Sunday, March 30, 2008

poll question

How do you think Joe Lee Dunn will do at NMSU? Sun-News Poll question if you are interested. Click on the link and follow the lower-left column

Talent makes coaches

I am a firm believer in this: Talent makes many great coaches great. I can't say in every case but in many.

This brings me to football. I don't know a lot about the new coordinators just hired, but they will be good if the players play ball. And I don't know if NMSU has the talent on defense to be good. That's the biggest question mark for me. Who is playing defense for this team that is so much different from last. And if they are a different player, how are they going to impact the team.

Don't forget, Dante Floyd is gone at linebacker. He was a solid player for them last year, one of the few on D who were. They are going to need big years out of both Jamar Cotton and La'Auli Fonoti. both have talent at outside linebacker but they will need to step up big time.

There secondary? Has to get it done. Can they? I don't think so. There corners were toasted constantly last year. Great players make great coaches. Does NMSU have the talent?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Football hires

I like the hires made by Hal Mumme and company at NMSU.

I am going to be honest here, I know basically nothing about these two gentlemen. Other than the things that have been stated about their past coaching histories. But I learned about them right then and there.

I do know that they impressed during the interview process. Both are also former coordinators. They have ran the ship and they have been soldiers in the platoon. I just wonder about the talent level on defense.

For one of the previous posters, Dunn runs a 3-5-3. That's three linemen, five linebackers and three DBs. If you look at the team roster, they have the DBs broken into two categories - cornerbacks and strong safeties. From my understanding, Derrick Richardson at strong safety will be asked to play a lot closer to the line as well. Lots of blitzing, firing off the edge. And I believe a lot of variation as well as different packages and formations being thrown around the field.

My only thing is, can the corners hold up? Does anyone remember the play their last season? It wasn't very good. Some of that can certainly be pinned on the lack of pressure on the quarterback. Chris Woods, Davon House and Vince Butler were young players. Alex Bernard started the year at corner and was moved to strong safety with Richardson as the free. They switched up a lot in the offseason. And it had to be done. Something had to change. But Woody Widenhofer had the reputation of getting the most out of limited talent. And you saw what he got last year. We need the season to start before we begin judging what has really changed and what hasn't. The two games that will tell a big part of the story - UTEP and UNM. We'll learn a lot about this team in Week's 3 and 4.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Other players leaving?

Alright, we have Luster. Who else could go?

Ya know, I was thinking that Chris Pompey is a key piece to this whole thing. With him around, it increases the chances that Herb and Jahmar will be with the team. But what if he left? I don't know if either player stays at that point.

Jahmar was a good freshman last year, at least on the court. He averaged double-digit points and that number is sure to go up. He's a scorer. He could easily average 15-17 points per game next season.

If Pope is in place, him and Troy Gillenwater could be a scary combination on the court.

I don't think you'll see DeAngelo Jones return. He played behind some great players this past year and didn't see the court at all. I think he's gone.

There were chemistry problems this past year. That could lead to change and was an indication that not everyone was happy with their roles. Luster left. And this is just the beginning of the offseason.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good weekend for baseball team

The Aggie baseball team had a solid weekend, taking three of four from San Jose State.

This team has major offense. This weekend they won games 7-6, 12-1, 15-9 and lost 10-8. Can you win like this consistently? Some pitching would be nice.

Heath Goin has actually put together some solid outings for NMSU. Goin has gone the distance in consecutive starts, giving up just two runs in the process and getting big wins for both. I'm serious, if the pitching staff can just hold down the fort, this team can win games. They bop balls around the yard with no problem.

The lineup is balanced. Richard Stout is a spark plug hitting leadoff and Marcus Quade has gotten on base as well. They have decent power in the middle of the order. Again, the pitching, they just have to try and hold it down.

NMSU plays UNM this week before returning home for Texas-Pan American. The following weekend the Aggies go to Nevada and then Hawaii. I realize its early, but that road trip could make or break their year.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Luster gone

JayDee Luster is out at NMSU, asking for his release and receiving it.

The Luster situation is a head scratcher to me. This kid received considerable attention coming out of high school and seemed like a pretty good catch for NMSU. Some like him, some don't. The bottom line is that the point guard position could have used some help this year. Sure, Fred Peete did well, but he would have been just as effective, maybe even more so, at the 2-guard.

It just never seemed to me that JayDee got a legitimate shot to play the position. He got limited minutes throughout the year and when he was in, it always seemed like it was at the tail end of games with the team either up or down by at least 15 points.

Luster was very outspoken when Marvin Menzies was intitially hired as the Aggies' head coach but eventually caved and came the NMSU. Did his early antics hurt him and his playing time? Maybe, maybe not. But I think it may have played a factor. Point guard was a position in flux for much of the year for the Aggies. Hard to believe he couldn't have helped in some capacity. I guess we'll never know.

Look out for Nevada

Reading up in the Reno papers recently, it appears as if the University of Nevada will be trotting out a particularly strong basketball team in the future - at least on paper.

The Wolf Pack recently signed guard Joey Shaw from the College of Southern Idaho. The team is also prepared to suit up talented forward Luke Babbitt to go along with other pieces to the Wolf Pack roster.

Center JaVale McGee could test the NBA as he is long and rangy with nice ability. But lets say hypothetically that he comes back. We're talking about a center that has player of the year potential. The team already has Brandon Fields and Armon Johnson in the backcourt.

The key will be the possible return of McGee and the development of one, maybe two of their players. They could also use a plugger in the middle to rebound and be a presence inside. While McGee does impress, he doesn't board as well as he should.

Regardless, the Wolf Pack look like a dangerous team in the future for the WAC.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No Wyoming

I don't know if this is as big of a deal to some people, but I'm really bummed about Wyoming not making the trip to play the Aggies this year in football.

Nicholls State? Uggghhh. I thought we dealt with this last year with the 1-AA scrappers. Wyoming offered a step up. I decent mid-major with a classic coach in Joe Glenn and a quarterback with a classic name (Karsten Sween). That and great uniforms.

The problem for me really stands in the fact that the Cowboys would have presented a solid Week 1 challenge for the Aggies. One that would have brought intrigue and given fans - and writers - a chance to gouge where they stand.

I just want to see NMSU move in the right direction. You do that by playing competition that is better. Is Wyoming better? I don't know but they certainly aren't worse. And I feel as if Wyoming is an underrated team. Again, it would have been an interesting gouge to see where NMSU stands and would have generated some excitement - again, maybe just for me.

Oh well. Nicholls will come to LC. And judging by how NMSU played to lesser competition last year - Arkansas Pine Bluff anyone? - it could be a decent game. One NMSU can't afford to lose.


Obviously, NMSU declined the College Basketball Invitational.

AD McKinley Boston said that he didn't believe that 6.5 thousand fans would show up to the Pan Am to watch the Aggies in the CBI. Well, at least he was unsure which is close enough to not believing.

Hard to argue with him here. First off, the CBI games haven't drawn particularly well. Two games in last night's CBI opener - Houston @ Nevada and Richmond @ Virginia - barely drew over 4 thousand. The two others - Rider @ Old Diminion and Brown @ Ohio - barely drew over 2 thousand and 1 thousand - respectively.

Boston did not want NMSU going on the road. What about a road contest at UTEP? That would have been fun for both teams and the fans! That would have made some sense to me. My question to you is, would you have bought a CBI ticket for a home game or at UTEP. It might be a poor one for this blog, as most of the answers could come back yes. But be honest in your assessment here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Basketball blog

For those looking to read more NMSU basketball, which I'm sure is just about everyone, this is Sun-News sports writer Jason Groves' new blog. Check it out

Rebuilding year in 2009?

A blogger on my last post said that he believed next season will be a rebuilding year for Aggie basketball. I don't believe so.

First off, one thing Menzies can do is recruit. He is resourceful and will continue to bring in pieces to help mold the program. The loss of Justin Hawkins and Fred Peete are undeniable, but all programs go through that every year. In my opinion, Passos and Iti are replaceable, particularly if Herb Pope returns. He is a player like none other on the roster and will be a much better player if he gets an entire season under his belt.

The team will miss Fred's gritty nature, as he was a capable scorer, became a distributor and was a more than solid rebounder from the guard spot. He was a versatile player. Still, Jahmar Young and Jonathon Gibson are better pure scorers. They may lack Fred's intangibles but that's something we'll all find out next year to be true or not.

The one area that needs clarification is the point guard spot. I don't know what happened to JayDee Luster this past year but it doesn't look like he fits into Menzies' plans. He remained nailed to the bench. Jahmar and Jonathon remain shooting guards. The answer may come in the form of Arkansas transfer Terrence Joyner. He's a big, talented guard, and could be exactly what the team needs. But I think the jury is still out at this position and a verdict probably won't come in until we see them in action next season.

Much of next season's success will also depend on how the conference shakes out. Again, it was a somewhat down year for the WAC. Will 2009 be any different? Nevada will lose Kemp, but they have some pieces. Then again, they need JaVale McGee to stay on board. He is a big kid. And you know some other teams will step up their game. But I would not say that next year will be a rebuilding season for NMSU. That's hitting the panic button way too early.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grading Menzies

Colleague Lucas Peerman gave Marvin Menzies a C+ for the season, following the Aggies 3-OT loss to Boise State. Some people supported the grade, as well as some people who just simply jumped down his throat. Here's my take.

The team got off to a bumpy start to the season. Getting swept by UTEP was lame and splitting with UNM was somewhat acceptable but the Lobos did not play well in Las Cruces and were not challenged in Albuquerque. A terrible loss against North Texas also sticks out, as NMSU was up by 20 and gave it away on their home court.

The team played very well in conference overall. I'm talking regular season here. They came away with a big win in Boise when Jahmar Young went nuts with 33 points. There only home loss came against Nevada and the Wolf Pack beat them in Reno as well. The Aggies throttled Utah State and Boise at home.

People forget about the loss at Hawaii but it was discouraging. Although a nice bounce-back win at San Jose State, a team that gave other programs fits when playing in Cali.

The conference tournament was filled with highs a lows. They did what they had to do against Idaho and the win against Nevada seemed to be the so-called hump that the team needed to clear. Losing to Boise was extremely disappointing, particularly because NMSU had beaten them twice already. It seemed like the Aggies were the better team entering the contest but take nothing away from Boise. They won and came up big.

The reality is this - the WAC was down this year. Nobody really wanted to win the conference down the stretch and certain teams just weren't as deep as in the past. Nevada, although talented, was not as good as last year. Utah State was good, but not great. Fresno took a big step back for certain. The door was open for the Aggies in this conference. They had one of the more talented teams - if not the most. I give Menzies credit for leading the team through some strong stretches in conference and also a big win over Nevada in the tournament. That was a big mental hurdle to clear. But losing to Boise was a perfect culmination to the season. The Buss said on Lucas' last post that the game was symbolic of the entire season. I couldn't agree more. Fall behind big early, take a few steps forward and a few back, start and sputter, appear to peak, get over the hump and then fall short.

Overall, I would give Menzies a B-. Walking away from the season without a postseason berth should be considered a step back by all the fans involved. This was a tournament team last year that played in a better conference last year. I give him credit for holding on to the recruits as well as bringing in Wendell McKines, who looks to be a more-than-capable player. But keeping everyone on board kept the talent pool high. I saw progress in his first year as a head coach on the D-1 level. And if they win last night, it's a different grade - a higher grade no doubt - bottom line. But they didn't. And really, they probably should have. NMSU was the more talented team, pound-for-pound.

It was a fun year, an exciting year and a disappointing year, all wrapped into one. One other thing it was was a crazy year. The team kept you on your toes. That's how I'll remember the 2008 version, of the New Mexico State Aggies.

Over/under update

Over/under update.
By Lucas Peerman
Production Editor
What a game! I'm sure a lot of you saw the Aggies lose a triple-overtime thriller to Boise State in Saturday's WAC Championship. Despite the disappointing result, it was a well-played college basketball game and one I
will remember for a long time.

I'd like to offer an update on my over/under numbers from yesterday, when I stated the Aggies were a much better team with Hatila Passos than with Martin Iti. Statistically, that was certainly the case on Friday against Nevada. Not so much against Boise State.

Both Passos and Iti played well and were a big part of the reason the Aggies went to triple OT with the Broncos. According to the over/under numbers, however, NMSU was -12 with Passos in the game and +7 with Iti in the lineup. The biggest reason for the Passos' negative number was a couple of big runs Boise State put together to begin the first and second halves.

Here's the over/under numbers for New Mexico State in last night's game with the first half, second half, (and end of game) listed:
Jonathan Gibson, -1, +1 (0)
Fred Peete, -12, +1 (-11)
Justin Hawkins, -9, +2 (-7)
Herb Pope, -14, 0 (-14)
Hatila Passos, -6, -6 (-12)
Jahmar Young, +1, +2 (+3)
Wendell McKines, +7, +1 (+8)
Martin Iti, -1, +8 (+7)

This is my first time keeping track of over/under numbers during a basketball game and if I've learned one thing, it's that these numbers in the context of a single game can be very misleading. There's just way too many other factors that affect a player's number.

That being said, I do believe that if these numbers were tracked over the entire year, statistical trends would emerge that show just how valuable certain players are to the team. If the Aggies host an NIT game (unlikely they'll even get it, as I explain below), I'll try to cover it and record the over/under stats for that game.
• • •
1. I thought Boise State was the more aggressive team in the third overtime period. They took the ball to the whole. NMSU settled for the outside shot. That was the difference

2. As much as I hate to admit it, Reggie Larry outplayed Justin Hawkins. There were a few NBA scouts there at the championship game and I'm sure they would agree. Although he has his moments, I'm afraid Hawkins isn't an NBA-level talent. And I really hate to say that because I've seen him transform into a leader this year.

3. Could the Aggies miss out on an NIT bid? When reporter Jason Groves brought up that possibility to me last night, I thought he had totally lost it. But the more I research, the more I agree the Aggies probably won't get an NIT bid. Only the top 96 teams play after their conference tournaments end and the Aggies have an RPI of 124. Let's look at it another way: Each of the six power conferences get three teams (some will get four, some two, but it will average three teams). That's 18 of the 32 NIT teams, leaving 14 spots. Conference USA, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley and Mountain West will get two teams in the NIT, which leaves six remaining spots. Any team that won its conference's regular season gets an automatic bid to the NIT if it fails to get an NCAA bid. Utah State is in this situation, and I'm guessing about four other teams will get a bid this way as well.

That leaves one open spot.Nevada (2-1 edge over NMSU, plus a 75 RPI) gets a bid before the Aggies. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I think you just saw the Aggies play their last game of the season.

Teddy just asked me what grade I would give NMSU coach Marvin Menzies on the year. I'd give him a C+. What do you guys think?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

By Lucas Peerman
Production Editor
It doesn¹t take a genius to know the New Mexico State front court must step up in today¹s game against Boise State to give the Aggies any chance of going to the Big Dance.

What may be less apparent is the fact that the Aggies with Hatila Passos are to the Aggies with Martin Iti as Fred Astaire is to Nick Fazekas. What I mean by that, is one of them is gonna take you the Dance, the other is gonna trip over his two left feet.

Let me explain, statistically.

For the first two games of the WAC Tournament, I have recorded the over/under for each Aggie player. That stat tells you how well a team performs when that player is in the game. There are numerous other factors that control the outcome of the game to read too much into the statistic, but it does give a good perspective into how a player affects the play of the team.

For example, in the Aggies¹ 73-53 victory over Idaho on Thursday, the team outscored the Vandals by 21 points when Justin Hawkins was in the game. Hawk had an over/under of +21. In blowouts like the Idaho game, however, it¹s hard to get a valuable over/under because there¹s so much “garbage time” when the points don¹t matter. In fact, every Aggie who played significant minutes had a positive over/under against the Vandals.

Except for one.

Martin Iti recorded a -2. You read that right. The Idaho Vandals (horrible team) outscored the New Mexico State Aggies (most talented team in the WAC) by 2 points when Iti, the reserve center, was in the game. Passos, the starting center, recorded a +25, the highest mark of any player. You can see the rest of the results from that game below.
As I noted above, however, it¹s hard to get an accurate read in a blowout. Let¹s take a look instead at Friday¹s game, a much more competitive 83-75 Aggies¹ win over Nevada.

Once again, Passos was the most valuable Aggie according to over/under numbers with a +22. That was 12 points better the next player (Fred Peete and Hawkins were both +10). Iti, as he was against the Vandals, was the least valuable player in the Nevada game. He recorded an astounding -14, including a -10 in a second half in which the Aggies as a team outscored the Wolf Pack by 10 points.

NMSU outscored Nevada 57-35 when Passos was in the game. Nevada outscored NMSU 40-26 when Iti was in the game. Each player was in the game about the same number of minutes (Passos played 21 minutes, Iti 19. There was no point at which either player was not in the game or in the game at the same time).

When Passos was in the game versus Nevada, the Aggies scored 2.71 points a minute and gave up 1.66 points a minute. When Iti was in the game, the Aggies scored 1.37 points a minute and gave up 2.11 points a minute. Quite a
discrepancy there. For all you stat geeks out there, here¹s the numbers, with over/under numbers for the first half, the second half and the (game in parentheses)

New Mexico State 73, Idaho 53
Jonathan Gibson, +11, +5 (+16)
Fred Peete, +12, +10 (+22)
Justin Hawkins, +11, +10 (+21)
Herb Pope, +14, +6 (+20)
Hatila Passos, +17, +8 (+25)
Jahmar Young, 0, +8 (+8)
Wendell McKines, -3, +6 (+3)
Martin Iti, -6, +4 (-2)
J.D. Luster, DNP, -3 (-3)
Trei Stward, DNP, -3 (-3)
Gordo Castillo, DNP, -3 (-3)
DeAngelo Jones, DNP, -3 (-3)

New Mexico State 83, Nevada 75
Jonathan Gibson, +4, -3 (+1)
Fred Peete, -2, +12 (+10)
Justin Hawkins, -3, +13 (+10)
Herb Pope, -7, +7 (0)
Hatila Passos, +2, +20 (+22)
Jahmar Young, -5, +11 (+6)
Wendell McKines, +3, +3 (+6)
Martin Iti, -4, -10 (-14)
J.D. Luster, DNP
Trei Steward, DNP
Gordo Castill, DNP
DeAngelo Jones, DNP

As I said earlier, there are many, many factors that affect a player¹s over/under rating that he cannot control, such as the play of his teammates and the play of his teammates¹ opponents. However, with Passos and Iti splitting time evenly against the Wolf Pack (meaning neither player was saddled with horrible teammates the entire game), the discrepancy between Passos¹ and Iti¹s numbers are that much more glaring.

Let¹s hope Passos, Pope and McKines (and maybe even Steward) get the majority of the minutes down low against the Broncos if the Aggies want to have any chance of putting on their dancing shoes.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Basketball showcase

The night before the men's bracket hits full tilt.

I could comment on the NMSU game a bunch but I have already done that. They're playing Idaho. And I love Idaho but there's only so much to talk about concerning the game.

Lets just look at the WAC Tournament as a whole. I can't wait for the first-round games. If you're planning on just going for the NMSU game or any other team you might like to watch (Wolfpack Jack), try to change those plans. Take in the entire show, or as much as you can. This is a showcase of basketball, played on a high level and on a grand stage. Take it all in. It will make that Aggie game seem even better when 8:30 rolls around.

Outside of the NMSU game, Fresno should be a classic team to watch. I don't know if they can beat Nevada, but I really like there team. Well, I like Kevin Bell. But he basically is the team. And Eddie Miller can fill it up from deep.

I would love the see Hawaii battle Boise, with Luettgerodt, Gibson and Nash running, gunning and scoring. They haven't been playing as well lately though. Could be tough.

And lastly, Utah State, but for reasons outside of Jaycee Carroll. Stew Morrill is a vet and Kris Clark is a pass-first player at the point. That and a couple scrapiron forwards that will do some dirty work.

Go to the tournament and enjoy it. Root for the Aggies, but also root for good, solid basketball. It should be a blast. I, for one, can't wait.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Game time

Well, not just yet for the Aggie men but it's not too far either.

Idaho is not even close to NMSU is talent or ability. The Aggies have manhandled other teams with lesser talent than them throughout the year at the Pan Am. The one exception was North Texas.

Still, Idaho is going to come out ready to play. They won two road games at the tail end of last season and do have some talent - Michael Crowell, Jordan Brooks and Mike Hall to name a few backcourt players. They will play hard, desperate and relish the spoiler role.

The Aggies will have to jump on them early and put them away. Get the starters some rest in the second half with the game well in hand. Letting the Vandals stick around will give Idaho confidence and it just doesn't bode well for NMSU. Jump on the inferior team and bury them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Any first round upsets?

Honestly, the answer here is probably no when talking about the WAC tournament and any possible upsets in Round 1.

Some games could be closer than anticipated though. Hawaii could stick with Boise if things fall the right way. The Warriors got destroyed in Boise earlier this year and battled the Broncos at home. The Warriors battle everyone at home so that was not a huge surprise. I think they could beat the Broncos if all things fall into place. The key is Matt Gibson. If he plays a strong game as the Warriors' floor leader they can stick in it.

I also think Fresno State can stick with Nevada. The Bulldogs have a phenominal player in Kevin Bell and he'll score his points in this game. Him and Eddie Miller will have to be connecting from deep and will have to get something from their suppporting cast. But they are capable of playing a competitive game.

The Aggies whooped Idaho this year at the Pan Am. The Vandals have played better since but this game won't be close in the second half.

The play-in game tonight? I have San Jose State in a wide-open affair. Watch C.J. Webster pull down boards and score around the hoop for the Spartans. Kyle Gibson scores big for La. Tech but in order for the Bulldogs to win, they need to get a solid shooting night from JC Clark, something they got the other night in their win over the Spartans.

The game will be decided by who wins the battle between Clark and San Jose's Tim Pierce. Both can shoot the ball when in rhythm.

Looking forward to the tourney.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tourney Time

The WAC bracket looks very ordinary and one where NMSU will face its biggest nemesis of the season in the second round in Nevada.

Of course we're bypassing Idaho as a team that can pull an upset but common. If NMSU loses to the Vandals the world would appear to be caving in. Nevada will pose a serious challenge as we all know what the Wold Pack did to NMSU this year.

Still, it's hard to beat someone three times in one season as the Wolf Pack will be trying to do to the Aggies. That game will be a major battle, one of monster proportions and should be intense. One would hope that the Pan Am sells out for the game. With the way attendance has been this year, I would think it to be unlikely but who knows? It will be a a slugfest and one I can't wait to see.

On the other side of the bracket, Utah State is playing great ball. They had road issues at the outset of the season but have come on strong down the stretch, winning three straight away from home to get the No. 1 seed. They swept Boise State this year and should be in the finals. Either way, assuming the scenarios play out the way they should, NMSU will have two tough games in front of them. The first against the Wolf Pack. If they can find a way to get past that, they will go head to head with the UtAgs. Don't be fooled by the last time these two teams met. USU is much stronger than that and is back at full strength.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Defending boredom

When the New Mexico State Aggies return home this week to take on San Jose St. and Hawaii, they will have to defend one of the toughest mental hurdles in all of sports: boredom.

The Aggies will take on teams that aren't as talented and don't have as much to play for at this stage of the year. For San Jose, they're looking to rebound from a minnie slump that has seen them drop three straight games. Hawaii has been hurting as well, coming off home losses to Idaho and Boise State and before that a Bracketbuster loss to UC Riverside as well as a road WAC loss to Fresno St.

Both of these teams looked like conference sleepers two weeks ago, but things have changed quickly - as they tend to do in college basketball. NMSU has proven that they can take care of business against inferior competition - for the most part. They have been pretty strong against the lower-tier WAC teams at the Pan Am. The Aggies have been a good home team in conference period. The one exception is when they played Nevada in late January. And the two games NMSU played against the Wolf Pack will be burned in their memory until they meet them again this year - if that ever happens.

While they should knock off San Jose and Hawaii, one should be concerned about boredom setting in, especially when considering the Aggies know that talent-wise, they are a step ahead of the two programs coming into town. It seems like that's when this team gets into trouble. There has seemed to be a lack of focus at times this year. Nothing would make Aggie fans happier to see NMSU take care of business this week, quickly and harshly at that. They got lambasted at Hawaii this year and barely escaped San Jose with a win. Truthfully, that is a tough WAC swing and the team has played much better since then. But you know the group is still bitter about Nevada. Sometimes that can be dangerous. NMSU can't overlook anyone at this point in time. One game at a time for the Aggies. That's what good teams do. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Win at Fresno

NMSU won at Fresno State last night in a exciting game.

This team is unbelievable. They fall behind big early and are still down 10 early in the second half. They came back though, and a sequence of back-and-forth possessions ensued. The Aggies ended up on top. It was very nerveracking.

When I was listening to the game last night I thought they were done early. Fresno came out on fire and it seemed like NMSU was hung over from the Nevada loss two nights ago. But they hung in there and got the win. They could have folded there and didn't.

Fresno has a terrific player in guard Kevin Bell. He can score with the best in the conference. Eddie Miller produced as well but they got nothing outside of that. That was a deciding factor as the Aggies had a balanced effort across the board. That is the staple of the team. Many can score the ball and they are hard to defend when they are sharing the ball and everyone is a threat.

In the end, the win does not make up for their loss at Nevada. Again, it wasn't the fact they lost in Reno but the manner in which they did - giving up 98 points, being out-muscled and never really threatening. Still, the road trip could have been disastrous, particularly after falling behind by 15 early to Fresno. The team got the win. Now they come home and have to finish off the final two home games of the season against San Jose St. and Hawaii. Both of these teams could pose more problems than people think. NMSU will need two solid efforts on their own court before tourney time.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Huge game for the women

The NMSU women's team have a huge game tonight against Fresno.

The Bulldogs are 1/2 game behind Boise and the Aggies are a 1/2 game behind the Bulldogs if I'm not mistaken. Fans have been frustrated with the NMSU men this year but the women have been very strong. A good rebounding team, a sturdy team in the post with a nice mixture of veteran talent and some young contributors as well.

The Aggies also shoot the ball very well from the field and have a nice 1-2 punch on the inside with Sherell Neal and Anikia Jawara. They have some bombers from the perimeter and a strong point guard in freshman Maddi Spence.

I'm sure the crowd will be small once again for the game but it is a big one. And it will be a very good one too.

A team to watch out for

I know my football posts aren't the always widely received this time of year but I have been thinking about pigskin - more specifically, the WAC.

More specifically even, is the Louisiana Tech program. The Bulldogs are a team that could give some people some problems this year - heck, they did it last year in Derek Dooley's first season as head coach.

One of the most heartbreaking affairs came for the Aggies when they traveled to Ruston this year. It really hurt, NMSU was winning the entire way and held a 21-9 lead with just under six minutes remaining. Somehow, La Tech came back. NMSU dropped a pick in the endzone that fell into the hands of a Bulldog receiver for a TD that made the score 21-16. NMSU cornerback Chris Woods dropped a sure pick in that game to that would have given NMSU the ball deep in La Tech territory in the second half. Missed opportunity.

Back to the topic at hand though. The team should continue to improve under Dooley who is a no-nonsense coach. They had a much-improved defense last year, led by a strong secondary. While some of those pieces are gone, some return to the D. Linebacker Quin Harris and DBs Antonio Baker and Weldon Brown to name a few.

They run the ball well, play good defense. The booted three field goals and blocked a kick against NMSU last year. They're a disciplined group. And I expect them to continue to get better and be a sleeping giant in the WAC.

Gotta rebound

One stat that has been largely overlooked from last night's Nevada game was the battle on the boards. Nevada outrebounded NMSU 40-35. That hasn't happened much to the Aggies this year who have been a very strong rebounding team.

I'm not overlooking the fact that the team gave up 98 points but getting out-boarded certainly plays a factor as well. It goes to show that Nevada was probably the more physical team and the aggressor most of the evening.

The Aggies should out-board Fresno tonight. Again, I expect an NMSU win. But that really only goes so far. The last time I said win, they went to Nevada.