I gotta give it up to the New Mexico State basketball team for their effort against Utah State on Friday night in the WAC Tournament semifinals.
How many people thought the Aggies were going to win? Not many, I can assure you. Really, they could have and, some would say that, they should have won.
The Aggies caught fire at the end of the first half and it seemed like everything they put up — more specifically, every 3-pointer they put up — found the bottom of the net. They were down 17-7 early and then found themselves with the lead, in what seemed like, seconds later. They were up 13 at the half!
I think most knew Utah State was going to make a run. But NMSU went toe-to-toe with the UtAgs. They didn't back down. And it went down to the final possession. Utah State was 2-0 against NMSU in the regular season and handled them both times. Some would say that its tough to beat a team three times in a season, and it is. But Utah State was better than NMSU this year. The Aggies weren't supposed to win this game. They battled hard and it was good to see.
Beating Boise was a positive and fighting Utah State was also a good sign. The team did in fact play better ball in the second half of the year and played one of its better games in its season finale.
Alas, the team went to the tournament two years ago and seemed on the up-and-up. Now, that's two straight years without the postseason. Some would say CBI is postseason. Not to me. The NCAAs is postseason. The NIT is the junior circuit. The CBI is AA ball. I've been hard on Menzies. But he came here and the team hasn't progressed, at least in my eyes. Progression would have been building on what had already been accomplished and taking it a step further. He has rebuilt the team — for some reason — and there aren't many tangible results to show for it. Playing the No. 1 seed tough in the conference semifinals is nice, but it should not be the goal when the season starts. Winning your conference and playing in the postseason should be the goal. Next year will be a big year for Aggie basketball. The "growing process" talk of this past season isn't going to fly in, what should be, a better Western Athletic Conference. I give them credit for their performance. But remember when they won the WAC two years ago? They're didn't contend for the title this year. Maybe next year they will. But maybe is far from a guarantee.