COLLEGE STATION - Coach Kennedy and Alex Caruso met the media on Tuesday as Texas A&M prepares for its season opener this Friday against Buffalo.
Video from the press conference is available through the links to the right. Audio in mp3 format and selected quotes will be available below.
Download audio of Tuesday's press conference here:
Texas A&M Weekly Press Conference • Selected Quotes
HEAD COACH BILLY KENNEDY
On Kourtney Roberson:
“Kourtney's better. He practiced yesterday. I wouldn't say he's 100%, having missed what he's missed, but he's better. It was good to see him back on the floor. We have some upperclassmen now that we can count on. We expect him to play as long as he continues to progress with what he's doing."
On the season opener against Buffalo:
"The Buffalo game is about the opponent. They're a good team, a veteran team. I think they start three seniors and have got four guys back. They're a team full of juniors and seniors. We're going to really have to be prepared for them. They've got a new coach so they'll be doing different things, but most of the time you're worried about you. With our young guys, it's a balance of both worrying about us and about the opponent. Buffalo presents some challenges that sometimes you don't face this early in the year."
On the upperclassmen stepping into leadership roles:
“I hope so. This is for keeps now. I told our players yesterday it's about results and production. Guys who are producing on the court and in practice will have the first opportunity. I know our veterans are ahead of our young guys in knowing what to do and knowing our system. I'm sure I'll lean on them a little bit more than the young guys right now."
On the exhibition game:
"I think it was good. You saw some really athletic plays that maybe you didn't see last year, but then you saw two guys guarding one guy. They didn't know what their assignment was defensively. Their (UTPB) coach told me the other day, ‘At least they were trying to guard somebody.’ That was good to see. There was a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy. I like what they bring."
"We're still struggling guarding the ball at times. One thing we can do is rotate over and block a shot. We can rotate over and make a play on the ball, more so than we did last year. I think we're getting better. It's just a slow progress right now."
"We want them to shoot more open threes, but we've got a lot of drivers and slashers. We've got guys who can make plays off the dribble. We want them to start creating shots for other guys on the team. That'll give us some more open threes."
On having shooters:
"We've got a lot of guys who can make a shot. We don't have a designated shooter. Fabyon Harris isn't shooting as well as he shot it last year at this point, but he's proving that he can be a good three-point shooter. Alex Caruso has improved his three point shot. Davonte Fitzgerald may be our best shooter. It's just a matter of him knowing when to shoot and when not to shoot."
On having scorers:
"We have a lot of guys who can score the ball. We don't have just a dead-eye shooter. We have a lot of guys who can put it on the floor and get to the free throw line. I think you'll see a lot more free throws from this year’s team than last year’s team."
On having a post-presence:
"That's yet to be determined. I think Kourtney will be better. I think we'll be better. We've got more guys and are more talented at those spots. All we had last year was Ray Turner and Kourtney. Now we have three other guys. Davonte can score on the block. Antwan Space can score on the block."
On team chemistry:
"Our group is definitely more together than it has been in the past. We recruited all these guys. We have some guys back from last year that know our system and know what we want. Jordan Green and Alex Caruso have really done a good job of leading this team off the court and that's really helped us."
On the postseason:
"Getting to the postseason is always a priority for me. We play this game to get to the postseason. Right now, our focus is trying to get better every day. I've never talked a whole lot about the postseason at this time of the year. Our guys know that last spring we weren't in the postseason. That's a goal of ours always, but we've got to get a lot better today to have any kind of chance to get there at the end of the season."
SOPHOMORE GUARD ALEX CARUSO
On his thoughts about the team:
“The camaraderie of it, we are all pretty good friends and trust one another. I also like the athleticism on the team. It’s great to be running down the court and have different options of guys that can get a bucket for you or have somebody that will hustle back on defense when you mess up.”
On team chemistry:
“It’s probably one of the biggest parts about basketball- being one with your team and working together as a team.”
On which of the new players fans will be excited about:
“The name that comes to mind is probably Shawn Smith. He plays a lot like I do. He’s active, plays defense, and is really athletic. I think his energy will be something the fans will really like.”
On who’s the best shooter on the team:
“Fabyon Harris is really good. He was great last year too but we’ve had guys who put in a lot of work and who have really stepped up.”
On who has been one of the biggest surprises:
“Probably Tavario Miller. His motor is really exceptional; that’s what I like most about him and most about people in basketball. If you’re going to get on my good side, you just have to play hard and play for your teammates. Tavario does a tremendous job of that.”
On which non-conference game he’s most looking forward to:
“Houston is always a good game because they have great energy when they play us. We beat them pretty well at their place so they’re probably ready to give a loss back to us.”
On expectations for the team in the SEC race:
“Come March, I expect us to be in the top third of the SEC.”
On how disappointing it would be to miss the postseason:
“Very. It’s the only thing that we’ve been talking about and working toward as a team and what we have been pushing and motivating ourselves for. We haven’t been there in a few years and it’s really what we are focusing on.”
On the increased athleticism of the team:
“I am very excited. The first couple of weeks of open gym, I had to take a step back because we had a couple plays that I had not seen from our team or any team I’ve played on in quite awhile. A dunk is worth two points but it does so much more for your team, especially if you’re playing at home; the fans really get behind you and push you.”