The Aggies started the season ranked No. 20 in the opening AP poll and were also chosen by the Big 12 coaches poll in a tie for first place with Kansas for the Big 12 lead.
Looking back, it seems that the praise was a little premature, but the 8-3 Aggies are in no way out of contention within the Big 12 Conference.
It has been a tough road so far this year with the head coach's sickness, Roberson and Middleton's injuries and the first non-conference home loss (to Rice) in 67 games. But, focusing on the positives, there is still a good deal of hope for this young Aggies squad.
Looking at the rest of the season, I am first optimistic about our freshmen in the program. It is increasingly more important in big-time college basketball to have a great freshmen class that immediately impacts the team.
Not only have freshmen Jordan Green and Jamal Branch played in all 11 games, but they are contributing quite a bit. Look for their contributions to continue to increase as the season gets longer.
Together, the two guards are averaging 8.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 4.3 APG, which are not fantastic numbers, but as role players, they are helpful to the team. Hopefully, they can develop quicker than most Aggie freshmen in the past as a result of their increase in playing time and the fact that they are putting positive numbers up in the stat book.
Another important factor in our future success will be to continue establishing a great defense from the get-go in every game we play. Florida and Rice both jumped out to quick leads, and it hurt later in the game, as we do not have too much quick scoring potential.
Under the previous two coaches, Gillespie and Turgeon, the Aggies were one of the best defensive teams in not only the Big 12, but the entire country. That led the team to six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (including six wins in those appearances) and competing well within the BIG 12.
There is no reason to believe that Kennedy will not be able to do the same on defense. Before Florida, Texas A&M was ranked Top 10 in most defensive categories, and Florida is currently ranked No. 10.
With some injured players coming back, a little senior leadership (looking at you David Loubeau) and the backing of the 12th man, the Aggies can have at least one Wrecking Crew in College Station this year even if it isn't on the football field.