MBB Signing Day 2015
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COLLEGE STATION--Head coach Billy Kennedy met the press on Monday at his weekly press conference inside Reed Arena.

Kennedy and the Aggies (10-3) open SEC play on Wednesday at 8 p.m. against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Reed Arena.

Full audio in MP3 format is available through the links to the right.

 

Texas A&M Head Coach Billy Kennedy
Opening Statement:

“It’s conference time which is always an exciting time of the year. It’s basketball season now. We’re excited to have Arkansas come in here for our SEC opener. We’re playing a very good team. I think our guys are excited to be playing Arkansas.”

On increased intensity from players for conference play:
“I think so. Through the last week of non-conference play teams sometimes look ahead. I don’t know if we looked past Houston Baptist or not but I know our guys have been looking forward to this time of the year. There will be no excuses on Wednesday. Practices have been going okay. We’ll pick it up today and get a good feel for the excitement and enthusiasm.”

On being ready for conference play:
“I think we’re ready if we’re ever going to be ready. Arkansas presents some challenges because they play so differently. They’ve got a lot of depth. They’ve played 15 guys this season. On a regular basis we play eight or nine. They’re turning teams over and they do a good job on the glass. They present some challenges we haven’t seen yet this year. It will be similar to the Oklahoma game. Hopefully, we’ll play better because we’ll have to.”

On the difference between the Big 12 and SEC:
“The SEC has speed and athleticism … maybe more athleticism than the Big 12. The Big 12 has more size and traditional post play, kind of like Kourtney Roberson and Ray Turner. You’ll see that Arkansas has athletes. The athleticism of the league is probably the biggest difference.”

On playing Arkansas to open conference play:
“The last game I coached here as an assistant was against Arkansas. That’s when they won the national championship. I’m excited to be playing conference games because it means more. Guys play with a since of urgency. After tonight all the focus will be on college basketball. If you love basketball this is an exciting time of year regardless of who you’re playing.”

On the Aggies’ struggles rebounding:
“We knew that before the season started. We talked about our interior defense and our interior rebounding being a concern. We’re working hard on it and our guys are getting better at it. Now we’ve got to be able to block out and go get a rebound. We talked about athleticism being a factor. It doesn’t matter what our situation is this time of year. It’s time for guys to step up, be productive and put forth their best effort. I don’t think we’ve put a complete game together since the Houston game. We want to play a complete game starting on Wednesday because it doesn’t get any easier after that.”

On how to improve offensively:
“Just valuing the ball and not turning it over. We only had nine turnovers against HBU. Arkansas scores off their defense. We’ve got to be a little more disciplined offensively which we’ve shown we have the ability to do. Our guys play a lot of minutes. We’re not very deep so we have to use our bench and they have to be good for us also. “

On improvement in shot selection in practice:
“I can’t say I see a whole lot of improvement in practice. We struggle scoring. When you lose Khris Middleton and David Loubeau, two primary scorers, that’s a weakness we have. We have to rely on our defense and take good shots. We’ve got to make shots. We’ve missed layups. We’ve missed open jumpers. Those guys have got to make shots. This time of year it’s hard to score. If you look across college basketball, there’s a lot of scores in the 50s. Lots of teams are struggling to score. I think the defenses are better. When you get an open look, you’ve got to make it at this level.”

On opening conference play at home:
“We need to be at home. It’s good for us to be at home because we’re a young team. We’re not a team that has a lot of confidence.  Opening up at home is a good thing for us. We’ve won a lot of games here at home over the years and I know our guys will be excited.”

On the quality of opponents for the rest of the season:
“When you join the SEC there are no easy games at the high level. There won’t be any easy games for us the rest of the season. I’m excited. When you love college basketball you can’t ask for anything better than an Arkansas team coming in here. If you love basketball you rise to the challenge and that’s what I’m excited about.”

On the excitement of starting league play:
“It’s a good thing and a bad thing. I’m excited because I’ve played a lot of those teams. I’ve never had a home SEC opponent. I’m excited to be in the SEC but as a basketball coach, we’ve got to win no matter what league we’re in. It’s a good thing.”


Texas A&M Guard Elston Turner
On starting league play:

“We’re excited. We’ve been working hard. We’ve been going four or five days straight of having two practices a day. We’re just fine tuning things getting ready for the last half of the season.”

On if the team is ready for league play:
“We have the pieces. It’s just a matter of being consistent and playing hard. We have to do everything right for 40 minutes.”

On improvements the team needs to make:
“Not turning the ball over. We’re top-50 in field-goal-percentage so when we do get shots at the basket we are scoring. It’s just a matter of being patient and not trying to force the issue. When we do that, we’re a pretty tough team to guard.”

On Arkansas:
“They’re going to be physical. They do push the ball and that’s going to be a tough challenge. They have a great guard in B.J. Young. They like to push the tempo and force turnovers. We’ve been working hard. If we can take care of the ball I think we’ll be successful.”

On playing the first SEC game at home:
“It does help that our first SEC game is a home game. We will be comfortable. I’m sure there will be some butterflies but it is in familiar surroundings. It won’t be as bad as some people think it will be.”


Texas A&M Guard J’Mychal Reese
On how to limit the number of turnovers:
“We’ve been working hard these last couple of days. Coaches have been telling us that Arkansas forces a lot of turnovers and we’ve been working on not forcing things, not rushing and just playing our game.”

On starting conference play:
“We try and handle it like it’s just another game but we know that this is the beginning of the second part of the season. We all know that we need to get it together. Conference play is not going to be easy at all.”

On playing with fellow freshman Alex Caruso:
“It’s nice being from the same place. We grew up playing against each other. Alex is a good player. He brings a lot of energy.”


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