Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two keys, rebounding and 3-point defense

By now ESPN analysts have jumped on the NMSU bandwagon by picking No. 13 New Mexico State to upset No. 4 Indiana. Partly due to the fact that they lost guard Verdell Jones, who by looking at his numbers (7 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg) appears to be a bigger loss in terms of experience, leadership and ball handling. 

I think there are two things that must happen for the Aggies to spring the upset. Rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, and defending the 3.  Neither will be especially easy but the Aggies have done well in both areas all season, although not against a team of Indiana's caliber. 

I wrote about rebounding yesterday. 

Indiana is the No. 2 3 point shooting team in the country, shooting at 43 percent. On paper from an offensive standpoint, Indiana doesn't look like a Big Ten team, yet they still have Big Ten size and rebound. The Hoosiers will be able to score with the Aggies. They have a lot of balance with Cody Zeller inside and numerous shooters to play inside out. 

The Aggies haven't played a team yet with so many players capable of knocking down the 3.

"The ones they have can really shoot it and they have a little bit of size as well," Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. "The point guard is not very tall but he's a very good shooter. That will be a little different for our guys."

Guards in the WAC were bothered by NMSU's length at those positions. That's why the Aggies did so well guarding the 3 point line, limiting teams to 32 percent shooting from long range. Indiana's perimeter players are just as long as NMSU.

"We just try to chase them off the 3-point line and contest everything," Aggies point guard Hernst Laroche said. "Challenge without fouling. Just be aggressive and make them do something they are not comfortable doing. If they are a 3-point shooter, try to make them drive."

Even without Jones, Jordan Hulls is no scrub. The 6-foot Hulls is averaging 11 points per game, three assists per game and shooting 49 percent from 3. Christian Watford is 6-9, averages 12 points per game and shoots 42 percent from 3. Victor Oladipo is 6-5, appears to be more of a driving guard, averages 11 ppg. Will Sheehey is a 6-6 forward who averages eight points and shoots 42 percent from 3. Finally, Matt Roth comes off the bench and shoots 55 percent from 3 in limited minutes.

The Aggies certainly have the size to match up with Indiana at every position, but the point is they can't afford any lapses because Indiana has more players who can knock down shots than any team the Aggies have faced. 

For this reason, plus Indiana's size on defense, it would be extremely helpful if NMSU knocks down five or six 3s as well.


Aggie007 said...

I wanted to add a comment about the article of Chili playing better when he's pissed off.
This is nothing new to college basketball; ask any coach. I worked for NMSU Athletics during the Reggie Theus era and you wouldn't believe your ears some of the things he would say to certain players on certain nights before games and during half-time. He and David Fisher almost got into a fist-fight during half-time in a game against Nevada. Things calmed down in that instance, and after that and for the rest of the season, the two of them had a close mentor-student relationship. This is nothing new. As a coach, you want that type of "healthy" turmoil during the rigors of the season because when it comes to finishing the season and in the post-season tournaments, this is a solid way to have the team gel at the right time.
There was the idea of NMSU Marketing to place a camera in the front area of the locker room so it could be shown on the jumbo-tron, but the coaches shot it down FAST because they said players regularly get into shoving matches, maybe toss shoes or furniture and that wouldn't be good to show to the crowd OR the other team.
Somebody needs to piss off Hamidu and Chili in order to play with Cody Zeller. Big Wen doesn't need to be pissed off; he plays pissed off normally.

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy but I think one the biggest keys to this game is Hamidu. I dont think he played well at all during the WAC Tourney and cost us a few easy baskets and played terrible on defense. I know we havent used him much but I would like to see Dixon get some minutes. I wouldnt mind seeing mostly Chili and Dixon taking on Zeller depending on how Hamidu does. I just feel that out of all our players, he is the one that can have big negative lapses during the game and that will cost us.


Jason Groves said...

Jesus, just a feeling, but I really have a hard time thinking Renaldo Dixon sees the court unless either Nephawe or Rahman get in severe foul trouble. In a do or die game, it's hard to count on a guy who plays 2 mins per game contributing. I agree with you that Hamidu needs to get going. Zeller is better offensively than any center NMSU has played and Zeller has only fouled out once against better post players all season so i dont see Zeller getting in foul trouble. NMSU has to knock down some shots, bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Your last sentence is the most important.

Defending the 3 and rebounding? Sure. And taking care of the ball and hitting free throws too.

But if all the fundamentals are good and we don't hit a few threes, we could still end up on the losing end.

We'll need a few threes to keep up,

Its about putting the ball in the basket more than the other team.

Hoping that we can go deep in the bench and that Dixon, Barry and Sy can all help with contributions.

Goooo Aggies!