Friday, March 20, 2009

Grading the Aggies

The New Mexico State Aggies had an up and down season on the basketball court, one which ended on the upswing.

The WAC Tournament was encouraging, as the Aggies knocked off Boise State and could have beaten Utah State. NMSU went 9-7 in WAC play and finished in fifth place in the conference.

NMSU averaged a conference-best 76.3 points per game while surrendering a league-worst 74.4 point per game. NMSU finished in the middle of the pack with 34.6 rebounds per game but gave up a league-worst 37.7 boards per contest.

The Aggies were 12-4 at home, 4-10 on the road. The team did go 4-4 on the road in WAC play, so improvement was made in this category as the season went on.

NMSU had the league's leading scorer in Jahmar Young. Young poured in 17.9 points per game on the season and was on more often than not throughout the year. Wendell McKines led the WAC in rebounding with 10 boards per game. Wendell also averaged 12 points per game, being the only player in the conference to average a double-double. Many nights, his impact on the game went beyond the boxscore.

Hernst Laroche was a pleasant surprise at point guard. Troy Gillenwater was up and down, but there is reason to believe he will continue to improve and will be an impact player for the Aggies. Some people on the blog have said Jahmar, McKines or Gillenwater could leave. I think all of them will be on the team next season. They're not going anywhere.

Jonathan Gibson was erratic. His play often dictated what type of an evening NMSU would have. The big men, Hamidu Rahman and Chris Gabriel, both showed potential but will need to continue improving. They're improvement could be the single biggest key this offseason.

The team played hard for Marvin Menzies throughout the year. For the second straight year, the Aggies played their best ball at the end of the season. The point guard issues from two seasons ago improved and Menzies has managed to bring in some decent talent to Las Cruces. McKines was a good find for the program. Laroche was steady. The two big men have promise — both are seven feet and have shown flashes.

My final grade on the season, all things considered and being fair, is an 80 percent. NMSU was a second-level team in the WAC, seemingly behind Utah State and Nevada. NMSU fell in line with the Idaho's, Boise State's and Louisiana Tech's of the conference. I look at the entire body of work, from an early season road swing at Long Beach, Kansas and North Texas, to the home loss to Nevada to the road win in Reno. The team ended the year on a high note so there is reason for optimism going into next season.


Anonymous said...

Here are the areas of improvement that nee to happen.

1). Gibson has to quit playing like a damn FRESHMAN, and stop jacking up shots, three seconds into the shot clock!!
2). The big guys MUST get better.
3). The team needs be better on "D" and on the boards.
4). Menzies needs to be a better coach.

Do all that and, we will be in the NCAA tourney!

Anonymous said...

I give the Aggies a grade of C+. Good offense, so so defense.

For next year --- become a defensive team. Start Gillenwater at center. Get the best 5 players on the floor to start the game. Bring Rahman and Gabriel off the bench.

Recruit an active 6'9"-10" to play the 5 spot.

They don't have too far to go to be the preseason pick for the top spot in the conference. They have the talent. They just have to decide to use it for entire games.

Anonymous said...

Gillenwater is not a center! He's a wing!
Bring in a JUCO center to push Rahman and Gabriel and tell Gibson to quit taking ill-advised shots or let him transfer!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you are saying Teddy. The last time I checked NMSU finished tied for 3rd in the league. NMSU got the 5th seed in the tourney, but that doesn't mean they finished 5th in the league. Get it right.

Anonymous said...

NMSU is behind Nevada??? Are you sure? NMSU should of beat Nevada in Las Cruces, and well NMSU beat NEvada in Reno, and would of beat Nevada again in the WAC Tourney. I don't know where you get this crap from Teddy. Do your damn homework or don't talk about it at all.

Teddy said...

They did finish 5th. I didn't make it up. I just looked at the WAC standings to get that little tidbit of info.

As for Nevada, agreed, the two teams split. NMSU should have beaten them in Cruces, but they didn't. So, there you go....The Wolf Pack won 21 games, 11 of which were in conference. NMSU won 17, 9 in conference. Again, this is fairly simple math.

All hail, the anonymous posters. Where would we be without you?

Anonymous said...

I give the Aggies credit for having such a young team and being 3 seconds from playing in the WAC tourny finals. They did improve and played hard as the season progressed, which is a good sign that the players did not give up on MM. They either need to work more on the defensive end or have a better defensive scheme. Because if they had played better defense this season they would have easily won 20 games. But kids coming out of high school never really play defense (move their feet) and that is the hardest thing for them to learn.

I think they should have started Laroche and JY at the guards and Gillenwater and Mckines at the forwards and Rahman at center. MM could have brought Gibson off the bench to relieve anyone of the guard spots.

MM needs to bring in another 6'8" or 6'9" player to help with the rebounding, McKines can't do it by himself.

What ever happened to Joyner, is he still on the team?

Anonymous said...

Teddy, you are wrong. The seeding for the tournament put them 5th for tournament games. The standings for the league put them tied for third. Get your figures straight.

Teddy said...

Anonymous one -

The Aggies lost to Boise twice in the regular season. In sports, head-to-head matchups tend to be the deciding factor when teams tie in the standings, record-wise. Therefore, NMSU finished below Boise.

As for Idaho, NMSU lost the tiebreaker to them to. Sorry to spoil your day. Have a great one!

Anonymous said...

Teddy. Boise State is 9-7. Idaho is 9-7, and NMSU was 9-7. NMSU was the only team out of the 3 to make it past the first round of the WAC Tourney. NMSU recieves 3rd place points for the WAC Commissioner Cup. That is 3rd place. Do you understand english Teddy.

SM said...

It doesn't matter where the Aggies finished at the end of the year. If you are not in first place in the WAC, you go nowhere.

As for the grade, it is hard to measure. I give them a C+ because this was not a strong year for the WAC. Prior to conference, they had some bad losses to LBSU and UNT. That our pre-conference record was less than impressive was not the end-all. When we got to conference, the inconsistency continued, albeit in a very inexperienced league.

I can identify two seniors in the WAC that are major players, Wilkinson and Sanchez. The other WAC teams are just like the Aggies. This scares me. It seems as though Aggie nation is expecting a WAC championship next season. While I believe this team has the potential to pull it off, I struggle to understand how we pass USU and UNR.

This season would be easier to digest if our inconsistency was the result of other conference teams just having more experience. But that was not the case. We did not get swept in the regular season by a veteran Boise team, nor did we get swept by a senior laden USU team (although all their players are in their mid-20's).

I agree completely that the Aggies' losses resulted from their youth. I also agree that the Aggies will be better next season if everybody stays. But the idea that the Aggies' young players will grow while the rest of the league remains stagnant is a dubious proposition at best. You can expect UNR to be better next year, as you can expect USU, Boise and Idaho to improve as well. To suggest the Aggies will somehow surpass other young teams in similar situations is unlikely.

In my view, we can only surpass these teams if two things happen: 1) Gibson takes a true leadership role, plays with consistency, and can lead the Aggies to victory even if he is not shooting lights out; 2) We get more production from the 5 spot, both in terms of scoring and rebounding. Otherwise, you'll see an improved Aggie team losing to improved USU and UNR teams.

David G. said...

TF, the Aggies finished tied for third. By way of the tiebreakers we got the 5 seed for the tourney. Just like the year before, when we finished tied for first, but got a different seed in the tournament. Idaho, BSU, and NMSU finished with the same record. That's a tie for third. However, you can't have 3 3 seeds for the tourney. The tiebreakers doesn't effect the final standing though.

Anonymous said...

I would give this past season a "C" on a learning curve-this is next season's team.I would give Coach Menzies an "N" as in "needs improvement" as a strategist and a disciplnarian.Finally, I would give the sports coverage in this newspaper a "D" for below average effort in getting the inside "scoop",or having SOME type of editorial reporting-put another way-it needs to "grow a pair"...

Anonymous said...

The aggies tied for 3rd, and then took 3rd of the 3 that tied for 3rd!!!!!! GOT IT!!!!

Thus we were the 5th seed!!!!

Aggie Grade, C-
Guards B
Forwards C+, with out WM would have been a D
Centers D+
Coaching D-

If coaching improves, so will the grades of all the players. You see what kind of performance MM got out of last years team. Reggie took a 6-24 Stubby team and turned them into a 16-14. MM took a Reggie 24-9 team and turned them into a 21-14 team.

If coaching does not drastically improve, look for the Aggies to be around 5th again next year. Tie for 3rd, but then 3rd of the 3rd's.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster above. Put the best five players on the floor to start the game. That means starting Gillenwater at center, even though everyone knows he is not a true center, or just feature two forwards and three guards.

The best players need to be on the floor the longest.

Cobbler said...

I gotta say, I think the harsh criticism of Marvin Menzies job as NMSU coach is a little out of place. Did NMSU contend nationally? No. Did they contend in the WAC? Not really. Nw I'm not speaking to the meatballs who just yell for Menzies to be a better coach (no telling how incompetent some of these posters are in their own jobs, probably) because turning a program around and (most importantly) establishing a culture of winning is not an overnight thing. Why are the top programs (regardless of conference and national limelight) ALWAYS at the top? People their culture breeds winning and winners, and kids leaving college notice that and take it to heart. Menzies has been there for 2 years now. That's the equilvalent of electing a new president and wondering why things aren't perfect after 4 months. You know why? It's 4 months. Florida won 2 National Titles. Now they're getting pounded in the NIT. Is Donovan a terrible coach? Not at all. They'll be back, you know why? The culture is to win, even if it isn't a guarantee at the start of every season.
2 years, NMSU fans...2 YEARS. So he's only recruited players through their sophomore seasons, hasn't had a full class of his players yet. In his first year as head coach, Menzies led the Aggies to their first regular season WAC title and also helped the Aggies to their second consecutive appearance in the WAC Tournament title game. Sure, fire him! I'm sure San Jose State or Hawaii will switch places in an instant. Ask Rick Pitino this weekend at his Sweet 16 in Indy what he thinks of Menzies ability to lead NMSU to great things. I'm sure you'll see the best man has the job...for now. He still has things to prove and isn't Coach of the Year. But NMSU really has a solid young team in place poised to contend next year, and the right man is driving the bus. Out of 2 seasons, 1 has already been outstanding! Seems like the grass is always greener on the other side with NMSU fans about their coach, but I think the grass is always greener where it is watered. Support your coach, it still appears that you have the right man for the job.

David G. said...

Great post Cobbler

SM said...

Cobbler, I think one of the frustrations with Menzies from Aggie faithful is that he inherited an NCAA team that returned almost everybody, but still failed to get the Aggies into the postseason. I am certainly not calling for Menzies to be fired, but you can at least appreciate the basis of Aggie fans' frustrations.

I Live Inspired said... are a voice of reason. well done.

Anonymous, I give your theatrics a grade of D-.

Anonymous said...

Not inspired,,,,,,,,and ????

MM was not the right hire in the first place, just like the Mummy Man wasn't either. Hopefully MM will never become the Mummy Man. And I hpoe that Coach Mumme makes a full 100% recovery from his sickness. He was just a poor choice to become NMSU's football coach.

MM beleives in Offense not defense. If he does not change his ideas he will never be a NCAA Tourney type of Coach. When he made the comment to J.Nixon after the regular season Boise State Game, that "hey we scored 92 points, thats not bad, huh Jack". If you lose and cannot play defense who cares how many points the Aggies Scored!!!!

Outstanding Season?? Gobbler you talking about the 91/92 Season? Or last years Senior dominated 21-14 season, with no Tourney? Oh, thats right we could paid 60K and gone to the Gus Macker just like this year.

I hope MM does become very successful, because I love AGGIE Basketball, been loving since before the FINAL FOUR. Maybe that is why I expect a little more, or maybe to much.

Anonymous said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but here is a link Teddy:

And a quote from said link:

FINAL RECORD: 17-15, 9-7, tied for third in the Western Athletic Conference

National Publication >>>> Teddy Feinberg's opinion.