Thursday, March 8, 2012

NMSU vs. Hawaii

I think New Mexico State beats Hawaii to reach the final. And it's not because the Aggies beat Hawaii by 42 points with Zane Johnson in the lineup. It's partially because I think NMSU is actually the more mature team, capable of keeping their heads in a heated environment. Hawaii is all over the place. Hawaii coach Gib Arnold and wing Joston Thomas got Td up and fouled out, just as he did before in Las Cruces. Hawaii either feeds off Arnold or the Warriors have looked tired, also likely because of Arnold.

I also like the Aggies because of seniors such as Wendell McKines. McKines, and the Aggies for that matter, got off to a terrible start from the field. Even against a sagging man or 1-2-2 zone, McKines put his head down, got into the paint and got to the line, where he was 8-10. NMSU shot 36 free throws on Thursday. The Aggies shot 43 free throws against Hawaii in Las Cruces.

NMSU's pressure was too much for Hawaii in Las Cruces as well, forcing 24 turnovers leading to 38 points.

I do like Hawaii's backcourt though with Jeremiah Ostrowski and freshman Shaquille Stokes. Stokes  had 17 points and Hauns Brereton had 17 and 11.

But Hawaii doesn't present a lineup that the Aggies can't counter.

Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said it has been a tough three weeks.

"We were a little wounded, a little down," Arnold said. "We finally got our heart back against Utah State. We knew we had a chance going in here. Losing Zane was a big deal but these guys rallied together. I felt like we earned it. As a team, and a university, I think we needed this."

Hawaii snapped a five game losing streak that included a 115-73 loss at NMSU on Feb. 23. the teams meet for the second time in the WAC Tournament in a 7 p.m., semifinal on Friday.

"It's a little bit of an understatement to say that it didn't go very well (against NMSU in Las Cruces)," Arnold said. "They smashed us. They absolutely smashed us. We did beat them in our place."

Hawaii senior guard Zane Johnson is not with the team this week, making Thursday's upset seem like a surprise. Yet Hauns Brereton knocked donw the game winner with 3 seconds left.

"We definitely miss Zane Johnson," Brereton said. "But we knew we had to step up because of it."

"Zane spreads the court. We could use him, but it brings on different roles and kind of changes our style," Ostrowski said. "I feel like guys adjusted well. Guys stepped up and were ready to play. We had guys who hardly had minutes in the season."

Like he did against the Aggies, Joston Thomas fouled out and was Td up with about 12 minutes to play. Hawaii center Vander Joaquim and Davis Rozitis closed the game out, playing together at times. Joaquim had 20 and 13.

"Whatever they put on the floor, we will just have make adjustments," Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. "It's March Madness. It's not March mediocre. You are going to see lineups maybe you haven't seen. We have everything in our system to attack anything any team in the tournament throws at us. When you take care of the ball and rebound, you have a chance to win a game.

With one steal on Thursday, Aggies guard Hernst Laroche pulled even with William Benjamin with 209 career steals.

Daniel Mullings landed hard on his shoulder after a highlight dunk in the second half. He closed out the game but he looked like he had to keep it loose.

"It might be a little bruised but he will be alright. He didn't complain that much. right now he's good."

McKines on his shooting night
"I forced some. Just trying to attack the game. It's my last WAC Tournament. Once I settled down, it was still kind of tough for me to get into a rhythm. I felt like I was helping my teammates and in the flow of the game."

Menzies on Sy's defense of Olekaibe
"He's just a fantastic defensive player. He was charged with the job of shutting down Olekaibe. Anytime you can guard one guy, it frees up other guys who don't have to trap and help as much."

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