We get into this every year and I can't take it anymore.
I've read that Utah State will go unbeaten in the WAC, that they will coast to a WAC title. I don't see it.
I normally don't agree with everything Gary Parish writes, but here is a section from a blog entry where he writes about polls, both media and coaches.
Coaches poll: As you can probably tell by the above Poll Attack, I hate voters who highlight teams simply for building records against weak opponents. It rewards a conservative approach, and I'm against that. So shame on the coaches who put Cincinnati (24 points), Oklahoma State (11 points) and Utah State (four points) on their ballots. I've already told you about Cincinnati (no good wins) and Oklahoma State (no good wins and one bad loss). Now let me tell you about Utah State, the WAC school that's 11-2 with no good wins. Granted, the Aggies' losses (to BYU and Georgetown) are better than OSU's losses (or Baylor's losses, for that matter). But there's not even a decent win on their resume. Thus, Utah State shouldn't be getting votes even though Utah State probably deserves votes as much as Cincinnati deserves votes, and more than Oklahoma State deserves votes. The point is that none of them deserve votes. Stacking wins against bad teams is nothing more than stacking wins against bad teams. It's fine for a school that projected to be strong in the preseason because you can still believe in what you thought you knew. But a gaudy record against a weak schedule should never make you start believing in somebody, which is why I won't start believing in Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Utah State or Oklahoma State until at least one of them records one win against a quality opponent. It would be nice if coaches who vote in the coaches poll did the same.
We know that Utah State hasn't beaten anybody. They've only played two quality opponents. That's fine. It's what they always do and it works for them. But this Utah State team is no different than last year's team to me, which I picked second.
They could very well win the WAC tournament and get a postseason bid, but I don't think they will coast through teams, namely NMSU, as some have predicted.
I've even seen one place where San Jose State was picked to finish ahead of NMSU. When has San Jose State ever won a big game? George Nessman entered the season (his sixth) 51-103 and 22-58 in WAC play. Quick question. What other media or fan market in the WAC could a coach post such a record and still have a job this long. It's true that Nessman has a good point guard and one of the top 2 players in the league in guard Adrian Oliver. But I've seen this movie before and I gave up on San Jose State. Two years ago, San Jose State had Tim Pierce, Oliver, Justin Graham and two solid WAC post players in Webster and Oakes and finished seventh and lost in the quarters.
If there is a team who can jump into the conversation, I think it's Boise State, which is why tonight's game looms large.
Basketball is about matchups and I still don't think Utah State matches up well with NMSU when Troy Gillenwater and Hamidu Rahman are healthy. Let's take a look. I will even say hypothetically that Wendell McKines DOES not play this year. And I still like NMSU's chances.
Hamidu Rahman vs. Nate Bendall — Bendall didn't make a peep in the first two games against the Aggies but he outscored Hamidu Rahman 16-6 in the WAC tournament game. Here is my question when it comes to Bendall vs. the Aggies. Who is he going to guard? Meanwhile, I think NMSU has four guys in Rahman, Gillenwater, Nephawe and even Tyrone Watson at him.
Advantage Bendall on the offensive end because he is skilled, but a small advantage.
Troy Gillenwater vs. Tai Wesley — I think this is a push. Two of the best three players in the WAC. Wesley is a great leader for his team. I don't know if they will be matched up on each other.
Tyrone Watson vs. Tyler Newbold — Newbold has the offensive edge here, although his numbers have gone down with the departure of such players as Jaycee Carroll and Gary Wilkinson throughout his career. But he is a senior. I don't think Bendall can guard Watson off the dribble or keep him off the boards.
Christian Kabongo vs. Pooh Williams — Kabongo reminds me of Williams a couple years ago. Not much of a perimeter shooting threat but athletic and a good defender. Williams is shooting the three at 40 percent and scoring 10 per game while Kabongo gets his points in transition and the free throw line.
Hernst Laroche vs. Brockeith Payne — Have yet to see Payne play, but he is certainly a different type of point guard than Jared Quayle was. Laroche got his shot whenever he wanted against some good point guards so far at Arizona, St. Marys and UNM. Payne doesn't have a lot of pressure on him, which is good.
Advantage Laroche based on experience in the WAC
Utah State has Brian Green and NMSU has Gordo Castillo, two guys who can hit the open 3 on the offensive end. Both teams have some size coming off the bench.
Please don't turn this post into another Menzies bashing. It's obvious that Utah State is well coached and Morrill gives them an advantage every time they take the court. Utah State is a more disciplined team but I like NMSU for the same reason as I did last year.
It's why Utah State was run off the court in Spokane against Texas A&M and it's why NMSU hung with Michigan State.