Friday, July 19, 2013

Recruiting, the lifeblood of Aggie basketball

(Standing at 7-foot-5, Aggie center Sim Bhullar will welcome his younger brother, 7-foot-3 Tanveer, into the NMSU program for the 2013-14/Associated Press photo)

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.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

LOL. So the one and done days at the dance are over?

Teddy said...

Don't think I wrote that. We'll see when March rolls around.

Anonymous said...

I like the way Menzies/ Weir have found players and I like the way the team plays to end the season.

However, the fan base is really fed up with the early season struggles, the rivalry records, and NCAA 1 & done's!!!

Anonymous said...

Considering the difficulties of recruiting, the Aggies do well. It would be nice if the Aggies can win the regular season WAC title and win enough games overall that they don't have to win the conference tourney to make it to the NCAAs.

Anonymous said...

With all the talent we've had other years and what's projected for this season, we should be a major powerhouse. Thanks to Paul Weir for his amazing recruiting. But underachievement seems to be a pattern with us. That lies squarely on the coach's shoulders. Let's see if maybe this year we can push ourselves a little more and reach the potential that everyone knows is there.

Anonymous said...

This team needs to make some noise early, often and finish strong!!

We need to get out of the WAC and, this team can get us some consideration into bigger/ better conference for the rest of our olympic sports!

Anonymous said...

I'm not fed up with one and dones. Of course I'd like to see us win one in the big dance, it's not ever something I'll be sure of. The fact we get there, are competitive when it matters, and I have fun is all I need from my Aggies.

Anonymous said...

This next season one thing I would like to see change is the attendance. The team wins consistently and Las Cruces still won't pack the Pan Am. NMSU is a great school but honestly the town alone sucks. I've only seen the Pan Am packed a few times over the last three years I've gone to school here ... Its sad

Anonymous said...

why do you all say what great recruiting? The athletes we are getting aren't even rated on common wake up were in a weak conference and that is why we get seated 15.