Monday, August 11, 2014

WHO SHOULD START? Center

To me this is a no-brainer.

Chili Nephawe was the most improved player for last year's team and I think as a senior he should play center alongside a true power forward type. Whether or not that's how the Aggies coaches see it, we will determine in a couple months, but early indications were they want to put one of their many athletic forward types on the floor to free up some space and perhaps open up the Aggies offense we have seen the past couple years.

The obvious question with Nephawe is was his improvement simply a result of teams focusing on Sim Bhullar? It certainly freed Nephawe up for one on one action most of the time, but he scored against Bairstow from New Mexico who is in the NBA now. His rebounding 7.8 and blocks 1.4 were both career highs, which to me were the biggest things he needed to address, especially in conference play. With freshmen playing behind him, the center spot should be his


Tanveer Bhullar is a mystery, but he will certainly contribute. Whether or not he could pass Nephawe on the depth chart probably depends on how he looks when school starts. When Nephawe and Sim Bhullar played together, Sim was actually the power forward because he's such a good passer and he was the last player down the court at the high post. I imagine both posts will play together for spells with Tanveer playing a similar role to his brother, but at least to start the season, Bhullar could be coming off the bench.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Schedule: What do you think?

I'll get into the schedule a bit later on, but here it is. What do you think? Predictions??

Nov. 14 @ Wichita State TBA
Nov. 17 @ Saint Mary’s 1 a.m.
Nov. 19 Northern Colorado 7 p.m.
Nov. 22 @ UTEP TBA
Nov. 24 Stetson 7 p.m.
Nov. 26 Florida A&M 7 p.m.
Nov. 29 @ Wyoming TBA
Dec. 3 @ New Mexico TBA
Dec. 6 UTEP 7 p.m.
Dec. 13 @ Oral Roberts TBA
Dec. 17 @ Baylor TBA
Dec. 20 New Mexico 7 p.m.
Dec. 22 Northern New Mexico 7 p.m.
Dec. 27 Colorado State 7 p.m.
Dec. 30 Texas Southern 7 p.m.
Jan. 3, 2015 California-Irvine 7 p.m.
Jan. 6, 2015 New Mexico Highlands 7 p.m.
Jan. 10, 2015 UMKC * TBA
Jan. 15, 2015 @ Bakersfield * TBA
Jan. 17, 2015 @ Seattle * TBA
Jan. 22, 2015 Grand Canyon * 7 p.m.
Jan. 24, 2015 Utah Valley * 7 p.m.
Jan. 31, 2015 Texas-Pan American * 7 p.m.
Feb. 5, 2015 @ Chicago State * TBA
Feb. 7, 2015 @ UMKC * TBA
Feb. 12, 2015 Seattle * 7 p.m.
Feb. 14, 2015 Bakersfield * 7 p.m.
Feb. 19, 2015 @ Utah Valley * TBA
Feb. 21, 2015 @ Grand Canyon * TBA
Feb. 28, 2015 @ Texas-Pan American TBA
March 7, 2015 Chicago State 7 p.m.
March 12, 2015 WAC Tournament TBA

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Who should start? Power forward

I would if all things were equal, this spot would be Remi Barry's to lose next season.

But it's not, so this position is easily the biggest question mark in the lineup. But there are certainly numerous players vying for time here.

Barry has always seemed like an offense-first player and at another school, his game would probably be better suited for the small forward. But two years ago, Barry started getting minutes at the power forward position. He had enough size to defend and rebound in the WAC at the four position. Last year, it seemed like Barry had figured it out. He was averaging six points and 3 points in 12 minutes per game and shooting 50 percent from the field. In 9 games he only attempted one 3 pointer before his season ended with a ACL injury against Colorado State. Barry is just now getting back to work and his health is an unknown at this point, but if he's healthy, at least to start the season, I think he's the best option at the power forward position.

After Barry, the experience factor drops to zero. I would put three names here with nobody ever playing a game in college basketball.

Tanveer Bhullar was able to practice with the Aggies last year. The Aggies have experience with two posts with Sim Bhullar and Chili Nephawe. If Tanveer Bhullar is the best option, the Aggies will play him with Newphawe.

Pascal Siakam is a redshirt freshman that coaches and players talked about as impressive in summer workouts. Anthony January was highly recruited, but has played five junior college games in two years and it's unclear if he will qualify academically. Both have been described to me as raw talents with the ball, but their athletic ability and size would fit in well with their ability to run the floor, defend all positions and rebound.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sim Bhullar interview

The Sacramento Kings advanced to today's Summer League semifinals with an 80-61 victory over the Chicago Bulls. Former New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar scored for the first time in Las Vegas and was featured in an on air interview, as was Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who said Bhullar could have a similar impact in India as Yao Ming did in China.

For what it's worth, he got a lot of airtime on Saturday despite a limited amount of playing time in Vegas. Obviously the fact that the owner is talking about him may mean he intends to keep him, possibly at the D-League level.


http://www.nba.com/video/games/bulls/2014/07/20/1521400063-sac-chi-bhullar.nba/index.html

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who should start? POINT GUARD

The consensus and likely player here is sophomore Ian Baker. For consideration though, I'm going to throw Daniel Mullings out there as well.


Ian Baker showed some promise, standing out to me on the defensive end against San Diego State with 31 minutes, by far his most court time of the season. Baker is a strong guard who showed some potential on the offensive end, but what do we really know about him? Enough to start him likely but I would say that's based just as much on the fact that there is nobody else to really push him at the spot. I like Travon Landry, but he's limited offensively but will be a very nice backup. In 20 games, Baker was 10 of 30 from 3 point range and had nine steals and averaged an assist per game. He certainly passed the eye test, but those numbers aren't overly impressive as he steps into a fulltime starters role.

Daniel Mullings started at point guard for the last six games of the season. It didn't hurt his scoring or shooting percentage. During those six games, he had 25 assists to 14 turnovers, although half of those turnovers were against San Diego State. (Baker had no TOs against SDSU in 31 minutes). Mullings is among the best athletes in the WAC and if he goes on to play professionally, with his size PG could be a likely landing spot. He has said he wants to play the position in the past and I'm sure coaches want to give him a chance to play it.

Point guard has been a weak spot or at the very least a spot of inconsistency since Hernst Laroche. To me, this particular team needs a PG that can provide a consistent scoring threat and the ability to hit open shots. Baker could be the better shooting option, but I'm not one to put him that far above Mullings as an option at point guard. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Who should start?

Now that the roster movement seems to have come to a stand still, I wanted to take an early look at what a starting lineup may look like.

It may not be popular, but I'm going to argue that only two players, Daniel Mullings, and Chili Nephawe, are for sure starters right now. Both should be first team preseason players and Mullings has a good shot at becoming a repeat WAC POY by the end of next season.

In the next week I will look at each position 1 through 5 and throw out two or three names that could be the starter.

But first here is my starting five and I have question marks about all of them except the two names I mentioned before.

PG - Ian Baker
SG - Daniel Mullings
SF - DK Eldridge
PF - Remi Barry
C - Chili Nephawe

Like I said, I will get more into it in the next couple of days. But I wanted to see who you would start for the 2014 Aggies.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sim Bhullar and the Draft

The NBA Draft is Thursday and I believe Sim Bhullar has hopes either Toronto picks him in the second to last pick in the Draft or Sacramento trades to pick up a second-round pick, but that could very well be rumor two days before the Draft.

Bhullar was "Drafted" by the Harlem Globetrotters, but so was Landon Donovan. Not really news but here is the link if you want to read about it. 

Here is an actual link that I found very interesting comparing all of the Centers in Thursday's Draft so you can see where Bhullar compares from a statistical point of view. He doesn't seem to stand out in any category so it will be interesting to see if his size and PR appeal are enough to get him picked.

Bhullar was also featured in a couple videos today, checking in at the No. 5 spot on the YouTube Draft

Friday, June 13, 2014

UPDATED: An extremely early look at some 2014-15 NMSU non-conference opponents

Following is a brief look at the 2014-15 New Mexico State non conference games that I know of and some that I'm fuzzy on at this point.

It seems like both New Mexico and UTEP will have some big question marks next year, maybe even moreso than NMSU. Both teams have added several new players so trying to handicap them in June is difficult but perhaps Aggies fans can hope to catch them before they figure things out.

NMSU students will be in session for three of the four games, although not for the home game against the Lobos.

Outside of that, from what I know thus far, the Aggies schedule is shaping up once again as a quality schedule for the school now they have to take advantage with a win or two.

University of New Mexico:
NMSU at New Mexico; Dec. 3
New Mexico at NMSU: Dec. 20

When I look at New Mexico, it seems Craig Neal is hoping that transfers help his team remain competitive in the Mountain West. After losing the likes of Alford recruits Cam Bairstow, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams, two of the Lobos best players next year should be junior college transfers Deshawn Delaney and Jordan Goodman. A third transfer, Butler guard Elijah Brown, will join the Lobos next season on the court. Delaney came on last year in the mid-late stages to average five points and four rebounds in 20 minutes per game. Now that the lane won't be clogged up with Kirk and Bairstow, Delaney should have more space to drive. The 6-9 Goodman was a junior college all american out of Harcum Colloge in Pennsylvania. I'm a big fan of senior Hugh Greenwood, not so much on sophomore Cullen Neal, which figures to be the starting backcourt. I'm sure the Lobos will play a faster pace and play considerably smaller next year with a big dropoff in the paint following Bairstow and Kirk.

UTEP
NMSU at UTEP, Nov. 22:
UTEP at NMSU, Dec. 6:

I think it's possible to sweep the Miners again, unless one of the seven, SEVEN newcomers at UTEP is a stud. Most of them are guards with the top returners to me are Julian Washburn on the wing and Vince Hunter in the post. Aggies fans will also recognize UTEP big men 6-10 Cedrick Lang and 7-1 Matt Willms, who both appeared to me as space fillers last year. I'm sure there is more to the recruited players that Tim Floyd signed, but once again he appears to be rebuilding in El Paso.

Other non-conference opponents
At Wichita State, November 14
Shaky on this one, but if it turns out to be a season opener, it would start what I believe to be the Aggies most solid schedule from a mid-major standpoint. Games at Wichita State, Baylor and St. Mary's will all be extremely difficult, but it's not as harsh as some seasons, and more realistic for an upset than even last year's schedule with dates at Arizona and Gonzaga. Wichita State had four seniors on their 35-1 team from a year ago. They still return a talented group with Fred VanVleet and junior college all american Darius Carter.

At Saint Mary's, TBD ( possibly part of the ESPN 24-hours hoops marathon in mid-November)
NMSU had a nice little series against Saint Mary's in the past. Nice being the fact that Saint Mary's even came to Las Cruces. St. Mary's crushed NMSU in both games. But this is a single game as I understand it.
The best returner on the roster appears to be Brad Waldow, who averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds last year.

At Wyoming, Nov. 29
This is the first of a home-and-home series with the Cowboys slated to return to Las Cruces next year.
The Cowboys were ranked No. 312 in the country with 64.5 points per game. The Cowboys scored 1.03 points per possession last year. By contrast, NMSU averaged 1.12 points per possession. The Cowboys do have one of the better players in the Mountain West in forward Larry Nance Jr., who tore an ACL last year. Guard Josh Gordon is also a top returner for the Cowboys.

At Oral Roberts, December 13
This will be a return game as well for NMSU with Oral Roberts making a return trip to Las Cruces next year. Oral Roberts only had one senior from last year's team that went 10-8 in the Southland

At Baylor, December 17
Baylor was a balanced team last year with Canadian guard Kenny Cherry coming back.
This is a money game for the Aggies, but it's not in the same category as the road contest at No. 1 Arizona or even Gonzaga last year.

vs. Colorado State, December 27
Colorado State returns the Aggies away game from a year ago in which CSU guard Jon Octeus went the length of the court in the final seconds for an 85-83 victory in one of the games on the schedule that NMSU had a realistic chance of winning going into the contest. Octeus left the program, but the Rams return their best two players, JJ Avila, who killed the Aggies with 29 points from the four position, and guard Daniel Bejarano. But like the Aggies, the Rams roster had a lot of turnover in the offseason with five players leaving CSU. Among the new players, the most highly regarded seems to be guard Stanton Kidd, who sat out last year after transferring from North Carolina Central. This should be a winnable game for the Aggies, and to be honest, it needs to be an Aggie win.

Vs. UC-Irvine, January 3
This is a return game with the Aggies playing a game next year at Irvine. This was supposed to be a game featuring 7-5 Sim Bhullar and 7-6 Irvine sophomore Mamadou Ndiaye (7-6, 290 pounds, 8 ppg, 6.2 rpg 3 bpg (8th in NCAA) in 21 minutes per game as a freshman). Fans will have to settle instead for 7-3 Tanveer Bhullar, which I'm sure will suit both schools just fine. Irvine is a fine team at any rate, finishing 13-3 in the Big West last year. A solid home game for the Aggies.









Monday, May 26, 2014

More on the latest three Aggies additions

The Aggies were busy in the last two weeks of the college basketball regular signing period.
New Mexico State had three players sign scholarship agreements, with Bakersfield, Calif., high school player Braxton Huggins signing a national letter of intent on the final day of the signing period on May 21.
“It’s unreal,” Huggins said. “I never thought that I would be signing to a Division I school. New Mexico State reminded me of home. There are not that many distractions. I can just focus on school and basketball. They said I would have a chance to play but it depended on how hard I work and how it goes in practice.”
Five NMSU players from last season’s NCAA Tournament team left the program for various reasons, and the status of former OƱate star Terrel de Rouen is still unclear moving forward. Sim Bhullar left the Aggies after two years to pursue a professional career and seniors Renaldo Dixon and Kevin Aronis finished their eligibility. Point guard K.C. Ross-Miller (Auburn) and Matej Buovac (Sacred Heart) each transferred.
Huggins, a 6-foot-3 guard, as well as 6-foot-1 Toronto, Ontario point guard Rashawn Browne and 6-foot-8 New Orleans, La., native Harold Givens joined the Aggies during the regular signing period between April 16 and May 21.
The latest three additions join Matt Taylor, Jaylyn Pennie, Jonathan Wilkins and Pascal Siakam, who were all on campus last season, as well as Tanveer Bhullar, Sim Bhullar’s younger brother to reload the NMSU roster.
Of the three latest additions, Huggins has the best opportunity to earn a roster spot for 2014-15 season as a player who is already qualified academically. Browne and Givens are already in Las Cruces set to begin the first summer session on Tuesday. Browne said he came to NMSU with the intention of redshirting this year as the Aggies roster already has two sophomore point guards in Ian Baker and Travon Landry. Givens is an intriguing prospect who committed to Florida International in 2013.
Huggins was the prep Player of the Year in Bakersfield last year after averaging 32 points per game and shooting 36 percent from 3-point range for Mira Monte High. Aggies fans can compare Huggins to current Aggies senior DK Eldridge in size and athletic ability. Huggins cleared 6-feet, 9-inches in the high jump of a track meet this season.
“I play quick with a lot of energy and like to get up and down the court,” Huggins said.
Although higher level  schools showed interest throughout the past two years, Huggins ended up going with NMSU over Texas-Pan American and Bakersfield.
Mira Monte coach Scott Smith said schools would offer Huggins but go with another recruit and pull the scholarship offer.
“I just wanted to go somewhere at the end of the day where I was comfortable and New Mexico State gave me a chance to make that a reality,” Huggins said.
Huggins said the Aggies entered the picture in the past month and Huggins and Smith made a visit to Las Cruces a week ago.
“I want to be a part of a winning program and go earn my minutes and work hard,” Huggins said.
Huggins will likely enroll in the second summer session, but Givens and Browne are currently roommates on campus.
Browne played at Bill Crothers Secondary School in Toronto and played for Grassroots Elite, the same AAU program that produced Dixon and former Aggie guard Christian Kabongo.
Browne said NMSU assistant Paul Weir first reached out last summer at an AAU event in Las Vegas. Browne said he had played with Taylor and Tevoun Jackson, the younger brother of NMSU senior Daniel Mullings.
“I knew some of them personally and knew of others who were from my City so I knew it was the place for me,” Browne said. “There is not a lot of NCAA basketball in Canada, but I saw some games. I like the offense, but players get a chance to do their thing in the offense.”
Browne and Givens committed to NSMU without making a visit to Las Cruces. Brown said he had received interest from a number of small schools including Appalachian State, Florida Gulf Coast and Colgate.
“New Mexico State was the most competitive team and successful team that was recruiting me,” Browne said. “That helped in my decision.”
Givens has played different levels of basketball in Georgia, North Carolina and most recently Florida at Faith Baptist Christian, a prep school in Florida, making qualifying a challenge. He committed to Florida International with offers from Louisiana Tech and Murray State after receiving interest from high-major schools early on. Givens averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and five blocks per game at Faith Baptist, he said.
“The competition level was great,” Givens said. “We were playing against schools from California and all over. It was a different experience but it helped me grow as a player.”
Givens moved from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina for the Atlanta area. Givens said grades contributed to de-committing from FIU, but if he is cleared at NMSU, he provides length on the wing at 6-foot-8, who has a game similar to former Aggie Bandja Sy.
“My strengths are my athletic ability,” said Givens, who said his vertical leap has been measured at 46 inches. “My shooting is good but I’m in the gym every day working on shooting, ball handling and awareness.”
Minutes will be hard to come by on the wing behind seniors Mullings (Last year’s Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year) and Eldridge, but whatever production NMSU gets from it’s group of newcomers will be important next season and moving forward.

Friday, April 25, 2014

COMMENTARY: Sim Bhullar's long awaited decision the right one

The big announcement by the biggest Aggie should come as no big shock.
After he helped put New Mexico State back on the college basketball map, Sim Bhullar's work here is done.
The 7-foot-5 sophomore center from Toronto, Ontario made his long speculated decision to turn pro official on Friday after three years in Las Cruces, the past two in an Aggies uniform. If drafted on June 26, Bhullar would be the first NMSU player to hear his name called since Randy Brown was selected No. 31 by the Sacramento Kings in 1991.
Interestingly enough, the Kings are now owned by Vivik Ranadive, the NBA's first Indian-born owner, which adds to the intrigue behind Bhullar's decision. If he were to stick on a NBA roster as a second-round pick or an undrafted free agent, it's widely believed he would be the first player of Indian heritage to play in the NBA, which could tie a franchise and the NBA to a population of over 1 billion people.
But that's just one of the likely factors that Bhullar considered in the days following the Aggies loss to San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament this past March.
The truth of the matter is that nobody knows if Friday's choice is the right one. That likely won't be decided until Bhullar's playing career is over.
Even if Bhullar were to sign a contract in a quality league overseas, he would be competing against big men that would better prepare him for a possible shot in the NBA. It's not the end of the world if he's not on a NBA roster a year from now.
How much would another year at NMSU improve his draft stock?
Critics quick to point out Bhullar's lack of conditioning as a reason he wouldn't be a successful pro are missing the fact that after two record-setting seasons at NMSU, Bhullar gains nothing from going against 6-foot-5 post players in the Western Athletic Conference. Or that college players are limited to eight hours a week with the NMSU coaching staff this time of year. Since the Aggies' season ended, Bhullar has been working out with former NBA coach John Lucas in Houston, preparing his body for pre-draft workouts that will become open to him after May 2 as a declared underclassman.
Men of Bhullar's stature don't have a proven track record of long-tenured careers, at least not in the NBA. He suffered a foot injury during his redshirt season of 2011-12, then missed five games this year with another foot injury.
Another injury at the college level could literally cost Bhullar his future.
Regardless of Bhullar's professional destination, his impact at NMSU can't be understated.
Off the court, you could argue that during his brief stay in Las Cruces he was the face of the basketball program, or at least co-heading it with head coach Marvin Menzies, whose national profile has likewise increased over the past three years as well.
Sports Illustrated spent a weekend in Las Cruces this season working on a piece that centered on Bhullar and younger brother Tanveer, who at 7-foot-3, figures to fill his brother's shoes.
Sim Bhullar was the center of attention from Day 1 this season and he played his best game of the year on the NCAA Tournament stage. He broke his own school record for blocked shots in a single season with 101 this year. Without Bhullar in the lineup, the Aggies held a 3-2 record with opposing teams shooting 45 percent from the floor. For the season, NMSU opponents shot 40 percent from the field.
Bhullar has done it while staying on course for his college degree.
NMSU hasn't had a player drafted into the NBA for 23 years. In reality, the program couldn't ask for a better possible representative than Bhullar, who represented the school well the past two years while bringing a proud Aggie hoops tradition back to life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Menzies has proven ready for the next level

If Marvin Menzies does not land the vacant Tulsa head coaching job this week, it may come down to the lack of a NCAA Tournament win.

But that shouldn't be the case.

The longer the Tulsa search has dragged on, the more favorable a candidate Menzies appears to be. Four NCAA Tournament appearances in five years, three in a row with a pair of close calls in the Big Dance since 2010. Menzies is 152-89 at NMSU and if he returns for an eighth year, he would likely jump into third in school wins behind legendary Lou Henson and Neil McCarthy by the end of 2015.

Those are some of the obvious things that jump off the resume for potential schools looking to find a coach.

Outside of a NCAA Tournament victory, Menzies has nothing left to prove after 7 seasons in Las Cruces.

Losing four NCAA Tournament games as a low seed can hardly be used against Menzies given the names that have surfaced as contenders for the Tulsa job. But if he is passed over, perhaps it's more telling than I thought. The truth is that the Aggies have not had a signature non-conference victory outside of two UNM wins, which NMSU plays twice each year. Nor has he won an outright conference championship, even last season in the Western Athletic Conference that took a significant step back last year. A quick search on Google would reveal multiple incidents away from basketball that has shed a negative light at times on the NMSU program from afar.

Building on previous success and addressing some of those blemishes is one reason Menzies could return, but that's about it.

Menzies, like all coaches at New Mexico State, have fundraising responsibilities that his peers do not. Menzies is a fantastic fundraiser, but consider the significant time investment the head coach needs to devote to raising money instead of devoting that time to the business of basketball. When budgets are tight like they are at New Mexico State, Menzies relies on the offseason fundraising dollars to lift the program to the success the Aggies are currently enjoying.

And that success has been met by an indifferent response from the fanbase, at best. After seven years, Menzies' teams play to a half empty arena and folks who don't attend games have not bought in.

Tulsa is the type of job I imagined Menzies leaving for. He talks about his family loving the area and he has tremendous support inside the administration. Tulsa leaves Conference USA for the higher profile American Athletic Conference next season.

Menzies told me once that if he were to leave NMSU, he wants to do so to a location where people wouldn't second guess his decision.

Tulsa would be that job.

Tulsa was set to pay Danny Manning 1.4 million after just two seasons. But money alone wouldn't lure Menzies away from NMSU. After seven years grinding it out at NMSU, it's time Menzies learns if he can take a program in a better conference to the next level.

He's already done it here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Discussing Marvin Menzies and Sim Bhullar

Rumors ramped up on Wednesday regarding Marvin Menzies potentially leaving Las Cruces for Tulsa and Sim Bhullar bolting for the NBA


Especially Bhullar leaving for the NBA


A source close to the Bhullar family told me Wednesday night that Sim, "Was close to making a decision but has not declared for the NBA Draft"

Is he ready? I would ask those who throw out an automatic no to ask yourself how much closer would Sim get to the NBA by coming back for another year? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Should Sim stay or go?

There has been increased chatter about Sim Bhullar and the NBA recently on Twitter, most recently Wednesday night when an online report said Bhullar was indeed declaring for the June 26 NBA Draft.

A source close to the family told me Wednesday that Bhullar was close to a final decision, but had yet to put his name in, but I never thought that Bhullar would be at New Mexico State for four years. You can't blame him for getting feedback this offseason before the April 27 deadline for underclassmen to declare but if he does so at this point, he cannot return to college.

Bhullar's future has been speculated ever since arriving in Las Cruces. He's certainly been an intriguing player in Las Cruces and with a 7-foot-5 frame, he has always been a pro prospect. But this soon?

Here are three reasons Bhullar should go pro and three reasons he should stay for another year, all of which are fairly obvious but it's the offseason:

Sim Bhullar should go pro because:

Market value:
Bhullar could be the first NBA player of Indian decent, which could very well lead a team to take a second round flyer on him or wait until after the draft where he would have more ability to pick and choose a team to to sign with as an undrafted free agent, such as his hometown club in Toronto. The possibility for endorsements and being the face of basketball to a population of billions has to be very attractive for a NBA franchise. In theory, if Bhullar were to stick on a NBA roster, his salary off the court could be greater than his NBA salary.

Further development:
There is only so much a college staff can develop a player due to time constraints and fewer coaches, trainers, nutritionists compared to a NBA staff. Bhullar has enlisted the help this offseason of former NBA coach and trainer John Lucas in Houston.




Everyone can point to a lack of conditioning as a flaw in Bhullar's game, but I think he could improve on the offensive end as well. His defensive presence alone though should give him a good look, but NBA coaching and strength training could make the process go faster while making money doing so.

Window:
A common comparison, although a stretch in my opinion is former Houston Rocket center Yao Ming, who is compared to Bhullar because of his size (7-6) and the fact that Yao got the NBA into China. But from a basketball standpoint, the two couldn't be further apart in my opinion. Yao was in a professional organization for years before coming to the NBA, where he was also the top pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. But, as could happen with Bhullar, Yao's window in America was nine great, if  not injury filled seasons. You look at Bhullar, who had foot injuries his redshirt season and last year, and you could not blame him for turning pro sooner rather than later.

Three reasons Sim should stay:

One more year:
That sentiment is common among Aggies fans since the Aggies have a strong group coming back next year. But from Bhullar simply being ready to be drafted, his stock would certainly improve with one more year under his belt. DraftExpress did not list Bhullar among its Top 100 prospects. He was listed as the No. 75 sophomore by the website. NBADraft.net did not list Bhullar among its Top 100. Bhullar was not listed among its Top 50 sophomores nor the honorable mention. I don't know how much stock to put into these lists, and I'm sure if Bhullar put his name in, he would gain momentum as his name got out there, but other than his size, it seems that Bhullar remains an unknown outside of college hoops junkies.

Bhullar brothers:
Sim and 7-foot-3 NMSU redshirt freshman Tanveer Bhullar have played together at the high school level in the past. I don't think the prospect of playing with his younger brother next season would sway a decision to stay if he were leaning that way. But it would certainly make it easier for their family to follow their careers for 2014.

National profile:
New Mexico State nearly pulled off a first round upset and Bhullar was a big reason why, playing very well on that stage. Perhaps the Aggies improve their overall seeding next year and Bhullar and the Aggies finally break through with a NCAA Tournament victory. Sports Illustrated already did a piece on Sim and Tanveer Bhullar, and the two brothers would certainly put the Aggies in more of a national spotlight next season, perhaps enhancing each brother's profile in the professional ranks.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NMSU Postseason individual awards

I wanted to do this earlier, but various offseason issues (Marvin Menzies coaching rumors, KC Ross Miller) took some time to chase.

Let me know what you think...


MVP: Sim Bhullar
 Daniel Mullings is the WAC MVP and is the Aggies most talented player. But I think the Aggies most important, most valuable player this year was Sim Bhullar. The Aggies are built inside-out. NMSU shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range this season, the school's highest percentage since 2010, another team that nearly pulled a first round upset. The reason the Aggies got those open looks were either in transition or kick outs from drivers sometimes, but more often from a post player. Bhullar finished the season with 1.4 assists per game, which was tied for 14th among NCAA centers and not far behind No. 1, which was three per game. He has a knack for finding Mullings slashing to the basket, and he was also extremely effective starting that transition play often with an outlet pass.
 San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher said he didn't double Bhullar in the tournament game because of his passing ability. On the defensive end, Bhullar's value shouldn't be understated. NMSU is a defensive/rebounding team. Even though Mullings and Eldridge are very good perimeter defenders, 7-foot-5 is tough for players to finish over if they are able to get into the paint.
NMSU was an ordinary 3-2 without Bhullar in the lineup this year. He wasn't involved in the Aggies game plan last year against St. Louis. He was involved early and often against SDSU with 14 points and seven rebounds. He took up the majority of the publicity around the team in Spokane and he takes up the majority of opposing coaches game planning against the Aggies, making him my MVP for the 2013-14 season.

Most improved player: Tshilidzi Nephawe
I thought Tshilidzi Nephawe was disappointing last season. How does a 6-10 athletic freak not average more than 5 rebounds and less than a block playing in the WAC? He really used the time off from the injury to his advantage, posting career highs in points 11.2 ppg, rebounds 7.8 per game and blocks with 1.4 per game. Perhaps the numbers were a result of hard work, but there also seemed to be a better understanding of the game on both ends of the court. He looked for open teammates when he was doubled instead of forcing a shot. When it was one on one, he displayed more of an offensive game and the ability to finish with both hands around the rim. On defense, he fouled out four times, compared to seven times his sophomore season. Nephawe did turn the ball over 73 times, so that number needs to come down, but his improvement from his sophomore season to this season was impressive.

6th man: Kevin Aronis
I had to find a way to get Kevin Aronis a mention, even though fellow senior Renaldo Dixon also had a very good senior year and both seniors played very well in their final game.
But Aronis was nearly automatic and had one of the better seasons shooting the ball in recent years. Aronis shot 43.7 percent from 3 point range this season, shooting 48.9 percent in WAC play. His 43.7 percent ranks 8th all time at NMSU behind Gordo Castillo (44.8 percent in 2008-09) but Aronis had 96 more attempts this season. Aronis and Castillo tied for seventh on the career 3 point field goal percentage at 40.7 percent and Aronis 80 made 3s ranked fifth all time for a season at NMSU. But Aronis also made some huge shots this year, not bigger than his 3 against San Diego State to send the game into OT.

Most disappointing: Point guard play
It looked like early in the season that KC Ross-Miller had turned the corner, but as the season went on KCRM lost confidence and then lost control, ultimately leaving the program.
The Aggies are formidable 2-5 but the point guard spot is an obvious weak spot. Perhaps the late season minutes from Ian Baker can carry into his freshman season, but Daniel Mullings ended the season as the team's starting point guard.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

ESPN Tweets KC Ross-Miller transferring

ESPN reported late tonight that KC Ross-Miller was transferring from New Mexico State. Not only that but Jeff Goodman said he will be eligible to play next year.

I actually reached out to Ross-Miller earlier in the day, but he declined to comment on rumors. I couldn't get ahold of head coach Marvin Menzies or AD McKinley Boston. Hopefully I can follow up on Monday.

Ross-Miller could transfer and play right away if he were to graduate. As you are aware, Ross-Miller's last game was against Utah Valley, where he threw the ball at UVU guard Holton Hunsaker. Aggies players and UVU students were involved in an altercation shortly after.

Ross-Miller came to NMSU from New Orleans. He verballed to Kentucky as a 15 year old. He showed signs of improvement in his junior year and probably won the Aggies a couple games this season against Hawaii and UTEP. But his play tailed off, and perhaps he was frustrated at the end of the season, but that's just speculation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Menzies says not interested in Wash. St. job, but he could leave without penalty of buyout

Marvin Menzies has been linked to head coaching jobs elsewhere the past three seasons.
Most recently, Menzies was listed in a Spokesman-Review Journal article as one of three possible candidates for the vacant Washington State job.
If Menzies were to leave New Mexico State for WSU or anywhere else, he is free to do so without the penalty of a buyout clause as long as he leaves after July 1.
Menzies said Tuesday there had been no conversations regarding Washington State or any other school at this point.
“Right now I’m 100 percent coming back,” Menzies said. “I don’t know why I wouldn’t. I have three more years.”
Menzies and the school agreed to a three-year contract extension in July of 2012. His current deal runs through the 2017 season.
The extension included a section that required a buyout equal to his $286,110 base salary should Menzies leave Las Cruces before July 1 of this year. The contract also included a retention bonus of $30,303.04 that Menzies collected on Oct. 15 of each year through the contract.
“We created extra value for (Menzies) and expected him to also support the program for the time he is here,” NMSU athletics director McKinley Boston said.
Menzies contract also called for the head coach to alert Boston if there was “such opportunity or interest before any discussions or interviews, other than initial contacts.”
Boston said Monday Menzies had not informed him of any potential interviews with Washington State. Washington State was the coordinating school at the West Region in Spokane, Wash., last week, where the Aggies nearly upset San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.
“My goal is to grow New Mexico State on build on what we have established and take it to the next level,” Menzies said.
Menzies has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in his seven seasons at NMSU, including the past three years. Last week’s loss capped a 26-10 season that resulted in approximately $140,303 of bonuses for the season that included meeting academic and performance standards, as well as meeting media obligations.
Washington State fired Ken Bone, who started for $650,000 in 2009-10 before moving up to $850,000 last season. Washington State athletics director Bill Moos said a hire will be made within the next two weeks.
Menzies interviewed for the Colorado State job two years ago and he was linked to the Texas Tech opening last offseason.
After compiling a 152-89 at NMSU in seven seasons, Menzies will likely remain a candidate for schools with a vacancy.
“I think that with his market value, there will always be people who will give him a hard look,” Boston said.

Friday, March 21, 2014

San Diego State: Three keys unlocked

What does it mean if you do all the things you should do and you still lose? It means San Diego State is a pretty good team.

I said on Twitter that this is the best game I've covered since I started covering New Mexico State, but the Aggies were eliminated for the third straight year.  Even better than the 2010 team, which lost to Michigan State in the same building. This Aggies team had the same talent on the court and a game plan to match, much better than last year's group.

If there was a stat you could single out, it could be free throws. NMSU was 7-10 in the second half, but everything else was so even, it's really the one disparity. SDSU was 21 of 27 (77.8 percent) and NMSU finished 12 of 20 (60 percent)

Ball security: NMSU had 13 turnovers, led by Daniel Mullings, who had seven. Mullings had seven total in the past five games. But the San Diego State press didn't bother the Aggies as I had expected. If NMSU would. NMSU actually scored more points off SDSU turnovers (17) than the Aztecs did (12).

Play through Sim Bhullar: Steve Fisher opted not to double Bhullar, and the Aggies took advantage, at least in the second half when the Aggies shot 51 percent. Steve Fisher said if he had to do it over again, he would have tried to double team Bhullar more often in the post. He didn't because he was afraid of Bhullar's ability to pass the basketball out of the double team and find shooters like Kevin Aronis.

Connect from long distance: Kevin Aronis was fantastic, hitting the biggest 3 pointer of his two year career to get NMSU into overtime. Yet Aronis was only one of two players to make a three, going 4-11. Renaldo Dixon made the other. I have to come clean here, I didn't think Aronis would have space to operate against the Aztecs. Winston Shepard had five inches on Aronis and was guarding Aronis. But the senior shooter found gaps in the halfcourt, and made his open looks in transition

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aggies notes: Sim Bhullar and under rated Aggies

Sim Bhullar had four shots last year in a 20-point NCAA Tournament loss. Bhullar didn't get his first touch until there were fewer than 10 minutes left in the first half. Let's see if the Aggies learned from that, and if Bhullar will be more aggressive the second time in the NCAA Tournament.

"Last year was an experience thing for me," Bhullar said. "I guess I kind of let the atmosphere get to me, the level of the game. This year I'm going to go in more calm and treat it like it's another game. Hopefully I can go out there and stay focused and try and get the goal of winning the game."

It will be interesting to see if Daniel Mullings or DK Eldridge draw San Diego State point guard Xavier Thames. Either way, it's a team effort as the Aztecs try to free him off ball screen after ball screen in the halfcourt.

"He's a great player," Mullings said. "I watched a lot of film on him so far and I know that he likes to utilize a lot of ball screens over and over and in each possession. So just being able to guard that and just get over ball screens and not making any mistakes, that's going to be key for us because we know that he's a big part of their offense and he's an important guy to them."

Two first-year players who have been instrumental in the Agies 26 win season are JC transfer DK Eldridge and freshman Ian Baker, whose confidence has grown in the past two weeks.

"It's only been a short time that (Baker) has been playing on the college level, even though he's a freshman, it's only been half of a season for a freshman," NMSU coach Marvin Menzies said. "So to see him play as efficient as he has right now is really impressive. He's got great moxie about him for a young kid.

"DK on the other hand, is a little bit more mature coming in as a Junior College transfer. Just like Kevin, the other JC player, they fit a niche of specific need that we had when we lost our seniors," Menzies said. "He came in, competed for the position, earned the starting spot, and has never turned back."

Doug Gottlieb talks Sim Bhullar, Aggies/Aztecs

"I've never met a person who doesn't like Marvin Menzies," said College basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb, who will call Thursday's New Mexico State/San Diego State Round of 64 match up on TruTV.

Gottlieb provided another link between Menzies and San Diego State since Menzies helped get Gottlieb's brother, Gregg, hired on Fisher's staff, where he spent eight years before taking a job at Cal in 2007. Menzies was at SDSU from 1999-03.

"He was in my brothers wedding. He got my brother the job. Steve Fisher offered the job to somebody else. Marv went into Fisher's office and said, 'You need to hire this guy. Aerick was my brother's recruit. I have a great affinity of what they are trying to do."

On Sim Bhullar
"I think he's gotten better. I think he's a very good passer. I think that's a very underrated skill. Obviously he's massive. If he gets an angle, he's going to score. They do some pretty good things to hide some of his foot speed issues. How they defend ball screens, they let him sink. They do some unique things defensively so he doesn't have to come out on the floor. He helps them with pressure, feeding him the ball, people come to him and he feeds other people. They don't just have him rim run and demand the basketball. They have him do some different things."

Bhullar's future
"For him to play (in the NBA) you have to be able to defend the ball screen. Post defense, you can't just lay behind  a guy and try to push him out. I think he posts up well, he steps out of the double team well. He has soft hands. Those are things you can't teach."

NMSU vs. San Diego State
"They have two good post defenders. Skyler Spencer is a very good shot blocker (2.5 blocks per game). Traditionally they play behind guys. Some they double, some thy don't. They will probably play behind (Bhullar), but if he's really good at it, he can back them in and catch the ball and lay the ball up. I think initially they play behind him and see how it goes. I don't think they double team because he is such a good passer. But I think they will try to pressure them. Maybe that is where they miss KC."


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Keys to an upset

New Mexico State fans believe that a victory over New Mexico in December should give the Aggies confidence they can beat San Diego State, another Mountain West team, in Thursday's NCAA Tournament match up.
The Lobos took two of three from the Aztecs, who are ranked No. 13 in the country and seeded No. 4 in the West Region. It's true the Aggies are built similar to the Lobos, from the inside out while leaning on defending and rebounding. But the Aggies' weaknesses, namely playing loose with the ball and their own deficiencies offensively, play into the strengths of the Aztecs.
San Diego State was seeded No. 4 in the West Region for a reason.
But if the Aztecs are slightly off and doubts start to creep into their heads about recent early round NCAA Tournament exits, and the Aggies play their best game of the season, an upset isn't far fetched.
It is March Madness after all.

Ball security
Aggies players and coaches pointed to the fact that Western Athletic Conference opponents pressed the Aggies this season. They did it for a reason. Seattle forced 16 turnovers in the Aggies' two-point WAC Tournament victory last week. Chicago State forced 33 turnovers in the two meetings against the Aggies this season.
And this isn't Seattle or Chicago State.
San Diego State's pressure and length won't let up for 40 minutes on Thursday. The Aztecs are eight or nine players deep and they all range from 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-9. They pressure the ball on the inbounds while another player jumps the ball handler. San Diego State forces nearly 13 turnovers per game with seven steals per game. When they are clicking, they average 70.6 points per game. One or two significant runs created by turnovers and easy buckets against the Aggies could end this game early.
It's what the Aztecs thrive on and it should be the biggest challenge junior guard Daniel Mullings has faced since assuming the point guard position.
Mullings has responded well, averaging 15.6 points and 4.2 assists per game the past five games. More importantly, he's turned the ball over just seven times during that span.

Play through Sim Bhullar
Open shots won't be there unless the Aggies get the ball inside. Bhullar wasn't involved in the Aggies offense in last year's NCAA Tournament loss to Saint Louis, attempting four shots in a 20-point loss.
Bhullar's 1.4 assists per game rank fourth on the team this year. An aggressive Bhullar early and often will allow the Aggies to dictate tempo inside. SDSU will defend the post one of two ways. The Aztecs could deny the post by fronting Bhullar and junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe with help behind and perhaps even sagging one of their 6-foot-7 wing players into the paint. Or the Aztecs can allow the ball into the post and trap on the touch to get the ball out of the paint. San Diego State's interior players are physical and athletic, but getting the ball into Bhullar will either lead to points (he's averaging 14.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game the past seven games), open shots for perimeter players or result in free throws for the Aggies. The paint is the Aggies obvious advantage in terms of size. NMSU needs to take advantage of it.

Connect from long distance
Upsets occur when the underdog jumps out to a quick lead, the neutral site fans get behind them and they hang on to advance. There is no better way to get going than to hit a few open 3-pointers.
In its best victory of the season, NMSU hit seven 3-pointers in the first half at New Mexico and held on for a 67-61 victory. This year's team is better equipped to hit from long range than last year's NCAA team. The Aggies are shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range. DK Eldridge is shooting 40 percent for the season, hitting 6-for-9 the past three games. Aggies senior Kevin Aronis has been terrific from 3-point range this season, shooting 44 percent. In extended minutes, freshman guard Ian Baker has also hit 36 percent of his attempts from 3.

Aronis will need time to get open and get a shot off against SDSU's length, but if Aronis and Eldridge connect for five to seven 3s, either in transition or from interior touches, it could put the Aztecs on their heels and give the Aggies post players some room to operate as the game goes on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Speculating on Ross-Miller's future

I heard from two sources in Las Vegas that New Mexico State junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller would no longer be with the basketball team, at least for the rest of this season.

Another source told me today that Ross-Miller would not be with the Aggies when they travel to Spokane on Tuesday for their Thursday NCAA Tournament game against San Diego State. Ross-Miller was not with the team on Sunday as the Aggies watched the Selection Sunday among fans.

NMSU AD McKinley Boston said Monday that Ross-Miller's season is done as he is not traveling with the team Tuesday nor playing in the NCAA Tournament.

But if you do the math, there are two seniors with four players sitting out this year .Ian Baker has proven that he was up to the task last week, and that was without a full season under his belt.

I think there were other factors if Ross-Miller does not in fact return. But throwing the ball at a Utah Valley player was probably the last time he wears an Aggies uniform. There are a lot of things that happen that never see the light of day. The Utah Valley incident was the last straw perhaps.

Steve Fisher on the Aggies, Marvin Menzies

Steve Fisher held a video press conference today. Here are some highlights

On Sim Bhullar
He's so vastly improved from a year ago. It's hard to manauver around him. And they throw it to him early and often. They are like us. They have made more free throws than their opponents have shot. ... It makes it hard for you to drive in when there is a 7-5 guy inside. ... They do a nice job passing the ball out of the post and they move it side to side and swing it so they can throw it into the post. We are a pretty good defensive team so you hope that we can guard guys with effeciency. Limiting them to one shot is important.

On NMSU
If your'e in the field you are good enough to win. I remember watching them against Michigan State (in 2010 tournament) They did everything but win the game. The more tape I've watched, the more impressed with their team. ... You start with their bigs, but (Mullings) is good and can beat you in a lot of ways. (Aronis) is as good a 3-point shooter in the country. (Baker) has also bennefitted from more playing time.

On Marvin Menzies:
I talked to Marvin today. I told him that you have learned from your time here. You are too good. We talked about being so happy for each other and our families and desperately wished we weren't paired up against each other. I'm happy for what he’s done.He's had the experience to be with different styles and different philosophies. And he can recruit and he has them from all over the world.



Josh Davis, Dwayne Polee II, Xavier Thames 

Winston Shepard, Aqeel Quinn 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

NMSU coaches tied to SDSU Steve Fisher

LAS CRUCES  When you are a lower seed, any glimpse of familiarity with your opponent can help a coach pull an upset in the NCAA Tournament.
The New Mexico State men’s basketball coaching staff is extremely familiar with San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher. The Aggies were seeded No. 13 in the Midwest Region and will take on No. 4 SDSU on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash. The Aztecs are 29-4 this season and ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll.
“It’s going to be crazy,” said Menzies, whose Aggies finished 26-9 and won their third consecutive Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship on Saturday. “I have already texted him. It’s like playing someone in your own family, we are that close. It’s going to be bittersweet either way. We will put that aside and do the best we can do.”
Menzies was an assistant under Fisher from 1999-2003 at San Diego State. First-year NMSU assistant coach Aerik Sanders played for Fisher at SDSU from 1999-2003.
“That should help us a little bit but this is going to be about players that night,” Menzies said.
Sanders joined the Aggies this season after one year at Montana State. Prior to that, Sanders ran the Sanders Sports Academy, where he developed relationships some of the Aztecs current players, including standout guard Xavier Thames. It was Fisher who helped Sanders break into the coaching business after his playing career.
In January, Sanders predicted a NMSU/San Diego State match up in March.
“When I was doing the Skills Academy, I was still volunteering and working out with a lot of those guys,” Sanders said. “I text with (Thames) and am kind of like a big brother to him. I texted him two or three weeks ago and said, ‘Don’t be surprised if we play you guys.’”
San Diego State is among the teams that Menzies follows throughout the season. At the school’s watch party on Sunday, Menzies said he has watched San Diego State at least eight times.
“They are, in my opinion, the best defensive team in the country,” Menzies said. “They are going to do a lot of things similar to what we do with ball screens and post defense.”
San Diego State lost to the Aggies in-state rival New Mexico twice this season, including in Saturday’s Mountain West championship game. NMSU and UNM split their two-game series in the Aggies non-conference schedule.
Watching the Aztecs on television and comparing common opponents is fine, but stepping on the court with them is a different story. But it apears, on paper, that it could be a low-scoring game with two good defensive teams.
Sanders compared San Diego State to Arizona, by far the best defensive team the Aggies have played this season.
“We have the size advantage so they will try to be scrappy and pressure,” Sanders said. “They have all 6-7, 6-8 athletes from shooting guard all the way to the center. They are going to trap, full court pres and obviously get up and down the court.”
Like they have all season, the Aggies have a size advantage against the Aztecs with sophomore center Sim Bhullar and junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe in the paint.
“I feel like everyone is ready,” Nephawe said. “(Following Saturday’s victory in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship), nobody really went out and just make sure that we all have legs and are ready for the Tournament. We were still happy but more just thinking ahead.”
Menzies makes his fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and his team enters the tournament as a No. 13 seed for the third time. The Aggies were a No. 12 seed the last time they were in Spokane, losing a Midwest Regional to eventual Final Four participant Michigan State.
“No matter what, we are going to play a great basketball team but upsets happen every year so it’s definitely our goal to beat them and we think that’s possible for us,” Aggies senior guard Kevin Aronis said.

Video reactions

Late games are a killer.

As a result, all I have following New Mexico State's WAC title win are videos from the postgame celebration. I will add some thoughts tomorrow before Selection Sunday.





Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stephen Madison is rolling in Vegas in school's final year in WAC

Stephen Madison is going to be a handful.
Idaho's senior forward said the difference between this year's team and his previous three years of failing to win a WAC Tournament game has been its cohesiveness as a team entering tonight's WAC Tournament championship game.
"It's great," Madison said. "Every year you prepare for this. Sometimes you have more talented teams, but our team is coming together at the right time and that's all you can ask."
Idaho has fielded more talent on its roster in head coach Don Verlin's first five years, but he failed to advance before this year. Madison and guard Connor Hill played with the WAC Player of the Year, Kyle Barone, last year, but the Vandals lost as a No. 6 seed to NMSU. They were bounced two years ago as a No. 3 seed.
Madison has been on a roll in Las Vegas, averaging 25.5 points per game on 67 percent shooting from 3-point range in wins over UMKC and Utah Valley this week.
Madison leads the Vandals this year in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and field goal percentage and will no doubt be the focal point for the Aggies to stop.
As the Vandals leave the rebuilding WAC for the Big Sky next year, it's only fitting they face New Mexico State in tonight's final since the schools joined the league together in 2005-06. NMSU is 7-2 against the Vandals since Madison joined the team. NMSU is . Madison has scored 16.5 points per game against NMSU this year, scoring 24 in Idaho's victory in Moscow.
"New Mexico State is one of the most dominant teams in the WAC since I've been in college," Madison said. "You want to play them. There has been one or two times where they got us good, but the rest of them have come down to the wire."
***
WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd said Thursday he expects fans to remain in the stands during tonight's trophy presentation.
"We will have our security in place regardless of who is playing in the game but we want to avoid having fans on the court after the game," Hurd said. "If they want to celebrate, they can celebrate, but do it in the stands. We would prefer it to be that way."
Hurd said the WAC will instruct all of its member schools in game management expectations in the offseason.
"It will be a focus in our May meetings (in Kansas City)," Hurd said. "I don't know the form it's going to take yet. We will review them all and I will get information from other conferences and what they have in place. Some people ask why don't we take the SEC model and fine schools for fans coming onto the court. I don't know if that's really appropriate for our league at this point."


Flagrant 2 definition

Art. 7. When, during the course of play (live ball), an individual strikes an opponent with the hand, elbow, arm, foot, knee or leg in a nonconfrontational manner but the act is not only excessive but also severe or extreme, it shall be ruled as a flagrant 2 personal foul and not a fighting action. When a defined body part is used to strike an opponent but the contact is not severe or extreme, a judgment shall be made by the official as to whether the contact is a flagrant 1 personal foul.
Art. 17. After a game, conference offices or the assigning authority may correct an error about who was involved in a fight but cannot change an official’s ruling that a fight took place or lessen the severity of the penalty. The conference office or assigning authority may make those penalties more severe. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

WAC semifinal: Three keys and a prediction

I think the Aggies got their close game out of the way against Seattle on Thursday. Bakersfield is no push over and they played the Aggies to a three point game in Las Cruces this season, but I think tonight will be closer to NMSU's 72-57 victory at Bakersfield last weekend.

Bakersfield center Aly Ahmed can make the Aggies bigs play defense, but the problem is there is a drop off after Ahmed while the Aggies have three quality big men.

I'm looking forward to the matchup between the Aggies and Bakersfield point guard Issiah Grayson. Grayson is no Isiah Umipig and I don't think Daniel Mullings will go 1-7 from the field again.

The Aggies advance to another WAC final, 86-75

Handle pressure: Seattle didn't press the Aggies, but NMSU guards did struggle with Seattle's pressure with 16 turnovers. Bakersfield doesn't have the length that Seattle has but Brandon Barnes can bother Kevin Aronis although Aronis should be more of a factor against Bakersfield. I think if anything, Ian Baker was solid. Folks on Twitter want him to score, but when he's in the game, I think NMSU will have enough scoring options on the court.

Rebound: The Aggies out rebounded Bakersfield by five last weekend and it was even in the first game. Bakersfield had 14 offensive rebounds in the first game and 15 last weekend. Seattle collected 21 offensive rebounds against the Aggies on Thursday. Offensive rebounds and NMSU turnovers helped Seattle with 25 more field goal attempts than the Aggies.

Keep going inside: Maybie Sim Bhullar is the WAC Tournament MVP a second straight year if he repeats Thursday's effort. The Aggies certainly looked to Bhullar and Nephawe on Thursday. Eldridge was the only perimeter player on Thursday in double figures.


Seattle's last chance (Final three seconds of NMSU WAC quarterfinal win

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WAC quarterfinal: Three keys and a prediction

Seattle is an enigma.

I think the Redhawks are the second most athletic team in the conference. It's hard to make that argument with 5 league wins and their size took a hit when they lost Deshaun Sunderhaus with a knee injury. I think anytime you have a scorer like Isiah Umipig though, you have a chance. I just remember when San Jose State's Adrian Oliver was within a shot of sending San Jose to the semifinals a couple years ago.

NMSU has had little trouble with Seattle this year, but I have a feeling that tonight's game could be a little bit tighter, at least for the first 30 minutes. If the Aggies don't get off to a good start, teams have been able to hang around this season against them.

Seattle matches NMSU to start, but the Aggies pull away, 83-76

3-point line: In Seattle's best WAC victory of the season Seattle made 10 3s. Umipig made seven of them and had 32 points. The Aggies now have their best shooter in the starting lineup with Kevin Aronis. It will be interesting to see who Aronis guards tonight. I would guess it would be Dvonne Picket. Picket could be a tough matchup on the other end of the court as well. 6-5 guard Clarence Trent has tried to post up the Aggies smaller guards with little to no success. Trent is an interesting player who plays the four or five as well. He tries to make the NMSU bigs move their feet. I think hes a x factor, but he hasnt played well against NMSU so far.

Handle the press: Seattle has pressured NMSU in past games, but not for an extended period of time. Daniel Mullings has done well the past two games, even agaiinst a pressing Bakersfield team. When he has had high turnover games, it has come against pressing teams.

Read the double teams: NMSU's big men have done very well reading the defense out of double teams this year. In fact, I would say that is NMSU's best offense. Get the big guys the ball and play off of them. If Seattle tries to play straight up, I expect Nephawe and Bhullar to have a huge game. Otherwise double teams open things for Aronis to spot up or Mullings to cut and get the ball inside the paint.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quarterfinal matchups/predictions

Who: No. 1 Utah Valley (19-10, 13-3) vs. Texas-Pan American (9-22, 5-11)
When: Thursday, 1 p.m.
Season series: Utah Valley 2-0
Breakdown: The WAC Tournament begins with two teams making their first appearance in Las Vegas. Utah Valley won both games during the regular season, as the Wolverines held on for a 45-42 victory at home last weekend. The first game of the tournament could likewise be low scoring, as both teams are deliberate on the offensive end. Utah Valley’s 62.3 possessions per 40 minutes are the fewest in the league during WAC play, while UTPA’s 67.5 is second fewest. For a No. 8 seed, UTPA could be the most versatile team in the league, able to match up with multiple defenses. But Utah Valley has proven to be an efficient offensive team with two WAC first-team players leading the way (point guard Holton Hunsaker and center Ben Aird). UVU has also shown a knack for winning close games this season.
Prediction: Utah Valley

No. 4 Missouri-Kansas City (10-19, 7-9) vs. No. 5 Idaho (14-17, 7-9)
When: Thursday, 3:30 p.m.
Season series: 1-1
Breakdown: This could be the most entertaining game on Thursday. Both games between the teams reached the 80-point range, with the Vandals pulling out an 87-80 victory on the final weekend of the regular season. Idaho has won four of its last five games entering the WAC Tournament, leaning on the duo of guard Connor Hill and first-team All-WAC forward Stephen Madison. UMKC has wins over the Top-3 teams in the WAC standings this season - Utah Valley, New Mexico State and Grand Canyon - and had won three straight before Saturday’s loss to Idaho. Both teams made 11 3s on Saturday, indicating perimeter defense will be key in order to advance to the second round.
Prediction: Idaho

No. 3 Chicago State (13-18, 8-8) vs. No. 6 Bakersfield (12-18, 5-11)
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Season series: Chicago State 2-0
Breakdown: Chicago State has been a consistent team in its first year in the WAC - hence the Cougars No. 3 seeding with a .500 record in conference play. Chicago State did sweep Bakersfield this season but each game was decided by eight or fewer points. Losing close games certainly cost Bakersfield this year. Ten of their league losses were by single digits with four losses by three points or less, and Bakersfield has lost four-straight games entering the postseason, strange for a team with five seniors. Both teams also boast a second-team team All-WAC player. Bakersfield point guard Issiah Grayson is a scoring threat while Chicago State forward Quinton Pippen is an all-around player for the Cougars. Which player will lead his team into the semifinals?
Prediction: Bakersfield

No. 2 New Mexico State (23-9, 12-4) vs. No. 7 Seattle (13-16, 5-11)
When: Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
Season series: NMSU 2-0
Breakdown: Seattle matches up with the Aggies better than any team in the WAC, but SU has not put the pieces together this season under coach Cameron Dollar. The teams are first (NMSU) and second in rebounding margin in WAC play, which is normally a clear advantage for the Aggies. Seattle also has a trio of perimeter players who pose a challenge for NMSU, led by scoring machine Isiah Umipig (second-team All-WAC, third in scoring at 18.9 points per game) and 6-foot-6 forward Clarence Trent, who is good off the dribble and will make an NMSU big man move his feet. With the season-ending injury to Deshaun Sunderhaus, Seattle does not have the depth on the interior to match up with Aggie post players Sim Bhullar, Tshilidzi Nephawe and Renaldo Dixon. Seattle’s only hope for an upset rest on another big scoring night from Umipig, who has five 30-plus point games this season.
Prediction: New Mexico State

Monday, March 10, 2014

5 keys to a third WAC title

New Mexico State opens Western Athletic Conference Tournament play against seventh-seeded Seattle on Thursday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Aggies, seeded second, could become the first team to win three straight WAC Tournament titles and head coach Marvin Menzies could become the first NMSU coach to make three consectuvie NCAA Tournament appearances since Neil McCarthy made five straight trips from 1990-94.
Following are five keys for the Aggies to accomplish their threepeat:
Start strong >> New Mexico State is 0-6 in games they trailed at halftime. The Aggies are 3-6 this season in games decided by six points or less. In WAC games, the Aggies trailed 37-28 at Missouri-Kansas City at the half, stormed back to tie the game in the final minute before a Daniel Mullings foul and an Aggies turnover led to a 68-66 loss. The Aggies were tied at Chicago State at halftime, but Chicago State got hot from 3-point range, hitting 7 of 8 from 3-point range to beat NMSU 86-81. The Aggies were tied at Texas-Pan American before pulling away and outscoring UTPA 45-28 in the second half. NMSU also lost two games in WAC play where the Aggies held halftime leads, at Idaho and at Utah Valley. NMSU led by seven with three minutes left at Utah Valley, but a 15-for-30 effort at the foul line doomed NMSU in a 66-61 overtime loss.
Previous NMSU teams have closed out games well. This year's club seems to prosper when they start fast but the Aggies should expect at least one tight game in Las Vegas, where the Aggies have been dominant for the most part, winning their six WAC Tournament games the past two years by an average of 14.3 points per game — 17 points per game in the championship contests, with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line.
Keep the POY out of foul trouble >> NMSU junior guard Daniel Mullings was named the WAC Player of the Year on Sunday, becoming the first Aggies player to do so since the school joined the WAC. With the extended suspension of point guard K.C. Ross-Miller, Mullings has added point guard to his countless responsibilities. On the defensive end, Mullings will either guard the opposing point guard or the team's best perimeter scorer. Freshmen Travon Landry and Ian Baker have played well in recent extended minutes, but head coach Marvin Menzies needs Mullings on the court as much as possible.
Play through the bigs >> Sim Bhullar was named last year's WAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and Aggies junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe has had a career year, earning second-team all-WAC honors this season. Bhullar has registered three consecutive double-doubles and has averaged 15 points and 12.7 rebounds the past three games on 57 percent shooting. Seattle and No. 3 Chicago State, a likely round 2 opponent, both play an undisciplined style of basketball. The Aggies need to avoid getting involved in a street ball contest and focus on getting the big men established early and often.
Lean on defense, rebounding >> While the Orleans Arena is considered a neutral court game, NMSU can control its effort on the defensive end and on the glass, two areas the Aggies normally excel in. NMSU finished the regular season second in scoring defense in WAC play, first in defensive field goal percentage, fifth in 3-point field goal percentage defense and first in rebounding margin. The Aggies can avoid an upset this week if they win in all of the above categories, even if they have an off night on the offensive end.
Business trip >> In their 12 WAC victories, NMSU won by an average of 18 points per game and only two of those victories were by fewer than 10 points. This year's team has been dominant at times, but their four league losses leave them open to doubters. WAC coaches and media picked the Aggies to win the regular season. They didn't. NMSU can now do what they were supposed to do in the regular season.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What do you think about Ross-Miller's suspension?

Was two games enough? I can see it, but I think there are obviously other factors at work here. People who follow the program closely could have put some pressure on the AD, and there are behind the scenes issues that don't always make public news, such as Terrel de Rouen's suspension. 

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State Athletics Director McKinley Boston today announced that sophomore guard KC Ross-Miller will not be eligible to play in the WAC Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., next week.

The indefinite suspension will continue at least through the WAC Basketball Tournament.

“I explained to KC Ross-Miller that I expect our coaches, administrators and student-athletes to conduct themselves in a manner that appropriately represents NM State University,” said Boston. “His status as a member of the NM State basketball team will be re-evaluated in the future, pending his successful completion of an anger management course.”

The Aggies are the No. 2 seed in the WAC Tournament and will begin play at 8:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Thursday, March 13, in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.





Friday, March 7, 2014

WAC Tournament seeding scenarios

Possible Seeds


Bakersfield

5      If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Grand Canyon beats UTPA and Kansas City beats Idaho OR
        If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Seattle U beats Chicago State, UTPA beats Grand Canyon and Kansas City beats Idaho

6      If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Idaho beats Kansas City OR
        If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U, UTPA beats Grand Canyon and Kansas City beats Idaho OR
        If Bakersfield loses to Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA

7      If Bakersfield loses to Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U and UTPA beats Grand Canyon

8      If Bakersfield loses to Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State

Chicago State

3      If Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If Chicago State loses to Seattle U and Idaho beats Kansas City

4      If Chicago State loses to Seattle U and Kansas City beats Idaho
       

Idaho

4      If Idaho beats Kansas City and Seattle U beats Chicago State

5      If Idaho beats Kansas City and Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Chicago State beats Seattle U and UTPA beats Grand Canyon OR
        If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA

6      If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA

7      If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State

Kansas City

3      If Kansas City beats Idaho and Seattle U beats Chicago State

4      If Kansas City beats Idaho and Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If Kansas City loses to Idaho and Chicago State beats Seattle U

5      If Kansas City loses to Idaho and Seattle U beats Chicago State

New Mexico St.

2      Locked in

Seattle

5      If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Kansas City beats Idaho

6      If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Idaho beats Kansas City OR
        If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Kansas City beats Idaho

7      If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Idaho beats Kansas City OR
        If Seattle U loses to Chicago State and Grand Canyon beats UTPA
       

8      If Seattle U loses to Chicago State and UTPA beats Grand Canyon

UTPA

6      If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Chicago State beats Seattle U

7      If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If UTPA loses to Grand Canyon, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U

8      If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If UTPA loses to Grand Canyon and Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If UTPA loses to Grand Canyon, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State

Utah Valley

1      Locked in



WAC Tie-breaking Procedures.

a.   General Procedures
The following procedures are to be used to determine seeding for a Conference tournament in sports in which regular season scheduling is required or to establish the automatic qualifier to an NCAA Championship subject to any sport regulation tie-breakers.

[1] Ties for all places in the standings (between two teams or three or more teams) which can be broken based upon head-to-head competition are broken before the implementation of further tie-breaking procedures.

[2] If more than two teams are tied, the three or more tie-breaking procedures shall be implemented.

[3] In the case of ties for more than one place, the first tie broken is that of the highest place (i.e., first place, second place, etc.) and continues downward through the standings.

[4] If the tie is for first place and cannot be broken by a head-to-head results, compare the tied teams’ winning percentage against the next highest finishing team that the tied teams have played the same number of times and continues through the standings. The team with the best winning percentage against the next highest-finishing team or group of tied teams advances. If the tie is for any position other than first place, the comparison shall begin at the top of the standings.

[5] Once a tied team has been placed in a position/seed, that team shall be included in all further comparisons of other tied teams from the position/seed in which it has been placed.

b.   Basketball Specific Tie-Breaking Procedures

[1] Two-Way Tie:

[i] The winner of the head-to-head competition is the higher seed.

[ii] If the tie is for first place, compare the tied teams’ records against the next highest finishing team and continue through the standings. The team with the best record/winning percentage against the next highest finishing team(s) or group of tied teams that the tied teams have played the same amount of times shall receive the higher seed.  If the tie is for any position other than first place, the comparison shall begin at the top of the standings.

[iii] If a tie still remains, the institution with the highest RPI at the conclusion of the WAC’s regular season shall receive the higher seed.

[2] Three or More-Way Tie. Once a tie has been reduced to two teams, the two-team tie-breaker is implemented.

[i] Compare the records of the tied teams against each other. The team(s) with the best record(s) versus the other tied teams receives the higher seed or advances to the next tie-breaker; the team with the next best record versus the other tied teams receives the next highest seed or advances to the next tie breaker, etc.

[ii] If the tie is for first place, compare the tied teams’ records against the next highest finishing team and continue through the standings. The team with the best record against the next highest finishing team(s) or group of tied teams that all the tied teams have played the same amount of times shall receive the higher seed  or advance to the next level of tie-breaker. If the tie is for any position other than first place the comparison shall begin at the top of the standings.

[iii] If a tie still remains, the institution with the highest RPI at the conclusion of the WAC’s regular season shall receive the higher seed.