Thursday, February 28, 2013

PODCAST: Discussing the Aggies big win over UTEP, and other NMSU sports

We sit down with to talk about NMSU's big win over the rival Miners in men's basketball, as well as other Aggie sports. Click here to listen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

VIDEO: Teddy and Brook Show (2/27)

The sports duo recaps Aggies vs. UTEP, and looks ahead to the remainder of the college and high school basketball seasons:

Monday, February 25, 2013

After some standout performances, what will become of Aggies lineup going forward?

(Kevin Aronis celebrates with teammates following NMSU's 55-51 win over UTEP/Photo by Gary Mook)

New Mexico State beat UTEP 55-51 Saturday night for three reasons: Kevin Aronis, the home crowd, and not folding when falling behind by nine points with seven minutes remaining in the contest. Such a comeback was also aided by a strategic move — switching to a zone defense late that helped contribute to the win.

And yes, Aronis was a key player in the comeback, inserted for Bandja Sy and responding with big buckets as well as being part of the team's solid defensive effort.

He hit two 3-pointers in the game's final 4 1/2 minutes — one to answer a UTEP 3-ball late, and keep the Aggies within striking distance — and the go-ahead 2-point jump shot to put NMSU ahead 52-51 with 1:12 remaining in the contest.

Aronis' role has been a curious one throughout the year. His performance the other night brought back memories of a similar game against another regional rival — an early-season contest against New Mexico when, despite having the hot hand, he was replaced late in the action and didn't return until it was too late. If he remained on the floor against the Lobos, the Aggies could have possibly grabbed that win as well. On Saturday, NMSU kept him on the court and rode his shooting stroke to victory.

In other contests, his minutes have been sporadic. In part that's because he plays behind Daniel Mullings, a player who needs to be on the floor and seldom comes out during the course of games. It's also worth noting we do not see NMSU practices (they're closed to the public and media members) making it tough to entirely judge his performance at all times that are Aggie basketball. But we also know, when on the court during game situations, Aronis has looked good often this year on both ends of the floor.

Surely one would hope he's earned the right for an expanded role, although with the soon-to-be return of Tyrone Watson into the playing rotation, a log-jam could ensue. That goes not just for Aronis' position, but also junior power forward Renaldo Dixon, who's been a standout in Watson's absence (we can't seem to recall Dixon playing a poor game over the past month). He's a shot-blocking machine — his 37 rank second on the team, despite ranking seventh on the Aggies in overall minutes played this year (Dixon's played in 502 minutes total. By comparison, Sy ranks third on the Aggies in blocks with 18, while playing a team-high 981 minutes on the year).

Granted, Sy, another senior, has been a tough player to gauge — one who's been solid defensively and rebounding, although just as inconsistent in his offensive game. Will Aronis now go back to his customary spot duty off the bench, while Dixon simply backs up the power forward and center positions if/when Watson's reinserted into the lineup?

Perhaps the Aggies will elect to go with the experienced players. But experience is just that — it doesn't necessarily mean they're better players. That's not saying such seniors shouldn't have roles on the team, because each provide value. It's just that Dixon should be in consideration to retain his starting job, while Aronis has proven during his limited time that he is in fact an asset to the group, and his minutes could go up as well. In short, they've produced when called upon, and are worthy of such recognition.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, February 24, 2013

VIDEOS: Coaches, players react following NMSU's rivalry win over UTEP

Marvin Menzies, Tim Floyd and Aggie players break down Saturday's victory over Miners:

Friday, February 22, 2013

The telling numbers on Bandja Sy

Looking back on last weekend’s 73-69 loss at Utah State, two key members of the Aggie men’s basketball team had poor shooting nights: Shooting guard Daniel Mullings (4 of 14 shooting performance) and Bandja Sy (4 of 13 from the field). If both — or either one for that matter — perform better, the Aggies likely win.

Which triggers another question: How many times has Sy’s performance been directly linked to the Aggies fortunes. It’s worth pointing out: He’s been a consistently good defender and rebounder for the team all season (he leads the Aggies with 7.3 rebounds per game). He’s also good for at least one highlight-reel dunk per game.

Other than that, however, it’s tough predicting what’s coming offensively, on a night-to-night basis, from the senior forward. When breaking down the basic numbers, on a game-by-game sample size, there might not be more telling statistics for the Aggies: In 18 wins this year, Sy is shooting 49 percent from the floor (94 of 191); in the team’s nine losses, he’s shooting at a 25 percent clip (21 of 82). In game’s Sy’s scored in double figures, the Aggies hold a 13-4 record.

Below is a list of his shooting performances, in wins and losses, this season:

2 of 9 (22 percent)
5 of 12 (41 percent)
6 of 8 (75 percent)
3 of 7 (42 percent)
4 of 13 (30 percent)
1 of 5 (20 percent)
9 of 12 (75 percent)
6 of 11 (54 percent)
8 of 18 (44 percent)
6 of 10 (60 percent)
7 of 9 (77 percent)
6 of 12 (50 percent)
4 of 10 (40 percent)
9 of 11 (81 percent)
8 of 12 (66 percent)
4 of 11 (36 percent)
3 of 9 (33 percent)
3 of 12 (25 percent)

4 of 12 (30 percent)
1 of 5 (20 percent)
3 of 9 (33 percent)
1 of 6 (16 percent)
2 of 14 (21 percent)
2 of 9 (22 percent)
1 of 6 (16 percent)
3 of 7 (42 percent)
4 of 13 (30 percent)

It’s certainly worth noting Sy’s percentages have gone up during conference play (and not surprisingly, in the thick of NMSU’s 12-game win streak). Sy shot 30 percent from the floor in 12 pre-conference games (34 of 110), while he’s picked it up to 49 percent shooting during the Aggies 15 WAC games thus far (81 of 163).

Some of that could be attributed to different shot selection. In those 12 pre-conference games, Sy took 3.9 3-point attempts per game, making 17 percent from long range (8 of 47). Once the conference season hit though (again, 15 WAC games thus far) Sy has attempted 1.8 3-pointers per contest, making 32 percent (9 of 28).

In other words, he’s attempting more midrange and interior shots.

And there’s no denying this: When the Aggies can count on Sy as a go-to player, their chances of winning increase. Statistically speaking, a key barometer for the team.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, February 21, 2013

VIDEO: Teddy and Brook Show (2/21)

LCSN duo talks Aggies vs. UTEP men's basketball, high school hoops:

PODCAST: Advancing Aggies vs. UTEP men's basketball

We sit down with to preview Aggies vs. UTEP men's basketball, as well as other Aggie sports this weekend. Click here to listen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Aggie men’s hoops: A look back, and ahead

When observing the New Mexico State's men’s basketball team this past weekend at Utah State, this realization came to mind: The Aggies should be a good team, once again, next year.

Of course the team will lose some pieces: Athletically, Bandja Sy will be a tough player to replace on the defensive end of the floor, but remains largely inconsistent offensively. And, Tyrone Watson, who hasn’t played in recent weeks, is athletic as well and a leader in his own way for the program.

But lets look at who is coming back: 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar will return as a sophomore, and he figures to continue getting better (which is exciting to think about); shooting guard Daniel Mullings returns as a junior, and we already know he plays both ends of the floor at a high level; point guards Terrel de Rouen and K.C. Ross-Miller will be back (and the team could add some help at this position), while Remi Barry has looked much better in recent weeks (with an increase in minutes, and confidence). Of course, there’s Renaldo Dixon, who’s proved himself as a starting front-court player.

In this respect, it might make the last Saurday’s 73-69 loss at Utah State easier to handle. The Aggies are young, and should get better going forward. That, and they got the better end of the men’s basketball rivalry with the UtAgs in 2012-13, at least during the WAC regular season. NMSU hammered Utah State in Las Cruces (64-51) and narrowly lost in Logan, which has forever been a tough place to win. Also figure how important this game was for Utah State — the UtAgs needed a win over NMSU on their home floor. In terms of the WAC Tournament if these two teams happened to meet? Who knows, but it will likely be fun if that comes to fruition.

It’s a great mid-major college basketball rivalry, and one that unfortunately won’t continue much longer. Not with Utah State heading to the Mountain West, and USU head coach Stew Morril proclaiming he wouldn’t want to come back to Las Cruces for the forseeable future. That’s a shame.

Looking ahead to the immediate future for the Aggies, UTEP comes to town this weekend, in what’s an intriguing game. For starters, it’s a contest the Aggies figure to be favorites. They didn’t play particularly well in El Paso and lost 55-54 in a game they really should have won. They’ve gotten better as the season’s gone on and key players — Bhullar, de Rouen, Dixon and Barry — have all become greater and key contributors over the past month of the year.

While the game has no postseason implications for either team, it would be nice for the Aggies to beat someone outside of the weakened WAC. That, and the team is 0-3 against its regional rivals this year (Marvin Menzies is now 4-18 all time against UTEP and New Mexico). There will be a good crowd on hand. All of the above factors make the game an important one for the Aggies.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aggies sought Sun Belt berth, and could be back for more

The New Mexico State Aggies were in communication with Georgia Southern about possible joint membership into the Sun Belt Conference.

Such exploration has since fallen through, however, according to NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston.

Still, don't believe the Aggies interest or pursuit of Sun Belt affiliation is over. Obviously NMSU needs a conference for football (even if the 2013 independent football schedule is actually pretty awesome. It's not something the program can or wants to do for a long period).

The Aggies would likely in fact prefer a full-sport affiliation with a league, although don't necessarily count on that. NMSU isn't exactly approaching the table with a major bargaining chip in hand. Some pros of adding the Aggies: They've been competitive in Olympic sports, academically they're in good standing, and they're currently a FBS member. But reality also suggests NMSU needs conference affiliation at the moment more than a conference needs NMSU. Again, football needs a home and has been historically poor, while the WAC has added members, but remains largely unattractive.

The Sun Belt, which has been steadfast in wanting to remain within it's geographic boundary, would still be doing the Aggies a service by taking them as a football-only member — particularly if the league seeks a 12-team, two-division football format — while leaving NMSU's non-football sports in the WAC. Nothing is etched in stone, obviously, just making interpretations, inferences and possibilities.

For the record, the WAC has solidified it's standing in it's non-football sport memberships by adding in recent months: Chicago State, Texas Pan American, Utah Valley, California State Bakersfield, Missouri-Kansas City and Grand Canyon. Northern Colorado and North Dakota have been brought in as baseball affiliates.

It's not a question at the moment of it being a quality league, because it really isn't. But it is a league where automatic-qualifying berths for non-football sports are still available, meaning NMSU's Olympic-sport programs have lifelines in that regard. It's football program, on the other hand, is still looking for one.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

VIDEO: Teddy and Brook Show (2/13)

Las Cruces Sun-News sports duo talks high school and college basketball, as well as Aggie baseball team beginning its season this weekend:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Aggie roster shuffle has had its benefits as well

(More minutes has allowed Sim Bhullar to establish his role in the Aggie frontcourt, and his game to grow as well/Sun-News photo by Robin Zielinski)

Through injuries, a suspension, and a .500 pre-conference basketball record, the New Mexico State Aggies may actually be improved today because of the above-mentioned factors.

Particularly the personnel issues. At the very least, such changes have resulted in a wash, as the team rides an 11-game win streak into this week's road trip at San Jose State and Utah State.

Some of this was on display during the Aggies 60-57 win over Seattle on Saturday night.

For starters, point guard Terrel de Rouen was the best player on the floor during the game's second half.

With the Aggies halfcourt offense struggling to generate buckets, he hit a big 3-pointer to give the team a 42-39 lead, then later found Bandja Sy for another triple. On the subsequent Seattle possession, de Rouen was in the middle of a forced turnover, getting NMSU the ball back.

Two more defensive plays stood out, both coming on consecutive Seattle possessions, when de Rouen dove on the floor in the middle of loose-ball scrums, gaining control both times before calling timeout — back-to-back hustle plays from the sophomore out of OƱate High School.

He also helped keep the Redhawks at bay by draining two free throws with just over a minute remaining.

While de Rouen is still growing into point guard position, he also brings energy and ball movement to the team.

“He's just got that stuff. He's a guy, I can jump into his grill and he'll respond,” NMSU head coach Marvin Menzies said. “He constantly wants to give me an explanation, but it's OK. He's learning. He's a little stubborn. But that's why I like him. He's got that toughness to him. …. Someone once said, ‘luck is being prepared for opportunity.’ You can call him lucky right now if you want, but he definitely was prepared for the opportunity.”

Other players have emerged as valuable components during the Aggies' streak: Front-court standouts Renaldo Dixon (forward) and Sim Bhullar (center) have further established their roles, as has, to a lesser degree, reserve Remi Barry.

Dixon received more minutes when Tshilidzi Nephawe went down with a hand injury and has since stepped into the starting lineup with the suspension of senior Tyrone Watson. His first two years at NMSU, Dixon showed promise when given opportunities at playing time, and this season he's proven to be a tough player to gameplan against — a good defender and shot blocker, who's shooting over 75 percent from the free-throw line.

As for Bhullar, his progress has been obvious: An increase in minutes, a better and smoother offensive player who's been a difference maker on defense as a 7-foot-5 lane clogger and shot blocker.

And this has now become the Aggies identity — a team that's morphed from an up-and-down scoring outfit that was inconsistent defensively and in rebounding during Menzies' initial years at the school, to one that's now turned into a defensive-oriented bunch the past two seasons. With a lineup of de Rouen, Daniel Mullings, Bandja Sy and Dixon, the Aggies have incredible range on the court, while Bhullar makes things increasingly difficult for opposing teams at and around the hoop. It also seems, perhaps, their substitution patterns are based primarily around a player's defensive abilities, first and foremost.

Alas, it wouldn't kill the Aggies for at least a few reinforcements to return. Don't count on that being Nephawe (because a medical redshirt simply makes most sense at this point) or Watson (as his ongoing legal investigation stemming from an alleged battery incident remains up in the air).

Ross-Miller will be back soon, however, and his presence can aid the team in two ways: For one, he can help share point guard duties with de Rouen (perhaps in a backup role); secondly, it will give the Aggies an eight-man rotation as opposed to seven, which will make life a bit easier.

At the moment, players are logging major minutes — Mullings and Sy, for instance, rarely if ever came out of the action this past weekend in wins over Idaho and Seattle. Other reserves such as Eric Weary, Matej Buovac and B.J. West take the court hardly, if at all.

There are different reasons for the team's improved play of late: A solidified rotation, a weak WAC, what appears to be a group that plays well together with good chemistry. We also know, when given further chances, some key pieces to the roster have stepped to the forefront.

Eleven-straight wins is 11-straight wins. It can't be discounted.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, February 8, 2013

Brandon’s hire, and what it means for Aggie football

(Gregg Brandon was announced as Aggie offensive coordinator on Friday morning/Courtesy photo)

I broke down what Gregg Brandon’s hire as New Mexico State’s offensive coordinator means for Aggie football in my Friday Sun-News story. To catch up on it, click here.

Alas, we can talk about it on the Cruces Sports Blog as well. I would fully anticipate the Aggies implementing an offense that takes advantage of a multi-faceted quarterback. I believe Doug Martin saw the following at NMSU as offensive coordinator in 2011: At this point in time, the Aggies aren’t going to have a dominant offensive line. The year Martin was here, the line was adequate, which for NMSU meant it was actually above average.

And the truth was — as stated plenty before — his offense worked much better when the mobile Matt Christian was brought in for the injured Andrew Manley. Kenny Turner went into the backfield, the Aggies were able to manufacture a ground game, and presto: Defensive coordinators suddenly had to account for the entire field of play.

What does this mean for the NMSU quarterback position in 2013? One would think, unless Andrew Manley has an outstanding spring and fall camp, he’ll have an uphill battle claiming the starting job. He can throw the football as your classic drop-back, pocket passer. But even he struggled last year when the Aggies implemented an offense built around his skill set, as the team couldn't protect him. Again, at this point, NMSU wants a dual-threat guy that can get out of the pocket and compensate for the team's lack of protection.

I felt for Andrew McDonald last year as a junior college transfer, and thought he should have gotten a chance under center when it was clear the offense stalled to a grinding halt. He could be close and has some mobility (more similar to Christian, as the two QBs came from the same junior college league) although I’m not sure his foot speed is exactly what the staff is looking for at the moment, either.

Clearly we shouldn’t discount Travaughn Colwell, a player who — despite being misused in the offense a season ago — showed improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons. He’s an athlete and could get a look here.

King Davis is a freshman that Martin mentioned will have a shot as well.

And the coaching staff is also going to bring in another quarterback that Martin said, “can really move, run and give us the options to move around and do different things.” Obviously a key development going forward for this team.

But lets break it down to what we should expect the offense to look like going forward: Looking at the Aggie signing class (where the team signed four wide receivers, none weighing more than 175 pounds) indicates NMSU will spread the field with four and five receiver packages, implement a short-drop passing attack and utilize bootlegs for a mobile QB. That, and a spread-option offense with perhaps an extra blocker coming out of the backfield to try and get their ground attack going.


When considering Brandon’s hire, and the official confirmation that David Elson will return as defensive coordinator, now the pieces for the 2013 signing class begin to come together more clearly.

Offensively, we mentioned the wide receivers. Defensively, lets look at four linebackers signed, which points directly to Elson’s preference to run a 3-4 base defense. That, and the team didn’t recruit a single player in their class of 22 signees that’s listed as a defensive tackle. Expect the team to try and utilize a number of ’backers throughout the course of games during the upcoming season.

Undersized, fast and quick can typically work on offense and can be problematic on defense (think back to the Hal Mumme days at NMSU). So that’s worth monitoring for certain.

It should also be pointed out the Aggie defensive line looks to have three players with BCS backgrounds on the roster: 2013 recruit Kalei Auelua (University of Washington transfer); 2013 recruit Willie Mobley (fifth-year senior who comes on board from the University of Arizona); And 2012 transfer Matt Ramondo (who sat out last year after coming on board from Michigan State).


Can’t deny it: The Aggies signed just two offensive lineman and I’d like to see them add some more.

The team used 22 of their allotted 25 scholarships this offseason, and Martin said the team is hoping to corral a couple more guys up front going forward. They could need 'em.


A couple recruits to keep an eye on coming out of signing day:

Heard some members of the coaching staff talking about wide receiver Gregory Hogan, a true freshman out of Summer Creek High School in Houston. He might bring some juice to the unit.

One guy that’s caught my eye: Running back Marquette Washington out of Fontana, Calif. (Kaiser High School).

Germi Morrison was actually a bright spot for the Aggies last year (159 carries, 803 yards, 4.8 YPC, two TDs; 13 catches, 94 yards). Yet he's a grinder, a pounder between the tackles, and the Aggies were looking to add depth and perhaps more of a big-play element out of the backfield to complement Morrison.

As a senior at Kaiser, the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Washington rushed for 1,850 yards on 245 carries (over seven yards per attempt) and 19 touchdowns. Those are numbers that simply can’t be glossed over when looking at the incoming class.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Aggies to hire Brandon as offensive coordinator

New Mexico State football is expected to announce today the hiring of Gregg Brandon as offensive coordinator.

Brandon was previously the OC at the University of Wyoming for two years and was head coach at Bowling Green from 2003-08.

Log on later for further updates and analysis on Brandon's hire.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

VIDEO: Teddy and Brook Show (2/7)

Sports duo talks Aggie football independent schedule, NMSU hoops hot streak:

PODCAST: Recapping the week that was Aggie football and NMSU hoops' hot play

In our weekly podcast with, we talk Aggie football's signing class and 2013 schedule. Also discussed is Aggie men's basketball, which saw it's win streak hit 10 on Thursday night. Click here to listen.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

At a glance: Aggies unveil 2013 football schedule

The New Mexico State 2013 football schedule is unique: An independent docket, chock-full with challenging competition, and a home lineup that features two BCS-level teams (Minnesota and Boston College) a high-quality Mountain West program (San Diego State) and, of course, an annual rivalry game (UTEP). For the fan, an attractive slate of home games.

It will be far from easy. With that, a lot will be determined by how much improvement NMSU can make from a season ago, and perhaps the Aggies can be competitive in more games and win a handful as well.

A look at the 2013 schedule, and how NMSU will stack up with its competition:

Week 1
Date: Aug. 31
Game: at Texas
Breakdown: Not much to say regarding this one. The Aggies travel to Austin to take on the Longhorns, a powerhouse program from the Big 12 conference. Texas went 9-4 last year, beating Oregon State 31-27 in the Alamo Bowl. One of two big-money games the Aggies will play during 2013.

Week 2
Date: Sept. 7
Game: vs. Minnesota
Breakdown: The Aggies captured one of their biggest wins in recent history against Minnesota — a 28-21 victory in Minneapolis during the 2011 season. The Gophers were better last year, finishing with a 6-7 overall record and an appearance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl (where they lost 34-31 to Texas Tech). NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston is a Minnesota graduate (he played football at the school from 1964-68) and was Gopher AD from 1991-94. In other words, there’s a connection here as the BCS-level program visits Las Cruces.

Week 3
Date: Sept. 14
Game: vs. UTEP
Breakdown: Despite dropping their last four games to UTEP, the Aggies could have a chance in this one. The Miners will be breaking in a first-year head coach of their own — that being Sean Kugler — and will make the trip 45 miles north to Las Cruces for the 2013 I-10 rivalry game. A lot of this contest could depend on how Kugler and Aggie head coach Doug Martin put things together early in the season at their respective programs.

Week 4
Date: Sept. 21
Game: at UCLA
Breakdown: See the Texas game for similar details. The Aggies second big-money game will come in Los Angeles against the improving Bruins. Hailing from the Pacific 12 Conference, UCLA went 9-5 a season ago (6-3 in league play) under first-year head coach Jim Mora Jr.

Week 5
Date: Sept. 28
Game: vs. San Diego State
Breakdown: The Aztecs are a quality program, and will come to Las Cruces led by former New Mexico head coach Rocky Long. Similar to other Aggie opponents in 2013, San Diego State, of the Mountain West Conference, went to a bowl game last. A tough one for the home team.

Week 6
Date: Oct. 5
Game: at New Mexico
Breakdown: It won’t be surprising to see the Lobos continue their improvement under second-year head coach Bob Davie. Last year, UNM snapped a three-game losing streak to the Aggies with a 27-14 win in Las Cruces. This season, in Albuquerque, won’t be an easy affair.

Week 7

Week 8
Date: Oct. 19
Game: vs. Rice
Breakdown: Again, a pretty tough one for the Aggies. The Owls were better last season, finishing with a 7-6 overall record (4-4 in Conference USA). Still, with the game at Aggie Memorial Stadium, perhaps NMSU will have a shot.

Week 9
Date: Oct. 26
Game: vs. Abilene Christian
Breakdown: A Division II program making the transition to the Southland Conference of the FCS, Abilene Christian has some history behind its program, putting out some pretty good teams on the field over the years and moving quite a few players to the NFL. While on paper it looks like an Aggie win, the Wildcats might not be pushovers once they come to town.

Week 10
Date: Nov. 2
Game: at Louisiana
Breakdown: For those who haven’t paid attention, the Sun Belt has stepped its football game up in recent years, and Louisiana (Lafayette) is one program as an example. The Ragin Cajuns finished 9-4 last year, 6-2 in conference, a year that included a narrow loss to No. 6-ranked Florida and a 43-34 win over East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl.

Week 11
Date: Nov. 9
Game: vs. Boston College
Breakdown: Tough game to judge here. Last year Boston College was a real disappointment, a program out of the Atlantic Coast Conference that finished with a 2-10 overall record. Certainly the Eagles talent will be formidable for the Aggies, coming out of a power conference and straight into Las Cruces for this early-November affair.

Week 12

Week 13
Date: Nov. 23
Game: at Florida Atlantic
Breakdown: A possible win could be in the offering here. Yes, the game will be played in Boca Raton, but Florida Atlantic is coming off a 3-9 overall season. Surely one the Aggies can shoot for.

Week 14
Date: Nov. 30
Game: vs. Idaho
Breakdown: Again, a possible win when prognosticating. The Aggies lost at Idaho last year 26-18, but the Vandals were equally as poor, and are in a similar predicament as NMSU: A team that finished the year 1-11, and now faces an independent schedule in 2013. This year’s contest takes place in southern New Mexico.

National Signing Day: Links

More reaction from National Signing Day on the blog to come shortly, but for now, a look at some local links to get fans and readers up to date on the local signing-day scene:

New Mexico State signs 22 athletes to football scholarships: Click here
For a complete list of Aggie football signess: Click here
For a look/analysis of NMSU's 2013 independent football schedule: Click here
Aggie soccer announces its 2013 signing class: Click here

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Aggie baseball picked third in WAC preseason poll

The New Mexico State baseball team was selected third in the 2013 Western Athletic Conference preseason coaches polls, released Tuesday.

The Aggies, who won a share of last year’s WAC regular-season championship and were awarded an NCAA Tournament at-large berth, were picked behind No. 1 Dallas Baptist and No. 2 Texas State. Sacramento State (a WAC co-champion from a season ago) was picked fourth, followed by California State University Bakersfield, Texas Arlington, Louisiana Tech, Texas-San Antonio, San Jose State and Seattle University.

Dallas Baptist is a first-year WAC program — an affiliate member in baseball — although Aggie head coach Rocky Ward said they’re a strong club, evidenced by their preseason ranking.

“I worked very hard to get them included in the league,” Ward said. “They’re a very good baseball team that carries a very high RPI. That’s important to the strength of the league and getting more than one team into the tournament.”

While Dallas Baptist played as an independent program the past nine years — the Patriots made three NCAA Tournament trips during that time and finished last year with a 41-19 overall record — Texas State is also a first-year WAC program, coming from the Southland Conference.

“They must have a pretty good returning club,” Ward said of Texas State. “It surprised me a little bit. Kind of expected it to be Dallas Baptist, New Mexico State, and whoever. It doesn’t really matter a whole lot.”

NMSU finished last year with a 35-24 record, but dropped two-straight games in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. The Aggies’ RPI of 25 and their win-loss record helped propel them to the NCAA Tourney.

Last year, NMSU was powered by a strong pre-conference schedule, one that included Baylor (No. 4 national ranking), Arizona (2012 NCAA Champion), Rice (Regional host), Sacred Heart (2012 NCAA Tournament participant), Kent State (2012 NCAA Tournament participant) and New Mexico (2012 NCAA Tournament participant).

The Aggies take the field this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the annual Alumni Game at Presley Askew Field. They’ll play their season opener on Feb. 15, when they begin a four-game home series against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Martin says Aggies have pieces. But do they?

(For the past week, Doug Martin has talked about his vision for Aggie football going forward/Courtesy photo)

When introduced as New Mexico State interim football coach last week, Doug Martin said pieces were in place for the Aggies to be successful fairly quickly.

He reaffirmed some of those beliefs upon being named full-time head coach Friday.

Such commentary was somewhat surprising, considering: It flies in the face of what some predecessors have said regarding the head coaching job at NMSU; and Martin worked at the program in 2011, and saw the inner workings of Aggie football. He knows what he’s stepping into as head coach, and is far from an outsider coming into foreign territory.

Does he really believe winning is possible, sooner rather than later, in Aggieland?

For starters, Martin is experienced, and his previous stomping grounds as a head coach, Kent State University, could have very well had less than NMSU has today (Martin coached the Golden Flashes from 2004-2010). Perhaps he’s simply found a comfort zone coaching a mid-major program trying to build from close to the ground floor. Don’t judge his 29-53 career record at Kent solely as a black and white figure, simply because career coaching records can be misleading.

Also, from a talent standpoint, he could very well be correct. DeWayne Walker, NMSU’s previous head coach the past four years, recruited good enough talent to the program, and there are some personnel pieces coming back to the fold. If Martin’s talking about player potential, he may not be far off.

But lets also say this: Martin’s somewhat obligated to speak positively about the position he’s stepping into.

The new head coach must build support locally, and try to cultivate some level of excitement after many down years during the program’s history. Aggie football certainly doesn’t need anymore negativity at the moment.

Truthfully, the program needs an upbeat and positive approach, at least going into the immediate future. The fans, in general, need hope. Martin spoke of making it a community program, and perhaps he can find a way to attract a local player or two from Las Cruces and/or El Paso to the Aggie roster as he establishes a recruiting base in the years to come. On the surface, and at least initially, it sounds OK.

A couple more takeways

For starters, it sounds like Martin would prefer a mobile quarterback under center.

While he said a quarterback with a strong arm — such as Andrew Manley — provides benefits, he added that a dual-threat quarterback can open up the entire field.

“Spread,” he said when asked what system he’d prefer to install. “Having a quarterback that can run is a valuable thing.”

Martin indicated he's looking to bring in a high-quality candidate to fill the offensive coordinator role. Somewhat surprising, although it's his coaching staff, and he's entitled to structure it how he sees fit.

Also, last year’s defensive coordinator David Elson could get a chance again at NMSU in the same position. He will certainly be a candidate for the job in 2013.

Martin indicated that Elson had to adhere to Walker’s defensive gameplan last year, and would prefer to run a 3-4 front of his own.

One thing we all know as followers of Aggie football: Quality assistant coaching is of of critical importance, and it ultimately starts at those coordinator positions. As a matter of fact, such personnel can make or break a team.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Stories recapping the Doug Martin hire at NMSU

Through links, we take a look back at New Mexico State's official announcement of Doug Martin as head coach.

Martin becomes the 34th head coach in NMSU history, when the school officially announced his promotion on Friday. It was long anticipated Martin would get the call, simply because he seemed to be the right fit at the right time. He also received support from a number of followers and backers of the Aggies.

Martin now comes to NMSU with a positive attitude, and hopes the community and program can link arms to help build a football team. His first order of business will be solidifying the current recruiting class, hiring assistants and determining how his personnel will come together for the 2013 season.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, February 1, 2013

Aggies officially name Martin head football coach

The New Mexico State officially made Doug Martin its head football coach, removing the interim label from his title.

"Obviously with the resignation of Coach DeWayne Walker, we then engaged in a search process for a new head coach, interviewing four candidates including Doug Martin over the last few days. After that process the committee and I felt strongly that Doug would fit well as the Aggies' next head coach," said NMSU Athletics Director Boston in a school press release. "Doug's familiarity with Las Cruces, his desire to come back to Las Cruces, the overwhelming support of him as a candidate were all factors that went into the thought process. I'm very confident that Doug will provide great leadership in our effort to build a quality program as one that is defined as consistently bowl eligible. I look forward to working very closely with Doug to build a quality football program that we know everyone in Southern New Mexico, alumni across the state and the country would like to see. No one wants to see this program succeed anymore than I do."

Martin is the former head coach at Kent State University from 2004-10 and served as Aggie offensive coordinator in 2011.

Aggies likely to announce Doug Martin as permanent football head coach today

The New Mexico State Aggies will likely announce later today that Doug Martin will be the school's permanent head football coach.

NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston wouldn't confirm Martin would be officially named, but did say a press release will be sent today regarding Aggie football.

Martin is the former head coach at Kent State University from 2004-10 and served as Aggie offensive coordinator in 2011.

Last night, multiple NMSU officials indicated an announcement wouldn't come until early next week, although things shifted Friday morning.

Keep up with the Cruces Sports Blog for continued updates.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg