Photo by Rey Romo, TexAgs
Texas A&M Basketball

Williams, Aggies eager to get over first game anxiety as Buzz era begins

November 6, 2019
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Although he’s a proven and successful basketball coach, Texas A&M’s Buzz Williams acknowledged a measure of anxiety comes with a new season.

“I for sure get wound up and get more anxious,” Williams said this week. “Sometimes on the right things. But I’m aware sometimes it’s on the wrong things.”

Williams expects to have some butterflies when the Aggies face Northwestern State at 7 p.m. at Reed Arena. Perhaps that’s because the Aggies didn’t play to expectations in an 81-74 exhibition victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville last week.

Starting the Williams era with a victory over Northwestern State, which finished 11-20 last season, will require a much better effort.

“We cannot turn the ball over 23 times,” Williams said. “It would be healthy to have more assists than turnovers. We need to make more free throws than they shoot.

“Off their misses, we can’t give up 12 offensive rebounds.”

Rey Romo, TexAgs
TJ Starks will be out Wednesday after he suffered a sprained ankle in last week’s exhibition game against A&M-Kingsville. 

To add a degree of difficulty, A&M will be without injured senior forward Josh Nebo and junior guard T.J. Starks, who is hobbled with a sprained ankle.

Despite the injuries and angst, Williams can find confidence in knowing he’s been here before.

‘Here’ doesn’t refer to Reed Arena. Obviously, Williams is familiar with Reed from his days as an assistant coach under former A&M coach Billy Gillispie.

That was before Williams took over a successful Marquette program and immediately led the way to the NCAA Tournament. That was also before Williams methodically turned woeful Virginia Tech into a perennial NCAA Tournament team.

Williams is counted on to transform the Aggies, who finished 14-18 last season, into an NCAA Tournament fixture. There is no timeline, but Williams hinted it may take longer than Marquette did though, maybe not as much time as Virginia Tech required.

“I think it was different at Marquette,” Williams said. “Those guys had high-level success-slash-experience. We had three seniors on the team that were all really impactful players prior to my hiring.

“I think it was different at Marquette. Those guys had high-level success-slash-experience. We had three seniors on the team that were all really impactful players prior to my hiring.”
- A&M HC Buzz Williams

“At Virginia Tech, I think, they had finished in last place (in the Atlantic Coast Conference) three years in a row prior to our arrival. We finished in last place in year number one there.

“I would say it’s probably somewhere in between.”

Significant improvement is dependent on several issues. Junior Savion Flagg and senior Wendell Mitchell must build on strong showings a year ago.  Junior college transfer Quenton Jackson has to make an immediate impact. A cadre of freshman additions is needed to grow up fast.

They all must get a good grasp on Williams’ “no-position” style of basketball and his demands.

“I think they’ve done a really good job being aware of what we’re asking them to do,” Williams said. “They catch themselves now because of their understanding of it.

“Now that you know. That’s good. Now we have to do what you know.”

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Williams, Aggies eager to get over first game anxiety as Buzz era begins

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