Friday, October 30, 2009

Sy cleared for good

As of Monday, Bandja Sy will be cleared to play this season with the Aggies. As you may have read in my last post, international students have to pass two hurdles to be cleared. Sy was cleared earlier this week on the academic piece, and I have received word that as of Monday, he will be cleared as far as amateurism, meaning they take a look at international players to make sure they haven't played professionally. It's a bit a of good news for the Aggies, who are still waiting on BJ West as of Friday and who will open the season without Troy Gillenwater and Wendell McKines. .. Also, in case you were wondering, Gillenwater and McKines can not play in Monday's exhibition game against WNMU or any other game or scrimmage if another team is involved.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


It seems like the two things people want to read about the most are the clearinghouse issues and Jahmar Young. Following are some quotes from Menzies on both situations and I have a story on Sy and Tyrone Watson probably Saturday or Sunday. Sy practiced for the first time on Wednesday since the team normally takes Tuesday off. He was cleared to practice all year but he can't play in games yet. I don't know if you read my story on the Aggies 3-point shooting/3-point shooting defense, but here it is. It seemed to me that rebounding and transition defense were the biggest weaknesses last year and hopefully they address those two things early on. We get to see for the first time in Monday's exhibition game.

Menzies on Bandja Sy's eligibility
"He has been cleared to receive his scholarship and practice for the whole year. There is a portion of the Clearinghouse where they have to check your amateurism to make sure you were never a professional and being that he was a international student and we recruited him so late, you fill out that paperwork and the process of checking and going through the background that the NCAA has to do, we are still in the balance there so we are kind of at their mercy. It's just a matter of time with him. He has got through on the academic piece. Worst case scenario he redshirts this year and he's ready to go next year and that's not all bad either. I'm OK with redshirting guys except for the fact that without Troy and Wendell we could probably use him."

BJ West has all of his paperwork submitted to the NCAA.

Menzies on reports that Jahmar Young will sit on Monday
"I haven't made a decision. He doesn't have to. That's my call. He was going to have some trouble with his ankle a little bit and we have so many guys that I have to take a look at and it's an exhibition game. We have a lot of new guys who have to get their feet wet. Everybody else is good to go. As of today, as far as I know, that is the only one that had a question mark and he got that resolved."

Menzies on addressing the rebounding
"You have to get out there and emphasize things. We talked about it last year but obviously we didn't emphasize it enough. We didn't drill it enough. Every single possession, whether you're talking about offense or defense, is an opportunity to rebound so we have tweaked some of our drills so the rebound is the completion of the drill. A lot of times, certain drills end with the shot. Now we secure the rebound and try to push it to halfcourt or get the outlet pass before the drill is over. Who knows if it will work or not. At the end of the day you have to have guys who make that a priority. Just like defensively, they want to get stops so it's not like let me survive this possession so I can go score again. When you look at the total body of work from last year and you show your players that and they see they could have done a better team if they had done these things, that in itself should be enough of a motivator for them to be more consistent in practice."

Finally I have a question. Last year I did a little running blog entry for the games I was at. I enjoyed doing it and plan to do it again. Do you have any suggestions? I tried to update at every media timeout as long as the game was competitive. Do you follow them during games or are you at the same game? anything you would want added? Keeping in mind that I'm working on the story for the paper so go easy on me....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

N'Doye practices, Menzies still waiting on NCAA

7-foot center Aboulaye N'Doye practiced for the first time today (Wednesday) I'm doing a story on the big fella from Africa for over the weekend. I didn't really know what to expect but I came away from the short interview impressed. One non-basketball thing that I found interesting about him came when we were talking about what he had been doing the past year. It seems that we have been talking about this kid for two years and Wednesday was his first practice. He said that his studies in Africa really prepared him and were more demanding than what he has faced in the short time he has been at the university level in America. Some noteworthy hoops info on him – he has only been playing basketball for four years and his first game in an Aggie uniform will be his first time in organized basketball. ... Also, because of a complicated transfer process, the Aggies will have his services on the court for three years. ... As far as his physical ability, it has yet to be determine.

Here are some quotes from Aggie assistant Mick Durham, who works with the Aggie big men on how they will work him into the flow after getting a knee scope last month. I will say that when we were talking, Hamidu Rahman walked by and N'Doye clearly has a couple inches on Rahman, who is listed at 6-11, although Rahman has had the benefit of three years in the weight room.

"We had him in individuals for a handful of workout sessions but his knee kept swelling and he had to get his knee scoped. We have to start really basic with him. The downfall is missing six weeks of conditioning so we have to get him back in shape and then slowly work on his skills but we need another big body in practice."

Bodies in practice doesn't seem to be an issue. I've only been around the team for two seasons so far but I can't remember a time where there were so many able-bodies guys in the practice gym. I believe there were 15 guys there on Wednesday.

Finally, Menzies on the eligibility of BJ West and Bandja Sy

"There is a 50-50 chance that BJ could be done (Thursday). There is an outside chance that Bandja could be done the following day but not cleared. Just cleared to practice. Then we are going to start a waiver. You get to go until they finish the waiver."

Menzies on Justin Standley and Jacoby Patton

"It's nailed down that (Standley) is going to redshirt but its not nailed down if he will be able to practice or not. We are still working on trying to get him to be able to be a practice players. Jacoby is also in the same boat. We are trying to hopefully get him cleared so he can be a full practice player but he is going to redshirt either way."

Menzies on the first week of practice

"We have a lot of new kids who are trickling in with the process. They are picking it up very quickly based on their own basketball IQ as well as the returners helping them through things. It's easy to develop in a basketball system if you have a lot of people who know the system. Everybody goes out and runs the plays the right way. The first group goes out. They all know everything that we are doing already, we are going to tweak some things later. So the new guys get to sit back and watch their position go and run through it correctly first even if it's just repeating what that guy did, eventually they will understand the nuances of reading the defense and the options within it. But they get a chance, every rep, to see it done correctly before they actually step on the floor."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The Aggies men were off on Tuesday. I spoke to Jahmar Young briefly, who said that the practices over the weekend were tough and that he needed an off day.

I was also informed that Abdoulaye Ndoye is expected to practice when the Aggies return to the practice court on Wednesday. As far as I know, BJ West and Bandja Sy were not cleared as of Tuesday.

WAC men's official poll

1. Utah State (8)
2. Nevada (1)
4. Idaho
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Fresno State
7. Boise State
8. San Jose State
9. Hawaii

First team
Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Mac Hopson, Idaho
Armon Johnson, Nevada
Jared Quayle, Utah State
Jahmar Young, NMSU

Second team
Roderick Flemings, Hawaii
Paul George, Fresno State
Kyle Gibson, La. Tech
Sylvester Seay, Fresno State
Tai Wesley, Utah State

POY Luke Babbitt, Nevada

1. Utah State
2. Nevada
4. Idaho
5. Boise State
6. Louisiana Tech
7. Fresno State
8. San Jose State
9. Hawaii

First team
Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Mac Hopson, Idaho
Armon Johnson, Nevada
Jared Quayle, Utah State
Jahmar Young, NMSU

Luke Babbitt, Nevada

Women's WAC official polls


1. Fresno State (5)
2. Louisiana Tech (3)
3. Boise State (1)
4. Idaho
6. Nevada
7. Utah State
T-8 Hawaii
T -8 San Jose State

First team
Shanavia Dowdell, La. Tech
Tasha Harris, Boise State
Adrienne Johnson, La. Tech
Jaleesa Ross, Fresno State
Madison Spence, NMSU

Second team
Hayley Munro, Fresno State
Yinka Olorunnife, Idaho
Derisa Taleni, Idaho
Jessica Van Hoogen, Boise State
Lydia Whitehead, Utah State

Dowdell, La. Tech

1. Louisiana Tech
2. Fresno State
3. Boise State
4. Idaho
5. Nevada
7. Utah State
8. Hawaii
9. San Jose State

First team
Shanavia Dowdell, La. Tech
Adrienne Johnson, La. Tech
Yinka Olorunnife, Idaho
Jaleesa Ross, Fresno State
Madison Spence, NMSU

Second Team
Crystal Boyd, NMSU
Tasha Harris, Boise State
Hayley Munro, Fresno State
Derisa Taleni, Idaho
Jessica Van Hoogen, Boise State

Shanavia Dowdell, La. Tech

Monday, October 19, 2009

Aggies women's commitment

NMSU received a verbal commitment from Andrea Chenier from Piedmont, Cali, a 5-10 player who can play any of the three guard positions. Chenier is a top 70 player who played on the same club team as current Aggie freshman Camilla Rosen.

The NMSU women's program is still hoping that Crystal Boyd will be rewarded another year of eligibility after battling injuries her whole career. If she is granted the additional year, the Aggies are full of scholarships after receiving a verbal from guard Jasmin Rutledge last month.

WAC polls

The WAC coaches and media polls will be released on Tuesday so I thought I would put my picks out on here. I think it's going to be a competitive year on the top half with an improved skill level across the board.

Mens poll
1. NMSU - I have to pick based on the belief that Gillenwater and McKines will be on the team for the conference season. If they are, it's the most talented team in the league and that's not including the newcomers.
2. Nevada - The one-two punch of Babbitt and Johnson is too good to ignore despite a lack of apparent depth. I hope Fields returns to form.
3. Louisiana Tech - they got better at the point guard spot after reaching the tournament semis last year. Kyle Gibson and Magnum Rolle could be the league's no. 2 inside out duo.
4. Idaho — Don Verlin made a believer out of me last year and he has the same squad coming back.
5. Utah State — Is this a slight? Maybe. Do I feel bad about it? Not really. How many games can Stew Morrill win by himself? Three? Four? So the rest of the time his players have to get it done. People say four starters from a team that won 30 games but outside of Wesley, those four starters aren't nearly as skilled as the teams above the UtAgs. I may be the last person to jump on the Quayle bandwagon, but I want to see how good he is without the big fella, whose motor and work ethic carried that team last year. The past USU teams had Carroll and Wilkinson. The remaining players are solid and I like USU, but they can't win the WAC every year.
6. Fresno State — Very talented frontcourt players. Big year for their coach?
7. San Jose State — I thought they would be better last year. They weren't. Oliver, Oakes and Webster are experienced enough to do some damage. Big year for their coach?
8 Boise State —
9 Hawaii
Both of these bottom teams seem to be in rebuilding mode and could finish in either 8th or 9th

Player of the Year
Jahmar Young, NMSU — I think Babbitt could get this. But I expect Jahmar to be huge this season. It's so impressive what he does, considering he's really a shooting guard who plays small forward.

Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Kyle Gibson, La. Tech
Mac Hopson, Idaho
Sylvester Seay, Fresno State

Newcomer of the Year
DeAndre Brown, La. Tech

1. Fresno State
2. La. Tech
3. Boise State
5. Idaho
6. Nevada
7. Hawaii
8. Utah State
9. San Jose State

Player of the Year
Shavavie Dowdell, La Tech

Madison Spence, NMSU
Jaleesa Ross, Fresno State
Adrienne Johnson, La. Tech
Tasha Harris, Boise State

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day One

From talking with Coach Menzies before practice, you can clearly tell he is looking forward to the lineup possibilities on a team that seems deeper than any since he has been here.
Looking at the guys that were on the court on Friday was pretty impressive and when Troy and Wendell start practicing, they will be that much more athletic and just the size that they have. Even the guys who aren't cleared yet will add length and competition in practice and eventually in games.
I'm doing a story on the big men who will be playing in the paint while Gillenwater and Wendell are out. Center Hamidu Rahman looks to be in great shape. He said he lost 30 pounds in the offseason, which means he can be out there longer before hitting the wall. Robert Lumpkins has been working at the four spot and could battle Sy and BJ West for minutes at that position. All three of those guys seem like small forward types who will have to play down there at least to start out. But all three will also present matchup problems on the offensive end as well.

Here are some comments from Menzies on Friday

On J.Y.
"He is a really passionate kid who loves basketball. He really got better in the offseason. He got bigger, he got stronger. He is dunking it a lot easier than he did last year. He is also knocking down shots at a higher clip. I am really anticipating a big season from J.Y."

On depth
"I can't really get a grasp on how it's going to unfold and that's one of the exciting things for all of us because one day we come in and we talk about these lineups and then we think about that next guy down the rung and it's like, 'He could be in there too.' There is going to be competition for even the two and the three spot. Gordo has had a great offseason as well and if he's knocking down shots, I'm not taking him off the floor. Gibson has to be consistent or he is going to struggle to stay on the floor if those other guys are playing well. It's just going to be anybody's game."

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It appears that Justin Standley and Jacoby Patton will both redshirt this season, so the fact that they haven't been cleared as of Saturday shouldn't hurt the Aggies. Guard Da'Shawn Gomez was cleared and Menzies hopes B.J. West could be cleared before Friday's practice. It may be a little longer for Bandja Sy.

I spoke with Gordo Castillo for a few minutes over the weekend. Players and coaches always talk about playing together for multiple seasons. This is the second year together for this core group.

"I think it means a lot," Castillo said. "We know how each other plays and we know where that guy is going to be on the floor. We know who will get a rebound and who can make a shot. Everyone is a lot closer."

I also asked Gordo who might surprise us.

"Robert (Lumpkins) has been working hard on his game. He didn't get a whole lot of minutes last year but he is looking to get more and he might surprise some people. A lot of the new guys come in and go hard too. B.J. (West) is long, he grabs rebounds and he can also go out and shoot it."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kirk a Lobo

From the Journal

6-11 Kirk Decides To Become A Lobo
By Mark Smith / Journal Reporter
Monday, 05 October 2009 23:22
Los Alamos Center Chooses New Mexico Over Arizona

This time, the big one didn’t get away.
Los Alamos’ Alex Kirk, one of the state’s most highly recruited basketball players this decade, has given a verbal commitment to the UNM men’s basketball program.
Kirk, a 6-foot-11 senior post, told the Journal he will sign a national letter with Steve Alford’s Lobos in November.
“It’s definitely a relief to get it out of the way,” Kirk said of his decision Monday night. “It really was between UNM and Arizona. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, it’s been on my mind a lot. I know I can have success as a Lobo, and now it’s time to focus on the high school season.”
NCAA rules disallow coaches to speak about individual recruits, but it was well known that Kirk was UNM’s top priority for this signing class. Kirk is a gifted big man. He is a solid ball-handler, a solid passer, a great rebounder, a strong shot blocker and stellar shooter outside for a post man.
Kirk — who has a 7-foot-2 wingspan — averaged 28 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks and three assists a game last season as a junior for the Hilltoppers.
His father, Alan, is head coach at Los Alamos.
“We knew it would be a methodical,” Alan said of the recruiting process. “ We knew the way people, over the last year, would come (after Alex), and the way he developed over the summer, he would have some real opportunities to consider.
“He had a lot of schools back east show interest in him, but he decided he wanted to stay in the west. And that helped narrow it down. We talked a lot about it and, he had a goal of getting it done before the season started. I was pretty confident it would happen in the next couple of weeks.”
Kirk should fit in nicely with Alford’s program, which is filled with talented underclassmen — but no true center. Kirk could be that big man, and he said the opportunity to play right away helped entice him to Loboville.
“I think I will get a chance to play early on,” Kirk said. “And UNM said it will probably be able to get me to the next level (the NBA). Those were real big reasons.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Projecting starting 5

In basketball, it means more who finishes a game than who starts it, but here is a preliminary look at who may start the season for each WAC team with the season now basically a month away. If you are logging on from another school, feel free to tell me how far off I am.

Boise State (19-13, 9-7) WAC qtr-round, CBI first-round
PG — Anthony Thomas 6-foot, 205 — 9.5 ppg, 4.7 apg
SG — Paul Noonan 6-7, 210 — 10 ppg, 3.6 rpg
SF — Robert Arnold 6-7 170 — Junior college transfer
PF — Ike Okoye 6-9, 230 — 8.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg
C — Kurt Cunningham 6-10, 260 — 10.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Fresno State (13-21, 3-13) WAC qtr
PG — Steven Shepp 6-2, 170 — Redshirt sophomore
SG — Mike Ladd 6--5 190 — 9.5 ppg, 36 3-pt %
SF — Paul George 6-8 210 — 14.3 ppg 6.2 rpg
PF — Sylvester Seay 6-10 235 — 15.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
C — Nedeljko Golubovic 6-8 245 — 7.3 pp 34 3-pt %

Hawaii (13-17, 5-11) lost WAC play-in
PG — Hiram Thompson 6-2 175 — 2.4 apg
SG — Roderick Flemings 6-7 210 — 16.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
SF — Adhar Mayen 6-8 195 — 4.3 ppg
PF — Bill Amis 6-9 220 — 10.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg
C — Paul Campbell 6-10 215 — 2.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Idaho (17-16, 9-7) WAC qtrs, 1-1 in Tournament
PG — Mac Hopson 6-2 185 — 16.4 ppg, 5.9 apg
SG — Kashif Watson 6-1 175 – 10.3 ppg
SF — Luciano de Souza 6-7 205 — 8.5 ppg 36 3-pt %
PF — Brandon Wiley 6-6 225 — 8.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg
C — Marvin Jefferson 6-10 245 — 9.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg 58 blocked shots

Louisiana Tech (15-18, 6-10) lost WAC semi
PG — Jamel Guyton 6-3 180 — 11.8 ppg, 2.0 apg
SG — Kyle Gibson 6-5 205 — 16.1 ppg, 2.7 apg
SF — Olu Ashaolu 6-7 230 — 5.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
PF — David Jackson 6-8 195 — 5.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg
C — Magnum Rolle 6-11 225 — 12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg

Nevada (21-13, 11-5) lost WAC final, CBI first round
PG — Armon Johnson 6-3 195 — 15.5 ppg, 4.2 apg
SG — Brandon Fields 6-4 185— 9.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg
SF — Joey Shaw 6-6 205 — 7.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg
PF — Luke Babbitt 6-9 225 — 16.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg
C — Dario Hunt 6-8 230 — 3.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg

New Mexico State (17-15, 9-7) WAC semis
PG — Hernst Laroche 6-1 170 — 5.8 ppg, 4.3 apg
SG — Jonathan Gibson 6-1 171 — 14.1 ppg, 2.1 apg
SF — Jahmar Young 6-5 180 — 17.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg
PF — B.J. West 6-8 215 — Freshman
C — Hamidu Rahman 6-11, 245 — 6.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg

San Jose State (13-17, 6-10) WAC qtrs
PG — Justin Graham 6-4 195 — 8.3 ppg, 4.7 apg
SG — Adrian Oliver 6-4 210 — 17.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg
SF — Chris Jones 6-4 205 — Freshman from Newark, Calif.
PF — C.J. Webster 6-9 255 — 12 ppg, 6.5 rpg
C — Chris Oakes 6-10 235 — 8.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg

Utah State (30-5, 14-2) WAC champion, NCAA first round
PG — Jared Quayle 6-1 180 — 13.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 3.7 apg
SG — Pooh Williams 6-3 200 — 5.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg
SF — Tyler Newbold 6-4 200 — 9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
PF — Tai Wesley 6-7 240 — 12 ppg, 6 rpg
C — Matt Formisano 6-8 235 — 3.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg