Sunday, February 19, 2012
Aggies showing up on national TV
In their past two games against Division I teams, at Utah State on ESPN2 and in a 71-55 win over Drake on Saturday on ESPNU, the Aggies are 14-24 (58 percent) from 3-point range.
I believe the last two games to be NMSU's best four halves of basketball this season from a total team performance. Is it a coincidence they were both on the ESPN family? Perhaps it doesn't matter.
Hernst Laroche and Wendell McKines explained that it's more a result of NMSU peaking at the right time. But if the Aggies are shooting the ball this well at this time, they will be dangerous since no team in the WAC, nor at least one team in the MVC, can guard this team man to man.
Drake tried to, but two quick 3s from Laroche, one from Bandja Sy, got Drake on its heels long enough for the Aggies to get on a roll. They don't have to shoot lights out, but shooting well early really opened things up against Drake.
Defensively, the Aggies length and quickness overwhelmed a good shooting team. Drake was 3-10 from 3-point range in the first half and it was pretty much over from there. It reminded me of NMSU's 20 point win over Utah State at home this season where shooters just couldn't shake free for long enough to get a good look. Drake entered the game shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and the Bulldogs finished 31 percent on Saturday.
Here is my game story, followed by some post game comments from Laroche, McKines and Aggies coach Marvin Menzies.
"I think we came here focused, last game too against Utah State. We came focused. We are just trying to win every game. It's crunch time. ... We were hot. I was making shots, Wen was making shots. ... I don't know if they played zone but they were sagging the whole game. I guess it's kind of like a zone. ... We just have to move the ball, swing it. We are going to get the ball inside. If they try to take something away, we are going to do something else. It is just a feel. ... We are not playing hard because of ESPN. We are trying to get better and show what we have improved in. At the end of the day, you have to be at your best at the WAC tourney at the end of the year so that is what we are trying to do."
"I just think we are peaking at the right time. That's my take on it. We are just playing good basketball and striving to get better. ... I think it's because we are taking the right shots. Teams want to jam us in, trying to force us to shoot. With our feet set, shooting with confidence on our home court, there is a good chance it's going to go in. Then with the crowd in it, just feeding off the momentum. ... They are an out of conference team so at this point in time of the year, they are going to do what they are accustomed to doing from the beginning of the season on. For them to do something that is out of their character, wouldn't have made any sense. They did what they felt comfortable doing. We just fed off that and took advantage of it. I haven't had singe man to man coverage in over a month so I was like a kid in a candy store in the beginning. I had to calm myself down. I was just excited to see it. I got a chance to play real basketball for a change. ... It's time to re-focus. Not only re-focus but feed off the momentum that we do have and getting better every day, playing toward our strengths and making adjustments. That's what I feel we need to do moving forward. ... If we are on ESPN, that probably means cleaning our shoes a little more and getting a nice cut before the game, but that's about it. ... Our size and strength and length is a nightmare for other teams I'm sure. I'm pretty sure they haven't seen our size and athleticism in their conference so I'm sure it bothered them."
"Anytime you win 20 games it's a good year. It's kind of an unspoken bench mark for all coaches. If you can win 20 games, it's typically you had a successful year. There are a lot of good things that come with it. To reach it this early in the season is a good thing."
"I was happy with how we played defense tonight. I think the guys did a good job executing the scouting report. I think we layed off of guys we were supposed to and challenged shooters we were supposed to. ... I was also pleased with the way we shot the ball, especially from the 3-point line. I think picking and choosing your shots and shooting high percentage shots based on what the defense gives you is critical. By knocking those down, hopefully it gave us a boost of confidence. ... Typically we are usually playing our best ball at the end of February or March. It should continue as long as these guys keep listening to coaches. ... Over the course of a season, a player figures out his spots and when to take those shots and how it flows into the offense. Guys like Gordo Castillo was lights out whenever he was on the floor. As long as he had a bit of daylight he had a green light to shoot it. We don't have those kind of guys so we have to learn what is good shots for individual guys. ... I was really happy with our patience. We showed significant growth in our ability to execute an offensive game plan versus a specific defensive game plan."