COLLEGE STATION — This certainly isn't the season Texas A&M fans expected. And no, let's not talk about the abrupt end of an astonishing run from the 12th Man entering a weekend in Nashville.
The Aggies were considered one of the worst teams in the Southeastern Conference heading into the 2019-20 season. Even with Buzz Williams., an engineer of crafting quality teams out of nothing wouldn't help the team's rankings when the first predictions became live.
A 12th place finish was to be expected of A&M entering conference play. Anything higher would be a statement of overachieving in the eyes of the teams destined to make the big dance.
Well, consider Buzz Williams an overachiever — it's all he's done since taking over the reins at Marquette.
Despite finishing near the bottom of every offensive category, A&M excelled their way to a finish unheard of in the eyes of College Basketball. Going 5-2 in their final seven games, the Aggies were able to compete against the like of Kentucky before keeping their perfect record alive at Auburn Arena against the No.17 Tigers.
The SEC tournament will always bring questions instead of answers when talking about the team who took the new decade in the proper direction. Could a win over Missouri be enough to send the Aggies to the NIT? And what if they could double-down on Auburn to set up for a rematch against LSU, who they nearly defeated at Reed Arena last January?
Would that had been enough to send A&M dancing their way into an appearance at college basketball's biggest stage?
We'll never know. Those questions will be lost in the world like the myth of the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot — believe it if you will. Those are myths that will never truly have the right answer.
Here is the right one though; Texas A&M's future is just getting started. And that that future has a bright horizon.
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The week 3 matchup at Kyle Field is the third non-conference game and might be the easiest on the schedule.
Depending on the NCAA ruling over spring athletes, perhaps the team won't lose a critical piece. If they say its too late, A&M will need to replace top-scorer Josh Nebo and the consistent Wendell Mitchell on the exterior. Other than that? A&M has their Gig'Em thumb of approval for the next few seasons.
Freshman success played a vital role at times this season for the AP's SEC Coach of the Year. Starting early, Andre Gordon found a way into the starting lineup with the departure of TJ Starks. Finishing the year as a sixth-man, Gordon tallied 6.3 points per game with a season-high 17 against LSU.
Gordon will need time to get in gear, but Emanuel Miller is already in the making. The Canadian sensation grew to be a pivotal start around the rim. Towards the end, Miller became the face of the rebound gang.
He'd finish his first season in College Station with 6.4 points and 6.3 rebounds. Throw in the likes of Jonathan Aku and Yavuz Gultekin to build around the two playmakers and the Aggies have a base for year 2. That's not including the likes of Jay Jay Chandler, Savion Flagg and the surprising Quenton Jackson mixing in with young talent.
New coaches will bring their system to a program, leading to struggles early from the Aggies' offense. Another season under the belt, the team should only improve running the style of play found at Reed Arena.
There will be things Williams will need to help his team improve on, such as a consistent three-point range. The team averaged an SEC low of 33.3% behind the arc. Towards the end of the season, Flagg and Mitchell showed the rest what proper shooting could be.
A world away from sports will have wondering. A&M fans around the hoop world won't have to. The coach is the right fit and players gravitate to his optimism mixed with no-nonsense demeanor.
On St.Patrick's Day, it's considered lucky to find the likes of a four-left clover. Well, A&M, best hold onto yours.
Williams is the luck that will put A&M in the mix for a title sooner than you think.