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Friday, December 31, 2010

Utah State is good, but not great

We get into this every year and I can't take it anymore.
I've read that Utah State will go unbeaten in the WAC, that they will coast to a WAC title. I don't see it.

I normally don't agree with everything Gary Parish writes, but here is a section from a blog entry where he writes about polls, both media and coaches.

Coaches poll: As you can probably tell by the above Poll Attack, I hate voters who highlight teams simply for building records against weak opponents. It rewards a conservative approach, and I'm against that. So shame on the coaches who put Cincinnati (24 points), Oklahoma State (11 points) and Utah State (four points) on their ballots. I've already told you about Cincinnati (no good wins) and Oklahoma State (no good wins and one bad loss). Now let me tell you about Utah State, the WAC school that's 11-2 with no good wins. Granted, the Aggies' losses (to BYU and Georgetown) are better than OSU's losses (or Baylor's losses, for that matter). But there's not even a decent win on their resume. Thus, Utah State shouldn't be getting votes even though Utah State probably deserves votes as much as Cincinnati deserves votes, and more than Oklahoma State deserves votes. The point is that none of them deserve votes. Stacking wins against bad teams is nothing more than stacking wins against bad teams. It's fine for a school that projected to be strong in the preseason because you can still believe in what you thought you knew. But a gaudy record against a weak schedule should never make you start believing in somebody, which is why I won't start believing in Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Utah State or Oklahoma State until at least one of them records one win against a quality opponent. It would be nice if coaches who vote in the coaches poll did the same.



We know that Utah State hasn't beaten anybody. They've only played two quality opponents. That's fine. It's what they always do and it works for them. But this Utah State team is no different than last year's team to me, which I picked second.

They could very well win the WAC tournament and get a postseason bid, but  I don't think they will coast through teams, namely NMSU, as some have predicted.

I've even seen one place where San Jose State was picked to finish ahead  of NMSU. When has San Jose State ever won a big game? George Nessman entered the season (his sixth) 51-103 and 22-58 in WAC play. Quick question. What other media or fan market in the WAC could a coach post such a record and still have a job this long. It's true that Nessman has a good point guard and one of the top 2 players in the league in guard Adrian Oliver. But I've seen this movie before and I gave up on San Jose State. Two years ago, San Jose State had Tim Pierce, Oliver, Justin Graham and two solid WAC post players in Webster and Oakes and finished seventh and lost in the quarters.

If there is a team who can jump into the conversation, I think it's Boise State, which is why tonight's game looms large.

Basketball is about matchups and I still don't think Utah State matches up well with NMSU when Troy Gillenwater and Hamidu Rahman are healthy. Let's take a look. I will even say hypothetically that Wendell McKines DOES not play this year. And I still like NMSU's chances.

Center
Hamidu Rahman vs. Nate Bendall — Bendall didn't make a peep in the first two games against the Aggies but he outscored Hamidu Rahman 16-6 in the WAC tournament game. Here is  my question when it comes to Bendall vs. the Aggies. Who is he going to guard? Meanwhile, I think NMSU has four guys in Rahman, Gillenwater, Nephawe and even Tyrone Watson at him.

Advantage Bendall on the offensive end because he is skilled, but a small advantage.

Power forward
Troy Gillenwater vs. Tai Wesley — I think this is a push. Two of the best three players in the WAC. Wesley is a great leader for his team. I don't know if they will be matched up on each other.

Push

Small forward
Tyrone Watson vs. Tyler Newbold — Newbold has the offensive edge here, although his numbers have gone down with the departure of such players as Jaycee Carroll and Gary Wilkinson throughout his career. But he is a senior. I don't think Bendall can guard Watson off the dribble or keep him off the boards.

Push

Shooting guard
Christian Kabongo vs. Pooh Williams — Kabongo reminds me of Williams a couple years ago. Not much of a perimeter shooting threat but athletic and a good defender. Williams is shooting the three at 40 percent and scoring 10 per game while Kabongo gets his points in transition and the free throw line.

Push

Point guard
Hernst Laroche vs. Brockeith Payne — Have yet to see Payne play, but he is certainly a different type of point guard than Jared Quayle was. Laroche got his shot whenever he wanted against some good point guards so far at Arizona, St. Marys and UNM. Payne doesn't have a lot of pressure on him, which is good.

Advantage Laroche based on experience in the WAC

Bench —
Utah State has Brian Green and NMSU has Gordo Castillo, two guys who can hit the open 3 on the offensive end. Both teams have some size coming off the bench.

Push

Please don't turn this post into another Menzies bashing. It's obvious that Utah State is well coached and Morrill gives them an  advantage every time they take the court. Utah State is a more disciplined team but I like NMSU for the same reason as I did last year.

Athletes folks.

It's why Utah State was run off the court in Spokane against Texas A&M and it's why NMSU hung with Michigan State. 

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Aggies lost another critical game and it was with Rahman and Gillenwater playing..but I'm sure someone like GS will come on here talking like the Aggies are on track to make the Final Four..yet they can't even beat a very mediocre Boise team...let's face it...the Aggies are weak under Menzies. Yeah Menzies has a couple 20 win seasons here at NM State, but it took 35 and 34 games respectively to do it..anyone that thinks the NM State basketball program is doing fine is a complete moron..this is just ridiculous. The Aggies' schedule is not tough at all and 7-9 is not acceptable, not acceptable..so all you dorm dwellers that are wannabee stat keepers and basketball experts, just keep it to yourself..I'm fed up with you listing all your stupid stats and facts about Aggie players that any trained monkey can look up on the internet...the Aggies are awful under Menzies and I cannot wait until he gets out of Las Cruces. Other than wins and losses, numbers don't mean crap...busting your butt on the court and hustling with a quality coach to guide you is what matters and the Aggies don't have it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on everything but Kabongo. He's not as good as Pooh Williams. Pooh is proven and he's a senior. No chance at a push there. Kabongo is not very good yet. In tonights loss against Boise, Menzies should NOT have had CK in the game in the last 2 minutes. He took bad shots all night and he turned it over on a crucial possession. We should have had Watson in the game instead.

Bandja continues to improve and play well. That's a big plus.

Another thing you have to take into consideration is Stew Morrill. He's the best coach in the conference by far. I still think the Aggies can win the tourney though. Utah State is good, but not great.

Anonymous said...

The Aggies should be able to put anyone in the game and still beat a team like Boise. This is getting just as bad as football....pointing out positives (which realistically don't exist right now) and ignoring the fact that NM State is just plain horrible this year. Boise is not tough enough of a team to where matchups and who's in at the end of the game should matter...people on this blog don't get it. Seriously, stop with all the stats and match ups you guys imagine in your mind. It has no merit and does not affect anything. If a team is playing well together and executing to the best of their ability, individual match ups mean nothing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:32,

Thanks for remembering me enough to bash me in the post. It would work well if I was still in college and in the dorms though. And if I had enough confidence in the Aggies to proclaim that they are a final four team. But youre right, stats are not important. Who cares about numbers and indicatsions about how a team and players have improved throughout the season. From now on, Groves should only write who the team played and if they won or lost. That is all we could ask for after all, not all this RPI garbage that he keeps talking about. Who cares about that, Im sure the NCAA committee will agree with you in that stats dont matter through the course of the season and will make their decisions based solely on win loss record.

Jason, I dont agree with you on the last part regarding us having better athletes than Utah St. You compared the two based on the performance on the tournament last season. I dont think that is a fair comparison to this year though because Im sure that this team would not hang with MSU without JY and Gibson. I still think that the biggest problem with this team is their lack of consistency. The verdict is still on Bandja, Gordo cant make up his mind on being a good shooter, and Kabongo seems to have a severe dislike of anything offense. I asked in a previous post that what was the point of playing good teams like St. Marys if we couldnt beat them and then didnt use that experience in other games. We've played the toughest schedule in the WAC (some might say its not so tough though) and yet can barely beat Idaho and lose against Boise. Its freaking Idaho, this isnt Arizona, Umass, and then USC. Shouldnt that road trip have given the team the experience of playing on the road against much better competition? If the Aggies cant keep playing consistent basketball then I dont see how they can keep up with Utah St.

GS

Jason Groves said...

GS, I don't see how you can say that numbers and stats don't matter. How else would you compare the Aggies to one of their conference rivals. It shows how bad the WAC is if nothing else and that any one of three teams (NMSU, USU and Boise in my opinion) are good enough to win it this year. If all you want is game stories, that's on you. You're right when you say comparing this Aggies team to last year is not fair. But I wasn't comparing the skill level between the two — rather the fact that NMSU has historically been an athletic program with discipline not as valued and as a result has had a chance to win the WAC tournament each year.

Anonymous said...

Jason, I was being sarcastic because Anon 7:32 mentioned that stats were just stats.

"I'm fed up with you listing all your stupid stats and facts about Aggie players that any trained monkey can look up on the internet."

I enjoy reading your in depth analysis of not only the Aggies but the rest of the conference as well.

GS

Jason Groves said...

My bad.

Keith said...

Interesting analysis. I think your matchups are spot on. I think the CK-Williams matchup will be a push if he can develop into the player he is projected to be. Williams has the advantage on the 3 ball but CK has the advantage on driving to the basket and defense. This is, however, only if CK will develop into the player people think he will become at the end of the year. If not, Williams will have the edge. I think people forget to take player and team development into consideration. An example of this is Hamidu Rahman. Last year he started out as the good center but had flaws. By the end of the year, he was the full package. He leaned how to get to the basket and put the ball in the hoop. I think his best game was against Mich St. It was great to see his development throughout last year.
I was able to see the game last night and it was really frustrating to see us lose that game. We dominated them the whole game but could not put them away. There is no excuse to not coming out of Boise with the win. Ham got rebounds and TG was great last night. We lost, time to move on. We will not lose like that again. I feel thatthe best way to learn in sports is to learn by experience. Apparently I'm a "moron" and I guess I'm already in college living in a dorm. I'm not saying that the baskeball program is in good shape just to say it. I really do mean it. I think Menzies is getting slot of undeserved negative flack. He is a teacher with a great basketball mind that can develop players. He can probably do it better than Theus. It is way to early to even start thinking about letting him go. He is barely starting to get his recruits. His first graduating class hasn't even graduated yet. Plus we do not know how good Watson, Sy, Chili, CK, and Dixon can be. We're 7-9 (1-1) right now. Please wait until the end of the year to say if this team stinks or not. We can be anywhere between 7-24 (1-15) and 22-9 (15-1) to end regular season play. There's half a season to go.
GO AGGIES!!!!

Keith said...

*I mean recruiting class to graduate. Not graduating class to graduate*

Anonymous said...

Keith Pooh Williams is the best defender in the league.

Justin said...

Pooh Williams is the best perimeter ball defender in the league. Newbold is top 3. Ordinarily I agree that our athleticism would be a problem for USU, but this year our athletes are more athletes than basketball players. Next year, with some development, perhaps a different story.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Here we go again with the meaningless stats...lol..if all of your stats and numbers were right on..NM State would have a better record. You younger people only look at numbers like everything is a computer game...there's an important element that everyone on here forgets, the human factor and that changes everything. The numbers mean nothing because the Aggies have no heart this year..and Menzies is an awful coach and NM State is not in good shape...delusional, delusional...the only way to describe some of the bloggers on here.

Anonymous said...

And to clarify Jason..I wasn't trying to bash your job or what you do. It's your job to analyze and present facts...GS was putting words in my mouth and insinuating, as well as assuming that I didn't enjoy your writing. I was referring to people like GS that look up meaningless facts on the internet and then present it on here like they are Jay Bilas...and then try to disregard other people's knowledge or opinions of the game.

And I must have hit the head right on the nail because I don't even know GS but it turns out he is a smart *ss college kid that lives in a dorm..lol.

Anonymous said...

Menzies better teacher than Theus? lol..Hello....the year before Theus got here NM State went 6-24...the first season he took them to 16-14 and the next season 25-9 and an NCAA tournament appearance...Theus got Menzies his job and probably regrets helping him. Chomp on those stats. Menzies has done nothing and has wasted great talent since he's been here. I find it hard to believe that 19 year old kids know more about basketball than me..sorry...reality sets in. Nolan Richardson was clearly the beter choice to replace Theus but Las Cruces people can't get over their inferiority complex by hiring someone from El Paso...and no I'm not a UTEP fan, I'm originally from Las Cruces, but I managed to get away and learn to use my brain...thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't be too discouraged if your post got censored, but nice shot ___ ____. Jason, thanks for sparing us whatever the post contained. My only major disappointment is that the rebounding has not been straightened out. Aggies pull down 20 def rebounds but that's only 4 more than BSU's offensive boards? You ain't gonna win in the Taco Bell like that, even with 4 guys in double figures. Let's take 47 shots and give Boise ten more attempts and see how it comes out. 19 second chance pts after giving up 9 to the Vandals? I agree with Anon 7:35 that BSU constitutes a bad road loss. The bad part is that this NMSU team has previously shown a lot more grit and determination. Boise wanted it more just like Arnold's visit to Pan Am last year and just like the triple OT WAC championship. This is a team that sees their football team constantly mentioned in the national title discussion and they have some pride. Maybe the Aggies realize the time to lay it all on the line is the three games starting March 9th and they figure they'll just block out when there's a guaranteed path to the dance on the line?

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of fans being proud of a sub-.500 team and a coach that really doesn't care....it's pathetic the way Aggie spirit has gone away. I miss the days in the 80's and 90's when the Aggies gave 100 percent and didn't make excuses....you knew they would always leave it all the floor and the town and university appreciated it and the Pan Am would be jammed packed, full of screaming fans...this is lame now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:49

Like I said earlier, " It would work well if I was still in college and in the dorms though". I guess you lack the intelligence to go through the posts and read before writing. I dont understand your logic though, how is someone being in college and in dorms worthy of you making fun of or going "lol"? Some of the best fans in college basketball ARE college students who live in dorms. Those kids are also trying to get an education and the fact that they are in college should be something to be praised. But I guess to you I am just a smart ass college kid. Even though Im not in college anymore and never really played with computer games. Some of us actually study towards a degree and dont have time for computer games.

I also dont get what you mean by, "19 year old kids know more about basketball than me." I think this whole thing started out by you arguing that the Lobos and Miners were worthy enough of fans quitting on the team because we lost to them. Yet all you have done since then is bad mouth me and not proven your argument. You have not referenced one season where beating our rivals helped us go to the dance. You then suddenly changed courses and started to bash me because I used stats too much. Yet I cant find a recent post where stats made up the majority of my writing. Please show me where I went stat crazy.

Jason, one topic that you havent written about is how the conference will look like once the shuffling starts. If no other teams leave the WAC, how do you think the conference will be in a few years?

GS

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:43

The Aggies were also a team full of players who were ineligible during the 90's and were led by a coach and embarrassed the University. Those teams had their records stripped by the NCAA and we placed ourselves on post season probation. But you're right, let continue to glorify that era of Aggie basketball.

Anonymous said...

Numbers are produced by the aforementioned human's involved in the aforementioned human element.

Anonymous said...

Agree with anon 12:13 Wendell's announcement today could potentially mean a ten rebound swing in all of the remaining games (5 he gets are 5 the opponents don't get), rebounds that other Aggies cannot contest.

Jason, I think your right-brain posters are at odds with your left-brain posters and if Wendell is announcing his return for Sat then we can all group hug Sat nite with the students matriculating back. I believe the numbers matter and the rebounding numbers matter more.

I believe anon 1:43 could possibly be Neil McCarthy lurking out there. Yo, Neil! What up? Get an avatar and become a Groves follower, homey!

Anonymous said...

Thoughts on Wen redshirting?

Anonymous said...

Okay, cancel the group hug.
Now I think it's fair to blame a down season on lack of rebounding from Big Wen - serously, no sarcasm. It's not an excuse. Broken foot is reality.

Redshirting means, he can practice with the team and school them in rebounding, meantime right? Of course Wendell's technique may not be the orthodox way it's taught. I'm sure you're busy writing up an article on the details right now, JG...