Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NMSU Postseason individual awards

I wanted to do this earlier, but various offseason issues (Marvin Menzies coaching rumors, KC Ross Miller) took some time to chase.

Let me know what you think...

MVP: Sim Bhullar
 Daniel Mullings is the WAC MVP and is the Aggies most talented player. But I think the Aggies most important, most valuable player this year was Sim Bhullar. The Aggies are built inside-out. NMSU shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range this season, the school's highest percentage since 2010, another team that nearly pulled a first round upset. The reason the Aggies got those open looks were either in transition or kick outs from drivers sometimes, but more often from a post player. Bhullar finished the season with 1.4 assists per game, which was tied for 14th among NCAA centers and not far behind No. 1, which was three per game. He has a knack for finding Mullings slashing to the basket, and he was also extremely effective starting that transition play often with an outlet pass.
 San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher said he didn't double Bhullar in the tournament game because of his passing ability. On the defensive end, Bhullar's value shouldn't be understated. NMSU is a defensive/rebounding team. Even though Mullings and Eldridge are very good perimeter defenders, 7-foot-5 is tough for players to finish over if they are able to get into the paint.
NMSU was an ordinary 3-2 without Bhullar in the lineup this year. He wasn't involved in the Aggies game plan last year against St. Louis. He was involved early and often against SDSU with 14 points and seven rebounds. He took up the majority of the publicity around the team in Spokane and he takes up the majority of opposing coaches game planning against the Aggies, making him my MVP for the 2013-14 season.

Most improved player: Tshilidzi Nephawe
I thought Tshilidzi Nephawe was disappointing last season. How does a 6-10 athletic freak not average more than 5 rebounds and less than a block playing in the WAC? He really used the time off from the injury to his advantage, posting career highs in points 11.2 ppg, rebounds 7.8 per game and blocks with 1.4 per game. Perhaps the numbers were a result of hard work, but there also seemed to be a better understanding of the game on both ends of the court. He looked for open teammates when he was doubled instead of forcing a shot. When it was one on one, he displayed more of an offensive game and the ability to finish with both hands around the rim. On defense, he fouled out four times, compared to seven times his sophomore season. Nephawe did turn the ball over 73 times, so that number needs to come down, but his improvement from his sophomore season to this season was impressive.

6th man: Kevin Aronis
I had to find a way to get Kevin Aronis a mention, even though fellow senior Renaldo Dixon also had a very good senior year and both seniors played very well in their final game.
But Aronis was nearly automatic and had one of the better seasons shooting the ball in recent years. Aronis shot 43.7 percent from 3 point range this season, shooting 48.9 percent in WAC play. His 43.7 percent ranks 8th all time at NMSU behind Gordo Castillo (44.8 percent in 2008-09) but Aronis had 96 more attempts this season. Aronis and Castillo tied for seventh on the career 3 point field goal percentage at 40.7 percent and Aronis 80 made 3s ranked fifth all time for a season at NMSU. But Aronis also made some huge shots this year, not bigger than his 3 against San Diego State to send the game into OT.

Most disappointing: Point guard play
It looked like early in the season that KC Ross-Miller had turned the corner, but as the season went on KCRM lost confidence and then lost control, ultimately leaving the program.
The Aggies are formidable 2-5 but the point guard spot is an obvious weak spot. Perhaps the late season minutes from Ian Baker can carry into his freshman season, but Daniel Mullings ended the season as the team's starting point guard.


Anonymous said...

Jason, I usually agree with your analysis, however, this is a tough one in 2 of the categories, MVP and 6th man.
I have to go with Daniel Mullings over Sim Bhullar. I agree with your points on Sim, but with the exception of 2 games, Daniel was the best Aggie on the floor. His steady play on both ends of the court, his clutch play at the end of games as the go-to-Aggie and his leadership on the court, man I got to go with Daniel.
With respect to 6th man, I have done this before, so I hate to do it again, you cannot choose just one sixth man this year, These are the two most enormously talented, solid, generous team players to come off the bench in a long time. You have to go with Renevin Aroxon, its the only way to go or a tie. Renaldo could start for any college team in the country, and Kevin has been a very underrated overall player because of his 3 point skills.
Point guard play-ouch, but I think we have 2 diamonds in the rough. Another great article!

Vince said...

I think MVP was Mullings. He kept us in games due to his athleticism. But I can understand you selecting Bhullar. Nephawe definitely Most Improved. And I agree with your sixth man.

Anonymous said...

Tough call on 6th man as both Aronis and Dixon were so valuable. However, Dixon was the only other "big" and he was able to fill in admirably for Bhullar or Chili, and if you look at his stats, he averaged more points (and obviously more rebounds).

Anonymous said...

Jason - I completely agree with this assessment. Daniel is amazing and can be electric, but Bhullar's presence and passing ability (when coupled with the threat of outside shooting) fundamentally changes how teams game plan for us. They must pick their poison. With as much as he improved, if things can truly click with Chili next year, we will be scary. He's the type of player that could command a double team each time he touches it if his in game decision making speed/accuracy improves.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessments. Mullings is the best player on the team but Sim has the most impact on the outcome of a game. Daniel seems to have trouble with turnovers and part of that is because he was playing out of position at point guard. If we have good PG play next year, it will be significant. The other thing I would like to see is an improvement in the number of turnovers by the bigs. There were way too many times the ball would go into the post and Sim or chili would fumble the pass or dribble the ball and getting it taken away by shorter defenders. Next year will be exciting especially if we continue to make 3s and shoot free throws at at least a 70% clip.

Anonymous said...

Aronis is gone. So who's gonna be our 3 point shooter?

Anonymous said...

Matej Buovac looks to be the heir to the three point line. With his size, rebounding abilities and additional international experience he will get this summer, he may be a force on the squad this year. This will be a vital role with the size returning and coming in (Sim, Chili, Tanveer and Wilkins). Jason, is there any news on next years squad yet, cmon, you've had a week off work now you have to get back to feeding the fans.

Jason Groves said...

Anon I wish I was aware of this week off that you refer to. With our staff, I jumped from covering the NCAA Tournament to high school and college softball and baseball.

NMSU coaches and administrators were in Dallas for the Final Four, so I'm in the process of working on a lookahead type of story, but I would say you are on the right track in terms of your assessment. I don't think NMSU has any available scholarships if all four red shirts join the fold next year. The status of Terrel de Rouen is something I want to address as well. The fact that he has not left to play for another school after this long points to either his return to NMSU, possibly as a walk on, or losing another year altogether, but that's speculation at this point.

Anonymous said...

Just messing with you a bit on the week off, you got us spoiled brother. The season ended too soon and of course with the information you provided above you really get us thinking with great anticipation what next years team is going to look like. I will definitely be looking forward to the look-ahead story. Thanks again for keeping us all plugged in

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to give you a big thanks Jason. This blog is great. We don't get much coverage elsewhere, so having this source to stop by on a regular basis is much appreciated. Well done on another year of giving us info, insight, and a place to chat about the Aggies!