Team preview: Alabama A&M

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Alabama A&M won 18 games a year ago, claimed the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles for the first time and also made the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance.

The bad news for the other nine teams in the league? Longtime Alabama A&M coach Vann Pettaway thinks his Bulldogs may be even better this season.

"When you look at what we have coming back and what we have coming in, we could be better than last year if they blend together,'' said Pettaway, who is closing in on 400 career wins. "We'll have more weapons. I expect us to be more competitive.''

It's not as if the Bulldogs were that bad last season. They lost three of their final four regular-season league games but only after they had all but secured the regular-season championship by winning 11 of their first 13.

"We relaxed a little bit,'' Pettaway said.

To erase any doubt those around the league may have had about its supremacy, Alabama A&M rolled to three straight victories in the SWAC Tournament, including a convincing 72-53 victory over rival Alabama State in the championship game. That win earned Pettaway and Co., a trip to the NCAA Tournament play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, where they lost to Oakland University, 79-69.