENNEDY: They labeled it a bacterial virus. And he was admitted yesterday and I think just recently got out of the hospital. He's feeling much better. We'll know more probably tomorrow.
But this time of the year, as a coach, we're going to play him. If he can walk and chew gum, we're going to play him, because we need him. Our numbers are down a little bit and so we need him to be ready to play.
Q. I know before you played Kentucky this season you talked about Julius Randle and how good a player you thought he was. The fact he was named SEC Freshman of the Year, any surprise to you?
COACH KENNEDY: No, I was looking at some of the other leagues and he could have been Freshman of the Year I think in any of the leagues, in my opinion. He's a dominating player and just what Alex talked about, playing for 40 minutes, and understanding a sense of urgency, Julius Randle understands sense of urgency. He's wired that way and that's what makes him a special player.
Q. Is it pretty impressive, especially with what he's done, considering how teams as a season have gone on and packed it in tighter and tighter on him?
COACH KENNEDY: Yeah, he played that way in high school. I had chance to see him quite a bit. That's how people played him his whole career, so he's ready for that. But to do it at this level, coaches always talk about motor and high energy guys and how special of a talent that is. He's separated himself in this league of having that probably as well as anybody.
Q. You mentioned about he's wired that way. How difficult a chore is it for a coach to instill that in somebody who is not wired that way?
COACH KENNEDY: Wow, every coach that you will ask that question to is frustrated today, because we have got a number of guys on our team that are wired the other way. So it's a special gift. Playing hard and I think that's a special talent in itself and it is hard to get guys to do that on their own.
But when have you a guy like that, he can pull people with him, and it's not all on the coach to pull them with him. And I think that's what is special about him and that as they mature, he'll be able to pull them further along, I think.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much.
COACH KENNEDY: Thank you.