Sam Wasson's blog

The Daily Aggie :: 01/05/13

The New Mexico State men's and women's basketball teams are back in action tonight and both are looking to stay unbeaten in 2013. The women picked up an impressive victory over UTSA on Thursday night thumping the Roadrunners in San Antonio. The Aggie offense clicked on pretty much all cylinders and as we predicted, the defense was solid as it has been much of the two years that Mark Trakh has been head coach, although in this game it was assistant coach Tamara Inouye who picked up the win due to a sudden pregame illness suffered by Coach Trakh which also afflicted the UTSA head coach at halftime.

Tonight the Aggies take on the Texas State Bobcats. Losers of three straight games to open up WAC play, the Bobcats are a high-possession, high-scoring team that will challenge the Aggies' ability to defend. The Bobcats average 76.2 points per game overall and are doing even better in conference averaging 78.3 points per game. Their defense however is not great. They allow 74.7 points per game which has ballooned to 84.3 points per game in three conference games and is no doubt not helped by giving up 98 points in a loss to San Jose State (in regulation) a game in which the ultra-rare occurred, a 100 possession game.

The Bobcats have a pair of high-scoring players in Diamond Ford (22.2 PPG) and Ashley Ezeh (16.4). They also have a third double-figures scorer in Jasmine Baugus (10.6 PPG). For a team that scores so many points, their shooting percentages are surprisingly low. They average just 39.2 percent shooting on the season (41.9 percent from twos and 31.1 percent from threes). Defensively, they're decent. Teams are shooting 38.5 percent against them but they do boast the league's second best three point shooting defense at 28.2 percent. Problematic for the Aggies will be Texas State's shot blocking. The Bobcats lead the league in blocked shots averagign 4.2 per game.

For the Aggies it will be the same story it always is. Can the offense bolster the defense and can the Aggies avoid long scoring droughts during the game? That will be especially important tonight in what figures to be a track meet. Against UTSA the Aggies had five stretches of around three minutes in which they were held scoreless and in three of those they were outscored 7-0, 8-0 and 9-0. Those are the kind of droughts the Aggies cannot afford to have against a high-scoring team.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie men will also look to build on their victory over UTSA as they host Texas State tonight. We had a chance earlier in the season to see Texas State play three games and much like UTSA this is not a very good team. The Bobcats will try to push the ball. They like to play at a little faster pace but at times it appears that they're just playing fast for the sake of playing fast.

They're eighth in the league in shooting percentage, ninth in the league in three point shooting percentage (only the Aggies are worse) and through three league games the Bobcats are averaging a paltry 55 points per game.

Defensively the Bobcats are bad. They're ninth in the league in field goal percentage defense overall and ninth in field goal percentage inside the three point arc allowing 52.8 percent and a whopping 61.6 percent through three WAC games. The Aggies would be well served to do what they did against UTSA in the second half. Take what the defense gives you and in this case, Texas State's defense should give the Aggies plenty inside the arc.

Joel Wright (15.3 PPG) and Matt Staff (13.4 PPG) lead the Bobcats in scoring, however, both are averaging under 30 minutes per game.

We fully expect another blowout win tonight with a big stretch of games coming up. Four of the next six games (counting tonight) will be against teams that are a combined 9-2 in league play with Seattle (0-2) figuring to be a tough game as well.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com. Radio coverage is available on the Aggie Sports Network and streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 01/03/13

The Aggie men's and women's basketball teams are back in action tonight as they swap places with each other. The women are on the road while the men open up at home conference play. The Aggie women are looking to get over .500 in conference play for the first time under head coach Mark Trakh. The women started off last season 1-1 in league play but lost four consecutive games and never recovered. This year the Aggies are also 1-1 in league play and coming off a victory over Louisiana Tech, the preseason number two pick by the coaches and media (we picked LA Tech to finish third in our preseason media ballot). The Aggies face UTSA and Texas State this week. UTSA is 7-6 while Texas State is 6-6 and along with the Aggies they are the only three teams out of 10 who are at or above .500 in the conference. If the Aggies can go on the road and at least split this trip they'll be in great shape. We really believe that because of the lack of quality in the WAC this year that the Aggies can compete at or near the top of the league and they have a legitimate shot to win the WAC if they continue to play good solid defense as they have all season and if they can start making some shots.

The Roadrunners have just one player, Simone Young, who is averaging in double-digits in scoring. UTSA averages just 60 points per game but they're also only allowing 52.4 points per game. One area the Aggies need to take advantage of is UTSA's carelessness with the ball. Much like the Aggies last year, the Roadrunners struggle with turnovers averaging 17.5 per game and a turnover rate of nearly 25 percent (i.e. one in four possessions for UTSA results in a turnover).

The biggest area of concern for the Aggies is on the boards. UTSA is the second best rebounding team in the conference in terms of both rebounds per game (36.8) and rebounding percentage (52.1) and the Roadrunners do have two players who stand at 6'3" tall.

Again, the Aggies need to avoid the long scoring droughts that have plagued them all season. If they can do that and can hit somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 to 40 percent of their shots from the field they should be able to win the game.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with Jay Sanderson calling the action. Streaming audio will also be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action and is hoping that some home cooking is just what the doctor ordered. The Aggies dropped both road contests on the opening weekend of WAC play and for the first time since joining the league the Aggies are 0-2 in WAC play.

Before anyone hits the panic button, there is precedent for a team starting off 0-2 in league play and winning the regular season. Utah State did it in the 2009-2010 season losing at New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech but then ripping off 14 consecutive wins to take the WAC by three games.

What the Aggies must hope for is that their offense finally comes around. The Aggies have struggled mightily on offense this season and are averaging just 65 points per game. The biggest concern right now is their perimeter shooting. It's an area that plagued them last season and was supposedly addressed in the offseason with the additions of Kevin Aronis, Matej Buovac and redshirt freshman Eric Weary. However, the Aggies are a worst three point shooting team this season than they were last season. The Aggies are hitting just over 28 percent of their attempts on the year and a paltry 10 percent of their attempts through two conference games. The Aggies are 310th out of 347 teams in terms of shooting the three ball and it's making life difficult for the team inside with teams clogging up the paint.

The other issue for the Aggies is that they're not turning teams over. The Aggies are forcing just 10.9 turnovers per game which is 318th in the country. Much of the the Aggie offense is predicated on getting easy baskets off of their defensive pressure and if they're unable to turn people over, they're unable to get easy transition buckets.

These next two games should help the Aggies get into the groove that they have yet to find this season. UTSA and Texas State are quite simply bad basketball teams. The two were beaten at home by San Jose State with Texas State losing by 15 to a marginal Spartan team. For historical reference, since the 2005-06 season San Jose State has never been 2-0 in league play, they've never won both conference road trip games and they've never, ever, beaten anyone in conference play on the road by 15 points.

UTSA does have a trio of double-digit scorers in Kannon Burrage, Michael Hale III and Jeromie Hill with Burrage averaging 17.6 and the other two averaging over 14 points per game.

One major area of concern for New Mexico State is UTSA's three point shooting. The Roadrunners are hitting 37.2 percent of their three point attempts on the season which is 54th best in the country. However, defensively, UTSA is bad. They're one of the worst field goal percentage defenses, one of the worst rebounding teams in the country and they also do not block many shots (just 1.5 per game).

This is a game that the Aggies should win and one that quite frankly they should win by double-digits. We would like to see the Aggies get into an offensive rhythm and also get their three point shooters untracked because if they're going to win the league and also win the conference tournament, they need to do better than 10 percent from three point distance. The Aggies don't need to make 10 three per game, sure that would be nice but the Aggies need to at least make between three and five per game and shoot somewhere around 34 percent from deep.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/31/12

The final day of 2012 brings a pair of conference games for Aggie men's and women's basketball and for both teams it's a chance to hit the reset button on disappointing conference openers. For the women a chance to even the record at 1-1 after blowing a nine point first half lead and losing to a 2-8 team. The Aggies simply couldn't make enough shots which has been the case for the past two seasons. The Aggies took 72 shots but could muster just 59 total points, 14 of those coming from the free throw stripe and 21 of those coming from deep meaning the Aggies scored just 24 points on two point buckets.

As we noted on Saturday, the Aggies cannot rely on their three point shooting and can't count on making 14 threes per game as they did against UMKC. The Aggies were "hot" that night and yet still finished the game only shooting 41 percent from the field. Going into the game against UT Arlington on Saturday night the Aggies were averaging 19.5 three point shot attempts per game but against the Mavericks they hoisted a whopping 33 three point shots hitting just seven which, going into the game was one above their season average made (six) per game.

The Aggies need to make a more concerted effort to get higher percentage shots inside the two point arc if they're going to be competitive in the WAC.

Tonight the task doesn't get any easier as they host Louisiana Tech. The Lady Techsters are an incredibly young team and were led on Saturday by sophomores Kelia Shelton's 26 and the only returning starter from last year's team Whitney Frazier who had 16 points and 11 rebounds against Denver in an 82-77 victory.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces and streaming audio online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

If the women's loss on Saturday night was classified as disappointing the men's loss on Saturday was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. The preseason pick to win the league strolled into UT Arlington thinking they'd walk out with a win and instead walked out of Arlington with an embarrassing 21-point loss that saw them score the fewest points (47) since the 2003-04 season when they mustered 37 against New Orleans in a conference loss.

Head coach Marvin Menzies was disgusted with the performance and the effort level from his team and pulled no punches with his postgame comments.

Two players who did show up to play against UT Arlington were freshman center Sim Bhullar, who continues to develop and progress at an exciting rate, finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocks and sophomore guard Daniel Mullings who scored 21 points, though he did have seven turnovers.

Things went so badly that yesterday it was reported by Jason Groves that the team had a player's only meeting. One can only hope that it was a productive meeting and that the team took to heart Coach Menzies' criticisms.

As is the case for the women, the men's task does not get any easier tonight as they face a surging Louisiana Tech team. The Bulldogs are 10-3 under head coach Michael White and are looking every bit the title contender that we felt they would be. They've got the second best record in the non-conference and the Bulldogs also defeated Southern Miss this season just like the Aggies.

Last season in Ruston the Bulldogs forced 20 Aggie turnovers and lost by just 10 despite shooting 5-for-29 from deep. The Bulldogs are just a 31 percent three point shooting team this season but they shoot in volume again getting 28 percent of their points per game from deep. They average 21 three point attempts per game and are hitting almost seven per game.

Raheem Appleby leads the Bulldogs at 17.3 points per game and has taken 60 three point shots though he's only made 18 (30 percent). He's one player the Aggies can't afford to allow to get hot from deep. The best three point shooter is Cordarius Johnson who is hitting nearly 40 percent of his threes and is averaging 11.5 points per game.

For the Aggies, they need to improve in just about every aspect of the game from shooting to rebounding to defense. Again, the thing to watch for tonight is whether or not the team has taken to heart the message their coach sent after the loss to Arlington.

We thought the Aggies would split this initial road trip but after Saturday's performance a split would feel like a major victory for this team.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/29/12

The drive for a couple of WAC titles begins tonight for both the Aggie men's and women's basketball teams. The Aggies both take on UT Arlington with the men on the road and the women at home. The men tip off at 6:00 p.m. (MT) and will take on a UT Arlington team that is just one of three teams in the league with a winning record heading into league play. At 5-3 their three losses have come at the hands of high-major teams but don't fool yourselves too much as two of the three teams they've faced are shells of their former selves in Texas and Oklahoma (it appears unlikely either will make the NCAA tournament this season) and a third loss coming at the hands of No. 22 Oklahoma State. Their five wins have come against Cal State-Bakersfield, Samford, North Texas, Texas-Pan American and Houston Baptist which is to say that they don't have a quality win yet.

The Aggies' best wins this season have come against Southern Miss and South Alabama (3-0 in Sun Belt play) but missed out on a chance for two more quality wins against UTEP and New Mexico. The Aggies are really still trying to get their feet under them but as we noted yesterday, WAC play should provide that opportunity.

The Mavericks average 62 points per game while giving up just 59. The Aggies are averaging just 66.7 points per game but are only allowing 60 points per game. This could be another game in which the Aggies and their opponent grind it out down the stretch but it could also be an opportunity for the Aggies to

Jordan Reves leads UTA averaging a double-double at 10 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Kevin Butler is also averaging 10 points per game for UTA and chips in five boards per game. As will be the case throughout league play the Aggies will have a substantial size advantage over the Mavericks. Reves is the tallest Maverick at 6'10" while no other UTA player stands above 6'6".

With the newfound shooting of Kevin Aronis and Matej Buovac as well as Remi Barry's improved play over the last few games, Daniel Mullings, Sim Bhullar and Tyrone Watson plus the defense of Bandja Sy, the Aggies should be too much for UTA to handle and this could be a double-digit win for the Aggies on the road. The Aggies really need to establish early on that they are going to be the dominant team in the WAC and tonight will be a great opportunity against a team that went 24-9 and 15-1 in the Southland last year.

Tonight's game tips off at 6:00 p.m. (MT) with radio coverage available via the Aggie Sports Network and streaming audio online via Aggie Access (subscription required). Live Stats will also be available via the UT Arlington athletic website.

A half hour after the men tip off in Arlington the women will tip off in the Pan Am against UT Arlington. The Mavericks are just 2-8 on the season and average a paltry 53.4 points per game while allowing 73.8 points per game. The Aggies average just 56.2 points per game but only give up 59 points per game.

This game is very similar to the Aggies' last game against UMKC where offensively the teams were similar but the advantage was clearly to the Aggies on the defensive end.

Once again the Aggies need to avoid the lengthy scoring droughts and the Aggies also need to do a better job of scoring inside because they can't count on hitting 14 threes every game. The Aggies have gone away from Kelsie Rozendaal a bit as of late and they need to get back to feeding her the ball because she has proven this season that she can be an effective scorer for the Aggies and can be someone to balance out the perimeter shooting from Gilbreath, Williamson and the group of Aggie freshmen shooters.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff can can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces and streaming audio and video via Aggie Access (subscription required).  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/28/12

We hope all Aggie fans had a wonderful Christmas wherever you may reside. The holidays are almost over and the Aggie men's and women's basketball teams are back in action as WAC play begins tomorrow. The Aggie men were picked to win the league by the coaches and picked to finish second by the media. It's been a big of a rough go so far for the Aggies. They enter WAC play at a mediocre 6-6 (actually 5-6 for RPI purposes with one of their wins coming against a non-Division I opponent). That being said the Aggies have reason for optimism heading into league play. For starters, 7'5" freshman behemoth Sim Bhullar is really coming into his own and has started to realize that he is indeed 7'5" and can overpower just about anyone he comes across. His career-high night against Missouri State saw him score 25 points, the third most by a freshman under head coach Marvin Menzies (only Jahmar Young's 33 against Boise State in his freshman year and 28 from Daniel Mullings at home last year, his triple-double game, were better). Bhullar's continued development over the remainder of the season, in particular with the absence of Chili Nephawe, will be a big factor in winning not only the regular season but the WAC tournament in March (which is the only way any WAC team is getting into the NCAA tournament).

Second reason for optimism? The WAC is brutally bad this year (and just wait until next season when three-fourths of the league is turned over and WAC play will consist of teams like Chicago State and UT Pan American). Just how bad is the WAC? The league is the 18th best conference in the RPI (out of 31 leagues) and has fallen behind other mid-major leagues such as the Metro Atlantic (MAAC), Northeast, Big West, Horizon (sans Butler), Mid-American (MAC) and Ohio Valley (we can name a couple teams in the OVC but can you?). Just one team in the WAC is inside the RPI Top 100 and that is Utah State at 88. The UtAgs are 8-1 (9-1 if you count their non-D1 win) but that should tell you how weak their schedule has been. If New Mexico State had just one loss heading into WAC play, their RPI would be in the Top 15 or even Top 10 but we digress. LA Tech is sitting right at 100, UT Arlington is at 132, New Mexico State is 169 and the remaining six WAC teams below 200.

The league as a whole is 49-49 with arguably the best wins in league coming via New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech with their victories over Southern Miss (currently RPI 72).

This is a league that is top heavy (if you can even call it that) and will likely be a four team race for the regular season title between New Mexico State, Utah State, Louisiana Tech and Denver. With 18 league games there's a little more margin for error than there was last season with just 14 league games, however, we do think that a 15-3 record will win the regular season title. As is always the case, but even moreso in a watered down WAC, protecting home court will be vital as there should be plenty of road wins for the top contenders. The toughest road games in the WAC figure to be at Utah State, at New Mexico State, at Louisiana Tech, at Denver and at Idaho.

Third reason for optimism is the Aggies seem to have found a little bit of depth late in non-conference play with the increased playing time of Remi Barry (who has looked better inside the arc than outside the arc), the recent hot shooting of Kevin Aronis (who needs to take more shots) and freshman Matej Buovac (who started his Aggie career with eight points). The only concern we have is that one or more of these players may get lost in the shuffle and lose playing time. We've seen at times the Aggies seemingly forget a player is on the bench (prime example being Kevin Aronis against UNM at home). We liked what we saw from Buovac in terms of his shooting but also his movement without the ball, especially considering it was his first game.

Can the Aggies put it all together and make a run through the WAC regular season and even more importantly, a run through the WAC tournament? That's the question that will be answered through the next three months. One thing is for certain. The Aggies won't face any teams in the WAC that are better than the teams they've faced in the non-conference in terms of New Mexico, Oregon State, Southern Miss and UTEP.

The Aggie women's basketball team also opens up WAC play tomorrow but they'll be at home to host UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech (Monday). Despite being picked to finish near the bottom the Aggie women can in fact finish near the top in the conference. The Aggies have upgraded talent-wise but are still trying to piece things together on a night-in and night-out basis. There have been moments that make you think the team will win the WAC (see most of their second half comebacks that have had strong defense combined with good shooting) but there have also been moments where the Aggies have been painfully inept on offense (see point totals of 37, 44 and 44 against New Mexico twice and UTEP respectively) that make you think that things won't be any different this season than last.

The key to the Aggies' play will be getting more out of their "marquee" players, Stephanie Gilbreath and Danesia Williamson. Prior to the duo's "breakout" against a bad UMKC team last week, the two were leading the team in scoring but shooting a miserable 32.7 (Williamson) and 27.5 (Gilbreath) percent from the floor. If those two can start hitting at a better rate (low to mid 40s) and the Aggies can get Kelsie Rozendaal more involved, they will be a very, very difficult team to beat. The young freshmen that the Aggies have in Sasha Weber, Shay Young, Abby Scott and Elena Holguin have shown at various points through the non-conference that they can contribute a bit on a nightly basis.

If the women can avoid these lengthy scoring droughts that have plagued them throughout the early season they can win a lot of games in WAC play. The team plays excellent defense and their offensive sets are effectively, they just need to hit the open shots that they're getting.

The WAC on the women's side is equally bad as on the men's side. Similarly the WAC is 18th in RPI with New Mexico State at 82nd actually having the highest RPI in the league. Texas State is second at 92 and those two teams are the only two above .500. The league as a whole is 37-63 against Division I opposition. Utah State, the preseason pick to win the league, has stumbled out of the gate to a 2-8 record while traditional favorite Louisiana Tech is only marginally better at 4-6.

Unlike the men's side, there's no clear-cut favorite and if you were to base things solely on record, New Mexico State would actually enter conference play as the favorite to win the league. And unlike on the men's side, we don't think a gaudy record will win the regular season. The league's regular season winner will likely have five or six losses in conference play so you could see a team win the league with a 13-5 or 12-6 record.

The Daily Aggie :: 12/22/12

The Aggie women's basketball team bounced back last night and crushed UMKC 75-50 in a game that they led wire-to-wire. The Aggies scored the game's first five points and never looked back. The team led 18-2 with just under 12 minutes left in the first half and 33-11 with just under four minutes left in the half. UMKC ended the half on a 10-0 run to cut the Aggies' lead to 33-21 and scored the first basket of the second half to trim the Aggies' lead to 10 at 33-23 but New Mexico State seized control with a 7-0 run and cruised the rest of the way.

As we noted in yesterday's Daily Aggie there was the distinct possibility that this was going to be a bounceback game for the Aggies offensively considering UMKC's poor play defensively. The Aggies lit it up from deep converting 14-of-30 three point attempts. Danesia Williamson and Stephanie Gilbreath both broke out of their offensive funks and Williams went for 21 points on 50 percent shooting and Gilbreath finished with 14 on 45.4 percent shooting both well above their season shooting percentage averages. In reality the difference in this game was the Aggies' stifling defense (in combination with UMKC's horrendous offense). The Roos were held to just 28.6 percent shooting and hit just 1-of-14 from downtown. The Aggies also forced 18 UMKC turnovers, five above the 'Roos season average while committing just 11 themselves.

The Aggies victory is their sixth on the season and matches last year's win total. The Aggies open up conference play right after Christmas (December 29th) and this win will definitely give them some momentum going into conference play where there is no dominant team and the race appears to be wide open. Texas State (6-3), the Aggies (6-4) and UTSA (6-5) are the only teams in the league with a record above .500 while the rest of the league is a dismal 24-47 which includes preseason favorite Utah State who has struggled out of the gate to a 3-8 record.

Despite the big 25-point win there are a few concerns coming out of this game. The Aggies shot the ball well from deep as we mentioned but from inside the three point arc the Aggies were just 8-for-23 (37 percent) and the Aggies need to be able to score inside and can't depend on shooting over 45 percent from deep every night especially considering that coming into the game they'd been converting under 30 percent of their three point attempts all season long.

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action tonight as they take on Missouri State at 7:00 p.m. (MT). The Bears are, for lack of a better word, awful. Plain and simple this is a game that the Aggies should be able to win handily. Missouri State has not beaten a Division I opponent this season and most recently lost to Alabama A&M from the SWAC.

Much like Missouri-Kansas City last night, Missouri State is near the bottom of Division I offensively shooting just 41.8 percent from two and 26.5 percent from three. They average just 58 points per game, although they're only allowing 62.4 point per game. Teams are shooting 45.3 percent from the floor against them including an eye-popping 53 percent from inside the three point arc. Their three point defense is fairly solid at 29.3 percent but as an opponent if you can hit over half your shots inside the arc there's not much need to shoot it from deep.

Tonight should be a "get right' game for the Aggies. A win can push them back to .500 heading into league play. We'd be a little surprised if the Aggies don't win big in this one.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com.

The Daily Aggie :: 12/21/12

The Aggie women's basketball team is back in action for the final time in 2012 and the final time in non-conference play. The women have a chance to match last season's win total (six) with a victory tonight over visiting Missouri-Kansas City. The 'Roos come into Las Cruces with a 4-8 record overall and are led by a pair of 15 point per game scorers in Kim Nezianya and Ellise O'Connor. The Aggies have actually faced UMKC already in 2012, though that was last season on January 4th, 2012 in Kansas City.

The Aggies have gotten into a bad habit this season of falling behind big early and in the last two games have trailed by 22 and 17 points at halftime respectively and gone on to score just 44 points in each of those two games (both losses). The good news for the Aggies is that UMKC ranks near the bottom defensively in field goal percentage defense allowing opponents to shoot 46.5 percent from inside the arc and 40.9 percent from outside the arc. The Roos don't turn the ball over many times, averaging just 13.8 giveaways per game.

Both teams score on average in the mid to upper 50's the big advantage is that the Aggies are holding their opponents to an average of 60 points per game while UMKC gives up 69 points per game. This is a game that the Aggies can win and it's also a game that could help them snap out of their season-long offensive funk and in particular Stephanie Gilbreath and Daniesha Williamson. Ddespite leading the team in scoring, the duo has not shot the ball particularly well with Williamson knocking down just 32.7 percent of her attempts and Gilbreath converting an surprisingly low 27.5 percent of her field goals.

With two low-scoring offenses it's likely that the winner will be the first team to reach 60 points and given the Aggies' fairly solid scoring defense we think the Aggies will come out of this one with a victory and could eclipse the 70 point mark for just the third time all season.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tip.

The Daily Aggie :: 12/19/12

The Aggie women's basketball team dropped its second consecutive rivalry game falling 68-44 to UNM. The trouble for New Mexico State this season has been the inability to score for long stretches and falling behind big early. Last night was no exception as the Aggies trailed 10-9, 17-3 and 35-16 before heading into halftime down by 17 points. The Aggies made a couple of small runs at the Lobos in the second half cutting the lead down to as few as 14 points and with 11:13 left to play and a chance to cut the lead to 12 or 11 (with a three pointer), Stephanie Gilbreath threw a lazy pass that was intercepted by UNM's Caroline Durbin who took it in for a layup to push the lead back to 16. The Aggies got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way. Sometimes a single play can turn the tide of a game and that was a big play in the game. Had the Aggies been able to cut the lead to 12 or 11 at that point they may have been able to continue to chip away at the lead and perhaps mount a late comeback as they've done a couple times this season.

It did not help that the Aggies' two best players, Stephanie Gilbreath and Daniesha Williamson, combined for just 14 points on 4-of-25 shooting (16 percent) and were a woeful 1-for-13 from three point distance.

It's a short turnaround for the Aggie women as they'll face the 'Roos from UMKC on Friday evening.

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action tonight as they hope to pull off the upset in Round II of the Rio Grande Rivalry. The Aggies dropped the first round losing by 15 points at The Pit. Aggie seniors Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson had subpar games, similar to the performance from Gilbreath and Williamson last night for the Aggies in their loss to UNM. The senior duo combined to go 2-for-19 from the field and 1-for-8 from the three point arc. It's unlikely that the Aggie seniors will struggle like that again in tonight's game, however, that's not the only reason the Aggies lost to UNM this past Saturday. The Aggies need to do a better job guarding the Lobo three point shooters. UNM went 7-for-13 from deep and in the past two games, both double-digit Lobo wins, the Lobos have shot a combined 19-for-37 good for 51.3 percent.

Turnovers, which have been an issue for the Aggies this season were kept to a minimum at just eight, however, the Lobos were highly efficient in converting those Aggie mistakes into points, 17 of them to be exact. Even though the turnover number was low the Lobos also benefitted from some poor shot selection by the Aggies which in the eyes of most coaches is just as bad as a turnover. Bad shot selection can lead to poor floor balance on the defensive end and runouts or easy baskets for the opponents. Better shot selection will certainly be needed tonight from the Aggies.

The Aggies also need to do a better job avoiding the Lobo block. UNM had a season-high 11 blocks in Saturday's game it was also one of their highest point totals in several seasons and tying for the highest total under Steve Alford. Alex Kirk, the Lobos' 7'0" center had a career-high with five of the blocks but the more worrisome number was the career-high four blocks put up by Lobo guard Hugh Greenwood.

Can the Aggies put together a complete game tonight and hand UNM their first loss of the season? It's certainly possible but once again as was the case on Saturday, the Aggies have to play above their average and hold UNM below their averages. The Aggies need to get a big game from one of their supporting cast, perhaps Kevin Aronis who has been pretty silent this season but has made 7-of-15 three point attempts in four games at the Pan Am this season.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com. Radio coverage is also available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 12/14/12

The Aggie men's basketball team is on their way to Albuquerque as they prepare to take on the Lobos in the Rio Grande Rivalry on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies are 5-4 on the season while UNM is a perfect 10-0 and ranked as high as 17th (AP) and 20th (Coaches) in the polls. The Aggies will have their hands full trying to stop the Lobos and will be trying to do so a bit shorthanded. Head coach Marvin Menzies announced yesterday at his weekly press conference that junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe is doubtful for the game after undergoing surgery on an injured wrist (believed to be a ligament injury). That means that 7'5" freshman Sim Bhullar will see a lot of action at center. That should also open the door for more playing time for Renaldo Dixon, a player who doesn't get a ton of playing time but generally has looked solid when he does get an opportunity.

If the Aggies are going to upset the Lobos tomorrow they're going to have to bring their proverbial 'A' game. On paper this is a pretty big mismatch. If you listened to our podcast this week with Teddy Feinberg we noted a few statistical items that have us feeling a bit uneasy about this game. If you did not, you're in luck because we're going to spell it out on paper here for you. To preface this, we looked solely at what these two teams have done as road (NMSU) and home (UNM) teams to get a feeling for what their averages are.

First off, we can all agree that the three point arc is going to be a big key to this game. The Lobos rely heavily on the three ball while the Aggies do not but have also been able to lock down opponents from deep. The Lobos are averaging 18.5 three point attempts per home game while making 6.8 per game. That's 20.3 points per game that the Lobos are generating from deep. Conversely, the Aggies are averaging 11.4 three point attempts per game on the road and making 3.4. That's 10.2 points per game from deep for the Aggies on the road. If the two teams play to their averages that's a 10.1 point advantage for UNM.

Another key to this game will be free throw shooting. The Aggies have consistently been one of the nation's leaders in both free throw attempts and makes, however, this year UNM is doing even better than the Aggies are in that category. At home the Lobos are averaging 28.5 free throw attempts per game and are hitting at a 74.2 percent rate. That's 21.1 points per game from the stripe. The Aggies are averaging 21.1 free throw attempts per game on the road which is a good amount. However, the Aggies have been a poor free throw shooting team on the road (and neutral) converting just 63.2 percent. That's 13.3 points per game from the stripe. Again, if the two teams play to their averages, the Lobos will have roughly and eight point advantage (7.8 point to be exact).

From inside the arc the Aggies and Lobos are pretty even both in terms of attempts per game and conversion rate. The Lobos at home this year have attempted an average of 51.5 two point shots per game and are converting at a 43.6 percent rate. That's 44.9 points per game. The Aggies on the road this year are averaging 50.4 attempts inside the arc and hitting at a 42.3 percent clip good for 42.3 points per game so just a 2.6 point advantage or essentially a bucket and a half.

Another big area of concern for the Aggies is turnovers. The Aggies' turnover numbers have been about the same both home and road (actually worse at home). The Aggies are averaging 17.6 turnovers per game, 17.0 on the road. UNM has been able to convert their opponents turnovers at roughly 1.13 points per turnover. If the Aggies turn the ball over at their average and UNM converts at their average that's 19.2 points off of turnovers that UNM will get. On the other hand, the Aggies have been equally efficient at converting opponent's turnovers (1.12 points per turnover), however, this Aggie team is only turning teams over 12.5 times per game (12.4 on the road) and UNM is only averaging 13.3 turnovers per game (in all games). If those numbers hold the Aggies will score 14.9 points. That's a 4.3 point difference.

If you add all of that up the Lobos would hold a 24.8 point advantage if both teams played to their road/home averages. Fortunately for the Aggies games aren't played on paper or in calculators. Games are played on the court. That being said, the Aggies can't walk into The Pit and play their "average" game and hope to win. The Aggies will have to play at the highest level that they've played all season and hope that their defense, which has been solid this year, can keep UNM from hitting their home averages.

There are going to be some intriguing matchups across the court tomorrow but three in particular stand out. One, 7'5" freshman Sim Bhullar going up against UNM's 7'0" redshirt sophomore Alex Kirk. Second, Bandja Sy against UNM's Tony Snell (stopping/containing Snell will be a big key to an Aggie victory) and third, Daniel Mullings or Tyrone Watson on UNM's Kendall Williams.

The Aggies will also need to get outstanding play from the point guard position. The Lobos have a veteran in Hugh Greenwood and would figure to hold an advantage at that spot just due to experience and through nine games this season the Aggie point guard play has been inconsistent. Going back to the turnover issues for the Aggies, one thing they seem to have had an inordinate amount of trouble with in certain games is getting the ball past midcourt off the inbounds. Teams have been able to double-team and pressure the man receiving the inbounds pass forcing the Aggies into turnovers. The team cannot afford to turn the ball over in the backcourt or it will likely turn into easy baskets for the Lobos (and easy baskets get the crowd involved).

Can the Aggies beat the Lobos? Absolutely, any team can beat any other team on any given day but as we noted before the Aggies will have to "Play Up" as it were in order to beat UNM.

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The Daily Aggie :: 12/05/12

It's gameday once again as the Aggie women's basketball team takes the short drive down I-10 to take on rival UTEP. The last time the Aggies and Miners met the Aggies were handing UTEP their first loss of the season. Since then UTEP played fellow WAC member Texas State winning 88-81 getting a 29/11 performance out of Kayla Thornton. They also got 22 points out of Anete Steinberga and it appears that the duo has stepped up to the plate in taking over for injured Kristine Vitola who blew out her knee prior to the NMSU/UTEP game.

Clearly tonight the Miners will be looking for some revenge against the Aggies who also have not lost since defeating UTEP and are a somewhat surprising 5-2 on the year.

Through about a third of the season both the men's and women's teams have developed identities, both of which are not necessarily good, however, not necessarily bad but they are certainly polar opposites of each other. The women's team has become the team who falls behind big early and then rallies late to either nearly win or win (rallying from seven down at halftime in the first game to win, nearly rallying from 13-down and then most recently back-to-back wins after trailing by 15). The men's team on the other hand builds early leads only to see them melt away (losing a 22-point first half lead, almost losing a 17-point first half lead, losing a 4-point lead) making a comfortable situation into a nail-biting one.

Obviously if the Aggie women can get off to better starts and the Aggie men can learn to close better, both teams will be much better off and it will save both coaches will a few gray hairs.

Tonight New Mexico State will need to start better than they have the previous two wins. They can't keep falling behind by such large deficits in the first half and expect to come back and win. Quite frankly the Aggies would not have won at Southern Utah had the Thunderbirds not gone 0-for-7 from the free throw line down the stretch and they were also lucky against UTEP in that after Kelsie Rozendaal stole the entry pass on UTEP's final possession that the Miners just stood around looking dumbfounded instead of playing out the game and immediately fouling Rozendaal. There would have likely been around three or four seconds left to play under that scenario. Can the Aggies sweep the Miners? Yes, they've got the talent to do so but they've got to get out to a better start out of the gate if they're going to win tonight.

Tonight's game between the Aggies and Miners is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. (MT) tipoff can Live Stats will be available for the game via the UTEP athletic website. Radio coverage will be available on KSNM AM 570 with streaming audio available on Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie men's team picked up their first road win of the season holding on for a 58-52 victory. As we noted earlier the Aggies nearly lost this game after jumping out to a huge lead in the first half. South Alabama led 4-2 but then the Aggies ripped off a 21-2 run and led 23-6 at the under eight minute media timeout. Then the Aggies gave up a 19-8 run to end the half and it was just a six point hafltime lead. The Aggies held South Alabama at bay for the majority of the second half but the lead did get down to two points twice. The Aggies were able to do just enough defensively coming up with a pair of turnovers and the Aggies hit free throws when they needed to (something they struggled with all night long) as K.C. Ross-Miller and Bandja Sy went 3-for-4 over the final 16 seconds to eek out the win.

The Aggies are fortunate to not have lost this game considering three facts. First, they were an abysmal 9-for-18 from the free throw line and it was guys who are normally good free throw shooters who were missing free throws (Bandja 3-for-6, Mullings 0-for-2, Tyrone 1-for-4 although Tyrone gets a bit of a pass considering he was playing with the flu and it should be noted that South Alabama was equally unimpressive from the stripe finishing 9-for-17). Second, the Aggies committed 17 turnovers though according to the box score South Alabama was only able to convert those into six points (it felt like more). Third, the Aggies allowed 15 offensive rebounds to a team that was MUCH smaller than the Aggies, though again, South Alabama could only convert that into nine second chance points.

Those three areas, in particular the turnovers, will need to get cleaned up over the next 11 days before the Aggies make the journey up I-25 to The Pit. One thing we can guarantee is if the Aggies shoot 50 percent from the free throw line, turn the ball over 17 times and give up 15 offensive rebounds against UNM, the final score won't be pretty.

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