It's probably not a coincidence that New Mexico State played its worst offensive game of the season against the best defensive team the Aggies have faced this year.
The Aggies recorded season lows in points in a half (16), points for a game (44) and field goal percentage (27.9 percent) in a 64-44 loss to Saint Louis on Thursday.
We all know that the Aggies aren't a prolific offensive team in the half court. But the only criticism I had was a lack of involvement of Sim Bhullar. NMSU plays much better when Bhullar touches the ball. He was obviously a focus of the Saint Louis defense, but four shots?
"I thought we were very good against him," SLU coach Jim Crews said. "When you start watching film, our assistants had seen film, and the first thing they said is don't just pay attention to him. They have other guys, not only long, but they were very good and very quick. So it was going to be a team situation."
St. Louis made it hard on NMSU's offensive players to even look inside. NMSU's 16 turnovers and the 20 points off them was the key to the game, especially since NMSU was doing a fine job defensively in the first half to keep them in the game.
Aside from a brief stretch from Bandja Sy, NMSU's offense lost them the game.
But this was the first time in the past three tournament appearances, the Aggies seemed like they believed they belonged on the court. That's what tournament experience does for you. Moving forward, they need to add to their system offensively. Last year, Indiana was calling their plays during a possession and this year Saint Louis was more than ready.
I took time off (in El Paso) to watch this beat down?!
So what was the game plan? Get to the line like last year?
St.Louis is a good team but, the lack of fight on the Aggies was the most dis-heartening part for me.
Heck, even Southern gave #1 Gonzaga all they could handle.
Dissapointed is the way everyone in Aggie land should feel.
I think this was expected by everyone outside of Las Cruces. People just didnt recognize the name of Saint Louis and thought there was a good chance of winning. Saint Louis is the best team the Aggies faced all year and that showed. A lot of people will blame various things but in the end Saint Louis just flexed their muscles and beat us up.
A lot of the comments online were about how slow and immobile Sim was. I think he will be better next year when Chili. It will take minutes away from him and give him more time to recover. This year was brutal for him.
ok, I was at the game.
I even got to say hi to Jason :-)
As for the team, the season is over and now would be a great time to talk about the coaching and the future.
Here are my initial observations.
The team had heart and good character guys with great raw athletic ability and talent.
However, here were a few comments made by neutral fans sitting next to me.
One guy said they always made one pass too many. Another guy said simply they sucked. Another guy said that the coach kept killing the momentum as it began. Mind you, these were not Aggie fans. They were not Saint Louis fans. They were California fans, Syracuse fans, Oregon fans.
I also talked to Aggie fans. One, an old timer, said that the Aggies have no identity. I agree. I felt they were headless. They tried really hard, but there was no cohesion. Too much reliance on hero ball, not enough of a system to rely on. And every time they developed a bit of continuity, MM would make his substitutions. Even in the second half when the Aggies were coming back, MM took out the two players who were getting under Saint Louis's skin and that was the end of the run.
My view is that the team is a patchwork. I agree with the old timer. There is no identity to the team. I thought MM made some good adjustments at the half, but I don't think strategy is the problem.
I think the problem is in MM's attitude. I don't think it is a winning attitude. The team was so easily discouraged. They beat themselves and made Saint Louis look better than they are.
Here is a prediction. Saint Louis loses to Oregon.
Oregon was GOOD.
Saint Louis was the benefactor of a NMSU team that took the stage very haltingly and with fear.
It is this fearfulness that won't change as long as MM is coach, I think. We can't say, it is because they haven't been on the stage before. We can't say they didn't have their chances in this game either. We cannot say it was poor officiating or even that Saint Louis had a home court advantage. We can't even say they had a talent advantage.
So what was the advantage if not talent?
Your thoughts please!
I agree with Alan.
MM is too nice and needs to develop some nastiness, get in a kids face once in while, throw his clip board, etc.
He does a good job getting us to the tournament but, I really don't see that competitive fire in MM and neither do the players.
I wish he had a little bit more bark.
(1) In the big dance,Cinderellas play out of their minds......not us!
(2) In the big dance. teams with a 7+ footer do not lose by 20 points.....not us!
(3) In the big dance, teams are ready and focused......not us!
(4) In the big dance, the players you've watched all year long hit big shots after big shots......not us!
(5)In the big dance, you treat every game like it's your last.....not us!
(6) In the big dance, you want to win so badly it hurts.....not us!
(7) In the big dance, there should be shining moments!
Sim was not involved due to the lack of a quality point guard! Another weakness was no decent 3 point shooter. Outclassed at every position!!! Need better recruits, exposed once they play outside of the WAC!
MM is doing a fine job - we're a regular in the tourney, and he deserves a lot of credit for that. His teams play strong, disciplined defense for 40 minutes. We don't have ballers though. Guys who can score as if it's second nature. Sim shrunk from the moment, he didn't want the ball when it came to him, looking to pass. We recruit raw athletes and try to bring them along offensively. Sy was always a fantastic role player, but never the guy who was going to lead the team in scoring. As Jason said, we need to evolve offensively. Fingers crossed that Mullings can get there next year and that Sim and Chili really try to take on this role. Go Aggies!
I was in Vegas when the pairings were announced. As soon as I saw the line (St Louis -9) I placed a heavy wager on St Louis. They play in a substantially stronger conference than the WAC, play excellent defense, led largely by juniors and seniors who made a decent run in last year's tourney, easily beat UNM this year, and their coach is a coach of the year finalist. Reading all the "homer" posts on this blog the last few days was comical. MM is a good WAC coach, but a below average D-1 coach. As long as he is our coach, we won't accoomplish anything beyond a few more weak WAC championships. I will always love NMSU, and even cheer for them if I bet against them, but I won't pass up an opportunity to make some money. My only regret is I hesitated to bet against UNM and the over-rated (but much better than the WAC) MWC. Having the over-rated Lowblows lose certainly helped soften the embarrassment of another MM-led uncompetitive Aggie effort in the Big Dance.
Alan, nice review and lucky or unlucky you for being at the game.
Getting Sim touches is important as part of the offense. As important is realizing when it wasn't working. When the St. Louis Center is dribbling around our big guy and dropping shots, then we need to do something different in our defense.
The observation about MM killing momentum is dead on.
The only good thing to come out of Thursday is UNM's loss, which in of itself isn't a good thing, to a much lower ranked Harvard team who was playing without its best two players, was much worse than the Aggie loss with greater impact on the fans and program. UNM has NEVER made it to the sweet 16 and most likely lost their only shot for the foreseeable future.
Oh the humanity...
Two glaring weaknesses all season long showed up. No point guard. No oustide shooters to open things up. The shooters appear to be on the roster. The point guards do not.
Being in the WAC, a bad seed is a given.
NMSU can help change this but, it's gonna take a better Non-conf schedule, start beating/ splitting w/ unm & utep...Oh, and those awfull, slow, early season starts that we have been forced to endure under MM have got to go!!
A weak WAC and a good core of players should get us back to the Dance...I just hope we can help our seeding!!
8:27 , your point is interesting. You put the emphasis on the players and their development. I kinda agree and kinda don't. I agree in that there needs to be more offensive development from the individuals who played. They all showed flashes of potential including the much maligned pgs.
Where I differ is that there was no established system, or at least that was what my eyeballs told me yesterday, for these players to rest on...it appeared that Saint Louis KNEW what to do better....they could rely on a system more than we could. Our strategy seamed to be the experimental strategy to find the best way to compete on the fly.
It didn't seem that we knew what to do as a team and were relying on heroic individual plays to keep us afloat against an established system.
Now, wether you point to individual skill or team system, both roads lead to the same desk: the coach's. So I in no way think the coach is doing a 'fine job'. It just looks fine when we are going up against Texas State, Texas San Antonio, Western New Mexico, etc.
I will say this right now. MM will never bring us beyond where we are right now. It is what it is. He has evolved his strategic chops, and he is a fine and creative recruiter and that is enough to get us into the big dance in the lowly WAC year after year. But I will never expect us to pull out a win. This was as good a chance as we will have and we see the result.
Meanwhile, I see teams like VCU, Butler, Boise State, Davidson, maybe even San Jose State, begin to develop programs that we can only envy. Even Saint Louis is such a program....
You could focus on the fact that we have a limited budget, or that we are located 50 miles south of the middle of nowhere, or whatever. The fact is, NMSU is a great place to go to school, the weather is great, it is beautiful and there is a rich basketball tradition with fans that love their team. Much potential here.
Here are some ideas I have to turn things around:
1. Change the name of the team to Road Runners or Apache's or even fire ants or rattle snakes....way cooler on both accounts....make a brand that people will think is cool around the country if we start winning (like Butler Bulldogs or the Zags of Gonzaga...these are now national brands...makes them money for their program and recognition needed to lure high ticket recruits) But the team that got me thinking about it was South Dakota State. They are the jack rabbits. If they ever start winning in the tournament be prepared to see people walking around with jack rabbit jerseys. Shoot, I may try to get on today :-)
2. Get into the Missouri Valley Conference. Creighton just left. There is an opening! Forget about the Mountain West. We aren't getting in. Our football team is not a draw and our basketball team is not really a draw either. I predict that maybe Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, BYU will all end up back in the MWC before NMSU.
3. Get a new coach. Get a coach more in the Stew Merrill category than the Theus, or even MM category of recruiting crazy great athletes with no basketball acumen. Rather, find the smart players who are maybe not as physically gifted and a few athletes. This coach should NOT be an assistant from a Petino team or a Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana team...it should rather be a guy who is an assistant from a Butler, VCU, Creighton...great mid major program who understands how to build a program, not operate from an established one (like MM who worked at Louisville and UNLV before that)
These are some off the cuff thoughts....please keep this conversation going....share your thoughts....
ps: Another Idea, should we not get into a better conference is to play at least 10 games against the best teams willing to play us regardless of where we need to go to play them.
Since it doesn't matter if we lose all 10 of those games because when we get to the WAC (The Where is the Aggie Competition? Conference) we are going to win anyway. So at least that way, we would have a taste of tournament level intensity.
I agree with your posts, but you're missing the most important item. Our AD McKinley Boston LOVES Menzies. Nothing will change as long as we have Boston. Here is my post on Teddy Feinberg's "Cruces Sports" blog:
Teddy is right, the only time NMSU competed in the tourney under MM was in 2010 against Michigan State. Anyone recall who led that team? Reggie Theus recruits Jonathan Gibson and Jahmar Young. The other MM-led teams that made the tourney were comprised entirely of MM recruits, and we were embarrassingly uncompetitive. As the WAC gets weaker, NMSU won't be challenged unless they schedule much tougher non-conference games. Boston won't do that, as he wants MM to pile up wins. My opinion for years has been that all us NMSU hoops fans are screwed as long as MM and Boston are at the helm. No reason to change that opinion now.
The one thing I will add is our best team that could have competed in The Big Dance under Menzies was his first year at NMSU: We had the most talent in the WAC AND Las Cruces hosted the WAC tourney. Our season was dissapointing, and Boise State beat us in the WAC championship. After his first year, I concluded we would not be very good under Menzies unless he truly was a great recruiter. And I was skeptical about that - recruiting a kid to play for Pitino at Louiville is much easier than recruiting for yourself to play at NMSU. Outside of McKines, I'm not impressed with MM's recruits - huge step down from Theus and what UNM is currently getting. But through the years, all you hear from Boston is what a great job Menzies is doing. In fact, due to a lack of local excitement and attendance at home games, rather than changing our coach, Boston decides to cover a few thousand seats with plastic to lower the PAC's capacity and force people into buying other seats. I was at the PAC when we hosted the WAC tourney: one year with Theus as our coach, one year with Menzies. LC will support an exciting NMSU team. But they won't support the product Menzies has consistently put on the floor. I'll repeat, we're screwed as long as Boston is our AD.
1. There is no such thing as the Gonzaga "Zags", they are called Bulldogs.
2. San Jose State has had 2 straight 9 win seasons. I dont think that is a program we can start to envy.
3. I believe NMSU had somewhere around the 15th best non conference schedule this year. We already play good teams.
You really need to just learn a little more before you write a bunch of nonsense. Menzies isnt going anywhere. Its ridiculous to think that any school would let go a coach who has had the success that Menzies has had. NMSU hasnt won an NCAA Tournament game in '93 so us getting there and not winning isnt exactly new.
MM was quoted several times saying "they want us to beat our rivals, but to me getting to the Dance is more important" chaps my hide! NMSU must compete to win at high levels in every matchup, anytime, any place.
Rival games are very important and highlights the "only play when something is on the line" mentality MM has adapted.
He has done great to get us to this level but its time for the next great leader to close the deal and get us to top shelf caliber basketball.
Do not let the emotional let down of a loss overshadow an otherwise successful season. Going into the season expectations were not very high. Primarily I thought the back court was way too inexperienced and the team would lack leadership. This "team" grew significantly this year.
What is being overlooked is that St. Louis was a senior laden team while the Aggies started 1Fr, 2So, 1Jr. It showed as this team was taken out of the game early due to poor back court play and their inexperience showing through with tentative offensive execution.
With the youth of this team the future is positive.
I would think this team will continue to improve with experience. I am hopeful that these young men will be emboldened by the experience and work hard to improve their weak points. A tournament win or two is not out of the question if this team continues to develop. Imagine Mullings with an improved jumpshot and an aggressive and 300lb Bhullar as the cornerstone of this team for the next two years. As far as the coaching goes it is hard to argue with the multiple tournament appearances in recent years. Alford and his choking dogs went into the tournament with high expectations only to be ousted by a bunch of nerds. Better to be the team with youth looking forward than an over hyped dejected group looking back and carrying the burden of underachievement. Time to get some back in the next couple of years against the Lobos. GO AGGIES!!
Alan and Co. good posts.
Gonzaga's nickname is the Zags! They've been called that for years. They're not known by their mascot.
You also mentioned we had the 15th best schedule. Seriously? Against who? Playing a ranked UNM team (twice) helped that schedule, but playing Oregon St, Niagra, Northern NM, South Alabama, etc doesn't cut it. No teams that push us to get better. Then get to our pathetic conference. La Tech proved to be overrated and Denver was only good in conference. So where is the tough schedule? The 15 teams in the Big East play each other and 8 of them went to the NCAA tourney. Now they play a tough schedule, NMSU doesn't.
Also great attitude on "not winning isn't exactly new." That's exactly the problem. I've mentioned it too many times that the attitude is to just get to the tourney. Who cares????? People around the country don't even know who we are. How many times did we get called New Mexico this past week?
Everyone else said what needed to be said about yesterdays......debacle so I'll end it there. Hopefully things change because we're all waiting until next year.....AGAIN.
We will continue this conversation when our frustration fades away.
I meant watch what happens to San Jose State going forward now that they are in the MWC.
15th best non conference season? Who? Bucknell (beat by Butler) UNM beat by Harvard...WHO?????? No, I am talking about playing Saint Louis in the regular season...teams like that....the fact is, none of the teams who beat us in the regular season are still in the dance and there are, as I type this 40 teams still dancing!
And Gonzaga has rebranded themselves as the ZAGS...it sells more T shirts and allows them to have a bigger budget as a small school to pay for a legit good coach.
It occurs to me as I type this that you, sir or maa'am gave NO GOOD IDEA...you are just shot down my ideas as non-sense......not the most creative of approaches. I am just trying to imagine ways we can actually move forward instead of continuing this slide to mediocrity....you don't think its mediocre?
Fine.....make a case....who did we beat? Denver? Louisiana Tech? Southern Mississippi? What am I missing here.
ps: the official website for Gonzaga sports...look carefully...
one more ps...I just couldn't believe that we had the 15th toughtest non conference schedule so I checked out....
rather than tell you where we sit on this list, I will let you do the research you demand of me, but I will make it easy for you...take a look:
but I'm glad you brought it to my attention...it makes my point...
on this list in the top 15 which is where we both can agree the aggies SHOULD be, we find mid majors:
Gonzaga (you know, the Zags :-))
and at 16, our friends, Denver U.
if they can do it, so can we!
i love this all you guys say oh were going to ncaa were sso good. Marvin menzie is a great coach other schools want him. blah blah blah. Aggies havent been good since mccarthy was here. now that time and before was something. the atmosphere was great during drew, hayes etc era. now its loserville. But marvin says thanks for all the cash and bonus money see you suckers next year.
I haven't seen anyone post that we, the Aggies, are sooo good. I haven't seen it posted anywhere that other schools want MM either. Where are you getting your info from? Also, the Aggies have been good a few times since the McCarthy era. Also, the bonuses you seem to be mentioning are normal in ANY program. Getting a certain amount of wins, winning a conference tournament, making the NCAA's, etc are on most if not all contracts for ANY coach in D-1. I'm not a fan of MM, but yes he got 20+ wins, a conference championship and an NCAA bid. We just can't be content with that. Hopefully he and the Athletic Dept schedule MUCH better teams in pre-conference play for next year. That's the only way our team can get better, along with a couple more position players.
there you ar JH were you been? If you dont remember last year mm might go to colorado and all the fans and reporters saying we need to keep him. Come on JH you are always saying support them there worth the money. WRONG Hey heres an idea maybe ucla want him i here there looking for a coach.
Sim HAS to learn how to deal his man on the block and demand the ball. It was easy for the SLU bigs to just mosey around him and front the post. Offseason adjustments need to e made there
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