Thursday, January 31, 2013

Texas State: 3 keys and a prediction

Is the Tyrone Watson situation a distraction — From a basketball standpoint Watson is a huge loss. He’s probably the team’s most versatile defender, the best point guard and NMSU’s most experienced player. Can the Aggies replace his production while not letting his suspension and the circumstances surrounding it become a distraction. I expect Renaldo Dixon to replace Watson in the starting lineup and Remi Barry to back him up while Dixon backs up Sim Bhullar. I like Renaldo Dixon, but haven’t seen him in the high post making decisions like Watson did for the Aggies.

Contain Joel Wright —Wright is third in the WAC with 17.5 points per game. He’s been on fire during Texas State’s three-game win streak scoring 16 points against Texas Arlington, 37 against Idaho and 199 against Seattle. Wright had 17 points in the first game between the teams but he was the only Texas State player in double figures. Texas State plays small so I remember Wright bringing Bhullar away from the basket. We will see how they attack Sim tonight.

“He is the best scorer in the WAC right now. We all have to be aware,” Sy said.

Handle the press — The Aggies handled Texas State’s press fairly well in a 78-67 win at home. Texas State had a way of hanging around and probably gave NMSU it’s toughest game at home so far in conference play and I think the reason was because they made NMSU work for every score with the press. Texas State has won three straight games now and they have NMSU at home, a team Texas State probably feels like it can beat from the first game. If NMSU can take care of the ball and continue to rebound, they should be fine.
“It’s tough to limit turnovers because of our style of play,” Sy said. “We know we can do a better job.”

If there was ever a good time to lose another starter, it could be this weekend when the Aggies play 3-6 Texas State and 1-8 UTSA.
In the first meeting, NMSU’s big 3 of  Bandja Sy, Sim Bhullar and Daniel Mullings had a big night. Bhullar and Mullings both with 20- point games and Sy had 16 and 10. I think those three can carry the Aggies this weekend as well. NMSU wins 74-68

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Victim plans to file charges

Tyrone Watson has been at New Mexico State for five years now. I must admit, he was the last player I expected to see involved with an off the court incident.

As a result of an alleged assault on a fellow student, Watson's career at NMSU could theoretically be over if charged with a felony. There will be a charge in the coming days as the victim told my collegue James Staley is his intent.   Obviously we don't know yet if the charge will carry a felony with it at this point and if you read Staley's story, there are multiple accounts of just what involvement Watson had in the incident.

It's easy to sit back and recommend what should happen. Watson hasn't been arrested but the fact that he was involved in something like this with the amount of publicity it has received, at this point it's the decision of the basketball program to suspend him or let him continue to play. I'm not going to say how long, but I don't think it would be a bad thing to suspend him at this point because at some point, something like Watson's involvement could drag down whatever accomplishments this year's team reaches on the basketball court. But that's just my take. Following is what Dr. Boston told me Wednesday evening.

When reached for comment Wednesday, NMSU athletics director McKinley Boston said Watson's fate at this point would be determined by the basketball team's head coach.
"The policy at the moment is that Coach Menzies has a relationship with his player and will make a determination to play Tyrone or suspend Tyrone," Boston said. "Without charges against Tyrone, it's a violation of team policy."
Boston said he has been in constant communication with Menzies since the incident has drawn publicity since originally reported on Monday.
"We haven't dismissed it but I'm not the decision maker as I would be if it were a felony charge and it would be on my plate," Boston said. 
Watson has been cooperative with the investigation, Boston said.
"At this point (Watson) is remorseful and he acknowledged that he made an emotional, bad decision," Boston said. "Sometimes those decisions have consequences and those lay with Coach Menzies right now."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chili Nephawe practice

Marvin Menzies said Aggies center Tshilidzi Nephawe was cleared on Tuesday and practiced for the first time since undergoing surgery in December. My question is what do the Aggies do ideally? My personal opinion, and I have yet to  ask NMSU about it until I see Nephawe back on the court, is that they do not need him and I fear his return would diminish somewhat the impact that Renaldo Dixon has had in the Aggies recent play. Perhaps is we are talking about a dominant player returning, but Nephawe could use an offseason and an additional year if redshirted to develop.

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies said Tuesday that injured center Tshilidzi Nephawe was cleared on Tuesday.
Menzies said Nephawe would practice Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery the week of Dec. 3 for torn thumb ligaments in his right hand.
“He went to the doctor (Tuesday) and got the green light to tape the hand in practice,” Menzies said. “We will see how that goes. He and I have to sit and make some decisions moving forward whether he will play or not.”
Menzies said a decision has not yet been made  whether to redshirt the 6-10 junior from South Africa or move him back into the lineup.
The Aggies leave on Wednesday for Western Athletic Conference games at Texas State (Thursday) and Texas-San Antonio (Saturday) this weekend. It was unclear on Tuesday if Nephawe would travel with the team, although Menzies has stated the team’s intention on working to get Nephawe back on the court this season.
Nephawe started the first nine games at center for the Aggies, averaging 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Nephawe last appeared against South Alabama on Dec. 4. Since his departure, freshman center Sim Bhullar and junior Renaldo Dixon have produced at the position. Bhullar has started 12 games, averaging 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game with Dixon coming off the bench for 14.6 minutes per game. 
By rule, Nephawe is eligible to receive a medical redshirt or hardship waiver since the injury occurred in the first half of the season and the player appeared in 30 percent or less of the team’s games.
“Chances are (Nephawe) will be physically capable to play but then we have to look at all of the other dynamics and factor in whether to redshirt him or not,” Menzies said. “That includes your academic situation, your ability to develop and have two more years and being able to contribute right now and helping us with our goals we set in the beginning of the year.”

Jason Groves can be reached at (575) 541-5459. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Latest two Aggie commits

I got a chance to speak with New Mexico State's latest two commits. The Aggies addressed some depth at the point guard with D.C. area native Ian Baker, who is enrolled at NMSU currently and recovering from ACL surgery from the summer.

NMSU also added another Canadian product, this time with 6-5 wing Matthew Taylor, who is from Brampton, Ontario but prepping at Future College Prep in Harbor City Calif., this year. Taylor announced his committment on Twitter last week. Has been described to me as a Daniel Mullings type athlete, but there is still work to be done with his game similar to Mullings. He could fill in nicely for Bandja Sy next year.

Baker played his high school ball at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville Florida for three years.
"I had a pretty decent time down there. I won two state championships down there," he said.

Baker committed to Providence last May, but never enrolled for two reasons, qualifying and the knee injury.
"I tore my ACL that June and was supposed to get surgery during summer school but didn't realize I was going to have problems with the Clearinghouse so basically they took the scholarship away in late August. That backed the surgery up until September. Three months out of surgery and the leg feels strong. I know I still have a little time left of rehab. That's another reason I'm happy to be in school because I am able to rehab more than what I was getting at home."

Baker said he met Marvin Menzies through a mentor in D.C.
"My mentor told me he wanted me to meet somebody and that is how I met (Menzies). He has recruited me ever since."

Baker said he expects to be cleared by next season. Typically a player who isn't qualified has to go through two semesters, not including the summer, before being qualified, which would mean he could suit up by January by the latest.

"I'm not worried about it. I'm more worried about my knee and the Clearinghouse will take care of itself. If the waiver goes through the Clearinghouse, I may be able to play right away."

Here is a youtube video of Taylor. Another little description from his prep school's website. 

Taylor had a laundry list of offers including USC and San Diego State. He told me he never committed to USC. But like other Canadian players even on the Aggies roster, like Tyrone Watson, Sim Bhullar and Daniel Mullings, Taylor came to the US before stepping on a college court. Unlike those three Aggies, Taylor opted to attend a prep school to further polish his game after four years at Chinguacousy Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario.

"I started basketball late. The first year I played was grade 9 in high school. I went to a couple camps in 8th grade but I was not good enough. In four years, I wasn't exactly tuned enough and thought it would be a better option to prep school in America. I wanted to get used to it and learn more about the game."

Future Prep is 38-8 this year with Taylor scoring 13 ppg with 10 rpg. He has been in double digits 30 times this year with 20 double-doubles against elite competition including 10 junior colleges.
When I spoke to Taylor, he was getting ready for a 6 hour van ride for weekend games in Arizona.

"We have two Canadians on our roster. Canada produces really good talent," Future Prep coach Les Bean said. "Canada produces good talent who understands the game. The education system is different from the States and a lot of them can't get eligible through the NCAA. Matt and other kids made the change to find a way to get their books together."

For  a player with so much interest, I asked Taylor why commit so early.

"I wasn't really looking for a big name school, just basically what I felt most comfortable with," Taylor said. "When Coach Weir came out and the more research I did, I felt it was the right time for me. I think I fit in well. They have a lot of pieces right now. I think I can rebound and defend and do the dirty work and just work my way into the rotation."

Not only Weir, but Taylor said he has a relationship with Sim and Tanveer Bhullar, which helped him commit to NMSU despite never setting foot on campus.

"They have  always been an option," Taylor said. "I grew up with Sim Bhullar and have known of Tyrone and Daniel, who I have seen play. Sim's brother, Tanveer, told me about the environment and that the fans are supportive."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

NMSU in second place at halfway point

I believe after New Mexico State's 53-42 victory over Denver, the Aggies are the team to beat in the Western Athletic Conference. With all due respect to Louisiana Tech, the Aggies have clearly figured it out on defense and have the ability to shut down any number of styles. Having said that, NMSU has tough games like at San Jose, at Denver, at Utah State, all games NMSU has struggled with in the past as well as first place La. Tech at home. Very impressed with the NMSU defense, more with the amount of focus the Aggies displayed on their current home stand and throughout the seven games after two straight losses to open conference play.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Denver: Three keys and a prediction

Patience defensively: I'm no basketball coach but from my understanding, when you are playing against the Princeton offense, some of the key actions you have to defend against are the back door cut and weak side screens. Terrel de Rouen said this week that the Aggies will play more straight up with the players on the wing because they are going to look to make that backdoor cut. Another idea is that the Aggies are probably one of few teams that have the length and speed to almost dare the Pioneers to make the cut because Mullings and Sy and Watson can recover and Bhullar or Dixon should be somewhere near the basket for help. On the ball, the Aggies shouldn't switch, at least when the center's man is making the screen. When the ball is on one side of the court, NMSU has to be aware on the weakside for back screens and skip passes that set up open 3s and Denver shoots a lot of them.

Get off to a fast start: Fast is a relative term. Denver naturally slows the pace of the game down, but if the Aggies can force some turnovers, use their considerable size advantage on the boards on both ends, NMSU could get an early lead and make it uncomfortable for Denver, putting more pressure on them to score every time down.

Terrel de Rouen: I've said since early in the season that I believe NMSU's best lineup was Bhullar, Watson, Sy, Mullings and de Rouen at the point guard. Due to injury to KC Ross Miller, that will be the likely starting lineup. de Rouen has good energy coming off the bench and Mullings hopes that the Aggies can use that energy to start the game off. He just needs to limit the bad decisions and turnovers.

The way things have played out, NMSU has probably beaten the teams they were supposed to during their six game win streak, although the fashion in which they beat Utah State kind of stood out to me. A win tonight and I would say the Aggies probably the team to beat at the halfway point.

I have NMSU winning 62-59

Saturday, January 19, 2013

San Jose State: Just one key, an obvious one

Don't let down vs. weakened Spartans: San Jose State scored 37 points in its last game, a road loss at Denver. The Spartans are playing without WAC leading scorer James Kinney, as well as Louis Garrett, both missed the past two games due to disciplinary reasons. Both were not with the team on Friday and are not expected to play tonight.  Even with Kinney, NMSU is better than San Jose State. NMSU can't afford a letdown after a big win on Thursday and an even bigger game on Wednesday against Denver. The key for this type of game with or without Kinney is to not give San Jose State life. The Spartans still have guard DJ Brown and forward Chris Cunningham 10 ppg and 9 rpg and guard DJ Brown, who scores 9 per game and shoots 32 percent from 3 point range. I remember when NMSU was missing players when the Aggies went to Louisville in Menzies first year and the Aggies made a late run to get within five I think. Rick Pitino said NMSU played like a wounded animal. Tonight will be San Jose State's third game without two guys in the lineup so they are used to it. NMSU needs to start fast and blow them out early.

Final score, New Mexico State 75, San Jose State 58

Friday, January 18, 2013

One down, two to go

NMSU was clearly motivated and the Aggies are just a tough matchup period for Utah State. NMSU ended a 13 game Utah State win streak, handing Utah State their first WAC loss, 64-51 on Thursday. A lot of talk about how well the Aggies played defensively, and that's true. But they've been good defensively for two years now and to be honest, this Utah State team is not good offensively outside of Preston Medlin, who has to create for teammates more than he has had to do in the past. NMSU just matches up very well with Utah State, which is why I picked Utah State to win the regular season and NMSU to win the tournament.

It was the perfect way to open a three game home stand with San Jose State and Denver coming up. By the way, Denver beat San Jose State 77-37 on Thursday. WAC leading scorer James Kinney didn't play for the Spartans for the past two games for apparent disciplinary reasons.

It all started for the Aggies on the defensive end. Utah State scored 51 points, the lowest since 2010. Utah State's 39.3 field goal percentage was the second lowest of the season, both losses. NMSU's 57.8 percent shooting is the highest a USU opponent has shot since Hawaii was 63 percent in 2010.

Looking back at my keys before the game, NMSU outrebounded Utah State 33-26, limiting Utah State to 15 offensive rebounds after 10 in the first half. NMSU opened the second half with an 11-4 run, getting into transition and highlighted by a one handed Bandja Sy follow. Also NMSU point guard KC Ross Miller and out performed Utah State's two point guards. KCRM had 10 points while Utah State point guards Marcel Davis and TeNale Roland combined for seven, which forced Preston Medlin into playmaking duties which the Aggies were perfectly willing to let him do instead of scoring.

Sim Bhullar tied a career high with five blocks, including a Mt. Mutombo finger wave in the second half. Bhullar is a force on defense, blocking shots now where he may have whiffed in the first half of the season.

Marvin Menzies
Menzies said Emory Coleman is suspended indefinitely per NMSU rules while the school "gathers information" Menzies did express concerns for the family of the man who lost his life in the car accident last year.

"We took it to them early. Very pleased with the defensive effort more than anything. This team can get you. We never let them get into a rhythm. ... I feel fortunate to come out of this game victorious based on the momentum we have had coming into the game. You always are concerned with when is there going to be a dip. We haven't had it yet so lets postpone it until next season. ... Outside of the last five minutes, I thought we did a fantastic job of pressuring the ball and dealing with their screens. ... We have a good thing going. We had great support. We are just growing in a lot of areas. ... You have to do certain fundamental things night in and night out in order to give your team a chance to win. coaching Xs and Os,  you can steal a few plays but at the end of the day I will take the talent. Early in the season, we had the physical gifts but we weren't doing the things that we needed to do repeatedly like blocking out and taking care of the ball. ... For a 7-5 guy to play ball screens, his conditioning is obviously getting better. He played the most minutes all year. When look at Sim's development, integral part in our overall progress. He got elbowed. Shaw caught him and he came down right on his nose. He had a bloody nose. He was a little shaken up. He was ready to go back in but we thought we should hold him out. ... San Jose State is a real challenge for us. I hate playing teams after they lose. They have a great scorer. They have a little more depth. They are playing teams very close. It's a team if you get up on you have to manage the game. We are going to need the students in the house again."

Daniel Mullings
It's up there with our best defensive efforts. ... This was a motivational week for all of us from the coaching staff all the way down to the players, managers. Every practice, we just had emphasis on going back to defending. We know they have a lot of sets so defending screens, trying not to go under them, trying to go over them and try to run them off the 3 point line as much as possible and try to make them put it on the ground. Once we kind of speed them up and get them out of their offense, we just finish it with a defensive rebound. ... We like to get out and run. We are a transition team. We have a lot of advantages on that end. Once everybody is running their lanes, everything is clicking and it just looks good. ... I thought (Sim Bhullar's finger wag after his fifth blocked shot) was wonderful. I was surprised. That's the first time I've seen that much emotion from him. I loved it. He gets a wave and a bloody nose, it's a great day. ... If he (Medlin) starts getting going with a couple 3s, even if he misses a couple but gets a couple good looks, which we were trying to limit, it's better for us. No matter if I was late for a screen, I was trying to run him off the line as much as possible and lure him into our defense.

Tyrone Watson
It was a great motivational week for us. We have a little rivarly against them now. We knew they were undefeated. We thought they were probably the best offensive team in the conference. ... I don't think they have seen the type of defense that we play throughout the season. The opponents that they have played throughout the season have been kind of weaker offensive teams. We just got after them and took them out of things they like to do. ... We had fans support. The kids came back. It was a motivational boost. Over the Christmas break, it was just the alumni and older folks. We still love them but we got our fans back. ... Late shots were long rebounds and we didn't box out and they got a bunch of second chance points but we made that emphasis at halftime. ... It's a plus for the younger guys. they might be down and out but the older guys kind of shed some light on them because we have been in similar situations before. Actually all four seasons, we have kind of been clicking right around this time. ... chasing (Medlin) around staggers all game, that is a tough job for Daniel all game. When we chase him off the 3 point line, we have Sim waiting for him so good luck with that. That was the game plan. ... This game was a great motivation to go into the next game. We aren't perfect. We aren't undefeated.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Utah State: Three keys (plus one) and a prediction

Keep it rolling: NMSU has won four straight and if NMSU can increase its win streak to 7 with home wins in the next six days against Utah State, San Jose State and Denver, the Aggies will be right there for the second half of WAC play. NMSU won back to back road games by one point each improving to 3-3 on the season in games decided by 6 or less and despite Utah State appearing to be a shell of its former self, I expect tonight's game to be close again, putting importance on taking care of the ball and free throws.

Keep Medlin in check: I said it last year and it's still true, NMSU has at least three players with length and ability to pester Medlin all night long with Daniel Mullings, Bandja Sy and even Tyrone Watson. If Mullings and Sy are engaged on defense, which they are every night, Medlin simply shouldn't have open looks unless Utah State gets out in transition play. Medlin was 3-10 for 9 points in Las Cruces last year.

Rebound/Transition: I watched last year's 80-60 Aggies win at the Pan Am lastnight and remember transition dunks from Mullings and Watson. NMSU out rebounded Utah State 39-28 in  that game. To be fair, Utah State does appear to be a better rebounding team with Jarred Shaw pulling down nine boards and Kyisean Reed with 7 rebounds per game. The Aggies are built slightly different but they still want to push after a defensive rebound, which could lead to more highlights from NMSU high fliers.

"We still have a lot of the same guys. Transition just starts with our defense. If get back to defense, getting rebounds and pushing it in transition we will get back to our style of play we are used to and how we beat them last year, especially in the second half," Mullings said.

Point guard play: Entering the season, I thought both teams would have some questions to answer at the point guard position. We know how the Aggies PG spot has played out. Terrel de Rouen and KC Ross Miller have had their moments this year. Utah State starts a true freshman in Marcel Davis with JC transfer Tenale Roland coming off the bench. Somewhat surprised Stew starts a true freshman, but that just shows that obviously Morrill has grown to trust him. Whichever duo plays better could determine the difference.

"Ross-Miller took a big step, especially in the Idaho game," Mullings said. "A couple of us were kind of struggling. He just stuck with it and made big shots when we needed it."

I think Watson could have a big night tonight, if he's matched up on Reed. Reed has a size advantage, and actually had a decent first half here last year, but Watson has been playing well and I think he can get to the paint or the basket against Reed. I thought NMSU matched up well with UTah State last year and I feel that way again. Less veterans on this year's team could mean a closer game but I have NMSU winning 68-66

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Big Shot Bandja

Bandja Sy sends Thursday's game into OT and hits another big shot in tonight's 71-70 win at Idaho. Daniel Mullings seals it with 1-of-2 at the line with 2.7 seconds left. Tyrone Watson scores 26 at Seattle.

Sy, Watson and Mullings were the three projected players the Aggies were counting on entering the season. Watson and Sy struggled offensively and we all know what Mullings went through with the broken jaw. I would say all three were the biggest factor I took from the road sweep, allowing guys like Sim Bhullar and KC Ross Miller to go along for the ride.

NMSU wins its fourth straight WAC game with three big ones at home coming up against Utah State, San Jose and Denver.

Daniel Mullings hit the second free throw with 2.7 seconds left to lift the New Mexico State’s men’s basketball team to a 71-70 victory at Idaho on Saturday.
The Aggies swept the weekend Western Athletic Conference road trip with wins at Seattle and Idaho to improve to 10-8 overall and 4-2 in conference play.
“Before the road trip, we thought it would be great to get a sweep but we had to get a split,” Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. “Just being a realist with the way we have been playing.”
NMSU only trailed after a three-point play on Idaho’s first possession. The Aggies led by 15 at halftime but Idaho (6-9, 2-3) tied the game at 68-68 on a Stephen Madison 3-pointer with 40 seconds to play.
Days after hitting a clutch triple to send Thursday’s game at Seattle into overtime, Sy responded with a jumper inside to put the Aggies back on top with 11 seconds left.
“He was shooting really effective around the basket tonight,” Menzies said. “I thought he was hot. He’s a senior and he was good at Seattle. We went back to the well and the well produced.”
Idaho center Kyle Barone hit a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left to tie the game at 70-70, but Idaho’s Marcus Bell fouled Mullings 80 feet from the basket.
Mullings missed the first free throw but drained the second for his eighth point of the game. Sim Bhullar and K.C. Ross-Miller led the Aggies with 16 points and Sy finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Ross-Miller had a career scoring night, scoring  nine points in the first half.
It was all NMSU in the first half. 
“K.C. played a fantastic game tonight,” Menzies said. “Not just scoring, but he didn’t have any turnovers the entire night. He made several passes that led to assists.”
The Aggies started 8-for-10 from the field and scored on 11 of their first 13 possessions, taking a 23-9 lead on a Terrel de Rouen 3-pointer. NMSU finished the first  half shooting 50 percent from the floor.
The Aggies return to Las Cruces for three straight home games, beginning Thursday against Utah State.
“They are a force in the conference,” Menzies said. “They have been. I’m glad we get them at home for the first time out.”

Idaho: Three keys and a prediction

Take what the defense gives them: Opponents are shooting 50 percent against the Vandals on two-point field goals in WAC games. I think this is a game where the Aggies can get back to feeding Sim Bhullar after an up and down pace on Thursday seemed to throw the big man off.

Contain Barone, Madison: Idaho gets most of it's production from four guys in terms of minutes, but offensively, the Vandals play through senior center Kyle Barone and wing Stephen Madison picks his spots. Both players are averaging 15 ppg. Madison leads the team with 158 field goal attempts, Barone is second with 135. Connor Hill is third with 105 and the next player has 80. The problem with the Aggies when they go after one particular player, such as Louisiana Tech's Raheem Appleby, other players tend to get off against them. Connor Hill is third on the team in scoring at 10 ppg and he's shooting 46 percent from 3. Mike McChristian scores 7 ppg but he is also a good shooter at 34 percent.

Back on track on the boards: I don't think the 26 offensive rebounds the Aggies allowed against Seattle will happen often. It's what Seattle does and they shoot a lot of 3s, which usually favors the offensive team. It was good to see Sim Bhullar pull down 11 rebounds on Thursday. Idaho is obviously slower paced, meaning keeping them to one shot is important. It would be good to see the center continue to lead the team in rebounding, adding to the rebounding of Sy and Mullings on the wings.

Idaho is coming off a 55-49 home loss to Denver so Saturday's game is somewhat significant for Idaho (2-2) trying to avoid getting swept at home. NMSU has had success at Idaho, winning two of the past three games there before losing a one-point game last year. This is a hard game. I wrote for Saturday's paper that Thursday's win could be a sort of turning point game for the Aggies pulling out a close game away from home. But a bigger part of me wonders why NMSU played such a sloppy close game at a winless Seattle team and I can't get the Arlington game out of my head.

 I think Idaho wins 66-62

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ugly win, but NMSU finally gets WAC road win

NMSU tried to give away a six point lead in the final minute of overtime, finally closing Seattle out 83-82 in two overtimes on Thursday for the Aggies first WAC road win and second road win all year. It was the first multiple overtime game since the Aggies lost in triple OT to Boise State in the 2008 WAC final.

Curious what you think about this one. Do you take the win? Concerned at the way they nearly gave it away, 19 turnovers, getting outrebounded by seven including 26 offensive rebounds.

I think it was important, although not pretty, for the fact that it takes some pressure off the Idaho game. A sweep would be nice, but if NMSU wants to be in the top 3 or 4 teams, they can't drop games to Seattle, UTSA, Texas State and I would throw San Jose State in there while trying to steal a road game at Idaho, Denver, Utah State to try to make up for the Arlington loss.

It took some extra time, but the New Mexico State men’s basketball team picked up its first conference road win and just its second road win all season with an 83-82 double overtime victory at Seattle on Thursday.
NMSU improved to 9-8 overall and 3-2 in the Western Athletic Conference.
“It’s so hard to calculate what kids are going to do on the road,” Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. “They literally lost their minds tonight. With that being said, it’s all about winning.”
The Aggies outscored Seattle (0-4 WAC) 10-9 in the second overtime session, taking a five-point lead on two of Tyrone Watson’s career-high 26 points. K.C. Ross-Miller and Bandja Sy each made critical free throws in the last 27 seconds to hold off Seattle.
NMSU needed a Sy 3 pointer with seven seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime tied at 67-67. The Aggies led by six with 1:06 left in OT but NMSU turned the ball over on three straight possessions, two by Sy, that led to four Seattle points, capped by a Chad Rasmussen 3-pointer to send the game into double overtime tied at 73-73.
The Aggies trailed by eight with 9:46 to play in regulation after leading by two at halftime.
Daniel Mullings cut the lead to two twice in the last 7:43 and Watson converted a three-point play to tie the game at 60-60 with 4:15 to play. Mullings finished with 19 points and seven rebounds and Sy had 23 points and nine rebounds. Sim Bhullar led the Aggie with a career best 11 rebounds. Mullings and Watson each had a career-high seven steals but Menzies wasn’t pleased with the Aggies 19 turnovers.
NMSU scored 27 points off 26 Seattle turnovers and held Seattle to 28 percent from 3-point range on Thursday.
A Watson put back at the buzzer was waved off after an apparent clock malfunction where the clock froze in the final seconds, giving the Aggies a 36-34 lead at halftime as NMSU shot 46 percent from the field. Mullings scored 15 points in the first half, completing a three-point play to cap a 10-2 NMSU run for its biggest lead of the first half at 36-29 with 1:44 left. 
NMSU heads to Idaho on Saturday.
“If we have any chance to be in the conversation of the upper echelon teams have to at least get splits and try for sweeps,” Menzies said.

Seattle: Three keys and a prediction

Get their swagger back: New Mexico State shouldn't lose a basketball game to the likes of Seattle. Sure Seattle has played Utah State close and Cameron Dollar is a big name playing in a NBA arena and I'm sure that team will continue to grow. But as it stands now, the NMSU basketball program shouldn't be playing close games or losing games with teams like Seattle, Texas State, Arlington and UTSA. Hopefully they carry whatever confidence they gained from recent practices and home games at home.

Rebounding: It's rare in recent history that the Aggies aren't the dominant rebounding team in the WAC. Seattle leads the league so far with 37.9 rebounds per game and 15 offensive rebounds per game. It sounded like the Aggies players were looking forward to establishing themselves as the better rebounding team. Normally when the Aggies address something that early in the week, they carry it over into the game. Lets see if they do that.

Three Point defense: Seattle is third in the WAC in 3-point makes per game with 7.4 and SU scores 32 percent of their points from long range. Normally this wouldn't be concern, but teams have began to knock down 3s against the Aggies in spurts, keeping Texas State close in the first half and contributing to the loss at Louisiana Tech. WAC teams are shooting 39 percent so far against the Aggies from long range.

It seems like Seattle gets its points in three ways, pressing (Seattle is 9th in the country with nearly 76 possessions per 40 minutes) yet they are middle of the pack in scoring at 68 ppg. They also hit the offensive boards and shoot the 3. The Aggies normally are a decent rebounding team and have done well at defending the 3. These are things NMSU has hung its hat on in recent years.

I think the Aggies win 75-65

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nephawe timeline

I'm sure anyone can look online and research the timeframe for a possible Chili Nephawe timeline. But I talked to an orthopedic surgeon who kind of confirmed an 8-12 week timeframe after surgery for a possible return. I believe that the Aggies would like to return Nephawe this season, and a decision regarding shutting him down will come in the next three to four weeks.

LAS CRUCES — Torn ligaments, specifically, torn thumb ulnar collateral ligments, can take an athlete out of commission anywhere from eight to 12 weeks.
This according to an unnamed orthopedic surgeon who is knowledgable of such a procedure, as well as any search on the internet for sites such as
New Mexico State junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb the week of Dec. 3, 2012. The unnamed surgeon said an athlete could miss between eight and 12 weeks before returning to action, but athletes who are generally young and able to rehab more frequently than an average person, tend to return closer toward the eight week mark than the 12-week mark. If such estimates are accurate, Nephawe could return to the lineup as soon as the first week of February (roughtly the second half of Western Athletic Conference play) or by the first week of March, just prior to the conference tournament.
Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said on Tuesday that the Aggies haven't determined if Nephawe will return this season or seek a medical redshirt.
“He has started rehab and we are just playing it by year,” Menzies said. “We have had conversations as to when it would be too late, when you still are considering coming back this year. It's too early to make an assessment based on rehabilitation.”
Nephawe started the first nine games for the Aggies, last appearing on Dec. 4, 2012 against South Alabama. By rule, Nephawe can play 10 games before losing the option for a medical redshirt or hardship waiver. The NCAA will grant a medical redshirt if a player suffers a major injury in the first half of the season and if that player has played in 10 percent or less of his team's games - Nephawe meets both criteria.
Treatment for an injury like Nephawe's normally consists of a hard cast ininitally, replaced by a plastic removable cast that limits movement but allows for early therapy four to six weeks after surgery. 
The thumb is key for athletes since it is used in gripping a ball. Once an athlete can grasp things, rehab normally speeds up. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Texas State: Three keys and a prediction

Bandja Sy could have another big night against  Texas State tonight. Aggies need him to provide an offensive presence from here on out.

It was good to see Bandja Sy, and the Aggies for that matter, take what the defense gave them on Thursday night against UTSA. Most of his 9 field goals were lay ups or dunks. I expect to see the same tonight against Texas State, but playing efficient offense, moving the ball (21 assists) and getting out in transition were all things I think the Aggies can take moving forward, even though the competition will be slightly better.

Stop Staff/Wright: 6-7 Texas State forward Joel Wright is 5th in the WAC in scoring at 15.3 ppg. Unlike UTSA, Texas State has one player with size who actually contributes in 6-10 Matt Staff, who averages 13 ppg and 6 rpg. Wright leads the WAC in usage percentage and points per 40 minutes. I think NMSU matches up well with him with Watson/Sy. NMSU needs to make Staff work on defense as well with Bhullar and Dixon because Staff is foul prone, fouling out of five games and having four fouls seven other times.

Keep going to the well: NMSU scored 48 points in the paint on Thursday. I got the feeling that the Aggies were just toying with UTSA, finally making their run to open the second half. Texas State opponents shoot 47 percent and 53 percent against the Bobcats on 2-pt field goals, meaning they too give up easy baskets. Texas State turns the ball over 15 times per game as well, which could produce some offense.

Free throws/Turnovers: Marvin Menzies still was not pleased with the Aggies effort from the foul line (58 percent) and the 16 turnovers, despite many of them coming when the outcome was already determined. Menzies wants the team to play focused for an entire game if they are a championship team.

I'll make this quick. I don't think Texas State is that good. I have NMSU winning 81-60

Thursday, January 3, 2013

UTSA: 3 keys and a prediction

If New Mexico State wants to have any chance at a regular season title/No. 1 WAC seed, the Aggies have to sweep these two games this weekend. I think the winner of the league is going to be around 14 or 15 wins so the Aggies have to pretty much go unbeaten at home and win at Utah State or Denver to make up for the Arlington loss. Fortunately, two of the worst teams in the WAC come to Las Cruces this weekend, starting tonight with 4-8 Texas San Antonio.

Make free throws: NMSU is up to 11th in the country in total free throws attempted (349) but the Aggies are shooting just 65 percent at the foul line. NMSU is getting to the foul line 25 times per game. Making free throws kept the Aggies in the game against Louisiana Tech in the first half (15-22, 68 percent). NMSU outscored La. Tech 33-32 in the second half, but the Aggies were 8-15 (53 percent) in the second half. The Aggies are getting to the line against these small WAC teams. Have to take advantage of it.

Home shooting: NMSU is actually a worse shooting 3-point team than the Aggies were a year ago. Playing a couple home games can get guys like Bandja Sy, Kevin Aronis, Daniel Mullings going. Teams are shooting 51 percent against UTSA and 39 percent from 3.

Good time to experiment: I don't expect the Aggies to change, but if they were, these next couple games could be a good opportunity. Play zone with Bhullar on the floor, press more with Dixon at center. Let the so-called shooters get some rhythm going by giving them more minutes, start de Rouen and get that spark to begin a game.

Little concerned or confused that UTSA played Utah State to a four-point game. UTSA has some scorers, but I think the Aggies should have a easier go tonight and win 75-60