Sunday, March 30, 2014

ESPN Tweets KC Ross-Miller transferring

ESPN reported late tonight that KC Ross-Miller was transferring from New Mexico State. Not only that but Jeff Goodman said he will be eligible to play next year.

I actually reached out to Ross-Miller earlier in the day, but he declined to comment on rumors. I couldn't get ahold of head coach Marvin Menzies or AD McKinley Boston. Hopefully I can follow up on Monday.

Ross-Miller could transfer and play right away if he were to graduate. As you are aware, Ross-Miller's last game was against Utah Valley, where he threw the ball at UVU guard Holton Hunsaker. Aggies players and UVU students were involved in an altercation shortly after.

Ross-Miller came to NMSU from New Orleans. He verballed to Kentucky as a 15 year old. He showed signs of improvement in his junior year and probably won the Aggies a couple games this season against Hawaii and UTEP. But his play tailed off, and perhaps he was frustrated at the end of the season, but that's just speculation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Menzies says not interested in Wash. St. job, but he could leave without penalty of buyout

Marvin Menzies has been linked to head coaching jobs elsewhere the past three seasons.
Most recently, Menzies was listed in a Spokesman-Review Journal article as one of three possible candidates for the vacant Washington State job.
If Menzies were to leave New Mexico State for WSU or anywhere else, he is free to do so without the penalty of a buyout clause as long as he leaves after July 1.
Menzies said Tuesday there had been no conversations regarding Washington State or any other school at this point.
“Right now I’m 100 percent coming back,” Menzies said. “I don’t know why I wouldn’t. I have three more years.”
Menzies and the school agreed to a three-year contract extension in July of 2012. His current deal runs through the 2017 season.
The extension included a section that required a buyout equal to his $286,110 base salary should Menzies leave Las Cruces before July 1 of this year. The contract also included a retention bonus of $30,303.04 that Menzies collected on Oct. 15 of each year through the contract.
“We created extra value for (Menzies) and expected him to also support the program for the time he is here,” NMSU athletics director McKinley Boston said.
Menzies contract also called for the head coach to alert Boston if there was “such opportunity or interest before any discussions or interviews, other than initial contacts.”
Boston said Monday Menzies had not informed him of any potential interviews with Washington State. Washington State was the coordinating school at the West Region in Spokane, Wash., last week, where the Aggies nearly upset San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.
“My goal is to grow New Mexico State on build on what we have established and take it to the next level,” Menzies said.
Menzies has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in his seven seasons at NMSU, including the past three years. Last week’s loss capped a 26-10 season that resulted in approximately $140,303 of bonuses for the season that included meeting academic and performance standards, as well as meeting media obligations.
Washington State fired Ken Bone, who started for $650,000 in 2009-10 before moving up to $850,000 last season. Washington State athletics director Bill Moos said a hire will be made within the next two weeks.
Menzies interviewed for the Colorado State job two years ago and he was linked to the Texas Tech opening last offseason.
After compiling a 152-89 at NMSU in seven seasons, Menzies will likely remain a candidate for schools with a vacancy.
“I think that with his market value, there will always be people who will give him a hard look,” Boston said.

Friday, March 21, 2014

San Diego State: Three keys unlocked

What does it mean if you do all the things you should do and you still lose? It means San Diego State is a pretty good team.

I said on Twitter that this is the best game I've covered since I started covering New Mexico State, but the Aggies were eliminated for the third straight year.  Even better than the 2010 team, which lost to Michigan State in the same building. This Aggies team had the same talent on the court and a game plan to match, much better than last year's group.

If there was a stat you could single out, it could be free throws. NMSU was 7-10 in the second half, but everything else was so even, it's really the one disparity. SDSU was 21 of 27 (77.8 percent) and NMSU finished 12 of 20 (60 percent)

Ball security: NMSU had 13 turnovers, led by Daniel Mullings, who had seven. Mullings had seven total in the past five games. But the San Diego State press didn't bother the Aggies as I had expected. If NMSU would. NMSU actually scored more points off SDSU turnovers (17) than the Aztecs did (12).

Play through Sim Bhullar: Steve Fisher opted not to double Bhullar, and the Aggies took advantage, at least in the second half when the Aggies shot 51 percent. Steve Fisher said if he had to do it over again, he would have tried to double team Bhullar more often in the post. He didn't because he was afraid of Bhullar's ability to pass the basketball out of the double team and find shooters like Kevin Aronis.

Connect from long distance: Kevin Aronis was fantastic, hitting the biggest 3 pointer of his two year career to get NMSU into overtime. Yet Aronis was only one of two players to make a three, going 4-11. Renaldo Dixon made the other. I have to come clean here, I didn't think Aronis would have space to operate against the Aztecs. Winston Shepard had five inches on Aronis and was guarding Aronis. But the senior shooter found gaps in the halfcourt, and made his open looks in transition

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aggies notes: Sim Bhullar and under rated Aggies

Sim Bhullar had four shots last year in a 20-point NCAA Tournament loss. Bhullar didn't get his first touch until there were fewer than 10 minutes left in the first half. Let's see if the Aggies learned from that, and if Bhullar will be more aggressive the second time in the NCAA Tournament.

"Last year was an experience thing for me," Bhullar said. "I guess I kind of let the atmosphere get to me, the level of the game. This year I'm going to go in more calm and treat it like it's another game. Hopefully I can go out there and stay focused and try and get the goal of winning the game."

It will be interesting to see if Daniel Mullings or DK Eldridge draw San Diego State point guard Xavier Thames. Either way, it's a team effort as the Aztecs try to free him off ball screen after ball screen in the halfcourt.

"He's a great player," Mullings said. "I watched a lot of film on him so far and I know that he likes to utilize a lot of ball screens over and over and in each possession. So just being able to guard that and just get over ball screens and not making any mistakes, that's going to be key for us because we know that he's a big part of their offense and he's an important guy to them."

Two first-year players who have been instrumental in the Agies 26 win season are JC transfer DK Eldridge and freshman Ian Baker, whose confidence has grown in the past two weeks.

"It's only been a short time that (Baker) has been playing on the college level, even though he's a freshman, it's only been half of a season for a freshman," NMSU coach Marvin Menzies said. "So to see him play as efficient as he has right now is really impressive. He's got great moxie about him for a young kid.

"DK on the other hand, is a little bit more mature coming in as a Junior College transfer. Just like Kevin, the other JC player, they fit a niche of specific need that we had when we lost our seniors," Menzies said. "He came in, competed for the position, earned the starting spot, and has never turned back."

Doug Gottlieb talks Sim Bhullar, Aggies/Aztecs

"I've never met a person who doesn't like Marvin Menzies," said College basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb, who will call Thursday's New Mexico State/San Diego State Round of 64 match up on TruTV.

Gottlieb provided another link between Menzies and San Diego State since Menzies helped get Gottlieb's brother, Gregg, hired on Fisher's staff, where he spent eight years before taking a job at Cal in 2007. Menzies was at SDSU from 1999-03.

"He was in my brothers wedding. He got my brother the job. Steve Fisher offered the job to somebody else. Marv went into Fisher's office and said, 'You need to hire this guy. Aerick was my brother's recruit. I have a great affinity of what they are trying to do."

On Sim Bhullar
"I think he's gotten better. I think he's a very good passer. I think that's a very underrated skill. Obviously he's massive. If he gets an angle, he's going to score. They do some pretty good things to hide some of his foot speed issues. How they defend ball screens, they let him sink. They do some unique things defensively so he doesn't have to come out on the floor. He helps them with pressure, feeding him the ball, people come to him and he feeds other people. They don't just have him rim run and demand the basketball. They have him do some different things."

Bhullar's future
"For him to play (in the NBA) you have to be able to defend the ball screen. Post defense, you can't just lay behind  a guy and try to push him out. I think he posts up well, he steps out of the double team well. He has soft hands. Those are things you can't teach."

NMSU vs. San Diego State
"They have two good post defenders. Skyler Spencer is a very good shot blocker (2.5 blocks per game). Traditionally they play behind guys. Some they double, some thy don't. They will probably play behind (Bhullar), but if he's really good at it, he can back them in and catch the ball and lay the ball up. I think initially they play behind him and see how it goes. I don't think they double team because he is such a good passer. But I think they will try to pressure them. Maybe that is where they miss KC."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Keys to an upset

New Mexico State fans believe that a victory over New Mexico in December should give the Aggies confidence they can beat San Diego State, another Mountain West team, in Thursday's NCAA Tournament match up.
The Lobos took two of three from the Aztecs, who are ranked No. 13 in the country and seeded No. 4 in the West Region. It's true the Aggies are built similar to the Lobos, from the inside out while leaning on defending and rebounding. But the Aggies' weaknesses, namely playing loose with the ball and their own deficiencies offensively, play into the strengths of the Aztecs.
San Diego State was seeded No. 4 in the West Region for a reason.
But if the Aztecs are slightly off and doubts start to creep into their heads about recent early round NCAA Tournament exits, and the Aggies play their best game of the season, an upset isn't far fetched.
It is March Madness after all.

Ball security
Aggies players and coaches pointed to the fact that Western Athletic Conference opponents pressed the Aggies this season. They did it for a reason. Seattle forced 16 turnovers in the Aggies' two-point WAC Tournament victory last week. Chicago State forced 33 turnovers in the two meetings against the Aggies this season.
And this isn't Seattle or Chicago State.
San Diego State's pressure and length won't let up for 40 minutes on Thursday. The Aztecs are eight or nine players deep and they all range from 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-9. They pressure the ball on the inbounds while another player jumps the ball handler. San Diego State forces nearly 13 turnovers per game with seven steals per game. When they are clicking, they average 70.6 points per game. One or two significant runs created by turnovers and easy buckets against the Aggies could end this game early.
It's what the Aztecs thrive on and it should be the biggest challenge junior guard Daniel Mullings has faced since assuming the point guard position.
Mullings has responded well, averaging 15.6 points and 4.2 assists per game the past five games. More importantly, he's turned the ball over just seven times during that span.

Play through Sim Bhullar
Open shots won't be there unless the Aggies get the ball inside. Bhullar wasn't involved in the Aggies offense in last year's NCAA Tournament loss to Saint Louis, attempting four shots in a 20-point loss.
Bhullar's 1.4 assists per game rank fourth on the team this year. An aggressive Bhullar early and often will allow the Aggies to dictate tempo inside. SDSU will defend the post one of two ways. The Aztecs could deny the post by fronting Bhullar and junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe with help behind and perhaps even sagging one of their 6-foot-7 wing players into the paint. Or the Aztecs can allow the ball into the post and trap on the touch to get the ball out of the paint. San Diego State's interior players are physical and athletic, but getting the ball into Bhullar will either lead to points (he's averaging 14.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game the past seven games), open shots for perimeter players or result in free throws for the Aggies. The paint is the Aggies obvious advantage in terms of size. NMSU needs to take advantage of it.

Connect from long distance
Upsets occur when the underdog jumps out to a quick lead, the neutral site fans get behind them and they hang on to advance. There is no better way to get going than to hit a few open 3-pointers.
In its best victory of the season, NMSU hit seven 3-pointers in the first half at New Mexico and held on for a 67-61 victory. This year's team is better equipped to hit from long range than last year's NCAA team. The Aggies are shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range. DK Eldridge is shooting 40 percent for the season, hitting 6-for-9 the past three games. Aggies senior Kevin Aronis has been terrific from 3-point range this season, shooting 44 percent. In extended minutes, freshman guard Ian Baker has also hit 36 percent of his attempts from 3.

Aronis will need time to get open and get a shot off against SDSU's length, but if Aronis and Eldridge connect for five to seven 3s, either in transition or from interior touches, it could put the Aztecs on their heels and give the Aggies post players some room to operate as the game goes on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Speculating on Ross-Miller's future

I heard from two sources in Las Vegas that New Mexico State junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller would no longer be with the basketball team, at least for the rest of this season.

Another source told me today that Ross-Miller would not be with the Aggies when they travel to Spokane on Tuesday for their Thursday NCAA Tournament game against San Diego State. Ross-Miller was not with the team on Sunday as the Aggies watched the Selection Sunday among fans.

NMSU AD McKinley Boston said Monday that Ross-Miller's season is done as he is not traveling with the team Tuesday nor playing in the NCAA Tournament.

But if you do the math, there are two seniors with four players sitting out this year .Ian Baker has proven that he was up to the task last week, and that was without a full season under his belt.

I think there were other factors if Ross-Miller does not in fact return. But throwing the ball at a Utah Valley player was probably the last time he wears an Aggies uniform. There are a lot of things that happen that never see the light of day. The Utah Valley incident was the last straw perhaps.

Steve Fisher on the Aggies, Marvin Menzies

Steve Fisher held a video press conference today. Here are some highlights

On Sim Bhullar
He's so vastly improved from a year ago. It's hard to manauver around him. And they throw it to him early and often. They are like us. They have made more free throws than their opponents have shot. ... It makes it hard for you to drive in when there is a 7-5 guy inside. ... They do a nice job passing the ball out of the post and they move it side to side and swing it so they can throw it into the post. We are a pretty good defensive team so you hope that we can guard guys with effeciency. Limiting them to one shot is important.

If your'e in the field you are good enough to win. I remember watching them against Michigan State (in 2010 tournament) They did everything but win the game. The more tape I've watched, the more impressed with their team. ... You start with their bigs, but (Mullings) is good and can beat you in a lot of ways. (Aronis) is as good a 3-point shooter in the country. (Baker) has also bennefitted from more playing time.

On Marvin Menzies:
I talked to Marvin today. I told him that you have learned from your time here. You are too good. We talked about being so happy for each other and our families and desperately wished we weren't paired up against each other. I'm happy for what he’s done.He's had the experience to be with different styles and different philosophies. And he can recruit and he has them from all over the world.

Josh Davis, Dwayne Polee II, Xavier Thames 

Winston Shepard, Aqeel Quinn 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

NMSU coaches tied to SDSU Steve Fisher

LAS CRUCES  When you are a lower seed, any glimpse of familiarity with your opponent can help a coach pull an upset in the NCAA Tournament.
The New Mexico State men’s basketball coaching staff is extremely familiar with San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher. The Aggies were seeded No. 13 in the Midwest Region and will take on No. 4 SDSU on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash. The Aztecs are 29-4 this season and ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll.
“It’s going to be crazy,” said Menzies, whose Aggies finished 26-9 and won their third consecutive Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship on Saturday. “I have already texted him. It’s like playing someone in your own family, we are that close. It’s going to be bittersweet either way. We will put that aside and do the best we can do.”
Menzies was an assistant under Fisher from 1999-2003 at San Diego State. First-year NMSU assistant coach Aerik Sanders played for Fisher at SDSU from 1999-2003.
“That should help us a little bit but this is going to be about players that night,” Menzies said.
Sanders joined the Aggies this season after one year at Montana State. Prior to that, Sanders ran the Sanders Sports Academy, where he developed relationships some of the Aztecs current players, including standout guard Xavier Thames. It was Fisher who helped Sanders break into the coaching business after his playing career.
In January, Sanders predicted a NMSU/San Diego State match up in March.
“When I was doing the Skills Academy, I was still volunteering and working out with a lot of those guys,” Sanders said. “I text with (Thames) and am kind of like a big brother to him. I texted him two or three weeks ago and said, ‘Don’t be surprised if we play you guys.’”
San Diego State is among the teams that Menzies follows throughout the season. At the school’s watch party on Sunday, Menzies said he has watched San Diego State at least eight times.
“They are, in my opinion, the best defensive team in the country,” Menzies said. “They are going to do a lot of things similar to what we do with ball screens and post defense.”
San Diego State lost to the Aggies in-state rival New Mexico twice this season, including in Saturday’s Mountain West championship game. NMSU and UNM split their two-game series in the Aggies non-conference schedule.
Watching the Aztecs on television and comparing common opponents is fine, but stepping on the court with them is a different story. But it apears, on paper, that it could be a low-scoring game with two good defensive teams.
Sanders compared San Diego State to Arizona, by far the best defensive team the Aggies have played this season.
“We have the size advantage so they will try to be scrappy and pressure,” Sanders said. “They have all 6-7, 6-8 athletes from shooting guard all the way to the center. They are going to trap, full court pres and obviously get up and down the court.”
Like they have all season, the Aggies have a size advantage against the Aztecs with sophomore center Sim Bhullar and junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe in the paint.
“I feel like everyone is ready,” Nephawe said. “(Following Saturday’s victory in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship), nobody really went out and just make sure that we all have legs and are ready for the Tournament. We were still happy but more just thinking ahead.”
Menzies makes his fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and his team enters the tournament as a No. 13 seed for the third time. The Aggies were a No. 12 seed the last time they were in Spokane, losing a Midwest Regional to eventual Final Four participant Michigan State.
“No matter what, we are going to play a great basketball team but upsets happen every year so it’s definitely our goal to beat them and we think that’s possible for us,” Aggies senior guard Kevin Aronis said.

Video reactions

Late games are a killer.

As a result, all I have following New Mexico State's WAC title win are videos from the postgame celebration. I will add some thoughts tomorrow before Selection Sunday.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stephen Madison is rolling in Vegas in school's final year in WAC

Stephen Madison is going to be a handful.
Idaho's senior forward said the difference between this year's team and his previous three years of failing to win a WAC Tournament game has been its cohesiveness as a team entering tonight's WAC Tournament championship game.
"It's great," Madison said. "Every year you prepare for this. Sometimes you have more talented teams, but our team is coming together at the right time and that's all you can ask."
Idaho has fielded more talent on its roster in head coach Don Verlin's first five years, but he failed to advance before this year. Madison and guard Connor Hill played with the WAC Player of the Year, Kyle Barone, last year, but the Vandals lost as a No. 6 seed to NMSU. They were bounced two years ago as a No. 3 seed.
Madison has been on a roll in Las Vegas, averaging 25.5 points per game on 67 percent shooting from 3-point range in wins over UMKC and Utah Valley this week.
Madison leads the Vandals this year in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and field goal percentage and will no doubt be the focal point for the Aggies to stop.
As the Vandals leave the rebuilding WAC for the Big Sky next year, it's only fitting they face New Mexico State in tonight's final since the schools joined the league together in 2005-06. NMSU is 7-2 against the Vandals since Madison joined the team. NMSU is . Madison has scored 16.5 points per game against NMSU this year, scoring 24 in Idaho's victory in Moscow.
"New Mexico State is one of the most dominant teams in the WAC since I've been in college," Madison said. "You want to play them. There has been one or two times where they got us good, but the rest of them have come down to the wire."
WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd said Thursday he expects fans to remain in the stands during tonight's trophy presentation.
"We will have our security in place regardless of who is playing in the game but we want to avoid having fans on the court after the game," Hurd said. "If they want to celebrate, they can celebrate, but do it in the stands. We would prefer it to be that way."
Hurd said the WAC will instruct all of its member schools in game management expectations in the offseason.
"It will be a focus in our May meetings (in Kansas City)," Hurd said. "I don't know the form it's going to take yet. We will review them all and I will get information from other conferences and what they have in place. Some people ask why don't we take the SEC model and fine schools for fans coming onto the court. I don't know if that's really appropriate for our league at this point."

Flagrant 2 definition

Art. 7. When, during the course of play (live ball), an individual strikes an opponent with the hand, elbow, arm, foot, knee or leg in a nonconfrontational manner but the act is not only excessive but also severe or extreme, it shall be ruled as a flagrant 2 personal foul and not a fighting action. When a defined body part is used to strike an opponent but the contact is not severe or extreme, a judgment shall be made by the official as to whether the contact is a flagrant 1 personal foul.
Art. 17. After a game, conference offices or the assigning authority may correct an error about who was involved in a fight but cannot change an official’s ruling that a fight took place or lessen the severity of the penalty. The conference office or assigning authority may make those penalties more severe. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

WAC semifinal: Three keys and a prediction

I think the Aggies got their close game out of the way against Seattle on Thursday. Bakersfield is no push over and they played the Aggies to a three point game in Las Cruces this season, but I think tonight will be closer to NMSU's 72-57 victory at Bakersfield last weekend.

Bakersfield center Aly Ahmed can make the Aggies bigs play defense, but the problem is there is a drop off after Ahmed while the Aggies have three quality big men.

I'm looking forward to the matchup between the Aggies and Bakersfield point guard Issiah Grayson. Grayson is no Isiah Umipig and I don't think Daniel Mullings will go 1-7 from the field again.

The Aggies advance to another WAC final, 86-75

Handle pressure: Seattle didn't press the Aggies, but NMSU guards did struggle with Seattle's pressure with 16 turnovers. Bakersfield doesn't have the length that Seattle has but Brandon Barnes can bother Kevin Aronis although Aronis should be more of a factor against Bakersfield. I think if anything, Ian Baker was solid. Folks on Twitter want him to score, but when he's in the game, I think NMSU will have enough scoring options on the court.

Rebound: The Aggies out rebounded Bakersfield by five last weekend and it was even in the first game. Bakersfield had 14 offensive rebounds in the first game and 15 last weekend. Seattle collected 21 offensive rebounds against the Aggies on Thursday. Offensive rebounds and NMSU turnovers helped Seattle with 25 more field goal attempts than the Aggies.

Keep going inside: Maybie Sim Bhullar is the WAC Tournament MVP a second straight year if he repeats Thursday's effort. The Aggies certainly looked to Bhullar and Nephawe on Thursday. Eldridge was the only perimeter player on Thursday in double figures.

Seattle's last chance (Final three seconds of NMSU WAC quarterfinal win

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WAC quarterfinal: Three keys and a prediction

Seattle is an enigma.

I think the Redhawks are the second most athletic team in the conference. It's hard to make that argument with 5 league wins and their size took a hit when they lost Deshaun Sunderhaus with a knee injury. I think anytime you have a scorer like Isiah Umipig though, you have a chance. I just remember when San Jose State's Adrian Oliver was within a shot of sending San Jose to the semifinals a couple years ago.

NMSU has had little trouble with Seattle this year, but I have a feeling that tonight's game could be a little bit tighter, at least for the first 30 minutes. If the Aggies don't get off to a good start, teams have been able to hang around this season against them.

Seattle matches NMSU to start, but the Aggies pull away, 83-76

3-point line: In Seattle's best WAC victory of the season Seattle made 10 3s. Umipig made seven of them and had 32 points. The Aggies now have their best shooter in the starting lineup with Kevin Aronis. It will be interesting to see who Aronis guards tonight. I would guess it would be Dvonne Picket. Picket could be a tough matchup on the other end of the court as well. 6-5 guard Clarence Trent has tried to post up the Aggies smaller guards with little to no success. Trent is an interesting player who plays the four or five as well. He tries to make the NMSU bigs move their feet. I think hes a x factor, but he hasnt played well against NMSU so far.

Handle the press: Seattle has pressured NMSU in past games, but not for an extended period of time. Daniel Mullings has done well the past two games, even agaiinst a pressing Bakersfield team. When he has had high turnover games, it has come against pressing teams.

Read the double teams: NMSU's big men have done very well reading the defense out of double teams this year. In fact, I would say that is NMSU's best offense. Get the big guys the ball and play off of them. If Seattle tries to play straight up, I expect Nephawe and Bhullar to have a huge game. Otherwise double teams open things for Aronis to spot up or Mullings to cut and get the ball inside the paint.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quarterfinal matchups/predictions

Who: No. 1 Utah Valley (19-10, 13-3) vs. Texas-Pan American (9-22, 5-11)
When: Thursday, 1 p.m.
Season series: Utah Valley 2-0
Breakdown: The WAC Tournament begins with two teams making their first appearance in Las Vegas. Utah Valley won both games during the regular season, as the Wolverines held on for a 45-42 victory at home last weekend. The first game of the tournament could likewise be low scoring, as both teams are deliberate on the offensive end. Utah Valley’s 62.3 possessions per 40 minutes are the fewest in the league during WAC play, while UTPA’s 67.5 is second fewest. For a No. 8 seed, UTPA could be the most versatile team in the league, able to match up with multiple defenses. But Utah Valley has proven to be an efficient offensive team with two WAC first-team players leading the way (point guard Holton Hunsaker and center Ben Aird). UVU has also shown a knack for winning close games this season.
Prediction: Utah Valley

No. 4 Missouri-Kansas City (10-19, 7-9) vs. No. 5 Idaho (14-17, 7-9)
When: Thursday, 3:30 p.m.
Season series: 1-1
Breakdown: This could be the most entertaining game on Thursday. Both games between the teams reached the 80-point range, with the Vandals pulling out an 87-80 victory on the final weekend of the regular season. Idaho has won four of its last five games entering the WAC Tournament, leaning on the duo of guard Connor Hill and first-team All-WAC forward Stephen Madison. UMKC has wins over the Top-3 teams in the WAC standings this season - Utah Valley, New Mexico State and Grand Canyon - and had won three straight before Saturday’s loss to Idaho. Both teams made 11 3s on Saturday, indicating perimeter defense will be key in order to advance to the second round.
Prediction: Idaho

No. 3 Chicago State (13-18, 8-8) vs. No. 6 Bakersfield (12-18, 5-11)
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Season series: Chicago State 2-0
Breakdown: Chicago State has been a consistent team in its first year in the WAC - hence the Cougars No. 3 seeding with a .500 record in conference play. Chicago State did sweep Bakersfield this season but each game was decided by eight or fewer points. Losing close games certainly cost Bakersfield this year. Ten of their league losses were by single digits with four losses by three points or less, and Bakersfield has lost four-straight games entering the postseason, strange for a team with five seniors. Both teams also boast a second-team team All-WAC player. Bakersfield point guard Issiah Grayson is a scoring threat while Chicago State forward Quinton Pippen is an all-around player for the Cougars. Which player will lead his team into the semifinals?
Prediction: Bakersfield

No. 2 New Mexico State (23-9, 12-4) vs. No. 7 Seattle (13-16, 5-11)
When: Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
Season series: NMSU 2-0
Breakdown: Seattle matches up with the Aggies better than any team in the WAC, but SU has not put the pieces together this season under coach Cameron Dollar. The teams are first (NMSU) and second in rebounding margin in WAC play, which is normally a clear advantage for the Aggies. Seattle also has a trio of perimeter players who pose a challenge for NMSU, led by scoring machine Isiah Umipig (second-team All-WAC, third in scoring at 18.9 points per game) and 6-foot-6 forward Clarence Trent, who is good off the dribble and will make an NMSU big man move his feet. With the season-ending injury to Deshaun Sunderhaus, Seattle does not have the depth on the interior to match up with Aggie post players Sim Bhullar, Tshilidzi Nephawe and Renaldo Dixon. Seattle’s only hope for an upset rest on another big scoring night from Umipig, who has five 30-plus point games this season.
Prediction: New Mexico State

Monday, March 10, 2014

5 keys to a third WAC title

New Mexico State opens Western Athletic Conference Tournament play against seventh-seeded Seattle on Thursday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Aggies, seeded second, could become the first team to win three straight WAC Tournament titles and head coach Marvin Menzies could become the first NMSU coach to make three consectuvie NCAA Tournament appearances since Neil McCarthy made five straight trips from 1990-94.
Following are five keys for the Aggies to accomplish their threepeat:
Start strong >> New Mexico State is 0-6 in games they trailed at halftime. The Aggies are 3-6 this season in games decided by six points or less. In WAC games, the Aggies trailed 37-28 at Missouri-Kansas City at the half, stormed back to tie the game in the final minute before a Daniel Mullings foul and an Aggies turnover led to a 68-66 loss. The Aggies were tied at Chicago State at halftime, but Chicago State got hot from 3-point range, hitting 7 of 8 from 3-point range to beat NMSU 86-81. The Aggies were tied at Texas-Pan American before pulling away and outscoring UTPA 45-28 in the second half. NMSU also lost two games in WAC play where the Aggies held halftime leads, at Idaho and at Utah Valley. NMSU led by seven with three minutes left at Utah Valley, but a 15-for-30 effort at the foul line doomed NMSU in a 66-61 overtime loss.
Previous NMSU teams have closed out games well. This year's club seems to prosper when they start fast but the Aggies should expect at least one tight game in Las Vegas, where the Aggies have been dominant for the most part, winning their six WAC Tournament games the past two years by an average of 14.3 points per game — 17 points per game in the championship contests, with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line.
Keep the POY out of foul trouble >> NMSU junior guard Daniel Mullings was named the WAC Player of the Year on Sunday, becoming the first Aggies player to do so since the school joined the WAC. With the extended suspension of point guard K.C. Ross-Miller, Mullings has added point guard to his countless responsibilities. On the defensive end, Mullings will either guard the opposing point guard or the team's best perimeter scorer. Freshmen Travon Landry and Ian Baker have played well in recent extended minutes, but head coach Marvin Menzies needs Mullings on the court as much as possible.
Play through the bigs >> Sim Bhullar was named last year's WAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and Aggies junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe has had a career year, earning second-team all-WAC honors this season. Bhullar has registered three consecutive double-doubles and has averaged 15 points and 12.7 rebounds the past three games on 57 percent shooting. Seattle and No. 3 Chicago State, a likely round 2 opponent, both play an undisciplined style of basketball. The Aggies need to avoid getting involved in a street ball contest and focus on getting the big men established early and often.
Lean on defense, rebounding >> While the Orleans Arena is considered a neutral court game, NMSU can control its effort on the defensive end and on the glass, two areas the Aggies normally excel in. NMSU finished the regular season second in scoring defense in WAC play, first in defensive field goal percentage, fifth in 3-point field goal percentage defense and first in rebounding margin. The Aggies can avoid an upset this week if they win in all of the above categories, even if they have an off night on the offensive end.
Business trip >> In their 12 WAC victories, NMSU won by an average of 18 points per game and only two of those victories were by fewer than 10 points. This year's team has been dominant at times, but their four league losses leave them open to doubters. WAC coaches and media picked the Aggies to win the regular season. They didn't. NMSU can now do what they were supposed to do in the regular season.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What do you think about Ross-Miller's suspension?

Was two games enough? I can see it, but I think there are obviously other factors at work here. People who follow the program closely could have put some pressure on the AD, and there are behind the scenes issues that don't always make public news, such as Terrel de Rouen's suspension. 

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State Athletics Director McKinley Boston today announced that sophomore guard KC Ross-Miller will not be eligible to play in the WAC Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., next week.

The indefinite suspension will continue at least through the WAC Basketball Tournament.

“I explained to KC Ross-Miller that I expect our coaches, administrators and student-athletes to conduct themselves in a manner that appropriately represents NM State University,” said Boston. “His status as a member of the NM State basketball team will be re-evaluated in the future, pending his successful completion of an anger management course.”

The Aggies are the No. 2 seed in the WAC Tournament and will begin play at 8:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Thursday, March 13, in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Friday, March 7, 2014

WAC Tournament seeding scenarios

Possible Seeds


5      If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Grand Canyon beats UTPA and Kansas City beats Idaho OR
        If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Seattle U beats Chicago State, UTPA beats Grand Canyon and Kansas City beats Idaho

6      If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Idaho beats Kansas City OR
        If Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U, UTPA beats Grand Canyon and Kansas City beats Idaho OR
        If Bakersfield loses to Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA

7      If Bakersfield loses to Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U and UTPA beats Grand Canyon

8      If Bakersfield loses to Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State

Chicago State

3      If Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If Chicago State loses to Seattle U and Idaho beats Kansas City

4      If Chicago State loses to Seattle U and Kansas City beats Idaho


4      If Idaho beats Kansas City and Seattle U beats Chicago State

5      If Idaho beats Kansas City and Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Chicago State beats Seattle U and UTPA beats Grand Canyon OR
        If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA

6      If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U and Grand Canyon beats UTPA

7      If Idaho loses to Kansas City, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State

Kansas City

3      If Kansas City beats Idaho and Seattle U beats Chicago State

4      If Kansas City beats Idaho and Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If Kansas City loses to Idaho and Chicago State beats Seattle U

5      If Kansas City loses to Idaho and Seattle U beats Chicago State

New Mexico St.

2      Locked in


5      If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Kansas City beats Idaho

6      If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Idaho beats Kansas City OR
        If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Kansas City beats Idaho

7      If Seattle U beats Chicago State, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Idaho beats Kansas City OR
        If Seattle U loses to Chicago State and Grand Canyon beats UTPA

8      If Seattle U loses to Chicago State and UTPA beats Grand Canyon


6      If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Chicago State beats Seattle U

7      If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If UTPA loses to Grand Canyon, Utah Valley beats Bakersfield and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley, Chicago State beats Seattle U

8      If UTPA beats Grand Canyon, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State OR
        If UTPA loses to Grand Canyon and Chicago State beats Seattle U OR
        If UTPA loses to Grand Canyon, Bakersfield beats Utah Valley and Seattle U beats Chicago State

Utah Valley

1      Locked in

WAC Tie-breaking Procedures.

a.   General Procedures
The following procedures are to be used to determine seeding for a Conference tournament in sports in which regular season scheduling is required or to establish the automatic qualifier to an NCAA Championship subject to any sport regulation tie-breakers.

[1] Ties for all places in the standings (between two teams or three or more teams) which can be broken based upon head-to-head competition are broken before the implementation of further tie-breaking procedures.

[2] If more than two teams are tied, the three or more tie-breaking procedures shall be implemented.

[3] In the case of ties for more than one place, the first tie broken is that of the highest place (i.e., first place, second place, etc.) and continues downward through the standings.

[4] If the tie is for first place and cannot be broken by a head-to-head results, compare the tied teams’ winning percentage against the next highest finishing team that the tied teams have played the same number of times and continues through the standings. The team with the best winning percentage against the next highest-finishing team or group of tied teams advances. If the tie is for any position other than first place, the comparison shall begin at the top of the standings.

[5] Once a tied team has been placed in a position/seed, that team shall be included in all further comparisons of other tied teams from the position/seed in which it has been placed.

b.   Basketball Specific Tie-Breaking Procedures

[1] Two-Way Tie:

[i] The winner of the head-to-head competition is the higher seed.

[ii] If the tie is for first place, compare the tied teams’ records against the next highest finishing team and continue through the standings. The team with the best record/winning percentage against the next highest finishing team(s) or group of tied teams that the tied teams have played the same amount of times shall receive the higher seed.  If the tie is for any position other than first place, the comparison shall begin at the top of the standings.

[iii] If a tie still remains, the institution with the highest RPI at the conclusion of the WAC’s regular season shall receive the higher seed.

[2] Three or More-Way Tie. Once a tie has been reduced to two teams, the two-team tie-breaker is implemented.

[i] Compare the records of the tied teams against each other. The team(s) with the best record(s) versus the other tied teams receives the higher seed or advances to the next tie-breaker; the team with the next best record versus the other tied teams receives the next highest seed or advances to the next tie breaker, etc.

[ii] If the tie is for first place, compare the tied teams’ records against the next highest finishing team and continue through the standings. The team with the best record against the next highest finishing team(s) or group of tied teams that all the tied teams have played the same amount of times shall receive the higher seed  or advance to the next level of tie-breaker. If the tie is for any position other than first place the comparison shall begin at the top of the standings.

[iii] If a tie still remains, the institution with the highest RPI at the conclusion of the WAC’s regular season shall receive the higher seed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Senior night win, Menzies said decision will be made Friday on KC Ross-Miller

Kevin Aronis stole the show on senior night.
Playing at the Pan American Center for the last regular season game, the New Mexico State senior scored 17 points to lead the Aggies to an 83-57 victory over Grand Canyon in Thursday's regular season finale.
"It felt good to kind of go out on a high note," Aronis said. "We got a good team win tonight against a good Grand Canyon team."
The Western Athletic Conference Tournament is next. NMSU (23-9, 12-4 WAC) is a Top 2 seed but first-place Utah Valley (12-2 WAC) closes the season on Saturday at home against Bakersfield.
"You want to be ready to play your best basketball in March," said Aggies coach Marvin Menzies, who has coached the Aggies to three straight WAC Tournament championships. "I think the experience we have and having success, I'm hoping that works to our advantage."
Daniel Mullings scored 17 points, Tshilidzi Nephawe scored 15 points with nine rebounds and Sim Bhullar recorded his third straight double-double to close the season with a season-high 22 points with 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
Mullings started at point guard for the second straight game as junior point guard K.C. Ross-Miller served the second of the two-game suspension handed down by Menzies following last week's altercation at Utah Valley.

Photo by Gary Mook
Menzies said he will decide on Ross-Miller's future on Friday.
"We will have a decision (Friday) on K.C.," Menzies said.
Aronis and fellow senior Renaldo Dixon (seven points, 11 rebounds) were in the starting lineup on Thursday.
"I think we were both role guys," Aronis said. "We have to help the team in different ways. We knew we had to be team guys and take wins over personal things."
With Mullings running the offense, the Aggies shot 50 percent in the second half and 44.1 percent for the game against Grand Canyon, the team that would be the No. 3 seed next week if GCU was eligible for postseason play.
NMSU started the game 1-for-8 from the floor, with Aronis missing two wide open 3-point looks. As the first half wore on, Aronis knocked down those open shots, hitting 5-of-8 from 3-point range for 15 first half points and a 38-27 lead.
"Our offense continues to click but not at the level it needs to in the first half," Menzies said. "I thought we had great looks but missed a lot of chippers."
Aronis moved into a tie with Jahmar Young and Jeff McCool for sixth place on the NMSU all-time list for made 3s in a season with 73 with more games to play next week at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
Grand Canyon hung around for most of the first half, but the Aggies took control of the game in the last 3:39 of the first half, outscoring GCU 14-2, breaking a one-point lead open. Grand Canyon was 33.9 percent from the field for the game and 20 percent (3-for-15) from 3-point range.
"I think we did a really good job holding them to 33 percent," Menzies said. They are leading the WAC in scoring. That was one of our concerns coming in."
Aronis hit two 3s during the run, draining a triple with 48 seconds left in the half.
The Aggies scored the first six points of the second half and led by as many as 28 with 5:20 left in the game.

"I think we are playing alright," Aronis said. "We definately have a lot of work to do. But we have a little momentum going into the WAC."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What do you think?

A regular reader of this blog suggested a series of guidelines regarding comments on the blog moving forward.

It's my responsibility to moderate comments, but honestly as long as I don't see curse words I normally approve them. What this reader proposed was some guidelines following the back and forth following the NMSU/UVU incident. It's really common sense, but sometimes in hot button issues like this, I think it's a good idea. I have even got caught up in it (That wont happen again). For 99 out of 100 comments, there isn't an issue, but I honestly think we can proceed without insulting a person's character. Debate, disagree, enjoy.

I will continue to post anon comments. Some feel the need to put a name behind your opinion, some don't. I saw a reader mention that. So give the guidelines a read, if you absolutely don't agree to something then we can discuss it, but I think it makes sense for everyone, including myself.

  1. Talk about topics and posts, not the people who post.
  2. Don't be unnecessarily inflammatory.
  3. Make your point and let people respond. Try to avoid the need to repeat your opinion if another comment disagrees with your original post.
  4. If you wouldn't say it to someone's face sitting around a table in a crowded, friendly room, don't say it here.
  5. No profanity or d*sguised profanity

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bakersfield: Three keys and a prediction

There is still something to play for New Mexico State.

I think if the Aggies win, shorthanded after the suspension of KC Ross-Miller and Renaldo Dixon, and coming off of Thursday night's brawl in Utah, it would say something of the toughness of this team.

But I don't see it happening.

Bakersfield lost by 3 this year at NMSU and Bakersfield has been a tough place for the Aggies in recent years.

Bakersfield beats a reeling NMSU team 68-63

Stay out of foul trouble: Everyone plays tonight. All seven of them. Ian Baker couldn't make the trip west from family in Washington D.C. making the guard rotation Daniel Mullings, DK Eldridge, Kevin Aronis, Travon Landry, Matej Buovac. Inside they have Sim Bhullar and Chili Nephawe. We know that Nephawe can play 40 minutes if need be. But Bhullar won't make it without some help, maybe from Buovac and even Eldridge if the Aggies want to play small for stretches. Needless to say, foul trouble for either big man would be tough to recover from.

Ball security: Kevin Aronis will start for Ross-Miller and Daniel Mullings will start at point guard. Mullings has been up and down at PG this year as the Aggies want to give him time there, but Bakersfield could be the type of team to give him trouble. Bakersfield can pressure full court and that seems to be when Mullings turns it over, in traffic. Freshman Travon Landry did some nice things against Utah Valley. NMSU will need everyone to take care of the ball after 14 turnovers the first game against Bakersfield.

Rebound/3 point D: I expect NMSU to play a lot of zone to both keep the big guys fresh and everyone out of trouble. But playing zone leaves teams open to giving up offensive rebounds and giving up 3 point looks. Bakersfield was  even with the Aggies on the boards in the first game with 14 offensive rebounds and Bakersfield made 6 3s.

Did Aggies catch a break with suspensions

NMSU is putting KC Ross-Miller front and center for what happened on Thursday. Fans believe he started a riot, the WAC commissioner described Ross-Miller as an instigator etc.

But look at the video again if you get a chance. 

Assistant coach Paul Weir stepped between Ross-Miller and Utah Valley guard Holton Hunsaker after Ross-Miller threw the ball at Hunsaker. All of the Aggies players were near the bench and the NMSU coaching staff, but Daniel Mullings turned back and ran back into the fray for what looked to be defense of DK Eldridge, who according to people I have spoken to, bumped into a fan, thought he was pushed. After that, Renaldo Dixon's one-game suspension is probably just as he was coming to the defense of Mullings, but I believe Mullings and Eldridge were lucky to be able to play tonight at Bakersfield.

I think the WAC needs to educate all of the new schools on security on the court, and or, stop fans from coming to the court. But singling out Ross-Miller is far too easy.