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
I thought we acquitted ourselves pretty well. The weakness was not having enough outside shooting and too loose with the ball, but on a whole I thought we played with energy and confidence and good defence, and our execution was the best I have seen all year. We just ran out of juice in the end.
Witnessed a lot of courage and heart last night. Mighty happy to see Dixon and Aronis lead us into overtime being down ten....way to translate your passion into baskets late. Chili was and is a warrior with a lot of skills. Saw the 'moxy' in Baker that coach was talking about. Sim displayed his dominance and really fought hard throughout. Eldridge played really hard and true. Mullings is without a doubt a contender with unbelievable
grit. He is a fantastic basketball player. Coach Menzies and staff, with fewer phantom calls last night, we would be marching further. GREAT COACHING!
Well done Aggies! Best game of the year. The loss really hurts. So close.
That 14 point deficit took up a lot of energy from the Aggies. They played admirably but, fell just short.
I know MM says he has the team playing it's best ball in March. However, NMSU tends to play down to it's competition and lose to weak teams during the season.
If NMSU would have taken care of business during the season and won the regular WAC title. We would have gotten the 12 seed, played Oklahoma and probably beaten then (OU's defense is nowhere close to SDSU) and we would have advanced.
NMSU needs to learn how take care of business every night and stop screwing around with mediocre teams.
I was VERY surprised to see NMS come back from a 2nd half 14-point deficit. Give MM and the kids credit - I did not think they were capable of such a come back on the big stage. Unlike previous years, I actually am cautiously optimistic going into next year. But they need to take care of business on a game-by-game basis throughout the season and not take nights off. In the pathetic WAC, best we could expect is a 11 or 12 seed, but NMS needs to work their ass off day in and day out to ensure the best possible match-up come tourney time. SDS's defense did not dominate as I expected, but I think MM and the Ags had something to do with that. Great game, we just came up one free throw too short.
So next year maybe NMS can be mentioned along with schools like North Dakota State, Dayton, Harvard, Gonzaga, or even former MVC conference foes like Wichita State and Creighton. That sounds much better than being grouped with schools like UNM, Nebraska, and Louisiana Lafayette.
NMS competed in the Big Dance for the first time under MM with a team composed strictly of his recruits. While I think SDS and the MWC are over rated, you still have to give MM credit. Hopefully it's a building block and not an aberration. I will be cautiously optimistic going into 2014-15. As hard as it is to see us come so close to advancing, the annual UNM flop in the tourney sooths the pain a little. Go Aggies next year!
Wow. Interesting how people turn their opinions around regarding Menzies. Yes the Aggies played a respectable game (2nd half), but the result was the same. If the Aggies hadn't been down by so much in the first half the outcome may have been different. Coming back from a 14 point deficit is difficult and can take a lot out of a team. Menzies has always done a miserable job preparing his teams for big games. I think the first half proved that with the poor shooting. How are the Cinderella teams created? The players and coaches believe they can win and through preparation.
Look folks, I've preached positive thinking for previous teams, but I'm done with that. We lost too many games in the PATHETIC WAC this year. The ONLY reason we made the NCAA Tourney was because we had to win the WAC Championship. Remember that! I'm not going to let the coaching staff off that easy. We make the tourney only to lose...again. Sorry if this sounds overly negative, but I'm no longer going to be content with just making the tourney.
On another note, I moved back east last August so I couldn't keep my season tickets, but seeing the small crowds on Aggie Vision was upsetting. Another 26 win season and maybe 5K people in the stands? We had a talented team, but the coaching staff couldn't get them to play to their true potential. If NMSU is fine with the same outcome every year, don't change a thing, but if we want to get to the next level (win an NCAA tourney game) change needs to take place. Yes Menzies has had successful seasons on paper (20 or more wins), but he can't get over the hump. I don't see it happening either.
I'm just tired of always thinking.....maybe next year. I'm not thinking that anymore. Put up or shut up.
Most of the team coming back next year, another 7 footer, need Mullings to develop a consistant outside shot, get another 3 point specialist ... I look forward to it!!!
Jh, don't be content with a successful season! That's on you. You're crazy to think someone else can come in and replicate the success of Menzies. It takes time to build a program. Besides given the constraints on our entire athletic program who are we going to lure that would be a sure fire winner? Get real man, stop and smell the roses. And have a sense of history and perspective. Your comments make you seem like you don't have a firm grip on reality.
Haha firm grip on reality? I never said we'd get a Rick Pitino here. I just said get a different coach that could take us to the NEXT level. How do you gauge success? Losing a regular conference title in one of the worst conferences in D-1? Please explain having a sense of history and perspective. We haven't won a game since the NCAA tourney since 93. Please explain to me how Creighton and Wichita State have become consistent winners in the tourney? Yes their conference had become much better the past few years, but the WAC had a decent conference when Nevada was dominant and we would split the season series.
I'm just saying that this is a topic that we really need to focus on.
JH, look north for a program that got rid of a consistent winner, but not a championship coach (Rocky Long) in hopes of the promised land. UNM had a coach who had won 7, 8 and 9 games per year, but that wasn't good enuf, they decided to take it up a level. They won 3 games in the next 3 seasons. Like you said Rick Pitino is not walking through that door. We have to do it with mirrors, i.e. particular eligibility requirements were are allowed and taking top recruits that maybe fell off their team because of injury or other circumstance AND international players, real question marks. MM and company have done an amazing, amazing job of building the program. Many many of us Aggie faithful want to win in the tourney too! Yes a higher seed would help, that's what coach has said. Getting off the a good start in the NCAA games would help too, he has said that as well. I have complete faith in this coaching crew and look forward to continued success and hopefully we line ourselves up better next year. As far as empty bleachers, hey cmon what else is there to do in Cruces other than Friday night football. Get out and support the team. Enjoy the East Coast
Friday night football in Las Cruces has been pretty damn good!
I thought MM showed a marked improvement in his preparedness for this particular game. I agree with you about starting out so slow and losing in the pathetic WAC.
I am not an MM fan, but I will give him a pass for this game. I thought the team fought through adversity and gave itself a chance to win at the end and we couldn't ask for more than that against a team that beat the likes of Kansas this year. It was a good showing. No two ways about it.
As for us being in the WAC at all, that is a conversation worth having. The WAC, simply stated, is beneath us.
If anybody needs to go, its Boston. How can we be in the WAC at this late stage. Can you imagine, I think the conference is going to be EVEN WORSE next year. It may even lose its automatic bid.
That is the sad story.
Maybe if MM faced good competition night in, night out, he would either develop his coaching chops or be found out to be incapable, but as long as we are in the WAC I guess neither will happen.
And.. with that, Coach Menzies now holds the all-time "one & done" NCAA tournament appearances with five.And,with the five football wins in the last five seasons,will the community of NMSU faithful be content with this level of mediocrity of D1 athletics?
NMSU basketball are the Buffalo Bills of the NCAA. You Aggie fans are so happy with always being average. Recognize that this is as peak as its going to get. Why dont you ever get tired of "maybe next year"......?
I'm as disappointed by the final game's result as I have been for the last several years. But I'm also prouder of the team, total effort, and coaching job than at any other time. The loss hurts even more when you look down the bracket and see NDstate, and the AZ after (which is certainly not favorable, but we have seen them this year, so who knows!?!?!?), but I know we've all gone down that wormhole.
The state of our Bball program is as good as it's been for decades. It’s the most sustainable it’s been too. Lou came back and gave us a much needed shot, but that team’s success (and I did love that team – Channing, Hines, et al. were awesome) was based on his Illinois transfer connections. It was never more than a boost, not something that ever had a chance at becoming an actual program. Reggie was great too, but clearly just waiting to move up and out. McCarthy provided wonderful memories, but at such a deep cost to our program’s brand and integrity. I love LC and NMSU, but we are not a plum market to attract top talent, coaching or players – we need a niche and a philosophy. MM has provided both. We took a top 15 program to overtime this time around and are returning all 5 starters. Yes, there were some pretty egregious hiccups along the way this season, but the team did come together and play some inspired basketball when it counted. MM preaches family, and you can see that the players he has truly buy into this. We’re redshirting good talent and bringing in promising prospects. I think some of the criticism of MM’s in-game coaching over the years has certainly been warranted, but this was his first head coaching gig, and it takes time to build expertise in that area. He’s improving and will continue to do so. It’s important to remember that Coach K would have been fired after his first few season’s at Duke if many had had their way. Not that MM is coach K, but it’s some important perspective for people to have. MM was and is a strong recruiter, but coaching expertise takes time to build, and it would be a shame for him to build his chops here and then apply the lessons learned elsewhere, which would happen if those how are calling for a “new direction” had their way. If you saw MM break down during the post-game presser, then it’s very obvious that amount of emotion and passion he has for his team and his job. That’s a wonderful thing for NMSU to have it’s something that can really help to continue to build our program. It just really blows my mind that there are still people complaining about him. I don’t think anyone is content to stay where we are, but I do think we are as well positioned as we ever have been to step into the spotlight of being a contender. And that is due to the work that MM and his staff have done to build our program.
The hope is that being this close to victory will provide a level of internal motivation and recognition that this team can really accomplish great things – and that this translates to success throughout the year, not just at the end. This will be next step for our program and I’m optimistic that we’re ready to take it.
The thing about it is we are stuck in the WAC right now. If I recall correctly, Boston and the President of the University at the time both fought hard to get into the Mountain West Conference. The Conference that had one more bid in the NCAA tourney than the WAC had. They didn't want us because our football program was not up to their BCS-bound standards. Too bad, I would rather compete with the regional schools in football even if we are getting hammered, as long as we are competing, but they didn't want us. The Mountain West is seriously diluted with all the former WAC BCS-bound programs (other than Boise St.). The basketball programs are the bottom feeders for this "super-conference". No team from these parts are ever going to be in the running or conversation for a national championship so the MW Conf is a sham. With that we are left with a shell of a WAC, I don't see how this is Bostons fault. We tried to find a conference for all sports with no luck. Football is always gona be a challenge here in LC, we keep trying to find the coach and the formula, it hasn't happened yet. Do we quit trying, hell no we keep trying and we keep supporting our programs GO AGGIES
Anon 8:47 am, brother you are right on. Very well said, thank you for putting so much into perspective that dedicated fans can appreciate, and those who seem to continuously bash the coaches and the program should take to heart. YES Go Aggies!!
I don't buy the 'we are stuck in the WAC' argument. Every other team is moving around. Why can't we?!?!? You think NMSU is such an undesirable team that no conference wants us besides the ridiculous WAC? The question is rhetorical and the answer is no! Of course we can get in another conference. News Flash! The ship has already sunk! Time for plan B, C, or D!
Eventually there will be no bid to March Madness and that will happen in a few years!
This is the big issue and if the current administration (AD) can't handle that, then he simply has to be replaced!
Again, more and more of the attitude of settling using the excuse of our market, the WAC, etc. Sorry but I expect to build every year and win. Something is not jiving with NMSU stuck at the first round every year.
There has to be somebody, MM or not, that has the experience and desire to get to the next levels.
Who is up for it?
The WAC is an established conference with a lengthy distinguished history. As the football bowl process is changing to a playoff system the projections are that teams will climb off the "Mountain" and come back to reality and/or earth. To jump to the Big Sky ala Idaho would be a mistake. To go to the Big West, well there are some NCAA basketball teams but no football. Thing about it is Alan, changing conferences isn't as easy as changing your membership at gamefly. The move of the football team could be a precursor to a complete move to the Sunbelt Conference. Not a powerhouse basketball conference either. There are more to the conference discussion than Men's basketball and football. The Women's sports have considerations as well. So unless the auto-bid is removed, there isn't a reason to panic, despite your sky is falling prediction.
Alan - The we're stuck in the WAC argument is absolutely our reality. It's also rooted in a lot of history. We tried for YEARS to get into the WAC when it was stronger -- to no avail. The speculation is that UTEP and/or UNM blocked our bids in the past so they could have a leg up on us for recruiting purposes. UTEP was against our bid to CUSA during the last reshuffle, and although UNM publicly voiced support for us joining the MWC this last round -- I'm guessing it was because there was no shot of it actually happening. It's absolutely not as simple as our administration needing to just get it done. Money is the big driver, and it's not just the state of our football program. Media markets are at least as important, and LC is so much smaller in population than ALBQ or El Paso - that makes us a much less attractive market in comparison. In addition, we don't come close to reaching attendance capacity for any of our sports. Those things weaken our case considerably. At the moment we are not wanted in a larger conference, and that is just a fact. However there are certainly reasons to be hopeful. Although the Sun Belt is not ideal, it is an actual conference for our football program -- that was a huge step forward made by Boston, and some of the chatter surrounding that deal (secret meetings, lobbying, etc), show that Boston worked very hard to make that happen. Without a conference affiliation (and the crucial associated revenues that membership brings), our football program would have been forced to drop out of D1 status within a few years. As for Bball - no one is going to argue that our current conferencemates in the WAC help our cause, buuuut, on the bright side we are the front-runners year in and out, which should make us a perennial NCAA tourney team. Our contemporaries -- Nevada, UTEP, Utah State can't say the same thing. You could argue that we're in some ways better positioned for future success. Either way, we've got to do our best with the hand dealt. I think the administration is doing that. Fans need to come out and represent. Go Aggies!
Anonymous 8:47, I think you make some good points about MMs ability to recruit and his caring for the players. I've never questioned that. What I question about MM is his ability to make in game decisions/adjustments. I've seen some practices and I have no doubt that the assistant coaching staff has the team prepared, especially defensively. During those practices, MM is largely uninvolved.
When we get to game situations, the team looks to the head coach for guidance, and I don't see the X and O coach that we need. In clutch moments, if MM would turn over in game control to his assistants, I believe that we'd be in a much better situation. I realize that except in rare cases, ego will never allow this in div. 1 head coaching.
That said, I was also happy with the way everything went during the SDSU game. We were prepared, worked hard, never gave up, and made good in game coaching decisions. This unfortunately is the exception rather than the rule.
The largest issues I see with MMs philosophy are his "3 games in March" attitude and his willingness to often sneak by with a win. Every game should be important, every game is winnable, and every game counts. Don't run clock and end up taking low percentage shots because you started running the offense too late. This will allow teams back in a game that should be out of reach. "Step on their necks" and don't take your foot off the accelerator until you've passed the finish line.
I know its not easy to change conferences, but for the past 4 years it has been necessary.
And to the person who said the WAC is an established conference with a long history, so is Montgomery Ward, block buster video, tower records and Arthur Anderson and you don't see their stores around much....things change!
The point is, if the reigning administration can't handle this critical issue, we need a new administration. The issue is THAT critical!
Anon 8:23, again with the worn out coaching cliche's, of course every game is winnable, sneak by? Every team knows the tourney gets you in, every team is motivated and desperate. No small task winning the tourney every year, how can you in your right mind continue to be critical of this. There is a coaching staff in place for a reason, Coach Brown is the top assistant, Brown’s main responsibilities include scouting, game preparation and on-court instruction with emphasis on the post players and the offense. Of course he is going to contribute, even draw up the plays himself. Too much know-it-all coaching advise from the peanut gallery
Washington State Basketball Program rumored finalist.
Hey neysayers, be careful what you wish for!
The former assistant coach to San Diego State’s Steve Fisher and Louisville’s Rick Pitino would be an interesting hire for the Cougars, and there is at least a little chatter that there may be mutual interest.
Menzies is currently the head coach at New Mexico State, where he has led the Aggies to NCAA tournament appearances in four of the past five seasons, including last week’s overtime loss to San Diego State in Spokane.
The 52-year-old Menzies has successfully mined Toronto for talent on the recruiting trail, hauling in Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year Daniel Mullings and gargantuan brothers Sim and Tanveer Bhullar.
Alan - I love your passion, but you have nothing to back up your position. At the moment there is no feasibly route by which we could get into a better conference. NONE. Wishing it were so doesn't make it so. The forces that control such things are way beyond an administrative switch.
Anon 2:40 you're spot on. Alan thinks it's the leadership holding us back and not circumstances outside of their control (like TV markets, which is what all this shuffling is ALL about). No athletic director is going to improve out situation until football gets some traction. Kudos to Boston for even getting us into the Sun Belt. There was resistance from the eastern schools and Boston still made it happen. It was his only play and he succeeded. People has some warped ideas I tell ya. -Hoops McCann
Sorry, 2:40, I agree I don't have a good idea to get us in a better conference. But that is not my job. That is the AD's job. If he is no better than me at getting his job done, there must be somebody else out there who can do it. We need to control what can be controlled. If, with the current admin. we can't control our destiny in terms of our conference, then we need a different AD. It simply has to happen at some point. You and I both know that there are better conferences all around us and we are not part of them.
Something has to give.
Football and TV Market. That's what matters in conference reshuffling, and it's clear that we are at the bottom in both. I'm indifferent on Doc Boston, but it's hard to imagine that some other random AD would have done much better given what we are fighting against. In my mind, he's made a herculean effort just to get football a home in the SunBelt.
Until Las Cruces becomes a major supporter of Aggie Athletics and not one of the poorest places in the country, I think we are where we are.
Anon 6.37 - Sounds like no more invitations to dinner for you. You need to look at the entire picture of NMSU athletics. Your own personal dissatisfaction with what you perceive as substandard competition in men's basketball is a ridiculous basis to continue to bash Boston. Yes this is THE revenue sport for NMSU, the continued success is critical to all athletics. So if you think for a minute that Boston makes these decisions in a vacuum you are as ill-informed as you are out of touch. I don't know how many polite comments addressed at the "angry old man on the porch" its gona take for you to realize that the state on NMSU basketball and all sports are indeed in good hands and are producing through their own cycles successes and occasional failures. If you want to support the program, get out there and yell FOR NMSU instead of always dumping on them
JB, You might be right about our attempts to get into the other conferences and 5:17, what you say is interesting. I guess in the meantime, until it loses its bid, we can just be the Bullies of the WAC and try our luck in the dance.
As for 2:04, look at the guidelines...your personal characterizations diminish the value of your argument.
Alan there is an AD out there who could change the destiny of our conference alignment. All any AD can do is focus on the programs and ensure he's doing his best that those are successful. Successful programs will lead to a better conference, hopefully. What you're asking for is an AD to come in and pull a rabbit out of his hat.
Well said Anon 2:04. These guys who DEMAND success and are TIRED of MEDIOCRITY can go blow smoke elsewhere. Menzies is going to win a game in March, it's bound to happen. I somehow doubt he's got the record for most first round losses or whatever bogus stat was mentioned previously.
Anon 1:53-It's in the record book-look it up...
FWIW, SDSU's coach Steve Fisher took 12 seasons to get the Aztecs out of the first round of the tourney.
Get real "and with that", gee I wonder who this is. While you are in your record book, why don't you look up how many times Coach Menzies has made it to the NCAA tourney, it's 4 times not 5 times, 4 times in the past 5 seasons. How many coaches have made it to the NCAA Tournament 4 times period, or 4 times in their 1st D-1 coaching job. How many teams have made it to the NCAA's 4 times period. The Aggies have made it to the NCAA's 20 times, MM has 4 of them. Yea...look it up
I tried looking up the stat about his being the coach with the most first round losses. I couldn't find it, and it's still a dubious claim. Where did you see it?
However, I was able to find that 130 teams have competed in 4 or fewer NCAA tournaments.
Aggies have actually been to 21 NCAA's, but 3 were vacated. We don't have to worry about that with MM.
Suffice to say, I think we have a real gem with MM and he's going to get his win in the dance next season. He may get 2! After that, anything can happen.
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