Thursday, February 28, 2008


That's the only way to describe the way the Aggies played at Nevada last night. A poor pregame prediction on my part but I thought NMSU was due to make a statement on the road.

This was a huge game for the team but they failed to meet expectations. The Wolf Pack were in control the whole way and NMSU never seriously threatened. Defense was clearly the problem. Giving up 98 points, that's a ton and Nevada shot the lights out. Some teams get hot and make everything but anyone can use that as an excuse. Good defensive teams don't let the opponent shoot 61 percent from the field. They force them to miss. They play tight, hardnosed defense and take the other team out of their comfort zone. Nevada seemed very comfortable throughout.

That's twice the Wolf Pack have beaten up the Aggies this year. Is it matchups, is it coaching? Matchups in basketball are so key. Look at how NMSU has handled Boise State this year. Still, it seems like, at times this year, Menzies has struggled on the sidelines. The Aggies trailed the entire game by double digits. Where was the in-game adjustments. Were there any? I wasn't at the game, I can't really say. But they never seriously threatened and Nevada never had a problem scoring.

This is still a wide open conference. The regular season title also means nothing. The WAC Tournament will decide all these teams' fate. A win here would have been nice though.

The way this team has been this year, they could go to Fresno and win by 20, win by 2 or lose by 25. I have no idea what will happen. But I'll say they win.


I think the Aggies are going to win tonight and I think they will win fairly easily considering the circumstances.

NMSU beats Nevada 80-70. Jonathan Gibson goes off for 20-plus, Hawkins has a solid all-around effort and Mr. Pope comes to the party. I say 15 and 10 for Herb to go along with some assists as he shows off his ability in the biggest game of the year.

We'll see.

We'll save Saturday game talk for later but I think the Fresno game will be harder than many anticipate. The second of a road trip is always tough, particularly when the first one gets most of the hype. The Bulldogs are dangerous though and have one of the league's best players, in point guard/scorer Kevin Bell.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


One thing NMSU has on the basketball court is balance, particularly on offense.

Many scorers are on the NMSU roster and they can hurt you in different ways. Six players average double-digit points per game.

Justin Hawkins is their most versatile offensive player. He can hit it from long range and his midrange game is his strong suit. He can also take it to the tin and finish. Justin just does it all.

Johnathan Gibson might be their most gifted scorer. He likes to fill up the basket and wants the ball when it matter most. Johnathan is by far the biggest tease on the roster because he can look brilliant at times and he can frustrate you at others. But he has been more brilliant than not as the season has progressed and his play correlates with NMSU's success. It seems like when Johnathan is scoring the ball, the Aggies win games. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but they need him being aggressive and finishing.

Passos is at 11.4 per game. Herb Pope is at right around 10 as is Fred Peete. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Jahmar Young. He's averaging 10.3 points per game. Obviously his 30-plus effort in Boise helps but still. He's only played in 14 of the team's 28 contests and mostly in a reserve role. Very solid for him.

The Aggies have weapons and they like to score the ball. Obviously they've been hurt by the lack of a true point guard who can distribute and is also explosive on the perimeter. A great PG would get these scorers the ball even more, make them more dangerous in the open floor and the halfcourt. But whatever. The team clearly has the ability to put the ball in the bucket when they so please. A very cool makeup of players which makes for exciting basketball. Will they keep it together on this road trip? One thing the team has been consistent at this year is being inconsistent. Lets hope that changes in the coming days.


In a recent WAC coaches conference call, several spoke about BracketBuster games and if they were in fact good for the conference as a whole.

Many said that television is the key. When ESPN puts a BracketBuster game on, it's great for both teams - last year, NMSU played Ohio on TV and won. Did the game do a whole lot for the Aggies in the long run? It depends who to talk to but winning on ESPN didn't hurt with a ton of fans and high school basketball players watching. As far as making the NCAA tournament is concerned, NMSU had to win the WAC tourney to get in and that's what it did.

This year's game for the Aggies was kind of worthless. They rolled a poor Long Beach team who won't get into the NCAA's anyway. Good for confidence I guess and Marvin Menzies said he is looking forward for the return game next year. But for postseason play this year, it means nothing. Look at the other WAC schools too. San Jose vs. Pacific, Fresno vs. Cal Poly, Utah St. vs. Santa Barbara and the list goes on.

Truthfully, a part of me likes the BracketBuster because of the scrapiron matchups it presents and it kind of breaks things up from the conference schedule. But that's also not a great thing in many respects. If the games have real meaning, then great. But if they don't, why are they being played? That's a question that needs to be answered.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NMSU rolling

New Mexico State is absolutely destroying the competition. The question is, where did this come from, and will it continue?

Obviously the team faces a huge test this week in Nevada and Fresno State. The talent has always been there with NMSU. They are playing good ball and at the perfect time. Are they peaking? One would hope. We will know a lot more when they travel to Reno.

Nevada needs the win just as badly as the Aggies. It's a bunched conference and a handful of teams are in the running for the top spot. And Fresno State is better then their record indicates. They have some scorers on that team that can shoot and get to the basket - namely Kevin Bell.

This is crunch time in college bball. The Nevada game should be great, very exciting, both teams don't like each other. If NMSU goes to Nevada and wins, it will be a huge statement. I've been hesitant to proclaim that the team has put it all together at this point. They have had some big wins of late, but against teams that are inferior. A win in Reno would certainly sway my opinion and make me feel more comfortable going into the WAC tourney.

Still, some losses have been alarming, namely the one against the Wolf Pack in Las Cruces. It's time for the Aggies to avenge that loss and bounce back with a W. And it seems they are ready for the challenge.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scariest WAC team

I'm sure you are all well aware that Utah State lost to San Jose State on Monday, losing its third straight game. The Aggies are technically a 1/2 game behind boise, but they own a sweep of boise. they would be the No. 1 seed. I was just curious which lower tier team you believe could be dangerous in the WAC Tournament. I would have to go with San Jose. I haven't seen Hawaii in person, but I was impressed with San Jose. They have a streaky shooter in Tim Pierce who shot his team back into it against the Aggies. They also have a couple of capable big guys in Chris Oakes and CJ Webster, both of whom were in foul trouble against the Aggies. DeVonte Thomas is also dangerous, he is the one who threw up a desparation shot at the buzzer that nearly fell. I know that the Spartans beat Utah State at home, but they just seem like a team that has the tools to make a run in the WAC Tournament as a lower seed.

Hawaii has beaten NMSU and USU and Idaho beat Fresno So who of the lower seeded teams would you be afraid to play as an Aggie fan?


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Win streak

I was in Las Cruces for the game, covering the women's game. But another big win for the Aggies. Boise beat Nevada tonight so things look good for at least the No. 2 seed (which is important since the Aggies own Boise for a potential semifinal game), assuming the Aggies don't revert back to their inconsistent ways from here on out, but their four-game streak matches the longest of the season, and they play a terrible Long Beach State team at home next Saturday, getting more than a week to rest up before playing at Nevada on Feb. 28.

So what stood out to you who listened or watched? since I was watching the Aggie women, help me out.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Nevada 85, Utah State 80

The opportunity is there for the Aggies basketball team. They have a cake schedule (althought San Jose and Fresno are interesting games) for the rest of the way until they go to Nevada on Feb. 28, but Nevada does stil have to go to Boise after losing to the Broncos at home. It seems like all of the top teams, and even San Jose and Hawaii, are playing their best ball at the end of the season, so the schedule worked out pretty well for the Aggies getting a couple road wins and playing well at home.

If the Aggies can't somehow catch Utah State, how important is the No. 2 seed? I did think it was an interesting development in the WAC to see Nevada win, and it sounded like Nevada led by 18 in the second half.


Walls to NMSU?

I recent poster gave a shout out to Waverly High School (Ohio) quarterback Trevor Walls. Well, apparently, Walls is coming to NMSU. I went to Waverly's high school Web site. Here's the link.

I know, that release is just brimming with information.

Walls is a big kid - 6-6, 215. He threw for 2,002 yards his senior year of high school with 20 TDs and 4 picks.

Chase Holbrook is a senior in 2008. I liked what I saw from J.J. McDermott last season as a true freshman. At least in the La Tech game, where he was steady and at times very solid. Who knows what this means but it's interesting.

Here's some video of Walls from HS

Saturday whoopin

Great win for the Aggies the other night. I think Boise is a decent team but NMSU matches up well with them.

All you have to do is look at turnovers. It's been something the team has battled all year but Saturday saw positives. First off, Fred Peete controlled the game. 12 assists, can't ask for much more. Personally, I'd like to see Fred play off the ball more. He's a very solid all-around player. Good rebounder and he's gritty. But they're playing him at point. Can't complain with 12 dimes.

The Aggies also out-boarded the Broncos. 50 boards, 24 on the o-glass. Boise had 28 rebounds the entire night.

Still, every night is a battle with this team. They've been playing much better at home. I think the La Tech game is huge on Thursday. NMSU lost there last year and it's a sleepy trip to Ruston. They need to come out ready to play and take it to a weaker team.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Aggie hoops

I apologize for the lack of basketball posts the last few days. Frankly, it's pathetic considering the team plays Boise tonight in their biggest game of the year.

It's hard for me to accurately comment on the basketball team. I don't cover the team - Jason Groves does. But I also understand the importance of Aggie basketball to LC.

I think the Boise game comes down to two simple things. Defending the 3-point shot, something NMSU has struggled doing at times this year. And Boise shoots the three very well. The second element is turnovers. That's obviously been a bone of contention all season. Does this team have a true point guard? Again, I haven't watched them play much but it seems like that position is in a state of transition. It will be interesting to see if JayDee Luster gets minutes tonight. He's gotten spot duty at best this year but Groves' article indicated that Chris Cole might be out of action, leaving Luster as the backup point.

The team has been wildly inconsistent this year, making it hard to predict what will happen. I often find myself picking them to win and then they lose or vice-versa. Last time they faced the Broncos they picked up one of their best wins of the season. 76-73, in Boise, minus Herb Pope and with a banged up Justin Hawkins. If you remember correctly, Jahmar Young drained 33 in the win. Without that, they don't win but it was a good win none-the-less.

Again, if NMSU contains the 3 and hold onto the ball, they win going away. The Broncos will be ready to play and are hungry for the win. But I say Aggies 80-70 over Boise State. Now watch them go out and lose by 7.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Should NMSU recruit more locally?

Some posters on my last entry commented on how Hal Mumme doesn't recruit locally enough. There were defenders of Mumme too.

It's an interesting scenario, particularly when you see two Mayfield players, Nathan Enriquez and Freddy Young, go north to play for UNM. Mumme said that he offered scholarships to local kids and they chose the Lobos - we're going to assume it's these two. He said he wanted one in-state quarterback who got away. His one in-stater to come on board was Los Alamos running back Ruben Martinez.

Lets just say right now, Mumme's obligation is on the football field. It's to win games, not appease the local population. The question is, can these kids help make a difference. And are they being overlooked for no apparent good reason?

At the end of the day, if the team wins, nobody will care who is playing for them. Sure, I guess some will, but the complaining would simmer down a good deal. That's what matters in the end. NMSU needs to recruit in order to perform well on the field. The real issue is then, are they recruiting well? When looking at's rankings, the Aggies are in the bottom-15 in the country in recruiting class this year. Here's the link...

Again, if these projections are wrong and there are good players who make a difference in this year's Aggie class, then it shouldn't matter. But if the team continues to struggle and the local products help the Lobos continue to improve, look out. The complaining won't go away, it will only get louder.

Excited for football

I can't wait for football season. I had so much fun covering the team last year and being at the signing day press conference today got my blood going again.

A few things of note. First off, the team has two big holes at the two tackle positions on offense going into spring ball with the depatures of James Farrelly and Mike Martinez. Patrick Blount surprised the Aggies last year during spring ball and heading into the season but never saw the field. He could be a starter. But they brought in two JUCO guys, David Norman and Joe Suder. Suder is a house - 6-foot-6, 330 pounds. O-line is so important, particularly at tackle when you pass just about every play. They'll need good play there, the question is, who starts? Nobody talked about the O-line last season, but they were pretty solid considering how many times the team threw the ball. Check that, they were above average and much improved from the year before. That will be a key unit all year and one to keep an eye on.

Linebacker got beefed up some. Dante Floyd is gone, so they need some help in the middle. Three of the four starters from last year are back though and they brought in three newcomers as well. Joe Lee Dunn runs a defense with five linebackers in its base formation so obviously having a lot of bodies here is important here.

A little concerned about the secondary. It doesn't look like they have anybody really new here and the corners - Chris Woods and Davon House - got thrown on last year. House showed flashes but he was a freshman. He got picked on too. When I think of Woods, I think of the Nevada game. Stopping on one play because he thought the receiver stepped out of bounds and watching the Wolf Pack go in for a score and giving up the game-winning completion from 30-yards out with a minute remaining. That game was a gut-wrenching 40-38 affair that really nailed home NMSU's season. I'll never forget the press conference after that game. The team was beat down physically and emotionally. Football is a tough sport when you're not winning. Harder than any other when you're not winning I believe.

Offensively, when this team is healthy, points will not be a problem. It makes for exciting football. For those who don't watch the team often, you're missing out on some fine receivers, particularly Chris Williams who can flat out fly. If Chris is on the field all year, he will get 20 TDs. I really believe that, look at last season, he would have gotten it if he didn't break his collarbone. Chase Holbroook is a leader and can chuck it. Tonny Glynn is always interesting because of his rare abilities as a runner in the open field. And they have other pieces too. Everyone will score if this team is healthy.

But we all know the key is defense. How much better will they be? Can they win a 17-14 game where the D steps up in the fourth quarter and puts the opposition away? That's how you win consistently. With a stout D. Who knows? That's the beauty of the new year. Optimism is high. And I can't wait to find out how it will go down.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ground game should be fine

The loss of Justine Buries will hurt to a degree. Justine was a solid player and he provided a different presence in the Aggie backfield last season. When both he and Tonny Glynn were healthy, NMSU's ground attack was very solid. Solid with Justine and explosive with Tonny. And they were a strong combo.

Still, NMSU has brought in some backs in the offseason. And I'm sure Justine felt like the odd-man-out to a degree. Glynn needs to stay on the field. And the Aggies will need a newcommer or two to emerge as a bonafide ball carrier. I've said it before and I'll say it again. A healthy Aggie offense will put up points. They proved that last year. And with that, the team will be competitive. Still, injuries are a part of the game. To avoid them, it takes some luck.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Buries transfers

I spoke with NMSU running back Justine Buries tonight. Apparently, he transfered to Hofstra. He and Gerald Gurrier. Justine told me about Gerald going. Buries was a decent back for the Aggies and at times he was better than that. He played well last year and started when Tonny Glynn went down with an ankle injury. Even when Glynn was healthy, they were a good 1-2 punch together.

Gurrier redshirted last season. He was a DB and the team moved him to wideout. If I remember correctly, they liked his speed and athleticism. But I never saw him play at receiver.

Justine said he was excited about Hofstra and that the move to a run-first offense was great for him.

NMSU left out of TV Bracketbuster

WAC Commissioner Karl Benson announced that three WAC schools will have televised games during ESPNU's Bracketbuster weekend Feb. 23-24.

The Aggies are not one of those teams, which shouldn't come as a big surprise given their record. I was hoping to at least have their opponent for the Feb. 23 home game, but Benson said he could not comment on that until the member schools announce it, sometime around 4 p.m. today.

US-Santa Barbara plays at Utah State on that Friday.
Nevada travels to Southern Illinois on Saturday
Sienna travels to Boise State on Saturday.

Benson said the network schedule and times have not been worked out. Ill have something later and in tommorows paper.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

San Jose State game

Justin Hawkins
Herb Pope
Martin Iti
Fred Peete
Jonathan Gibson

Tim Pierce
C.J. Webster
Chris Oakes
Jamon Hill
DaShawn Wright

Jahmar Young has indeed joined the team for tonight's game. JayDee Luster is dressed after sitting out on Thursday because of illness.