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Buzz Williams
Manny Obaseki
Texas A&M Basketball

Selection Sunday was certainly reaction-worthy for Williams & Co.

March 18, 2024
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Buzz Williams and Manny Obaseki raised their arms like a football referee signaling a touchdown.

Wildens Leveque screamed. Andersson Garcia shouted. Eli Lawrence wept. There were cheers. There were sighs of relief.

Emotions ran the gamut on Sunday night when it was announced on the NCAA Tournament Selection Show that Texas A&M would be part of March Madness.

The Aggies (20-14) were awarded a No. 9 seed and will face No. 8 seed Nebraska (23-10) on Friday in Memphis.

The seeding, the game day, the venue and even the opponent were of secondary importance.

All that mattered was the Aggies were in, and any angst was over.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Since joining the Aggies in 2019, Williams has now led his squad to a pair of NCAA Tourneys and an overall record of 96-61.

“I don’t know if angst would be the right word, but it was a very raw emotion last night,” Williams said on Monday. “That was my 10th selection show as a head coach. Not that I don’t remember the last nine, but that was more real, more emotional, more raw than the previous nine.”

The Aggies convened in a party room at “Big Shots” for a selection show watch party.

They’d made a strong case for inclusion with a recent five-game winning streak, which included victories over Ole Miss and Kentucky on the way to reaching the semifinals of the SEC postseason tournament in Nashville.

But that was enough? Two years ago, the Aggies reached the SEC Tournament Finals in Tampa only to be shunned by the NCAA selection committee.

Last year, they finished second in the SEC regular season race and again reached the SEC Finals but were given a disappointing No. 7 seed.

The Aggies struggled through a five-game losing streak at the end of February, so there was some uneasiness about what this year’s selection committee might do.

“I was nervous,” Obaskei said. “Going into the show, all the thoughts and memories of our first year (2022) not making it came into play.

“But I knew we were going to make it. It was just a lot of things I was thinking (about) in the past.”

The angst started to grow when the East Region bracket was announced, and A&M wasn’t included.

“(A&M players) knew when we went to Nashville, we weren’t in the Tournament,” Williams said. “And they knew two years ago they went to the (SEC) championship game and didn’t go to the Tournament.

“We watched the selection show with (long-time CBS host) Greg Gumble in Tampa, and nobody’s name was called.

“I don’t know if angst would be the right word, but it was a very raw emotion last night. That was my 10th selection show as a head coach. Not that I don’t remember the last nine, but that was more real, more emotional, more raw than the previous nine.”
- A&M head coach Buzz Williams

“So when it goes to commercial break, nobody is talking because nobody knows what to say.”

Fortunately, when the telecast returned, A&M was quickly announced as a participant.

All the stress vanished in a celebratory eruption.

Obaseki indicated he was happiest for his teammates. Eli Lawrence, a seldom-used transfer from Middle Tennessee State, has never participated in the NCAA Tournament.

Neither has Jace Carter, a transfer from Illinois-Chicago.

A&M star Tyrece “Boots” Radford has played in the NCAAs before, including last year with A&M. He’s getting another chance in his final collegiate season.

“A lot of emotions overcame me, especially when I saw Eli crying,” Obaseki said. “He’d made his first Tournament. Jace made his first Tournament. Boots, for the last time in his college career, he made the Tournament.

“I was overcome with emotions. I was so happy. It’s kind of hard for me to put into words.”

Obviously, there is work to be done in Memphis. But the reaction to just getting there gave Williams a special memory.

“I won’t forget it,” Williams said. “A lot of gratefulness. A lot of joy. A lot of ... when you do something really, really hard and you don’t know if it’s enough.”

It was.

Discussion from...

Selection Sunday was certainly reaction-worthy for Williams & Co.

3,662 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by sanaug
Detmersdislocatedshoulder
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it is enjoyable when players really do care and really do care for each other. it is pretty rare in this day and age.
sanaug
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AG
Thanks Olin. Great write-up.
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