Friday, October 12, 2012

Watson adds leader to his Aggies resume

I spoke with Tyrone Watson before the Aggies practiced for the first time on Friday. To me, nobody on the roster is accomplished enough, or has the personality to be a better leader than the 6-5 Toronto native. Watson has been on two NCAA Tournament teams and has started 68 of 69 games the past two years. Watson's versatility overshadows his weaknesses as a shooter or a scorer, but he's a playmaker with size who can defend at least four positions, perhaps even five when the Aggies play smaller teams.

Here is an interview with Watson, who talks about what expectations the team has and what newcomers he believes will contribute. I will post more from practice late tonight as I have to make an appearance at the Las Cruces/OƱate prep football game so check back tonight or in the morning.

I believe this was the first year since I've covered the team than no player was missing due to grades, injuries or social misconduct issues. That's an important note as Marvin Menzies begins his sixth season at NMSU with an experienced core, but several new faces who will need to be productive.

"You expect to be healthy. I'm thankful we are in a position where we can start the first day of practice with no outside distractions in the way of grades, social misconduct or anything. It's how you want to start the season and how you want to finish the season," Menzies said.

Because there are newcomers on this year's club, the offseason was especially important. Menzies, Watson and Chili Nephawe each indicated in different ways that this year's team is eager to prove themselves. 

"I think the older guys are experienced guys. To a man we just have great teammates," Menzies said. "They all have an attitude right now that they know they haven't done anything yet so they have to prove some things but they have confidence in their abilities. We have had a couple abbreviated practices with the rules and you could see the development but you could also see the distance we had to go to be an elite team."

Tyrone Watson on new players:
"With the new guys, I’m not expecting too much but just to follow the upper classmen’s lead. Anything extra they have to offer is great. We like it and we need it but I’m not expecting too much. Just to ride along and learn from the upperclassmen."

Watson on fellow senior Bandja Sy:
"Bandja is a more quiet personality but he has his moments when he takes leadership. I think both of us work great together because we are both unselfish players that play the game for each other and for the team. We are all about the team concept. We know it's our senior year but the individual stuff doesn't mean nothing if you dont win at the end of the day."

Watson on if the Aggies will be more conventional offensively because of two big men:
"I feel like it's going to be a different style of play but not so much. I think everyone just needs to pick it up If everyone chips in 10, 15 points it all adds up. Identity is really run. We are going to be a really fast team. We have fast guys coming off the bench. I think we have more of a defensive minded team. 

Watson on if the Aggies have play slower because of the bigs: 
"That's yet to be discovered. I wonder how that’s going to work when that actually happens. In practice we do slow it down a bit. I feel like in the game we are going to get it and go. We are going to have to wait for the bigs to come, but for the most part the bigs are in pretty good shape."

Watson on his ideal position:
"If we were to start the game rght now, I would be at the four, possibliy the three based on matchups. From there I just fill in. We are looking to run some more sets with me bringing the ball up the floor. I’m looking forwrad to that. I have a knack for anticipating plays and finiding other guys. I’m looking forward to that if they give me that responsibilty. The way the team was structored last year, around three players, this year it's more structured around everybody."

On Chili Nephawe and Sim Bhullar:
"Chili has kind of been waiting to star. I think these next two years he is going to explode. We actually look to give him the ball. That’s actually our offense is to post feed. He is going to get his touches. Sim is going to learn from Chili. It's scary going to the net. I don't like going to the basket because if those guys hit you  you are out."

Chili Nephawe on the first practice:
"I can see a different focus. Everybody is excited about today. I think it's really important that everyone is healthy. We have good competition because everyone is here and everyone can go hard in practice."

Nephawe revealed that for the second straight year, he had to rehab his back. He took two weeks off this summer to rehab in California.

"My last two seasons, I was just a backup most of the time. Me and Hamidu go at each other all the time. Now I feel I’m a better player. I think Sim is going to be a really good player and will help us a lot. People are excited about him. We are excited about Sim. He’s still a freshman so I think I need to be a good role model for him because Hamidu was a role model for me."

Nephawe needs to increase his numbers across the board, while cutting down on his fouls that limited him to about 20 minutes per game last year.

"That's my main focus right now. I'm not worried if i’m going to be productive. I know I will be productive. The only thing I'm worried about is fouls. I think I will be able to take care of that. I will still be aggressive on defense, just less using my hands and more making people make plays over me instead of trying to block every shot. I have good height to be able to defend somebody wthout blocking the shot."

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