New Mexico State hoops

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Monday, November 2, 2009

What did you think?

I think it's hard to get any type of gauge on the team from playing such a small team.

I guess the biggest thing for me was I kept thinking, if they have their whole roster, they are one of the tallest and deepest teams in the WAC. I wonder how Menzies would find minutes for all these guys.

Teamwise, it could have been better defensively at times and Menzies talked about experienced players taking too many chances trying to get a steal. The Aggies did have 10 steals with Jonathan Gibson and Hernst Laroche getting three steals each. There were also a couple of instances where the younger players were slow getting back after scoring and I saw two instances where Gordo specifically had to tell a freshman where to be in the zone.

I found myself watching the power forward and point guard slots.

I enjoy watching Hernst Laroche (15 points, 8 assists, 2 TOs) run the team. He's pretty calm out there and perhaps the lone 3 he knocked down is a sign that he can make teams pay for leaving him on a consistent basis. Freshman Da'Shawn Gomez (4 assists, 2 steals, one TO) was solid in his debut so the point position appears to be pretty good.

The power forward is a different story. Robert Lumpkins, Bandja Sy and Kelly Merker combined for 19 points and I want to see Lumpkins against better competition before I think his 12 boards are legit, but he was active on the offensive glass with 7 offensive rebounds. Sy has a greater upside and I think will end up being the guy at that position as the season goes on.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tyrone Watson impressed me

Anonymous said...

I agree with JG on the defensive side. At times I felt like the team was more interested in playing for the small crowd than to focus on working on their entire game. I think that the one that impresssed me the most was Tyrone Watson as he knocked down some points and seemed to be the most comfortable and relaxed of the new comers. He and Hamidu had trouble in the line which I hope gets fixed as that is something that has plagued the last couple of seasons.

GS

Anonymous said...

I am curious why you say that Gomez had a solid debut (4 assists, 2 steals, one TO) but you seem to be questioning whether Lumpkins with 12 rebounds is actually legit?

SM said...

I agree that it is too hard to tell how good the Aggies are by this game. I wish we would have scheduled one or two more exhibitions so that these new kids could get their feet wet.

My concerns are the following:

1. How big of a hole do we get in while waiting for Wendell and Troy to come back? I like Lumpkins, but let's be honest, he is not a D-1 power forward. I think we are going to struggle against teams like UTEP and UNM who have big men down low.

2. How far has Hamidu come and is he ready to take harness his potential of becomming an elite, dominant big-man in the likes of a Javale McGee type? We don't have a lot of depth at that position, but I think all of us in Aggie land are ready to see Hamidu take his game to the next level.

3. Where is the leadership going to come from? Last year, we had loads of talent, but it was tough to find a true leader. Obviously, Gibson is a candidate, but is he not a bit too streaky to be a leader of the group? I like how Laroche runs the court, but he is still pretty young. Somebody needs to step up and lead this team the way Elijah Ingram did a few years back.

4. Perhaps most important, what has changed from this year to last that catapults us beyond Nevada and USU? Both of those teams return virtually all their key players. I realize USU lost Wilkerson, but they still return 4 of their 5 starters. Last year, when the Aggies would play bad, we would chalk it up to their youth. What we ignored was that every single team in the conference was very young. It stands to reason that all of these teams have grown from last year. So how do we make the leap?

Overall, I think we have a good team. I see us finishing 3rd or 4th behind Nevada and USU. Because Troy and Wendell are out for the first few games, I don't think we are going to have enough wins to get an at-large bid to the tournament, so we are going to need to win the conference tournament to play in late March.

10 yr. vet said...

Question for JGroves...can you talk to the improvement of both Wendell and Troy that you have seen in practice? Wendell indicated that he really worked on his ball skills in the off season. Is it realistic to think that he can slide to the 3 at times this season with JY playing the 2 and Troy playing the 4? This is all assuming they are eligible.

Anonymous said...

Trying to take into account that we were playing a lower division team is difficult, but based on seeing and playing much basketball, this is what occurred to me.
1. Big Surprise was Tyrone Watson. Maybe because we did not see him do anything last year as he was sitting out, but he was impressive. He was able to shoot the short jumper and drive to the basket and once he got the Mustangs thinking about that he was able to get open on his own to can the 3 pointer. Hey he was 9 for 10 from the field, that is good at any time.
2. Also very impressed by progress Laroche has made. He seems more confident driving to the bucket and scoring or dishing off for the jam or easy layup. His outside shots also look better. And he seems stronger than last year and we know that he can play all 40 minutes if he has to.
3. Others: Sy looks good as long as he does not have a knee problem, maybe it was just a brace malfunction. It seems he will help us. Lump has improved, he may get the chance to contribute. Another big surprise is that Merker must have increase his vertical jump by 5-10 inches. He had 3 great blocks, he knows where people should be on the court, and he is willing to set screens for others. Although Merker will not get that much playing time, he can be a leader and also direct other players like Crooks used to do. Minor improvements for Rahman and Castillo.
If we get the other guys back including West, we will be OK.

Big Al

Anonymous said...

After watching the scrimmage last night there was a few things I noticed too.

It seems as if Hamidu has made the most improvement even though they were playing a smaller team. Rahaman just seem more aggressive and as if his ball skills and moves in the post had improved.

I agree with GS in that Gomez had a solid debut. From my understanding he was really a scorer in high school and I saw him make a lot of good passes last night. I think his success will be measured more by team success then individual success. We really don't need another scorer but we do need a back up point guard to come behind Laroche and run the offense and not turn the ball over.

And lastly I will tell you that we have to most consistency from last year to this year. Nevada lost their head coach and that doesn't show up in the stat sheets or on the lineup card but it is going to impact that program. The leadership that Fox had is undoubted and those players are going to have to adjust.

And USU lost Wilkinson. Last year our whole team was young. Where USU had a mix of younger and older players. Wilkinson sustained the younger players throughout a lot of their scoring droughts where we really didn't have that type of presence in our lineup. I'm not taking anything away from what Quayle and the rest of that group accomplished but... I think we are the team to beat.

jimmy said...

Coach in post-game with JayNix said that you could see that those suited-up enjoy playing together and nobody pouted when taken out of the game. Take this to mean he’s conscious of avoiding PT issues, if at all possible. That eases jimmy’s worried mind but most guys are still hungry to play.

The real genius in sitting the big guns (except Rahman) for Western NM exhib. is that with almost 200 pts scored in 40 mins. and fifty-something boards grabbed by Aggies, those who played were gassed with 2 or 3 mins left to go. The lactic acid burn lets you know you never again want to be in an up-and-down game for big minutes. Hopefully now PT will not be the constant emotional achor dragging behing the Aggies this season? All that reamains to be seen now is who wants the ball at the end of tight games (SM's leadership); for example Hawkins, Peete and Knauber in the last NCAA run three yrs ago?

So good psychology coach; great energy from young guys on both teams. A better game from fans’ perspective would be, instead of Div. II Mustangs, all the guys in street clothes in the first row behind the bench, plus Kevin Cutler (ref-ing last night), William Benjamin, and o.k., give them Jason Groves to make it more even!

Is Merker patterning his play too much after LeBron what with the pinning the ball on the glass? I think they need another exhib. game like Occidental Petroleum or Crimson and White before scrimmaging a Pat Knight team but jimmy will defer those decisions to Menzies...

Anonymous said...

SM -- UNM has one big body down low. I'm not worried about that at all. That will be a guard dominated game. However against St. Marys, UTEP, and a few WAC schools; I'm highly concerned.

Anonymous said...

The WAC was young, but New Mexico State was one of the youngest in the nation. New Mexico State is going to win the WAC if Gillenwater, and McKines return. We are going to be a scary team come January.

Jason Groves said...

Vet, good question. practice is closed and I have yet to sit down with either Troy or Wendell to ask how they have improved in the offseason. I will get to it shortly, but from a couple players who go against them, they are helping the younger guys get better from what I've been told. ... Jimmy, with that lineup around me I could be effective. I'm a team player and can knock down the occasional 12-15 footer, I set a mean screen and I may even knock down my free throws.

Anonymous said...

Tyrone was awesome and I'm really impressed with the overall talent Menzies has put together. I am a bit worried about he lack of defense and the poor free throw shooting though...that type of play won't cut it against Utah State, Boise or Nevada. I like the potential of this team but I really hope Menzies and his staff get on the players about their lazy defense.

I also hope that Menzies finally realizes that for a mid-major like NM State, non-conference wins are just as important as conference wins.

SM said...

"I also hope that Menzies finally realizes that for a mid-major like NM State, non-conference wins are just as important as conference wins."

Great point. Those games are huge and could be a critical factor in determining our post-season play.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, SM, you actually agree with me? You always rip me on the football blog...lol. I thought maybe you might come on this blog bragging that Katy, Texas is also internationally ranked in basketball too and that Las Cruces grad Gordo Castillo is not a good player because he's from New Mexico..lol.

SM said...

Ha! I wish I could convince you that I have no unique loyalty to Katy sports. I live in Katy because it is a nice suburb to raise a family, as opposed to Houston. I was just stating a fact that Katy HS is consistently one of the top football teams in the state.

And I'm a big Gordo fan. Hoping to see him have a break-out year.

Anonymous said...

Lumpkins 12 rebounds are legit...

10 yr. vet said...

Thanks JG! Look forward to hearing what you see. I have to imagine that Wendell's ball skills are much improved. If he can legitimately put it on the floor and finish at the rim then this team could be scary good. A lineup with both Troy and Wendell on the floor w/ an improved Ramhan, JY and either Hernst or Gibby could play with almost anyone.

Anonymous said...

There's a closed scrimmage against Tech, right? Anybody know when/where?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Lumpkins did well. I was, probably mistakenly, down on him last year. He didn't get many looks during the season, and when he did, wasn't too productive.

It's good to see the young man biding his time, and sticking with it.

Jimmy C said...

JG -it would be a close game but jimmy gives the slight edge to the team in street clothes, plus Cutler has a whistle. Wm Benjamin can still beat most guys to loose balls. You and Kevin Cutler might take turns on the blocks thumping Rahman and wear him down. You weren't kidding in Sun News; Rahman has at least twice the endurance compared to last season when he was only good for about 10 mins. But you have no answer for Sy or Merker. Merker grew up at 7,000 ft elev. Cergy, France is basically Paris so maybe Bandja Sy simply has freakish lung capacity? What'd coach say to him after the no-look drop off dime from Hernst in the lane with Sy trailing the break at the south end? I'd like to think it went, "You run the floor like that and you're, like, two on the depth chart, bro!" Menzies is definitely downplaying the upside potential of Sy and Gomez right now, but guess what WAC: DEAL WITH IT!

JJ said...

Point Guard: Hernst is clearly head and shoulders above DeShawn Gomez. Of course that is expected, with Hernst’s great season last year. You could tell that the defense did drop off a bit when DeShawn was in there, but I attribute that to him getting used to the speed of the game in college. Of course DeShawn’s performance would likely improve as he learns the play and the flow of the Aggies, which we will sorely need to help out Hernst at point.

Other guards: I say “other guards because the Aggies don’t really use the traditional 1 and 2 guards. We essentially use three guards, even tho JY sometimes plays more of a small forward position. First of all I thought that Jonathan did great. He seemed to be putting forth a lot better effort to play team ball and not shoot the quick, unprepared shot. He was clearly a lot quicker than the WNMU players; I am curious if he has gained a step or two on some Div 1 guards. We need that senior leadership this year especially since he was lacking the leadership skills last year as a junior.

Gordo did pretty well, playing smart ball. Having seen Gordo play since he was in mid school, I am more impressed by his adjusting to great defense with the Aggies cuz his shot has always been there.

Power Forward: Since three of our big guns at PF didn’t play, we got a chance to take a good look at others who will carry the load until they return/become eligible. Lumpkins did a good job rebounding which was good to see. He is more suited for a small forward position, but he will have to get more used to banging inside with the heavier boys. He is certainly athletic enough; he will just have to become durable. Bandja Sy has a lot of promise, although he is more of a NBA type of small forward. Of course Bandja will have to also help out a lot w/ the center position since we only have Rahman available now. Kelly Merker plays smart ball for his size. Tyrone had a wide enough body to play this position against WNMU, but he may be overmatched against some of the bigger D1 power forwards. He certainly showed a lot of enthusiasm and in that way looked like a smaller version of Wendell. Too bad we are well stocked at the guard position because if he could convert to a “2” guard, he could present some great matchup problems at that position

Center: Clearly Rahman’s size dominated the inside play against WNMU. However, I had expected a slimmed down Rahman to be a lot quicker than I saw. He would have problems guarding some of our opponents big men.

With a lot of new players and maybe 3 starters not even playing, it was to be expected that the Aggies didn’t look as sharp as we want right now. With the depth that we will have, we need to make sure that the chemistry remains.

Anonymous said...

Slow down everyone. We beat up on a lower level team with absolutely no size. It was supposed to be that way. It was a chance for the guys to run up and down the court and play. However, the bad habits are still there and that game did nothing to correct them. The team defense is still bad and until it is "demanded" and not just talked about or "suggested", this team will lose games they shouldn't lose. It is that simple. This group will win games, regardless of those two acadamians not playing because we are playing the softest schedule in several years and probably in D1 ball. Come on now, seriously, have you all looked at the schedule? We are playing to win the dang SWAC! We won't get tested and our guys will continue their bad habits and that will bite them in the back side when we play the better teams and in WAC play. The zone defense covers up and hides the lack of true dedication to gettin stops, as all championship level teams must do. We have length, talent, athleticism and speed so get them out on the court and hounding the opponents. If we sit back in the zone hoping people miss wide open shots, it puts our guys back on their heels and doesn't take full advantage of our depth or ability to take a game over.
The other issue is our leadership, as an earlier poster stated. This group of guys is too "cool" and their body language suggests that they will play when they want to and not all the time.
We need to get it all put together.

Anonymous said...

ANON at 10:38 why do you have to be so damn negative. Why are you even an Aggie fan. Go cheer for UTEP or UNM. It is Aggie fans like you that make our fan base look like crap.

Anonymous said...

Has West been cleared to play yet?

RM420 said...

How many times do I have to say it? Our schedule is not different than it has been for YEARS!!

I agree our D is still lacking but no need to put the negative panties on just yet anon 10:38