All 13 scholarship players and two walk-ons were on the practice court on Friday. Reynaldo Walters, Daniel Mullings and Remi Barry were in street clothes, which will likely be the case for the season. Renaldo Dixon could also redshirt this year before the regular season tips off.
Everyone else was healthy as the Aggies start the season with 13 scholarships for the first time in two years. More on that later as I have some quotes from Menzies regarding the ups and downs of his first three years.
First, here is a short video interview with Wendell McKines on his number change, why he compares himself to Ron Artest and what it means to him to be eligible to not only practice, but open the season with his teammates.
On these early practices
"We had a chance to do some team stuff but were limited. That begins today. It will be a slightly different pace because they are very familiar with a lot of things we are going to do based on our Canada experience and retention of players. Typically this time of year is a little more talking. I hope to do less talking and get more activity out of practice."
Menzies explained that the Aggies don't have a true two guard. Think of them as two wings playing off Hernst Laroche. But there are a number of players vying for what appears to be one starting spot. Those players are Gordo Castillo, freshman Christian Kabongo, Bandja Sy, Tyrone Watson and Bandja West, giving them what looks to be a solid nine-man rotation of of McKines, Troy Gillenwater, Hamidu Rahman, Hernst Laroche, Castillo, Kabongo, Sy, Watson, West with others filling in.
However, Menzies said,
"You want to give your new kids a chance to compete. You want to give your older guys and returners a chance to prove that they have earned those spots. It will be fun. I'm looking forward to the competition in practice. With me as I've implemented the system, there is not really a two. JY was a three for us but he's really a two. Gibson was a two, but he ran the left lane and played some one as well. We have preached versatility in your game and being able to play multiple positions. Tyrone could run the right lane. Does that make him a two? Maybe to someone watching, but our two and our three get out and fill the lane. We even have bigs that get out and fill the lane. It's really predicated on what the defense is going to give us more than anything."
Menzies has had an up and down first three years to say the least. Some could be justified. Some things were blown out of proportion to be honest. It appears that he enters his fourth year clear of some of the off the court issues that have cropped up in the past five years at NMSU. Menzies said the key was just to deal with the issues as they came.
"I just dealt with it. If the NCAA tells New Mexico State you have 12 or you have 11, that's what you got. You just operate within those walls. We have a full compliment but you still have to go lace them up against other teams. I can say that 'We are going to be really good' but I don't know what anyone else has. How good are the kids that sat out at Nevada? You just have to prepare as hard as you can. ... We have had a lot of people who were very supportive when we didn't have full scholarships or when we had a social misconduct and we have had to deal with it straight on. I'm happy to have that stuff behind us. I would love to say that we are never going to have a kid get in an argument with someone but that's not the real world. It happens in every program. We will recruit the type of student athletes that Las Cruces will be proud of but they are children. I'm very proud of the kids we have in the program now. I've heard people say that it's your team now but they have always been my team. The fact that I didn't recruit them didn't mean I loved them any less. It's just a matter of perspective and how you look at things and right now, I'm happy with what I'm seeing."