Friday, January 13, 2012

End of an era?

Maybe it's too early to write off Utah State for good. But one thing is certain. Unless the top teams in the WAC finish around .500, Utah State's 80-60 loss at New Mexico State likely ended their chance for a fifth straight conference championship. Utah State lost just its third WAC game in its last 33 conference game. USU is now 1-2 in league play while Nevada (3-0) NMSU (2-0) Hawaii (2-0) remain unbeaten.

I think Utah State will improve, but check this quote out from Shawn Harrison's game story, where Kyisean Reed said of NMSU "showboating" after a Wendell McKines 3 when the game was all but over.

"If that doesn't bother anyone on this team, then I don't know who we are," Reed said of the showboating. "It's something to remember when they come to our house."

What Reed should remember instead is A. scoring just six points in the second half...ahem, B. The USU interior players getting dunked on, allowing 14 offensive rebounds and a 52-14 NMSU advantage in the paint. This was a beat down. I don't think it's going to be like that when the teams play again in Logan, but like I've written before, this is a different Utah State team. The interior players outside of Reed are not that skilled. NMSU has long, quick guards that can take away Pane and Medlin (3-10), leaving a bunch of players left to take big shots when none of them want to. USU was 3-16 from 3-pt range, NMSU committed a season low six turnovers with 14 assists. The 14 offensive rebounds helped create 11 more shot opportunites than Utah State. Other stats that stood out, USU was 7-17 from the foul line in the second half after going a perfect 10-10 in the first half. conversely, the Aggies were 3-9 from the line in the first half and 14-20 from the line in the second half. NMSU committed a total of 37 turnovers in their previous two games. NMSU had a season low six turnovers on Thursday with 14 assists on 30 made field goals. 

Wendell McKines:
On Daniel Mullings "The sky is the limit for this man right here. He has a motor, all out energy. He's the best I've ever seen at attacking the rack and he crashes the glass, he's relentless on defense, he's very athletic. Wow, I'm impressed. I'm just glad I have the best seat in the house."

On closing it out: "There was a stretch in the second half where it could have gone either way. We just stayed within our system and played hard on our home floor."

On turnovers: "Not only against Utah State, but we know that if we take care of the ball and rebound on both ends of the floor, we can play with anybody. ... We emphasize it in practice, playing with each other and we executed it."

On four game win streak: "Getting our momentum at the right time and Utah State, beating them I guess is just the icing on the cake. No matter who we play, we always have to stay within ourselves."

Second half offense: "With them double teaming the post, it made easy lanes for our guards to penetrate. It was good to see."

On NMSU interior players; "At this point in time, it's just all about consistency. As long as we play hard and play within ourselves, I feel as though the sky is the limit. We create lanes and open shots for our guards, as long as we play with each other, sky is the limit for this team."

Daniel Mullings:
"Our size is a big plus for us. Adding the experience we have with some of our seniors, it helps other players like me coming in as a freshman and sophomores. It helps us settle down and play within ourselves and continue to dominate, which we did tonight."

On turnovers: "I think it was just priding up. In practice, it was brought up a lot by the coaches and we brought it up amongst ourselves. We just decided that we are going to change starting with this game and take care of the ball."

Second half offense: "We knew they couldn't defend us one on one on ball or off ball so we took it in. They double teamed the post."

On guards defending Pane and Medlin: "We knew coming into the game, Pane likes to get into the paint , push it in transition. We said that he's not getting into the paint anymore, take him out of his game a little bit, have him shooting more jumpers than he wanted to. We did a good job getting out on Medlin and the other shooters. I think we did well as a collective unit."

Marvin Menzies
"I think we took a step, key is to keep taking steps forward. Win or lose, you want to play as a team, play together and play well."

On turnovers: "The treadmill is an amazing tool when used properly. It was a focus obviously to take care of the ball. The guys were punished severely in practice when they turned the ball over. I think they got the message. Just a matter of concentrating and making it an emphasis."

On zone: "I didn't expect to stay in it as long as we did but when they weren't hitting the 3, it was obviously valuable for us. ... They were only 2-for-6 at the half. It was something that kind of made us go to it a little bit. ... We got comfortable with what they were running against it. Even their 3s, we were challenging every shot and that's how you bring a percentage down. I was happy with the way our guys executed the defensive game plan. This team is a lot better than how they played tonight. It was one of those games where once we got ahold of the lead and got a nice solid lead, we were able to make solid decisions down the stretch."

 "They are a different team at home. Nevada jumped on them early and got a lead. You have to execute down the stretch if you do get a lead. We won the battle tonight. ... You have to look at what teams did prior to you that were successful."

On Idaho's win over La. Tech: "A lot of similar things we will see. La. Tech was shooting the lights out and was really climbing into them. Idaho just kept plugging away much like Utah State and were able to get back into the game. We have another tough test."

On Idaho's bigs: "They are  a little more athletic. They are a different type of big. They can run and are more versatile. You have to be cautious in your driving and penetration."


Anonymous said...

End of an Era? Stew Morrill is their coach...

Anonymous said...

The problem w/ NMSU and our frustration w/ the team is Jeckyll & Hyde.
We just don't know what aggie team will show up!

Is it the Aggie team that gets a big win at the PIT and mauls Utah St. or is it the team that loses to a freshmen heavy utep and gets slaughtered at home by unm?

I like the video report you made. Now if you could throw in a few game highlight. We out of town aggies would really appreciate it!!!

Jason Groves said...

I know Morrill is their coach. I guess I meant that for at least this year, USU could be in trouble against the more athletic teams with big guys who can play

Anonymous said...

A question for the Utah St. player that is complaining about the Aggies "showboating". What about the Utah St. guard that was holstering his pistols after making a first half 3 pointer? Is that not showboating? Where was the "T" in that situation? I couldn't see what Nephawe did from my seat. The refs had to check the reply to "catch him", and that is lame. I thought the "T" on Bandja was a little fast, but maybe he said something naughty! Anyway, I didn't think the Ags were showboating at all. At the end of the game, Wen had to shoot because of the shot clock. Not exactly showboating!

Anonymous said...

USU is definately down but they'll will be tough to beat come tourney time.

2 things going forward:

1. The absence of Kabongo has become a plus. The Aggies are a less selfish team without him who work hard on both ends and share the ball.

2. I think coach Menzies is going to have to get Remi Barry some minutes under his belt. I know the Aggies have played well with only 7but it's a long season and they will need one more guy to give some quality minutes. Especially 3 games in 3 days in the WAC tourney. I hope to see the Aggies build a decent lead against Idaho which will allow Barry to see some time and get some confidence.

Good start to the WAC.

Anonymous said...

Groves probably can't provide video highlights, but the Aggievision YouTube channel has them. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Nice win.

Don't know if McKines was showboating or not. I don know the clock was about to expire, so what is he supposed to do? Let the shot expire?


The game would have been different, or at least closer, if Utah State didn't miss some wide open 3s. They missed them and that's on them.


Mullins as a freshman is playing smarter than KC ever played, or will ever play.


I like the interior play of the team AND the fact that the team was playing to get the ball inside consistently. Good game plan and execution.


It's a good win to build on. Let's hope the Aggies can play together and continue into the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

That was funny when the near empty student section made a failed attempt to mimic Utah State fans with the Winning Team - Losing Team chant.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see they corrected the official scoring to show Hernst in double-figures and Mullings with 17. Jack's stats were correct in his pen-millennial call. 5 guys scoring double figures shows unselfish play - especially Wendell. I'd have to say USU hasn't faced an unselfish NMSU team in quite some time. That's probably why he motored around with two flaps up. It looked like Utags had quit so they deserved to get showboated if they're going pack up their whole season and retreat back to Logan. Having supported Kabongo and his streetball style I'll admit I was really surprised at how the turnovers were cut to 6 and the final score.

Anonymous said...

The win against USU was good and the Aggies played well as a team and showed they are a top tier WAC team. The one thing I would say is don't get too excited about the win. USU is not good at this time, and they are currently probably no better than 5th or 6th in the WAC. Will they improve, I don't know and I don't care. The game in logan will still be a test I anticipate the Idaho game to be close. They were down big at half against La Tech and came back. NMSU needs to come out Saturday with the same intensity they did Thursday. You "fans" that didn't show up Thursday missed a good game. I've given up on all you whiners. Just stay in the weeds until the Aggies lose a game down the road and then come out and complain. That's all you seem to be good for.

Anonymous said...

The "fans" who didn't show up did miss a good game. As far as you giving up on them...well, at the very least, you gave them a good laugh and, for about a millisecond, a shudder of anguish...

Anonymous said...

My first thought when I saw Reed's comment about McKines's three pointer: There's no way Jaycee Carroll passes on that wide open shot, or on a celebration when it goes in; we have seen a few like it from Utah State in the past few years. Got to be able to take it if you want to dish it out.