Texas A&M won’t miss a beat with new coach Kennedy

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There’s no such thing as perfect fit in college coaching. But Billy Kennedy at Texas A&M comes awfully close.

It took the school less than a week to find Mark Turgeon’s replacement, announcing Kennedy’s hire Sunday night. Any Aggie fans accustomed to Turgeon’s defensive-minded, slower-paced teams won’t miss a beat with Kennedy, whose teams at Murray State and Southeastern Louisiana largely focused on the same areas.

Oh, they also won. So A&M won’t have to change there, either.

Murray State never had a losing record in five seasons under Kennedy and won 54 games the last two seasons, including a banner 2009-10 season that featured 31 victories, an NCAA tournament win against Vanderbilt and a near-upset against Butler.

It’s little wonder Texas A&M’s pumped about the hire, which could be one of the offseason’s smartest moves.

“I think he is the perfect fit for Texas A&M. In talking to several people who I respect in college basketball, they mentioned Billy as an outstanding basketball coach but an even better person,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said in a release. “He is a winner and his players play hard for him and they play an aggressive style of defense. He has proven he can recruit nationwide, but I look for him to make more inroads here in the state of Texas.”

Kennedy, 47, even spent a season as an assistant at Texas A&M during the 1990-91 season, which gives him some familiarity with the school, the fans and the area. Of course, the basketball program’s now different (read: 1,000 better), so it won’t be quite the same as he remembers. (The Aggies were 8-21 under Kermit Davis Jr. that season.)

But that’s a good thing. He won’t have to make serious adjustments to expectations among the sports department such as convincing people at a football school that basketball matters. Turgeon and former coach Billy Gillispie already did that.

In fact, Kennedy could make a massive splash in his debut season.

The Aggies return three starters and three key subs from last season’s 24-9 squad, not to mention two solid incoming recruits in Jamal Branch and Jordan Green. Kansas and Texas are dealing with serious roster attrition, leaving the door open for the Aggies (or Missouri) to make a run at the Big 12 title.

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