Saturday, June 29, 2013

Aggies to play at Gonzaga?

It sounds like the New Mexico State men's basketball schedule is fairly close to completion. Following is a list of non-conference opponents, some known that I have written about in previous posts, and a couple I have heard of recently, most notably the possible addition of Gonzaga on the road. Some games I'm not sure of on the dates.

Nov. 9-11 vs. Western Michigan, Tennessee State and Hawaii in Rainbow Classic
Nov. 15 vs. UTEP
Nov. 23 at UTEP
Dec. 4 vs. New Mexico
Dec. 11 at Arizona ($95,000 guarantee game for Aggies)
Dec. 17 at New Mexico

Other road non-conference opponents
Colorado State University (I believe this game will be returned at some point)
Drake (Return game from BracketBuster game two years ago)

Other home non conference opponents
South Alabama (return from last season)
University of Northern Colorado
Prairie View A&M
Northern New Mexico

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rivalry Games occur with students in Cruces

In addition to scheduling up with tough non-conference opponents like Colorado State and Arizona (there will be at least one more high qualify non-conference addition), the New Mexico State schedule makers also focused on landing rivalry games against New Mexico and UTEP when students are still on campus.

The Aggies play I-10 rival UTEP on Friday, Nov. 15 at the Pan American Center and then travel to El Paso on Saturday, Nov. 23.

The Aggies shift their focus to the Rio Grande Rivalry in December, hosting New Mexico on Dec. 4 and then traveling to The Pit on Dec. 17.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two NMSU hoops changes to the staff

Marvin Menzies will have a slightly different staff in 2013.
Still in place are associate head coach Paul Weir (sixth year) and assistant Keith Brown (third year). But assistant Tony Delk left the program to be closer to family in the south while pursuing other opportunities after two years  at NMSU. Coordinator of Player Development Ryan Mack left to take a head coaching job at Shelbyville High School in Indiana.
Aerick Sanders will join Menzies on the bench and Eric Brand is expected to replace Mack. Both moves should be announced in the next week. 
Both men are young coaches who had successful playing careers at the college level and overseas. Menzies recruited Sanders to play at San Diego State, where he was a four-year player under Steve Fisher from 2000-2004. Sanders played in Europe before his playing career ended in 2009. Last year was his first season in the coaching ranks as an assistant at Montana State.
Brand played in four straight NAIA national championship games at Bethel College from 1996-2000, winning three. He was an All-American in 2000, a second-team All-American in 1999 and a honorable mention All-American in 2998. In 2010, Brand was selected to the Bethel College Hall of Fame.
Since his last game as a professional in 2009, Sanders returned to San Diego State and developed players independently before taking an assistant job last season.

Brand spent the last four years on the staff at Texas State. The Indiana native played in Europe for four years before two years as a graduate assistant at Baylor and a year at Tyler Junior College. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

NMSU Final Four

Photo by Shari V. Hill
Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson were part of an explosive offensive Aggies team in 2010. 

If you read this blog last year, I made a score prediction for most of the Aggies games throughout the season. I haven't picked the NCAA Tournament game for the past couple years because at a school like New Mexico State, getting to the tournament is still a significant accomplishment. It's only happened four times since 1994.

Perhaps if the Aggies were a favorite entering any Tournament first round game, we could look at it and pick the Aggies to move on, but beating a No. 4 seed is rare for a reason, even though it seemed like this year's draw was as good as they could ask for. St. Louis was eliminated in the second round by  Oregon relatively easy. So while we wait for Tournament wins, we can agree that reaching the NCAA Tournament has become the norm here at NMSU. Aggies coach Marvin Menzies has been to three now in the past four years and the last two. NMSU also went to the Tournament in 2007 under Reggie Theus. 

I wanted to try to compare these four modern teams. I got this idea after I was sent a Facebook link to a conversation between Wendell McKines, Fred Peete, Justin Hawkins and others about whose team was better.

So I thought we would match them up a little bit. 

I'm going  to seed the last four teams to reach the Big Dance and make my picks. It would be interesting to see what you think. 

No. 1 seed is the 2010 team. The Aggies were a scoring machine in 2010 with five players nearing double figures. NMSU scored 79 ppg in WAC play that year and shot 38 percent from 3-point range. This is the one team that played a competitive game in the NCAA Tournament, nearly upsetting Final Four bound Michigan State.

Key Players:
Hamidu Rahman
Troy Gillenwater
Jahmar Young
Jonathan Gibson
Hernst Laroche
Wendell McKines
Gordo Castillo

No. 2 is the 2007 — I didn't cover this team, but they certainly had size and were among the best rebounding teams in the country, pulling down 39 rebounds per game in WAC play. NMSU went 25-9 and 11-5 in a WAC that was much better from top to bottom.

Key Players:
Martin Iti
Hatila Passos
Elijah Ingram
Shaun Davis
David Fisher
Ted Knauber
Fred Peete
Justin Hawkins
Tyrone Nelson
Jonathan Gibson

No. 3 is the 2013 team — The latest Aggies team is seeded ahead of two years ago because of the development of Sim Bhullar. Bhullar dominated in the WAC Tournament to get the Aggies into the tournament but wasn't nearly as visible against St. Louis. He was a freshman so experience puts this team below the No. 1 and No. 2 seed.

Key Players:
Sim Bhullar
Renaldo Dixon
Bandja Sy
Daniel Mullings
KC Ross Miller
Terrel de Rouen
Tyrone Watson
Kevin Aronis
Remi Barry

No. 4 is the 2012 team — It was painfully evident how much this team relied on Wendell McKines in the Aggies NCAA Tournament loss to Indiana. Scoring was a struggle for each of the past two teams but McKines was the team's best shooter, rebounder, etc. Indiana zeroed in on him and the Aggies didn't have enough options to make up for it.

Key Players: 
Hernst Laroche
Hamidu Rahman 
Wendell McKines
Bandja Sy
Daniel Mullings
Tyrone Watson
Chili Nephawe

2010 vs. 2012 — Remember that the McKines in 2010 was a rebounding animal, surrounded by scorers, freeing him to run up and down, chase down extra possessions, etc. Hernst Laroche was at his greatest in 2010, surrounded by Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson on the wing and Troy Gillenwater  in the post, where he gradually moved away from his next year. Could freshman year Daniel Mullings guard either/or senior Gibson or junior Young for an entire game. I just don't think the 2012 team had enough offensive punch with the bulk of the offense centered about McKines while 2010 had at least three consistent offensive weapons.

2010 advances

2007 vs. 2013 — Experience gives this game to the 2007 club. They certainly have the bodies to throw at Sim Bhullar with centers Hatila Passos and Martin Iti, perhaps even big Trei Steward. Ingram would have a field day with last year's point guard position I think, and if it was close, Ingram made some big shots. I think Passos, Justin Hawkins and Tyrone Nelson would be a tough matchup for the frontcourt players from last year's team of Bhullar, Tyrone Watson and Bandja Sy. I think Hawkins and Nelson are two of the Top 5 players from the past seven years and Fred Peete and Daniel Mullings could be a wash.

2007 advances

2007 vs. 2010. 
Some of the matchups to consider 
PG: Hernst Laroche (Jr.) vs. Elijah Ingram (Sr.)
SG: Jonathan Gibson (Sr.) vs. Fred Peete (Jr.)
SF: Jahmar Young (Jr.) vs. Justin Hawkins (Jr.)
PF: Wendell McKines (Jr.) vs. Tyrone Nelson (Jr.)
C: Hamidu Rahman (Jr.) vs. Hatila Passos (Jr.)

I would love to watch this game. From an offensive standpoint. I have PG, SG and PF as a wash. Passos would be a tough matchup for Rahman and junior season Hawkins wasn't the all-around offensive player that senior season Hawkins was so I give a slight edge to JY, who could score on anyone. The benches would have a big impact on this game. 2010 was Gillenwater's best season at NMSU. Not a great post defender but he could be the best offensive player here in the past seven years. Each team had shooters off the bench but to me Gillenwater's versatility for a guy his size gives 2010 the win. If they needed to, the Aggies could play Rahman, Gillenwater and McKines along the front line to match 2007 on the glass. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

NMSU schedule notes

In anticipations of a weakened league slate, New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies has scheduled aggressively for next season.

There are rumors of a couple other games against very good mid majors that will make this season's schedule arguably the toughest since Menzies' first year when the Aggies played away at Duke, Louisville and on neutral court against Texas and West Virginia.

But so far here is a tentative look at some of the opponents/dates on the Aggies non-conference schedule:

Nov. 9-11 Three games in Hawaii's Rainbow Classic against Western Michigan, Tennessee State and Hawaii. The Hawaii game should be on ESPN as part of tipoff marathon.

Dec. 4 vs New Mexico
Dec. 11 at Arizona ($95,000 guarantee game for Aggies)
Dec. 17 at New Mexico

 I believe December will also include both I-10 rivalry games against UTEP

Other Home opponents
South Alabama (return game from last season)
Drake (return game from BracketBuster two years ago)

I expect the Aggies to fill out their schedule with up to four home games against lower tier teams