Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday's game

How many times have we seen the Aggies lose games like the one on Saturday versus Louisiana Tech? Chase Holbrook called it exhausting and I would have to agree.

Chase and Chris Williams both stood up at the end of Saturday's game and were upset over the loss. It was another tough one in their careers, one's which have seen many.

I think that's what's tough about this team under Mumme. They have had many games where they were right there in the fourth quarter and ended up losing. It makes it tough to quantify. Are they a team that is far away from any real success or are they on the doorstep and just waiting to get over the hump? It seems like it is something we have asked for the past two seasons.

I can think of two games off the top of my head where they made the key plays down the stretch to win. Hosting UTEP last season and at Nevada this year. There have been at least nine in the past three years where they were right there in the fourth quarter and things did not work out for them. Is that the sign of an unlucky team, a bad team or one that is simply mentally weak? I think they are a team with talent but that they have mental breakdowns late. So, in my opinion, they are mentally weak.

They went up three on Saturday with just under 11:00 left in the contest. How many people thought they would lose? I thought they could win, but I braced myself for a loss. And when La. Tech hit that big pass play down the sideline for the go-ahead TD, I wasn't surprised. We have all seen it before. The team remains a tease.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mumme saga continues

I want to address this Hal Mumme coaching situation.

Numerous media outlets have reported a contract buyout. OK, great, fine. There has been false report after false report regarding his immediate future with the program for the last four weeks. The other day was that he was going to be fired on Thursday. Well, it's Thursday and he's still here so that was an apparent air ball.

I'm not saying there isn't a buyout in place. There very well could be. I just got off the phone with Mumme's lawyer and he said that he has had no deal with the university. Is he telling the truth? Maybe, maybe not, but he's a better source than some anonymous face who is shooting from the hip.

The bottom line and the only thing I am close to 100 percent certain about is that Mumme will not return next year. There has been too much chatter, too many rumblings, too many unhappy fans for him to come back and coach the team. This is taking a toll on the athletics department as well, believe me. He will coach against La. Tech and after that, he may coach the last game, he may not. The one thing that appears almost certain is that he will not be back next season.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NMSU notes....Football, hoops, volleyball

At the outset of the year I expected the Aggie football team to have an explosive offense.

That has not been the case in recent weeks. Last Saturday against Fresno State was another example of how the team has failed to move the ball.

One touchdown came on a kick return by Chris Williams, the other stemmed from a bad Fresno State punt that gave NMSU the ball deep in FS territory.

What happened here? Above all else, there was a time NMSU could move the ball at ease. This season it just hasn't been the case. The offensive line has had health trouble but I don't want to put it all on that. It seems that Holbrook has regressed since the start of the year and hasn't had as much time to throw simply because the line has had some leaks. The team's rushing attack has been non-existent. Last week the Aggies rushed for -9 yards in the second half against the Bulldogs. That is atrocious. And the team seems to settle in the short passing game as opposed to going up top and trying for big gains through the air. In any case, NMSU just hasn't moved the ball.

This is particularly unfortunate because the defense is improved. Joe Lee Dunn has gotten the most out of his limited resources.


I went to the first half of the NMSU men's basketball game against UC Riverside the other day and a few things stood out.

First off was after the national anthem and the paltry number of fans in attendance. But I move on quickly from that one.

Secondly was that it appeared like NMSU had talent on the basketball court. Jahmar Young stood out to me the most simply because of his ability to score the basketball. Jahmar can hurt teams in a number of ways - his jumper was on and he has a quick release, he scored in transition and in the halfcourt, he created his own shot and he was able to draw contact and get to the line. He also hit his free throws - 4 of 4 from the stripe. Jahmar will be up and down this year, he is a streaky scorer. But he will not stop shooting the ball, even on nights where he might not necessarily be on his "A-game." I don't think that's a bad thing in his case, as he can heat up quickly and not look back.

Troy Gillenwater looked good. He did whatever he wanted against Riverside in the post and whenever the Aggies looked for him, good things happened for the team. I definitely want to see him do it against better competition though. Why do I have more faith in Young's performance than Gillenwater's at this point? Young did it last year in the WAC. This was Gillenwater's third game as an Aggie. Riverside couldn't control him.

I will not judge the big men Rahman and Gabriel. I need to see them more before I jump to conclusions. The point guard Laroche didn't do much but could have been limited because of a knee injury.

I think the key to this team is the play of Jonathan Gibson and their overall team defense. I like Jonathan but he needs to settle down sometimes out there. It seems like on certain possessions he just comes downcourt with his mind already made up - he's going to shoot the ball whether everyone in the gym knows it or not. The other day he took some shots with no more than seven seconds trimmed off the shot clock. Granted, they went in and everyone cheered. But that doesn't excuse bad shot selection. Not when Gillenwater was toying with everyone down low. Gotta run the offense there.

Defensively, I think the team could be strong. But there needs to be a commitment there. They have the athletes to be a top-notch defensive team. They need to get there hands dirty and work at that end of the floor. If this team commits itself on the defensive end, I mean really commit, I think they could be good. We'll see.


As for the volleyball team, hard to argue with the results.

I don't care if you love volleyball or not - it's actually a very underrated sport in my opinion. This is an Aggie team that is good folks. A team on the cusp of the top-25 in a legitimate game.

Mike Jordan has done a great job at NMSU and is a class act. You hope that he stays on board in Las Cruces. It would seem that he would be a hot commodity after the effort he has put forth.

The bottom line is that the Aggies have done everything that there is to accomplish in the regular season. This is where the hard part starts. A WAC Tournament championship would be impressive, especially with it coming in Hawaii where the Rainbow Wahine have been a constant thorn in the side. NMSU beat UH in Hawaii this past season and will look to do it again. It will be very tough though. Hawaii has, arguably, the best homecourt advantage in all of college volleyball and beating them there twice will be no small task. Luckily, NMSU has confidence that they won there once and the ladies are ready to make another statement.

Getting a berth into the NCAA Tournament would be the second step. The team has fallen in regionals in years past under Jordan. Last year it was the stated goal and they fell short. This year it's obviously the stated goal again. But if you want to be bigtime you gotta deliver. So, this is the year they gotta get it done.

It takes nothing away from what the team accomplished - co-champs in the WAC. And this wasn't some flash in the pan. The Aggies have been legitimate under Jordan for years. People always talk on here about how they want a winner at NMSU. You got one. The volleyball team has won. The time has come to get on the bandwagon. Actually, it seems to be long overdue.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mumme doesn't sign deal

My reaction to Hal Mumme not signing a contract extension last season was one of surprise.

What coach in Mumme's position wouldn't sign a deal like that on the table? I feel like there is more than what meets the eye on this one.

For one, maybe Hal felt like he would out-perform the extension and get a bigger payday down the line. Another possibility that came into my head was that the extension talk was just an illusion from NMSU to keep the recruiting process humming on all cylinders, when in reality, he needed a big year in 2008 to get a longer term on his deal. Really, anything could be true or false on this one, it's impossible to say.

One thing it does do is make him that much more expendable at the end of this season. The school only has to worry about one more year instead of the possible two he would have been granted with an extension to his deal.

When I first heard he didn't sign the extension, I thought I was being lied to. When Dr. Boston said that he didn't sign the extension, I was put back. It's just another weird chapter in Hal's legacy as coach of the Aggies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Injury card

Who else is tired of hearing Hal Mumme talk about injuries as a viable excuse as to why his team is losing?

I'll be the first to admit that injuries can cripple a team. But quality depth and strong coaching can overcome them to a degree and at least keep a team competitive.

Mumme dished out the injury card last year and we went along with it for the season. At that time it seemed somewhat feasible. Chase missed some snaps, A.J. Harris and Nick Cleaver went down for periods of time and Chris Williams was also out of action for half the season. The linebacking corps was also banged up.

But the coach is at it again this year. Richie Bolin is a huge loss for the Aggies, a senior center and the leader of the offensive line. But all we heard this spring was about how the team built enough depth to overcome such tough losses. Chase has taken most of the snaps and the one's he's missed haven't been because of a serious injury. The receivers for the most part, namely Williams and Harris, are on the field.

The O-line has been shuffled around and worked with which hurts. Maquell Colston has been in and out of the lineup but what happened to Tonny Glynn? He doesn't really see the field anymore.

Have there been injuries? Yes. But we heard all about it last year too. I don't think it excuses some of the performances put forth this year. And the fans are tired of hearing about it. I think when a team hears the coach talk about injuries all the time, they can use it as a crutch. I would like to think the Aggies aren't doing that but based on their performances, it's hard to argue that they aren't.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mumme's future

I know that McKinley Boston is taking heat for Hal Mumme's continued presence on the NMSU sideline.

I really believe that Mumme will be dismissed once the team is eliminated from bowl eligibility. Will a loss against Hawaii garner him losing his job? Quite possibly. Will two more losses grant him his walking papers? That would seem almost a certainty.

Unless the team makes a miraculous turnaround, expect the coach to be gone.

This weekend's game seems like a winnable one for the Aggies. Hawaii is road-weary and I think it will be a close contest. For most people on this board, that doesn't seem like the best of news right now, but that's where the program stands.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Things looking bleak

Saturday night's game was a depressing state of affairs for Aggie football.

I didn't think the team would go out and beat Boise State, but I certainly expected them to go out and at least battle. Instead, they got shut out and it was bad from the start. Running the football at will? You don't teach a team to be a smashmout outfit in a week's worth of time. Chase and Chris Williams, A.J. Harris? These are the team's best players and they weren't even utilized. And what happened to Tonny Glynn? Tonny was a good player for the Aggies last year and he is barely seeing the field anymore. You go out and run the ball with a freshman in Donavan Roberts who has seen very limited action this year. What was going on out there? After the Idaho loss it would have been nice to see some fight and spunk. There was none of that on Saturday.

Hearing Hal Mumme talk about injuries as an excuse is bothersome. He played that card last year. Sorry coach, you can't do it again. Injuries are tough but they are a fact of life in college football. Past years of recruiting should have helped to patch up those holes and even with the loss of players, using it as a crutch is not the answer. People just don't want to hear it.

Mumme could have lost his job after last season. He was given another year to try to turn things around but the last two weeks have been the low point of his tenure at the school. Is a midseason dismissal realistic? It appears like the administration is apprehensive to pull the plug. Is it warranted? Yes. Football is a week-to-week business though. I think he will be on board through this week when the team hosts Hawaii. We will see what happens after that. Another loss won't help his cause though. And, at this point, it's hard picturing the Aggies winning another game this season.