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.