Monday, July 29, 2013

Mullings listed as invitee to Canada Senior national team

Daniel Mullings was invited to the Canada senior national team training camp that begins Aug. 2 in Toronto.

A huge accomplishment and opportunity for him if he does indeed head back to Toronto.

I spoke briefly with Aggies coach Marvin Menzies, who said Mullings should know if he will attend the Toronto training camp sometime Tuesday. Mullings is healthy, but after playing for the past two months, there is some wear and tear on his body, not to mention he's been away from school for that period of time as well.

I could see positives to either playing or staying. Mullings is a competitor so if he's remotely healthy, it's a wonderful opportunity for him, even if he does not make the final roster.

Friday, July 26, 2013

More from Daniel Mullings

I was able to catch up with New Mexico State guard Daniel Mullings following his experience with Canada at the World University Games. Interesting side note, there is a chance Mullings could be invited to the tryouts for Canada's senior national team. Steve Nash and Jay Triano, the same coach that coached the University Games team, will announce the roster and training schedule Monday morning. Here is my story that ran on Thursday.

He expanded a little bit on the trip, the style of play, the Aggies upcoming schedule and the addition of Tanveer Bhullar. He also talked a little trash to Canada teammate and Gonzaga star Kevin Pangos on their matchup in Spokane this season.

"I did talk to (Pangos) about it and of course we were trashtalking," said Mullings of the Aggies' Dec. 7 trip to Spokane. "I didn't know we were playing but I saw a Tweet and then I checked on the Aggies App. on my phone. I'm looking forward to it. I told him, 'I'm going to be guarding you. Nobody else.'"

Mullings was guarding point guards in Canada so it will be a fun matchup to watch.

Mullings on Canada figuring out roles
"There was no distinct starting five. In China we played five on and five off with four guys sitting then when we went to Russia we started pool play like that. Me and Brady (Heslip)  were the two guards so he was on one shift and we flip flopped. The majority of the time I played with (Kevin) Pangos because he was the point guard.

Mullings on who he clicked with on the Canada roster:
"I hung out mostly with Melvin Ejim from Iowa State and Mangisto Arop from Indiana State. When I first got to training camp, my roommate was Melvin and then again in Toronto and Many was always around. And also Dwight Powell from Stanford."

Mullings on differences between the college and international game:
"The physicality. It's a lot more physical than college. The screens are more aggressive and the referees don't call little fouls. You have to play through the foul and just make sure whatever you do to try to finish because they have the continuation. It's more like the NBA. One of our first games, I was getting fouled a lot but just throwing it up and then the coaches called me over and told me to try to score because they use that. We eventually matched the physicality. A lot of play college in North America so were were used to playing and trying not to foul or put a body on someone, but once we got used to it, we started rolling."

Mullings on the offense:
"In training camp we were doing the offense and then in China we did in preparation for Russia so when we were back in Toronto we could refine things. We did a lot of pick and roll and pick and pops. There were a lot of plays that (Triano) drew up for that moment in time for a game."

Mullings on Tanveer Bhullar's commitment to NMSU
"It's crazy. I was in Russia and I got a text and it was all over Twitter. It's good for him. He can help Sim excel. He is still young and he has two good big men ahead of him that he can learn from. Those two guys are different players who can each team him what they know."

Mullings on the Aggies upcoming schedule:
"I like the schedule. We got a couple good teams and a good chance to make some noise. We have Colorado State, Arizona and Gonzaga.  I think they are winnable games, especially with the guys we have coming back. From what I have seen so far, everyone has been working hard all summer. I see guys in the gym working extra."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tanveer Bhullar to join Aggies

Tanveer Bhullar's addition to the Aggies roster wasn't a foregone conclusion, he said. Oklahoma, Oregon, Wichita State and even UNM showed late interest.

But considering he is close with freshman Matt Taylor, Sim Bhullar and the other Canadians on the team, his comfort level on two unofficial visits this season plus Vegas and San Jose in addition to an official visit last week, made him decide to commit as a 2013 instead of prep for another year.

Tanveer Bhullar joins older brother, Sim, at New Mexico State
By Jason Groves
@jpgroves on Twitter

LAS CRUCES — One of the biggest teams in college basketball just got bigger.
Tanveer Bhullar, the 18-year-old, 7-foot-3 younger brother of 20-year-old, 7-foot-5 New Mexico State sophomore center Sim Bhullar, committed to the Aggies via his Twitter account on Tuesday.
“Excited to finally make my decision and announce that this fall I will be joining my brothers at NMSU!,” read his Tweet Tuesday evening.
Tanveer Bhullar picked NMSU over Oklahoma, Oregon, Wichita State and New Mexico also showed interest.
But it was a familiarity with coaches and players on the roster that led Tanveer Bhullar to pick NMSU. He said he plans to travel to Las Cruces in August.
“It felt like family there because I know half of the people on the team and it just felt like a big family,” Tanveer Bhullar said. “Other schools showed interest but I wanted to end it early. I’m happy that I’m committed and ready to head down to school and get ready to play basketball.”
It’s unclear if Tanveer Bhullar will sit out the 2013-14 season, or join his brother this year in a frontcourt rotation that also includes 6-foot-8 Canadian Renaldo Dixon and 6-foot-10 center Tshilidzi Nephawe.
“That’s what we are going to decide the first couple months in the fall what we are going to do,” Tanveer Bhullar said.
Tanveer Bhullar joined a recruiting class that included Canadian wing Matthew Taylor, point guard Travon Landry (Huntington Prep, West Va.,), Washington D.C., point guard Ian Baker and Texas power forward Kyle Wilson.
NMSU lost seniors Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson from last year’s NCAA Tournament team while guard Eric Weary transferred to Howard College in Texas and forward B.J. West left NMSU for Jackson State University.
If and when the Bhullar brothers join forces on the basketball court, it would only be the second time. They played together at the Kiski School in 2009 when Tanveer was a freshman.
Yet playing college basketball with his brother was never a forgone conclusion or even a goal.
“It was never a goal to play at the same school,” Tanveer Bhullar said. “It was a last minute thing. I talked to him about it and he said he thought it was a good idea if I felt comfortable.”
Tanveer Bhullar was in Las Vegas during the Aggies’ latest Western Athletic Conference Tournament title run and he was in San Jose, Calif., for NMSU’s NCAA Tournament loss to Saint Louis. He played middle school basketball with Taylor and assistant coach Paul Weir has a good relationship with the Bhullar family.
“He just realized that it’s not the facility or where the campus was but you have to feel comfortable and be able to trust people and that was a big factor,” said Avneet Bhullar, the older sister. “I think it will be a lot better so we can cheer for one team and be able to see both of them and take fewer trips. The fact that they are playing together and supporting each other is the most important thing.”
Although he was in attendance for three Aggies games during last season, Tanveer Bhullar made an official visit to NMSU last weekend. His only other official visit was earlier this summer to Oklahoma. Tanveer Bhullar played at Father Henry Carr in Toronto last season.
During the regular season, Tanveer Bhullar said he was leaning toward a commitment for 2014, but he obviously had a change of heart.
“I got my diploma and I realized that spending another year in high school won’t mean as much compared to spending a year in college with college coaches and college trainers,” Tanveer Bhullar said.
Sim Bhullar will be among the top players in the Western Athletic Conference his sophomore season. He averaged 10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game last season, earning WAC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors after leading the Aggies to their second straight conference championship.
“He was just telling me that I have to know that if I came to NMSU, I wasn’t allowed to slack off, which I took as a positive thing,” Tanveer Bhullar said. “He is there to push me and help me out.”
Jason Groves can be reached at 575-541-5459

Monday, July 15, 2013

NMSU 2013-14 schedule: Nov. 8/9 Game 2 vs. Tennessee State (Rainbow Classic)

Game 2
Tennessee State
Last season: 18-15, 11-5 and third place in the Ohio Valley. Lost in conference semis. (CIT)
Key returner (s): Senior guard Patrick Miller 14.8 ppg, 34 percent 3-point, 6 apg;
Something to watch: The Aggies could have an experience edge on Tennessee State as well. Miller is one of four seniors but only junior MJ Rhett and senior forward Michael Green saw extended time on the court last year and by extended it doesn't seem like they were much of a factor.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

NMSU 2013-14 schedule: Nov. 8/9 Game 1 vs. Western Michigan (Rainbow Classic)

I wanted to do a brief look at each of the Aggies upcoming opponents. I'm not sure in which order NMSU will open the Rainbow Classic but Western Michigan is listed as the first game.

Game 1
Western Michigan
Last season: 22-13, 10-6 in Mid American (Lost in Conference semis, NIT)
Key returner (s): Redshirt senior center Shayne Whittington and redshirt senior guard David Brown. Whittington (13 ppg) and Brown (11 ppg) were the teams top two scorers last year. At 6-11, Whittington was and is the team's biggest player. The next two biggest players on the team's 2013-14 roster are 6-8 redshirt freshman Kellen McCormick and 6-7 freshman Mario Masasovic.
Something to watch: I think NMSU should open the season with a couple wins at least in Hawaii. But it's always interesting to see how things fit together if this is in fact their season opener.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More from Chris Hickman

I got a lot of good response from this story on former Aggie big man Chris Hickman. 

Since people seemed to like it, here is the entire interview via email. He talks about teammate William Benjamin, expands on his current business and what NMSU meant to him.

Basically I was wondering if you could fill us in on what brings you back to town?  How often do you come back?
We come to town at least once a year.  Many times we are just passing through quickly but we try to make time frequently to visit friend, my aunt and uncle (Bob & Betty McCasslin) and of course to get our fill of green and red chile.  Especially Chope’s!!

Which members of that team are you still familiar with?
William Benjamin, Ron Putzi, Randy Brown

Were you aware that William Benjamin won a state championship this year as a coach at Las Cruces High? Could you see him as a coach?
Yes, and definitely.  Benj was a student of the game.  In addition, benj could always do anything he set him mind to do.

You and your wife both had very good careers here and was wondering what las cruces and New Mexico State mean to you and the business success that you have enjoyed.
I feel being in team sports really give you a great base for life.  You have to learn to work with others, leverage strengths, cover weaknesses and get to experience the highest hihs and the lowest lows and then get out of bed the next day and move forward.

How did it come about that you came to New Mexico State?
Kind of a fun story.  I was being recruited by about a dozen Division I schools.  My Uncle (Bob McCaslin) swung by the basketball department and gave Asst. Coach Jeff Reep my recruiting tape.  Coach Reep decided to come watch a game and then asked to me come visit NMSU after the game.  I had already used all of my official visits by this time so my dad and I drove down to NMSU from Wichita KS instead of a normal recruiting trip.  I really didn’t think I would end up at NMSU, but between the Pan Am, Coach Reep and most important, Dean Steelman, I was totally convinced to come to NMSU.  I knew I wouldn’t play in the NBA so school was incredibly important to me and Dean Steelman was probably 80% of the reason I came to NMSU.

I don’t think there were too many four-year players at that point under Neil so what was that like?
Our team was made up of almost an entirely new team every single year.  Benj, Putzi and I were the only continuity year to year.  So it was interesting to constantly learn new players, etc. every year.  

At what point did you meet Tammy?  

Freshman year.  We started dating the night of midnight madness our Freshman year and never looked back.  We got married the summer between our Junior and Senior years.

Obviously you have earned success after college but could you describe where playing on a Sweet 16 team fits in the accomplishments throughout your life?
Basketball was such a huge part of my life.  It’s hard to express to people how many hours you spend doing this stuff.  Some people are just incredibly gifted but most of us spend thousands and thousands of hours working so to have the opportunity to realize the moments that you imagine in all of those hours of practice is incredible.  Kids don’t sit around the table dreaming of closing that next business deal or negotiation, the dream about this kind of stuff.  And to get to play through a Sweet Sixteen sticks with you forever and ever. 

Does the wins being vacated take any of the luster off your time as a basketball player at NMSU or would you have done things the same way if you could go back? Do you still follow New Mexico State basketball?
This is an interesting topic.  NMSU and many of us on the team were effectively punished because of a coach that had lapses in moral and ethical behavior.  The NCAA is completely screwed up.  Huge sanctions are brought against schools, wins are vacated and players that had nothing to do with the issues in question get painted with a broad brush of sanctimonious BS.  Did McCarthy knowingly break the rules?  Yes.  Did he force his assistants to do things in this regard?  Yes.  Did most of us know about many of these things, no.  However, at the end of the day, the coach loses his job but the university gets hammered.  And the coach can go onto the next thing, many times with impunity.  This system is broken.
So, no, I have no regrets for my time and career as an Aggie and proudly wear my Sweet Sixteen today.  Our achievements in my time at NMSU are shared between me, my teammates, the school and the community in Las Cruces.  The Heat attack kids of 1992 live in not only my memories but those of hundreds if not thousands of people in Las Cruces and those memories are the fond ones.

Finally can you just briefly talk about your current professional life?

As much as basketball meant to me in my life up to 1992, NMSU engineering, the Electric Utility Management Program, Dean Steelman, Satish Ranade and, most importantly, Professor William Kersting have painted the success of my professional life.  There are dozens of professors at NMSU, like David Smith in the business school that helped shape my education, but Prof was my mentor, friend and the reason that I actually stayed in Electrical Engineering instead of moving over to civil or mechanical.  My sophomore year I decided that EE was just too ‘imaginary’.  Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to using my hands and thinking about the microscopic world of electronics, computers, etc., just wasn’t that interesting to me.  And then I took my first power class with Prof and the rest is history.  After a long and incredible careen at PNM working for spectacular people like Roger Flynn, Dennis Hines and Gene Wolf who all took the time to help me grow both personally and professionally, I had the opportunity to work on Federal Energy Policy, State Regulatory Policy and then consult for a variety of fun and interesting clients before forming Innovari, Inc.  Innovari, Inc. has allowed me to create a third family.  My first I was born into, my second became NMSU and Las Cruces through some spectacular times and now I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to handpick people I’ve worked with over my career in the power industry and do something truly amazing for the grids of the world.  Without geeking out on you, we have created a way to improve the power grid utilization from the 43% it operates at today up something more like 60 or 65% utilization.  This will save our country and other countries around the world, billions and billions of dollars of inefficient infrastructure.
NMSU was a key part of how I learned to be a part of a high performing team.  How to create one, build one, be a part of one and how to ‘captain’ one.  Hard to express the importance of my time at NMSU.  Especially since the single best and most important  thing that has ever happened in my life happened when I met Tammy there.  So Las Cruces and NMSU will always be in my heart and we will always finds ways to make it back and spend time there.  This time the coaching staff has been nice enough to help us so we can show our 6 (Brody) and 8 (wyatt) year old boys the Pan Am!

Monday, July 1, 2013

NMSU schedule released

NMSU released its schedule on Monday.

You have to give credit to the staff for this one. All four rivalry games are during the first semester while students are still around. It includes games I believe are winnable, or at least give the Aggies a chance to be competitive in road games at Gonzaga and Colorado State. For that reason I think it's NMSU's best schedule under Marvin Menzies because unlike his first year with games at Duke and Louisville, there are no games here where going into it, the Aggies are overmatched.

The RPI implications are tremendous if the Aggies take care of business. If they were able to get the CSU game and split with the Lobos, that could be the difference between a 15 seed in the tournament and maybe a 12 or a 13.

A couple quick notes on the schedule. The Colorado State game will be returned next year. The Hawaii game could be part of the ESPN marathon that tips off the season. The Arizona and Gonzaga game is worth $95,000 each to NMSU.

What are your thoughts? How many wins?