Friday, July 19, 2013
Recruiting, the lifeblood of Aggie basketball
It’s been an astounding sequence of additions.
New Mexico State basketball's recent newcomer, Tanveer Bhullar, gives the Aggies two skilled players - Tanveer himself and his older brother Sim - who stand well over 7-feet tall.
Add that to a frontcourt that already features the 6-foot-10 Tshilidzi Nephawe and the 6-foot-8 Renaldo Dixon; and to a backcourt that’s highlighted by 6-foot-2 high-flyer Daniel Mullings. And the proof is present before us: the Aggies have done a remarkable job bringing physical talent into their program.
Throughout his tenure at New Mexico State, head coach Marvin Menzies has proven to be a resourceful recruiter. Never has it been more apparent entering his sixth year in Las Cruces. The Aggies don’t necessarily land the big-name player, or a blue-chip talent from nearby. Rather, they've brought in low-risk, physically-gifted athletes by going the international route.
Their pipeline to Canada - particularly Toronto - has treated the program remarkably well. Consider some of the Aggies who’ve come from north of the border in recent years: the Bhullar brothers, Mullings, Dixon, Hernst Laroche and Tyrone Watson. Much of the credit should go to assistant coach Paul Weir, a Toronto native who’s recruiting abilities have helped funnel such talent to Las Cruces. And, of course to Menzies, the head coach who runs the program in it’s entirety.
The Aggies have also gone to Africa for contributors such as Nephawe (Johannesburg, South Africa), while Bandja Sy came from Stoneridge Prep in California, yet originally hails from Cergy, France.
Physically, this has allowed the Aggies to simply dominate comparable competition in recent years - see three WAC championships in four years as evidence of that fact.
And, yet again, it seems highly likely the Aggies will win the WAC once again in 2013-14. Realistically speaking, barring a monumental collapse, the team should roll to another league championship.
And it should be a similar formula as recent history would indicate: Dominating the interior - five-feet and in towards the basket on offense - while controlling the backboards with a deep and massive frontcourt that aids a defensive-minded outfit.
Fan frustrations can fester with the Aggies over the course of a college basketball season for the following reason: The team, with it’s incredible physical attributes, often seems to underachieve relative to their athletic capabilities. Such critics would point to a lack of conference regular-season championships, a poor record against it’s regional rivals, and struggles against elite competition.
With that as a backdrop, lets go back to NMSU's 2013-14 roster: strictly from a physical standpoint, the Aggies have the bodies to play with seemingly anyone in the country. Hence, we’ll see how they perform in important early-season games at Arizona, Gonzaga and Colorado State. Frankly, their track record against similar opponents in recent years hasn’t been good. Perhaps a win or two against such foes will be in the cards this season.
But because of the aforementioned athletes recruited to the program, the Aggies also routinely find themselves in the NCAA Tournament mix on an annual basis as well. For that matter, don’t expect such a trend to change during the 2013-14 campaign.
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