Fatigue — Hawaii has been away from home for a week now. They lost at Montana 94-79 on Saturday, flew to El Paso where they have been since Monday. Gib Arnold's relationship with UTEP coach Tim Floyd from their USC days helped Hawaii have free reign of UTEP's facility. Hawaii then goes to La. Tech on Saturday for a total of 11,000 miles traveled when its said and done. The Aggies' pressure late in their game on the islands helped get the Aggies back into the game. It would be nice to see the Aggies pressure more at different times tonight. But players and coaches seem to think the Aggies will be better off going at Hawaii playing to their strength of size and strength on the interior with guards who are long enough and athletic enough to stay with Johnson.
Joston Thomas vs. Wendell McKines — I believe there are two teams in the WAC that make Wendell McKines play defense and can potentially get him into foul trouble. Nevada and Hawaii. Perhaps the Aggies could get away with putting McKines on a weaker player and letting TyroneWatson guard Thomas when the Aggies are playing man to man. But Thomas is a strong kid. He had 17 and 9 in Hawaii. McKines had 14 and 9.
Keep Zane Johnson in a slump — The last game around, I was way off believing the Aggies guards would make life difficult for Johnson. Or was I? Johnson had one of his best games of the season against NMSU, scoring 29 points on 7-13 shooting from 3-point range. Since then, he's 12-for-47 (26 percent). He hasn't been in double figures in the past three games and four of the past six games. Johnson is a 37 percent shooter from long range on the year. I thought the combination of Mullings, Sy and Tyrone Watson would be too long and physical for Johnson to shake free for open looks. Johnson got going last time out vs. NMSU. Can he do it again?
Following are some comments regarding the Hawaii game:
On the seniors
"It will be sad to see these guys go. I built a relationship with Hamidu, Wendell and Hernst. Those are kind of the only guys who were here with me when I came so going into next year, I really won't know anybody as far as I knew these three. Hopefully they are still my friends after they leave."
On playing small against Hawaii
"It was catch up mode, but at certain times, playing small is better because we get to run faster and certain teams can't guard 1-through 5 if I'm at the five. It can be an advantage or a disadvantage. It's an emphasis. That is what got us back into the game. As the game went on, we came back very fast."
On the importance of the Hawaii game for WAC seeding
"Coach said if we drop this Hawaii game, they would be second and we would be third. We can't afford to drop any games period. This is a big game because it could make a difference in the tournament in who we play first. We would like to be the first seed and hope Nevada gets a loss and we beat them at home. If not we just want to secure the second seed."
On Zane Johnson in the first meeting
"He's at home, it's his rims. It was a big game for him. He's a great shooter and a great player. We were playing defense on him the majority of shots he took. He was just on fire. What that did for them was our awareness on him was so much that it freed up all the other people to get baskets. we just have to stay within ourselves and not freak out like that. ... I don't think he's going to hit 7 3s with the Pan Amaniacs in the Pan Am. We will be ready for him."
On Hawaii's Vander Joaquim
"That was the plan was to go at him and get him in foul trouble. I respect his game. I like playing against him because there isn't a lot of doubles. We just go man to man."
"They took advantage of our miscues, our turnovers. Offensive rebounding, we didn't block out well and they did a good job of crashing the glass and they outrebounded us in that game. They did some things that we take pride in, they did better than us. We have to do a better job in areas that we are pretty good at and hang our hat on a little bit. They are a good team, no matter how much we closed the gap, they beat us and they beat us handily. It's our challenge to see if we can protect our home court."
"We got them in foul trouble because we got a lot of inside touches but we didn't capitalize on it afterwards."
On shooting the 3
"You want to finish above 33 percent from 3 on the season. 33 percent is 50 percent from the field on a 2 pointer. If we end up above 33 percent, as much as people say they had their shooting woes, it's a good year. ... You need to shoot the ball well to win. When you get to these type of games, those are games where the defense is going to do it for you. That's what we have to continue to keep our focus on is our defense and rebounding. Then if are shooting it well, we are even better."
Dominated HI for large portions of the first game and would have come off the island with a W if run started 45 seconds earlier. Expect two statement games to end the regular season Pan Am schedule. Sets up well to head into the road games on a roll. Good schedule this year, just missed golden opportunities, like the game @HI for instance.
This team could be a two-loss team had it taken advantage of its strengths. Now, they don't have a choice if they want to get a top-3 seeding.
Nice game tonight.
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