Monday, December 14, 2009

NMSU at UTEP (hoops)

Wow. I was at Aggies-UTEP basketball Sunday night, front row. Wow.

It was a great game and I was fired up about it for about 2 hours after I left the arena. I just wanted to see NMSU go out and compete - something they have failed to do against their rivals - heck really against anybody this year. It's not harsh. Those are facts ladies and gents. I just wanted to see them battle, not necessarily come out on top. Why just battle? Partly because I didn't think they could win. Well, they did just that.

I knew the first thing people would be saying following this one. It was obvious: The team won with Mick Durham at the controls. Hey, I can't hate. That's a legitimate statement and one that must be considered when talking about this basketball game. The truth is that Marvin Menzies has been under considerable heat lately because people think he has shortcomings as a manager, on and off the floor. Again, not harsh, just facts. That's what fans and media have been talking about since the opening of the season. And lets be honest, the team got pounded by the Miners in Las Cruces earlier this month. It was quite a turnaround, to get beaten soundly to actually doing the beating. It can't be overlooked. I won't say the team won Sunday night because of Menzies' absence. But hey, right now, it's hard to argue the other way around, I'll say that too. I definitely won't say the team lost despite Menzies' absence. That would be just as naive. They better pick it up when he returns to the bench. If not, it adds validity to those concerns, possibly even adds truth.

NMSU ran just about everything through Jahmar Young in the second half and he delivered. Jahmar is a great player, people. This kid has range, can get into the paint and is an underrated facilitator for his teammates. I was very impressed by him. This will be another chip for the Menzies' bashers. This team played with poise in the second half when they could have unraveled. They ran a controlled offense without turning the ball over, with Young as the centerpiece. That's what you do with your best player on the court. UTEP was forced a number of times to switch their big men on him because of the pick and roll game and he feasted on the mismatches. He plays with an assassins touch and I really believe NMSU has a building block in him. I even think he's been underutilized to this point. Anyone can score 24 in a blowout loss. But he did it in the pressure of a big-time college basketball game - at least as far as this region's concerned. Going forward, he needs to be the centerpiece of the team's offensive attack. Not 1A or 1B. No, he needs to be No. 1. I believe that.

Gordo Castillo and Hernst Laroche stepped up to make some huge 3-pointers with the game in the balance. Gordo drained two straight that kept the Aggies in the game and shifted momentum while Hernst buried one that was just as important down the stretch. I gotta give them credit, particularly Hernst who isn't known as a scorer. But he didn't hesitate to pull the trigger when it mattered. Gordo, that's what he's there for. To straight-up stroke the rock. He did what he's supposed to do. Those were big buckets for both players.

Jonathan Gibson kept the Aggies in the game early but went ice cold midway through the first half and from there on out. He finished 2-of-11 from the field and made some mind-numbing plays down the stretch. Different situations call for different decisions on the court. Jonathan will try the same cross-court rifle pass on the break during a 4-2 game two minutes in as he will up 71-70 in the closing minute of action. Risky. But with his athleticism and want-to in the clutch moments, it's hard not to get him out on the court. He did go 9-of-10 from the line. And he's one of the few Aggies who can create offense off the dribble, get his own shot and set up his teammates. As a coach, he's tough player to juggle I'd imagine. A heart attack waiting to happen as well.

The thing that impressed me the most about the Aggies Sunday night: Defense and rebounding. The team has been bad defensively early in the season but battled, scratched and clawed on that end of the court Sunday. Giving up 80 points to UTEP on the road. Aggie fans will take it. And to tie with the Miners 34-34 on the boards, despite being undersized? Again, that's a victory for the Aggies. Rahman deserves credit for banging downlow, the only Aggie who could truly go toe-to-toe with UTEP's size in the post and underneath. He played strong enough defense and got boards. It was a workman-like effort from him.

It also seemed like the Aggies came up with every loose ball. That won them the game, along with shooting 28-of-32 from the line. 12-12 in turnovers? The Aggies did the little things right on Sunday - the intangibles. These are things that have been missing this year. They got it going against UTEP.

Alas, unless Young can play at that level every game, this team will be what they've been all year: an underwhelming group. Menzies still has to answer the same questions at this point, because he didn't lead them to the victory. The ultimate litmus test though? Troy and Wendell's eligibility. From what I saw tonight, if both of those guys are around and if there is quality coaching, this team can compete. So far, those have proven to be pretty big ifs early in the year.

That's what I learned tonight. And that I love basketball. I already knew that though. Whatever.....

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW! I thought we were going to get killed! That's the first real good win of the year!

The team got a win w/o Menzies coaching.
Can you imagine the possibilities if he were no longer on the sidelines?
We would beat people to a pulp!

Anonymous said...

Good game for the players who deserve to be on the court. That is, the players who make grades and want to play for the Aggies.

Anonymous said...

We have kids that can play, no doubt about that! The problem is obviously coaching.

We need Menzies to get ejected every game so the kids can play their game and get us a WIN!!

Good job guys!
It's nice walking around El Paso today with NMSU clothing and getting those dirty looks! I love it!

Vic

EVL said...

Great Observation Teddy! I agree with everything you said.

Anonymous said...

The boys can do it.. they've done it many times before they can do it again... If they are smart about the choices they make.

I will say this and you can quote me. "MENZIES SUCKS" He doesn't play everyone and its unfair... Just a Question Didn't Tray Britt Play When Theus was here???? So why is he the only senior in a warm-up jersey on the bench?????

So what do we have to do to get MENZIES OUT!?!!

Teddy said...

We can quote you? You're an anonymous blogger dude. It doesn't take much to write something when your name isn't behind it.

Anonymous said...

Britt has been a walk-on for his career at NMSU. He only got garbage mins until this season.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I disagree... This team was prepared by Coach Menzies and his staff to win the UTEP game. Last night, they (Jahmar and the others) ran the offensive and defensive systems that Menzies set forth...not Durham's. Furthermore, who do you think recruited "most" of the kids on this roster (good or bad, McKines and Gillenwater included)...that is right Marvin Menzies. A lot of these kids chose to play here because of Marvin Menzies. If you are asking for him to leave? Well, expect half the roster to transfer too once he is gone.

Rick

Anonymous said...

Any word on the two forwards who didn't make grades? It'd be nice to walk into UCLA with them suited up and ready to go.

PJ

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:25

Get a clue....

Teddy, something that I left the game impressed with was Tyrone. He scored nine points and did a good job on defense. Definetely felt like he has been better than Sy or Lumpkins who didnt play at all. He provided a stronger body to compete with the bigs of UTEP and we needed that.

One game cant tell us that Menzies needs to go and that Durham should be the next head coach. But...if Menzies is gone after this or next season, I think Durham would be a good candidate. I liked how he took control of the game and stopped being the quite little man on the bench. He really seemed to enjoy being able to coach the team and was right in saying in the interview that they still played Menzies game. Plain and simple we won with him. No doubt about it.

On a sad note, goodbye Wen and Troy.

GS

Teddy said...

GS

I thought Watson played his role. He didn't force anything and was tough. He's a thick kid.

He scored the team's first seven points of the night. Only three rebounds? It felt like he had more.

He made some passes in the interior that led to buckets. He filled a needed role out there for the team.

Anonymous said...

Big Wen and Gillewater have dissapointed their teamates, univesity, the fans, and their families once again.

I wish I could feel sorry for them but, they had a second chance at getting there grades up and failed miserably.

I have been very vocal about having scholarships pulled for academic casualties.
NMSU has no choice but to pull there scholarships now and look for players that hit the books.

Give them a ride to the greyhound station and lets roll without them! Go Aggies!

Jefe

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:56. NMSU can't afford to release Troy, and Wendell right now. OUR APR would take a huge hit, and I wouldn't be surprised if they took 3 or 4 scholarships away from us for doing that. We need to do whatever we can to get these two guys eligible by the end of the spring.

Roxy said...

Question regarding Gordo Castillo, looking for feedback! I have been to question Gordos amount of playing time and value to the team. For example the last game vs. Nevada he played a total of 14 minutes and did not contribute any valuable points, rebounds, or steals! This is not new... he continues to get playing time but doesn't contribute anything (as far as I can see). Why does he still get so much playing time after such poor efforts on the court? I'm confused please assist me with this question!!! I believe that others on the bench could do a much better job!