Thursday, January 26, 2012

Playing for second?

I talked about this in my last post. There is still a lot of basketball to be played, but Marvin Menzies even acknowledged Nevada as the best team they've played so far in the WAC after Thursday's 68-60 loss at the Pan American Center.

"It would have been great to win this game and we have a lot of games in front of us but we need a little help now from somebody else," Menzies said.

Nevada won its 14th straight game and looks the part of a WAC Championship team. NMSU, after another slow start, trailing by 14 at halftime, not so much. Nevada is now 6-0 in WAC play with road wins at 4-2 NMSU, 3-3 Utah State and 4-2 Idaho. Nevada also beat Hawaii at home.

"We didn't play like a championship team at all," Menzies said. "A lack of execution, a lack of urgency to start the game defensively. Offensively, just out of sync. Wouldn't execute what we drew up out of timeouts. Didn't adhere to the scouting report. All of those things add up to a loss."

For the second straight game, NMSU rallied in the second half to make the final score look closer than the game really was.

"I just don't have a good feeling about how we are playing that first half," Menzies said. "We have to come out with better execution, especially after timeouts. It's frustrating. We have good kids, we have talent. Just have to get them to understand that if you want to be efficient you have to play together and play within the system and play harder on both sides of the ball."

Nevada led by 18 with 708 to play. The Aggies made it a game with full court pressure, begging the question why not do it for longer stretches. Easy depth with the departure of Christian Kabongo and the season ending injury to Terrel de Rouen.

"Wendell fouls out, Hernst was subbing in and out. It's a double edged sword. Losing Terrel really hurt. But that is what it is. We have to be able to string together games strategically without having to play 10 or 11 guys and still get it done. We can spot pressure in places. It's either that or get these guys in much better shape and go back to what we were doing in the beginning."

A lack of depth in the backcourt takes away from creating transition baskets for the Aggies, which they need. NMSU was 5-22 from 3-point range and Hernst Laroche made four of them. We knew that NMSU wasn't a 3-point shooting team, but when they fall behind, that weakness is exploited even more.

"You can praise them for their effort and comeback but that song is getting old," Menzies said. "We have to start the games off with some urgency both offensively and defensively in terms of execution. Until we do that, we are going to be in an uphill battle every game. We have to rebound quickly and get ready for Fresno State."

Time will tell what lineup changes are coming. Bandja Sy doesn't seem like he's earned more playing time. He took some bad shots, reached in transition to lead to an open 3 from Story and finished 2-9 from the field. Remi Barry was 0-3 in five minutes, all from 3-point range.

"We have to do something to start the games with more urgency, especially when you are saying what they do and then you lay off guys and they go 6-for-9 (from 3-point range) in the first half," Menzies said. "you can tell them where to go and what spots to be in , but at the end of the day, you have to come out with a little more younger."

Pure speculation at this point but something I wouldn't mind seeing the Aggies play with is going small from the start with McKines, Watson, Sy, Mullings and Laroche. Fresno State doesn't have a lot of size so it would be a good game to start out with considering that's essentially the lineup that got the Aggies back into the Hawaii game.

Other postgame comments
Hernst Laroche: "We are trying to get a win next game. It's unfortunate that we lost but we are trying to get wins. We are looking ahead for Fresno. There is nothing we can do, it's past. We lost."

"they got Burton going, they got Malik going. They had some easy things down low too. ... They don't shoot college 3s, they shoot NBA 3s so it opened up the zone more."

Marvin Menzies:
"A lot of times, they just outplayed us. That's a big time team. There is a half of me that is just pissed off. The other half, I have to give them credit. Deonte Burton is a pro. He's a NBA player. We have to get a better strategy on how we are going to guard him next time. He hit some that was so deep, it was like, 'Are you serious?'"

"They challenged us to shoot the ball and we didn't do that well. ... I think we let them get going. Their first few shots they made were very unchallenged. We woke up and started to challenge them. We did a very good job in the second half because that was all we talked about at halftime. But that was all we talked about before the game too."

"We have to bounce back. We have to put these games behind us and look at the positives. We have to shake it up to get a better offensive execution. I don't know what it means right now. I have to watch film."

"They are the best team we have faced to this point for sure. We lost by eight but they are really good. They have a lot of tools in their first six guys that can get things done, both from deep and inside. It was disappointing but I'm optimistic we will play better."


Anonymous said...

The first time this year that I thought the opponent was better at all five positions than the Aggies. Oh, and we lost the coaching battle too against Nevada.

The 3-ball, obviously hurt us; theirs and ours. They shot lights out, as others have against us. Our inability to make the 3 allowed Nevada to collapse the middle on defense. That limited our inside looks.

The Aggies seem to have forgotten that turnovers contribute to losses.

I like the Aggies, but honestly, they aren't the best team in the conference. Second or third, maybe.

Anonymous said...

Nevada is good. They could make a very deep run in March.

McKines has to play much better for the Aggies to beat good teams like Reno and Hawaii. They will have to play great and make a run in Vegas to win this thing. Nevada is not going to lose in the regular season.

Anonymous said...

Unprepared team completely falls on the shoulders of the coach! Guess who that is? Until Mr Boston stops settling for mediocracy, don't expect alot from this program!!! Unacceptable to lose at home. Still middle of the road mid-major team.

Anonymous said...

We looked like zombies the first half - just going through the motions. No energy on or off the bench (including coaches), no emotion, no urgency. Despite Menzies' supposed talk at halftime, we didn't come to life until 5 minutes left. I listened to his post-game comments and once again he's going to "look at the film" and we can "expect some shakeups for Saturday's game." Can somebody please step in and whisper some suggestions to him DURING the game? Looking at all the game film hasn't made a bit of difference in his approach or adjustments. Meanwhile, our formerly vibrant players are adopting his lack of passion.

Anonymous said...

Almost as terrible as the Aggies were the announcers from WSN. Man those guys sucked really bad.

I dont know what else we can say about this game other than we all knew this was going to happen. I mean its not hard for teams to take away the paint from you and force you to shoot. When you have a team with no shooters it becomes a serious issue. But we all knew that was a problem that this team had. We just do not have a shooter on this team. It was frustrating to see them standing around like idiots on offense but Nevada did a good job on shutting down our inside game. I would like to see Mullings taking more chances on driving the ball inside. I think he needs to get a bit more confidence in that respect and not just show us flashes of athleticism.

I also think that much like the UNM game, there wasnt a whole lot the team could have done to stop Nevada. They were hot and dropping them from everywhere. Sometimes you just come out on fire and you really cant defend that.

I think we are starting to see that aside from the initial joy that Kabongos departure brought, its tough to replace him. People might have to wait until next season to see if Remi is for real because so far he has not taken advantage of the few minutes he has earned.


Anonymous said...

Menzies constant reliance on the analysis of game film emphasizes his inability to transition from the role of assistant to that of head coach. An assistant coach views tape to strategize for future games. A head coach manages the game and his team in real time.

Anonymous said...

I thought there was a policy of no swearing in your blog.

Anonymous said...

Wha? Now Hernst has to be the scoring leader in addition to handling the ball? Wasn't he a game high at HI? Dude was steady his freshman year and has never wavered. One TO in 37 mins ... are you serious? If you let mim launch the five 3 balls McKines and Watson shot maybe he makes two and who knows? Not entirely HL's fault that he only dished 3 dimes. McKines should go back to what he was doing his freshman year and he gets his double-double and the Aggies are right in that game and in the hunt for 1st place.

In retrospect in looks like it may have been that 'must win' game. What's with Hamidu getting only 15 mins? Should have had him moving across the lane in that zone and feeding him every other possession. Who cares what Burton shot to begin the game; they were 1 of 8 from long range in the 2nd half and Aggies outscored 'em by 6. Twenty-four points in a 2nd half is pretty anemic. Aggies will actually have a chance to win when they tip it off Mar 1 in Reno.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it pretty unusual to get 22 second-chance pts and only 14 in the paint? I suppose with 17 offensive boards and limiting Hunt to only 2 the Aggies did hold their own. Fans might be down on them but I bet if you ask the players the 19 and 18 pts at HI and on Thurs were not insurmountable leads. Scoring only 60 can't get it done, though. Toga! Toga!

Anonymous said...

"A lack of execution, a lack of urgency to start the game defensively. Offensively, just out of sync. Wouldn't execute what we drew up out of timeouts. Didn't adhere to the scouting report." --M. Menzies

Remember all those years when you'd read similar quotes from Aggie coaches in the past like Reggie Theus, Neil McCarthy, or Lou Henson?

Remember how Coach Henson would not take responsibility and place the blame on his players, essentially saying, "Hey, we told them how to win this game but they chose not to listen to us"?

Of course, these are facetious questions. I'm using fictional cases of absurdity to illustrate how, in reality, this basketball program is a farce and this basketball coach is a fraud.

Note how Menzies uses the plural pronoun "We" when he refers to a negative coaching aspect, something along the lines of "... we gave them a scouting report ..." or "... we gave the kids a play to run coming out the timeout ..." This deflects responsibility from the guy who's getting paid very nearly $400,000 annually to coach the team.

At some point, Menzies has to assume responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Menzies blaming the kids for not executing. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Ouch! 30 pts in the Nev second half and 25 versus FSU last nite. I hope Rahman and Sy resume their production from a few games ago. What's with Hamidu getting limited minutes?