Last night, as the bracket reveal tweets trickled in, Aggie Hoops fans were hit with a sobering realization - the squad wasn’t going to the NIT. This marked the fourth time in six years (you don’t count, 2014 CBI) that the team was going to miss meaningful postseason action.
With a six year sample size behind us, it’s time to ask the question on everybody’s mind.
Is it time for a change?
My favorite show growing up (The Office) has a prescient quote that stuck in my craw last season. A weathered Andy Bernard, in a rare bout of self reflection and un-nard-dogness, looks solemly at the camera and says
I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days... before you’ve actually left them
Last year, quite simply, was a dream season. We built early momentum with wins over Gonzaga and Texas. We beat the life outta Scott Drew and Baylor at Reed Arena. We sold out an early season SEC win over Ben Simmons and LSU, which marked the first time the student section had truly been filled to the brim in the new regime. We beat KSU and ISU, moving to 4-0 in the basketball-strong de facto Big XII standings, and we beat Kentucky in what I truly believe was the best sporting event on campus during the 2015-2016 athletic calendar.
We notched our first basketball conference title in 30 years, and we moved to the Sweet 16 with the greatest comeback in college basketball history.
Again, it was a dream season. But the whole time... that quote stuck in my craw.
You know, I think I knew. Maybe I always knew that this was the ceiling in the Billy Kennedy era... the heights that we wouldn’t reach again.
It was important to me to include that breakdown in any long term discussion of the Billy Kennedy era. Evidence (perhaps strong evidence) exists to suggest that last year was an outlier... but it happened. We don’t get to toss it out just because it doesn’t fit the narrative.
With that in mind, let’s hit a few talking points.
Kennedy had managed to hit on a few successive incoming transfers... but that streak was bound to stop. And it certainly stopped with grad transfer JC Hampton, who was unable to stop the bleeding caused by the NCAA ineligibility ruling of freshman point guard JJ Caldwell. But, as is normally the case under Kennedy, outgoing transfers made our lives more difficult than they needed to be.
Case in point - former Aggie PG Alex Robinson, who transferred to TCU and led the Horned Frogs to a much-improved NIT season.
Reliance on transfers is a dangerous game, and it’s a game we eventually lost.
The Stansbury Effect
The stats are pretty dire, and they can’t really be argued... during the four years without Stansbury, we rarely competed with the big boys.
#AggieHoops pic.twitter.com/ypNj0gMDd9— Carlos Toraño (@catorano) March 13, 2017
That analysis is a bit too simplistic, and it ignores things like "the head coach’s job is to attract a talented staff" and "every coach ever tries to money whip good assistants," but the crux of the argument still holds water - during the four years without Stansbury, we simply weren’t good enough.
While we’re on the topic, I’m still not exactly sure what Kevin Sumlin has accomplished without Kliff Kingsbury... but I suppose that’s a battle for a different day.
We’re primed for a takeover
When looking for new jobs, coaches are keen to find situations that they can turn around quickly... and we’re definitely in that position. We’re potentially looking at a Top 25 preseason roster next season, and an improvement from 8-10 would certainly be doable in the woeful SEC. And as we all know, a good season in year one will get you a lifetime contract from the current administration.
Now, there are a few competing forces at play here. Namely, could a new coach secure the services of our talented front line? And would our stellar guard class stay together if we had a coaching change?
To me, if either of those answers are yes... you pull the trigger.
Now... will it actually happen?
I honestly think he’s staying.
Look, y’all, let’s be honest... he’s not going anywhere. This Athletic Department routinely forks over fistfuls of cash for complete and utter mediocrity at Kyle Field, and the incoming class and legitimate outlook for a good basketball season next year will be enough to keep the Big Money Ags from rocking the boat.
It takes stones to toss away a good season to chase a great one... and that’s something the current decision making brass just doesn’t have.
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