Thursday, March 21, 2013

Aggies postseason road comes to an abrupt end with loss to Saint Louis

(The Aggie bench looks on during Thursday's NCAA Tournament defeat to the Billikens/Associated Press photo)

How does one describe New Mexico State's 64-44 loss to Saint Louis in the NCAA Tournament Thursday? Well, incredibly disappointing would be one way.

The Aggies didn't show up, and were outplayed and outmatched on the day. Granted, No. 4-seeded Saint Louis is a good team. But the Aggies were also exposed for what they were: A mediocre one from a bad Western Athletic Conference.

Check that, because the Aggie defense wasn't terrible. Saint Louis, after all, was held to 64 points on the day. And it could have been worse.

But it was the NMSU offense that just looked inadequate. The team had nine first-half turnovers and just 16 points total at intermission. All season the Aggies' halfcourt offense has been poor schematically — one man dribbling, another setting a screen and three others standing around. An offense without a true, quality point guard, and based off dribbling, not movement away from the ball and ball movement itself. And, while such a system may have worked against the Seattle's and Texas-Arlington's of the world, it didn't work Thursday.

The issue against Saint Louis was NMSU needed quality possessions and, in turn, as many good shot attempts as possible. But with nine turnovers in the first half, it takes away any chance a team has on either front.

The Aggies trailed 29-16 at halftime, but got within single digits, 37-28, early in the second half. Saint Louis called timeout, and what was likely said? Well, NMSU got back into the contest by forcing turnovers, and Saint Louis must have also known if they protect the basketball on its end, the Aggies wouldn't be able to sustain their scoring success. After a Remi Barry 3-pointer shortly thereafter, to cut the deficit to six, a 22-8 Saint Louis run followed over the next seven minutes, as the Billikens took a 59-39 lead.

Going to the tournament is a good accomplishment, and the Aggies should go back again next season, with the WAC getting increasingly worse by the year. It can't hurt in exposure, or recruiting, or from an experience standpoint. Again, at least for one week, it provided an emotional lift locally. But it was also apparent on Thursday, the Aggies weren't ready for such a stage.

This is the next step for the program — winning once they get there. NMSU's best postseason performance under head coach Marvin Menzies came when they nearly upset Michigan State in 2010 — a Michigan State team that eventually wound up in the Final Four that season. In many ways, even in a loss, that was one of the program's finest, and most surprising games in recent memory. But last year they were handled by Indiana, and this year the Billikens beat them thoroughly.

Can the Aggies take it to the next level? Again, one would think they'll be back in 2014. At the very least, playing adequately would be a good place to start.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

Teddy's right, the WAC is bad & NMSU should be back to the Big Dance a year from now.

I had a feeling that NMSU was not going to win but, the performance was HORRIFIC!!


Anonymous said...

menzie should get paid 8000 for every game he wins. Think about it then we would see some good coaching.

Anonymous said...

Those 13, 14, 15 seeds have killed NMSU the past few years.

Menzies needs to do a better job of getting the team playing better from start to finish.
Does anyone else feel these frigid cold starts to start the season hurt NMSU's seeding?

He also needs to schedule a few better teams. Grand Canyon St. TX Pan, etc. aren't gonna help

Anonymous said...

Teddy is right, the only time NMSU competed in the tourney under MM was in 2010 against Michigan State. Anyone recall who led that team? Reggie Theus recruits Jonathan Gibson and Jahmar Young. The other MM-led teams that made the tourney were comprised entirely of MM recruits, and we were embarrassingly uncompetitive. As the WAC gets weaker, NMSU won't be challenged unless they schedule much tougher non-conference games. Boston won't do that, as he wants MM to pile up wins. My opinion for years has been that all us NMSU hoops fans are screwed as long as MM and Boston are at the helm. No reason to change that opinion now.
-Aggie Glare

Anonymous said...

If we want to make the dance as better than a 12 or 13 seed, we need to ramp up the preseason schedule AND win the WAC regular season championship.

With Sim being a pretty good passer, perhaps we could develop the "back door cut" offense that Denver employs.

Anonymous said...

Two glaring weaknesses all season long showed up. No point guard. No oustide shooters to open things up. The shooters appear to be on the roster. The point guards do not.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the slow starts early in the season hurt NMSU's seeding in the NCAA tournament.

The WAC is weak and NMSU should be in the big dance once again.
That said, the predictable & painfull slow start under MM have to go!
They also need to beat both their rivals or split at the very least and schedule bteer teams.
The directional NM schools don't help the RPI!

If they do that a 10 seed is doable a year from now.

Anonymous said...

Folks everyone knew that this was going to be a one and done affair even Obama on his bracket picks.

Frustrated AGAIN! said...

Southern could have beaten the Aggies. On the other hand, at least the Aggies didn't wear their ugly crimson away uniforms.

joe said...

come on jh weres your cheering for aggies now.

Anonymous said...

This must the first time you've used your "name" because I don't remember EVER seeing you blog in here before. It's "where's" your cheering not "weres". Good English.
For your information I was cheering for the Aggies Thursday, but quickly realized that our team wasn't ready, badly coached, etc. So Joe what insight are you going to bring to this blog? Nothing....thought so. I didn't say we'd win that game. I only said we had a chance if we played like we did against La Tech at home. Our nemesis from all year showed up (turnovers and poor FT) along with a few other issues. As I mentioned all year folks, the Aggies didn't have a "go to" guy. Sy and Mullings were inconsistent all year. Sim did well, but if our guards don't get him the ball he's usless. There must be a leader and I didn't see one on the court all year long.
So Joe, I'm still going to cheer for the Aggies, like usual.


Anonymous said...

This is as good as it will ever get with Marvin Menzies as coach. If you are content with winning a weak conference and making the tournament as a 13 or 14 seed, then getting beaten soundly, this is your guy.

There is a reason he downplays the early non-conference schedule, especially the four most important rivalry games. In fact, he has stated that he wouldn't mind reducing those games or cancelling them all together. He knows they will never compete at that level.

Instead, he focuses on winning a conference that is very subpar because it is the only way he can have some level of success. If you don't buy that, look at his record against top 100 RPI teams. It isn't very good. The rivalry record is around 6-18.

As long as he continues to pad his coaching record with weak conference opponents, he will continue to receive contract extensions.

Did any of you go to the open practice for season ticket holders? He acted like a clown the whole time. I came away very shocked that he presents himself in this manner, but then again, I attended a football game in the Fulton Center and he was absolutely blitzed and acting like an idiot.

I've seen this program achieve a higher level of success and believe that NMSU could once again be a top mid-major program. However, with Menzies as coach, this is as good as it gets. If you are happy with that, then more power to you.

Patrick NaySay

Anonymous said...

I like the crimson (away) uniforms better than the black ones---after all crimson is the school color. Maybe the black uniforms were the problem :)

Anonymous said...

Joe,'re trashing JH, who supports our teams whether they win or lose! Unbelievable! If you're any indication of the type of fans we're trying to win over at NMSU, let's just give up now. The problems with Boston and Menzies pale in comparison to dealing with ignorant people like you.

joe said...

9:51 im not trashing jh i just get tired of reading about this rah rah crap and how the nmsu athletics are wonderful. Its nothing compared to the old days. These coaches and AD are just sucking this town dry. All of these fans want it like the old days 10000 plus high scoring basketball, playing great teams. have any of you thought why were independent so boston can prostitute us out to get some money to pay off these worthless coaches he has selected.

Anonymous said...

Rah rah crap???? Really? Well allow me to retort.
I have NEVER said that Aggie athletics are "wonderful". I have ONLY stated that we as TRUE fans should be supportive no matter if the Aggies win or lose. You can have your "opinions" regarding the coaches, athletic dept, or the athletic director, but those athletes are doing the best they can to represent a university that gave them a chance. Yes NMSU gave those students a chance where almost every one of them wouldn't be able to play somewhere else. Don't take it our on them.

So to comment on the rest of your...RANT. Let's start with football. Since you seem to have all the answers, how do you propose NMSU get into a conference with our history? In case you didn't know, the conference realignment is ALL about tv contracts, revenue (fan support in the stands) and HISTORY. None of which NMSU has had in ANY recent conference (Big West, Sunbelt, WAC, etc) . The glory days of the Border and Missouri Valley Conferences are LONG gone. Let's look at recent history, did we have large crowds when Tony Samuel was coach? He's the winningest coach in recent history? No we didn't. He had some success here, but the same problem we have had for several decades occured then too as it occurs now. NO BUDGET from the university and no fan support! Besides that montrosity on the south side of the stadium, which most of us normal fans can't enjoy, what other upgrades/improvements have there been? The jumbotron is nice and provides much more entertainment. The stadium is unattractive, old and the other amenities add to the dismal experience of the games (bad concessions, bad service, etc). Have you been to Arizona, ASU or even UNM? Look at what those schools have done with their facilities. I'm not going to mention Texas or Alabama because their budgets in football could fund several universities. As much as I hate UTEP, they have the same mentality NMSU has had for years. If you keep it the same, people will come. Well guess what, they haven't come. Small programs like Utah St, San Jose St and La Tech have become much more competitive in recent years because they are increasing the coaches pay, upgrading facilities and attracting better players. How can you say we have worthless coaches? You get what you pay for. Finally our coaches got a salary increase. Have you seen how our coaching salaries compare to schools of similar size? You have to admire our recent coaches. Who wants to come to a school that hasn't been to a bowl game in 40 years. That's pretty sad since there are countless bowl games now and all you really need to do is win 6 games to be eligible. Have you thought about how much money a WINNING football program can generate for a university? The football schedule we have for the next year is one of the best I've ever seen here. Are we going to win? No, but name the last time major schools like Minnesota, San Diego St and Boston College EVER came to Cruces in the same year. We always have to travel because we're the school that large schools use to pad their stat books. Look at all the criticism Boise St takes from the sports world. You always hear how they only play one good non-conference game. Well that's because the power schools (Michigan, Alabama, USC, Kansas St, etc) won't go to Boise. They will invite Boise to their home, but how is that fair to Boise fans? So are they supposed to have ALL their non-conference games played away? No. They have a winning program and still get no respect.
I have to break up this blog so bare with me.


Anonymous said...

Here's the rest folks. As for basketball, we're stuck in the WAC too. We can't go anywhere because of our football program. In case you didn't know it, but the 90's were good because of UNLV and Tark. Once he left that program they were no where close to what it was Where's UNLV now? They lose in the first round of the tourney even though they had a better seed than us. After UNLV left the Big West who was left that mattered? Who mattered in the Sun Belt? Who really mattered in the WAC? Nevada? They had a couple good years and now they're in the basement of the MWC. We could get a tougher pre-conference schedule, but I'm sure it will come at a cost. We'll have to travel. How is that fair to us fans that want to see the games in Cruces?
Sorry to have a long blog folks, but it seems too many people just don't understand the importance of a money generating football program in our current sports world. I don't like it, but we have to take it. We either cross our arms and whine or pick ourselves up and be supportive to those players and coaches that are taking a chance on a losing program. Go Aggies!


willie said...

jh your answer seems sink more money into it will fix it. Come on now the real truth is no one wants to come to las cruces. Your stuck with marvin getting his foreign player cause they want out of their country. we have never had big crowds in football even in the old stadium.