The Daily Aggie

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/19/12

The Aggie men's basketball team suffered a tough loss yesterday against Niagara. The Aggies had leads of 22 (4:33 1H), 16 (halftime) and 19 (with 13:31 left). Niagara had a definitive gameplan coming out of halftime -- get the ball to the rim aggressively. In the second half the Purple Eagles had 10 made baskets on layups or dunks, five trips to the line that were the direct results of getting the ball in the paint and seven more missed layups or dunks (three of those came in a sequence late in the game which kept the Aggies within one at the point, 84-83).

The ease with which Niagara got into the paint and to the rim was disconcerting and it's something the Aggies are really going to need to shore up before their next stretch of non-conference games.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Aggies didn't look comfortable in the second half trying to run their half-court offense. Around the under eight minute media timeout the Aggie offense really stalled and their possessions over the next six minutes looked like this: missed layup, turnover, three of four made free throws, turnover, turnover, turnover, missed layup, turnover. That was really where the game was lost. The Aggies led by nine at the start of that stretch and at the end of that stretch they trailed by six, a point differential of 17.

It wasn't all gloom and doom for the Aggies, they did have an outstanding first half and their execution in the final two minutes, including their final two possessions was excellent. The Aggies got a great look for Daniel Mullings at the rim down by one and then down by three at the end of the game, Bandja Sy had an open look at a three that just rimmed out.

It was a tough loss but hopefully it will result in a lesson learned for this young basketball team to keep their foot on the gas.

The Aggies will have a brief respite on Wednesday night when they take on Northern New Mexico and then they have a week off before heading down to UTEP they face the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns on Friday.

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/18/12

We start off today with a hearty congratulations to Aggie senior cross country runner Courtney Schultz who finished 59th at the NCAA Cross Country national championship meet yesterday. Courtney ran the 6K in a time of 20:28.2. The 59th place finish was the best ever by an Aggie, besting her 88th place finish from a season ago. It's the final race for Schultz as an Aggie cross country runner. She's had an amazing career at New Mexico State as we've chronicled many times but as this is the last time we'll get to write about her (until she's inevitably inducted into the NMSU Athletics Hall of Fame) we'll provide a quick rundown again. Freshman of the Year in 2009, WAC Athlete of the Year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, WAC Cross Country Individual champion in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and runner up in 2012. NCAA Mountain Division All-Region in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and NCAA Championship participant in 2011 and 2012 as well as WAC Cross Country Athlete of the Week several times throughout her career. Again, Congratulations Courtney on a fantastic Aggie cross country career.

Courtney Schultz :: Bib 270

The Aggie men's basketball team dropped a contest against Bucknell yesterday afternoon losing 62-49. It marked the first time since the 2010-11 season that the Aggies failed to break the 50-point barrier in a game (a 59-49 loss at Utah State). The Aggie offense struggled shooting just 29.2 percent for the game (14-of-48) and it was the worst shooting performance for the Aggies since the 2009-2010 season when the Aggies shot 28.6 percent in a 79-58 loss to UTEP in the Pan Am on December 1st.

On the bright side, the Aggies held Bucknell to just 62 points and on most nights that is going to be good enough for the 'W'. Unfortunately, yesterday was not one of those nights. Daniel Mullings was one of the lone bright spots for the Aggies as he finished with 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He was 6-for-10 from the line and he hit a pair of threes. He also had six boards, three assists and a steal and did not commit a turnover. In fact, the Aggies as a team only had 10 turnovers.

As we expected, Bucknell slowed the pace of the game down and held NMSU to just 63 possessions (the team normally averages over 70 possessions per game). Ultimately it was an early 14-0 run by Bucknell that gave them the lead for good. The Aggies were leading 8-4 but fell behind 18-8 and never again held the lead in the game. The Aggies got as close as four in the second half but the Bison held the Aggies at arms length around a double-digit lead over the final 8:41 of the game as the Aggies just couldn't hit a shot.

The Aggies also struggled at the free throw line going 15-of-26 which is 57.7 percent. If the Aggies are having trouble scoring from the field they're going to have to be better at the charity stripe than that. The Aggies, just as they did last season, are going to get to the line fairly consistently each game and in games where the offense is struggling, the stripe is where they're going to have to get it done.

Today the team takes on host Niagara at 2:00 p.m. (MT). The Aggies need to at least get a split out of this road trip. The Eagles, like the Aggies, come into the game at 1-2 with both teams losing to Bucknell and Oregon State. The Purple Eagles play at a faster tempo which will help the Aggies. Niagara averages 75.2 possessions per game so the winning team should be in the high 70's perhaps even the low 80's. The Aggies should have a distinct advantage on the glass in this one as well as a decided advantage getting to the charity stripe. The Purple Eagles have gotten to the stripe just 72 times while the Aggies have been 84 times. Right now nearly 30 percent of the Aggies' offense is coming from the free throw line while just 18 percent of Niagara's points are coming from the stripe. Again, the Aggies must be efficient here.

Niagara also doesn't turn the ball over much averaging just nine turnovers per game which is outstanding considering the number of possessions per game they average. That could be a key factor for the Aggies if they can turn Niagara over and convert some of those into easy transition buckets.

One thing is for certain, the Aggies need to get their offense on track before this next stretch of games which sees them face UTEP, Southern Miss, South Alabama and UNM in back-to-back games.

Today's game is scheduled for a 2:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network and streaming online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/17/12

Aggie cross country senior Courtney Schultz will race for the final time today at 10:00 a.m. (MT) when the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championship meet is run. For Schultz it's a chance to fulfill her goal of becoming an All-American. For that to happen she'll have to finish in the Top 40. At the midway point in last year's race she was in the Top 30 and stood 34th with 1,000 meters to go before running out of gas.

No matter what happens today it will mark the end of an illustrious career for Schultz who will go down in history as one of the greatest athletes in New Mexico State history and should be a sure first ballot hall of famer.

Today's race will be streamed live on

The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action this afternoon as they take on Bucknell in the 2K Sports Classic. The Bison, a team noted for taking down big name opponents in the NCAA Tournament, is off to a 3-0 start with wins over Purdue, fellow giant killer George Mason and Niagara who the Aggies will face on Sunday.

This will be another big test for the Aggie big men as they go up against 6'11" senior center Mike Muscala who logged one of the finest stat lines you'll see all season. Muscala finished with18 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots.

The Bison are an efficient team offensively (as are the Aggies) and against Niagara the Bison overaged a whopping 1.35 points per possession. The Bison have been hot shooting the ball from deep over the past two games as they went 7-for-12 against George Mason and 9-of-18 against Niagara. The other thing that sticks out is the Bison have shot the ball well from the free throw line and they've gotten there quite a bit shooting 76 free throws in three games (25.3 per game) converting 77.6 percent. As was the case last season the Aggies are also getting to the free throw line at a high rate, through two games averaging 29 free throw attempts per game and connecting on 69 percent. That should make the free throw battle a wash on paper which means the Aggies may need to find an advantage somewhere else.

The Bison are a smaller team than the Aggies with Muscala really the only Bison player with size. This is where the Aggies could find their advantage, in the paint. The Aggies can throw big bodies at the Bison all game long and perhaps wear them down physically. The Aggies should hold an advantage on the boards and offensive rebounds will be key given the Aggies' size advantage inside.

This is a chance for a very good resume building win for the Aggies. We expect Bucknell to try to slow this game down and keep it in the mid to upper 60's. If the Aggies can force tempo in this game they have a very good chance of winning this game. If the game is played at a slower pace, that would likely favor the Bison.

The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio also available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/13/12

Aggie hoops is in full swing now as both the men's and women's teams have each played a game. The Aggie men fell 71-62 to a good Oregon State team that happened to have a hot player on Sunday night. The biggest takeaway from the game on Sunday night was that the Aggies are going to be a good team this year. There were a lot of first game jitters and mistakes that will get cleaned up as the season moves along and this team will be hard to beat come conference play.

This biggest concern at this point is going to be the play at point guard. Neither K.C. Ross-Miller nor Daniel Mullings looked particularly comfortable at the point in the game against Oregon State but again, it was just the first game of the season and we expect Ross-Miller to start playing better as the season progresses. Terrel de Rouen looked pretty good during the minutes he played although the Aggies would be better served with him not taking three point shots and we're not necessarily referring to the three point shot that he took late. We're actually okay with the mindset, although in that situation he probably should have continued his drive to the basket and either tried to get fouled or kicked it back out to one of the three point shooters who was on the floor (Aronis was trailing de Rouen on the play and likely would have been wide open at the top of the key had Terrel continued to the basket).

It's also pretty clear right now that Tyrone Watson is probably the most important player on the floor for the Aggies right now. The team looked much more at ease when he was on the floor and he's probably the team's best ball handler.

One big positive to take away from the game was that the Aggies were able to maintain their composure on the road and battled back in the game. This was a game that could have gotten away from the Aggies but instead they never let the lead get over 14 points and cut the deficit to just six late.

Former Aggie Justin Hawkins provided his thoughts on the first game on Jason Groves' blog:
The Aggies will be fine. We have a lot of returning players but they all have new roles this year. We must continue to attack the rim and get to the line which has been a staple of the aggie teams for a few years now. Also we much continue to hit the glass hard. We will not be a three point shooting team thats not who we are but we have guys that can make enough shots to keep the other team honest. We have size and are athletic so we really don't need to shoot that many threes anyway. KC looked a little nervous but we have to remember this is his first game in a long time with him sitting out cause he transferred and his knee injury but trust me he will b fine. TDR looked good. Needs to slow down some but he can be good. Daniel played hard as usual. Tyrone was solid as usual. Big guys need to post harder and demand the ball inside and get easy buckets, but they have to make their free throws when they get fouled. Banja played ok in my opinion. I like to see him be aggressive and take the ball to the basketball. He is one of the most athletic players in the nation. He just needs to come to a two foot jump stop and jump over evrybody and finish when he gets in the lane.

Overall we played ok but we will get better as season goes on and guys settle into their roles. Coach's teams normally get better as the season goes on anyway.

The Aggie women kicked off their season last night hosting Loyola Marymount. The Aggies, much like the men did on Sunday, got out to a quick lead but then struggled to close out the half going from a seven point lead to a seven point deficit by halftime. The Aggies fell behind by nine in the second half but battled all the way back to send the game to overtime. They fell behind by four quickly in overtime but again battled back and pulled out the one-point win.

The takeaways from last night's game were that the Aggies have definitely improved from a scoring standpoint. The team has players that can score this year both inside and outside but it was two returning players, Jasmine Rutledge and Kelsie Rozendaal who are going to be the big keys for this team and in particular Kelsie Rozendaal. She finished with a career-high 22 points and chipped in 11 rebounds. Jasmine Rutledge had 12 points and eight rebounds. Transfer Danesia Williamson also had 19 points but also had seven turnovers which is something that was a major bugaboo last season and definitely needs to get cleaned up as the season goes on. The team finished with 28 turnovers which is about twice as many as we'd like to see.

One thing is for certain, this is going to be a very entertaining team to watch play and they're only going to get better and could surprise in the WAC this year after getting picked near the bottom of the league.

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/11/12

The New Mexico State men's basketball team's season kicks off tonight as the Aggies take on Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore. The game will be televised on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. (MT). Tonight's game will be a stiff challenge for this new group of Aggies. Not only are the Aggies facing the daunting task of replacing three career 1,000-plus point (and in Wendell McKines' case, a 1,000-plus rebound) players, all three were starters. You may think the toughest player to replace from last year's squad would be Wendell, however, we believe the toughest job will be replacing point guard Hernst Laroche. He was a four-year starter and owns the career starts and career-minutes played records at New Mexico State and he was a consistent, steady player for the Aggies from his freshman year all the way through his senior year.

You throw on top of that the challenge of opening on the road in a hostile environment against a team that returns four starters from a 21-win team along with the fact that said team played their season opener two nights ago (and was impressive in their victory) it's going to be a tough game for the Aggies to win. Can they win? Absolutely, however, it's not going to be easy. First, the Beavers love to play an up-tempo game. They won't be afraid to run with the Aggies. They won't likely get rattled easily by the Aggies' defensive pressure. Last season the Beavers averaged over 74 possessions per game, three more than the Aggies. In Friday night's victory over Niagra, they had an unreal 84 possessions. That's the most of any of the 20 teams that have played so far this season and that resulted in the Beavers scoring 102 points.

The Beavers were also lights out offensively and one player in particular to keep an eye in today's matchup is 6'10" sophomore forward Eric Moreland. He finished with 14 points and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field in 28 minutes of action. Ironically, Moreland originally committed to UTEP (transferring after Tony Barbee took the job at Auburn) so he could have been a player the Aggies saw on a yearly basis. As a team Oregon State shot 56.7 percent from the field, 58.1 percent from inside the arc and 54.2 percent from outside the arc. Last season the Aggies struggled at times with teams that shot the three ball well, we'll see if that's a factor this season.

The good news for the Aggies is that defensively, Niagara shot 47 percent from distance against the Beavers and that figures to be an improved area on the Aggies' offensive side of the court. However, Niagara shot just 31 percent from inside the arc, a number that the Aggies will have to do much better at if they want to win the game.

If the Aggies are to win tonight three things need to happen. The Aggies need to pound the offensive backboards. The Beavers gave up 18 offensive boards in an exhibition game and 15 against Niagara on Friday night. Second, the Aggies need to avoid the silly turnovers. This figures to be a very fast-paced game and turnovers are going to happen, however, the Aggies need to avoid making dumb turnovers (bad passes or lazy passes, etc). They also need to have good shot selection which is something Coach Menzies was a little critical of in the exhibition win over Western New Mexico. If there's one thing that will kill a team more against an up-tempo team it's taking bad shots. Bad shot selection leads to easy transition buckets for those types of teams and taking bad shots is just as bad as turning the ball over. Third, the Aggies need to take advantage of their size advantage. The Aggies are one of the biggest teams in the country and they need to use that to their advantage.

We're very interested to see how the new pieces fit together, in particular the point guards, Sim Bhullar and junior college transfer Kevin Aronis.

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/08/12

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tonight at Texas State hoping to bounce back from a tough loss to Utah State this past Saturday. The loss to the UtAgs virtually guaranteed that the Aggies won't be winning the WAC regular season title this year. There is however still much to play for. The final three games for New Mexico State are very important in terms of seeding. Should Idaho and UTSA both win their matches tonight and Idaho also wins on Saturday night (the Vandals host UTA and LA Tech so wins are likely), then the Aggies would need at least two wins, both coming against UTSA and Idaho, in order to earn the two seed. However, if the Aggies were to lose to either UTSA or Idaho in the final three matches and finish with the same conference record as either UTSA or Idaho, then they would drop to at least the three seed because both the Roadrunners and Vandals have a win over league-leading Utah State.

Obviously, with three wins the Aggies can wrap up the two seed in the tournament and should Utah State suffer an epic collapse and lose their final two matches and the Aggies win out, then New Mexico State and Utah State would share the regular season title (though USU would earn the top seed) although we really don't see USU choking down the stretch and losing to both SJSU and Texas State.

Tonight's match comes with a bit of a revenge factor for the Aggies. One of New Mexico State's four conference losses came at the hands of Texas State and shockingly it came at the Pan Am. The Bobcats are just one of three WAC teams to earn a win over the Aggies in Las Cruces since the Aggies joined in 2005 (the other two being Hawai'i and Utah State) and Texas State has had the Aggies' number as of late winning two of the last three meetings. The Aggies' loss in Las Cruces to Texas State came in five sets, however, the Aggies had match point in set four and let the victory slip through their hands.

Expect the Aggies to come out firing tonight and in particular Meredith Hays who had a negative hitting percentage for just the second time this season (both coming against USU). Also keep an eye on the setting position for the Aggies. Redshirt freshman Maggi Jo Keffury and true freshman Taylor Livoti got the bulk of the playing time the past two matches.

Tonight's match is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MT) first serve with Live Stats available via the Texas State athletic website. Streaming video is also available for a small fee through the Texas State athletic website.

One of the Aggies' 2013 football opponents was officially announced today as Florida Atlantic, former Sun Belt foe, released their non-conference scheduling through 2015. The Aggies will visit the Owls next season as part of New Mexico State's foray into independent football status. For more on the Aggie' football schedule for next season check out Teddy Feinberg's blog post on the subject.

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/06/12

The New Mexico State men's basketball team kicked off the 2012-13 season with their first and only exhibition game of the year, though they'll face Northern New Mexico (NAIA Division) later this season which may as well be an exhibition. It's always tough to gauge the team during these exhibitions but there are generally two things we want to see when the Aggies play a team from a lower division and they both come on defense. First, hold the opposing team to under 40 percent shooting. Done and done. The Aggies held Western to under 40 percent shooting in both halves and the Mustangs finished the game shooting just a shade over 32 percent. Second, hold the team under 70 points. Again, mission accomplished. The Mustangs scored just 49 points in the game and had just 13 second half points through the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. Honestly, we could care less if the team scored 98 points or not. Defense wins championships and the Aggie defense did what we wanted to see them do last night.

A couple of other statistics that stand out, the projected Aggie regulars only committed eight turnovers. That'll be something to keep an eye on especially early in the season. Also, the Aggies officially had five blocks, although that may or may not be correct, it seemed like there were more.

Given the size of the Aggie frontcourt as well as the length of a few of the other Aggies like Bandja Sy, if this team doesn't average in the neighborhood of six or seven blocks per game, we'll be very disappointed. From the 2001-02 to 2008-09 seasons, the nation's leading shot blocking team was UConn who averaged no less than seven blocks per game. Given the fact that the Aggies will have a significant size advantage in the post night in and night out, this should be a goal for the Aggies to shoot for.

The Aggies are back in action on Sunday night against Oregon State on ESPNU. It'll be interesting to see if the Aggies can carry over some of those defensive marks into the season opener on Sunday.

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/27/12

it's Homecoming! The Aggie football team hosts No. 24 Louisiana Tech today and the Aggies' biggest challenge will be keeping the LA Tech offense in check. The Bulldogs average 56 points per game and no team this season has held them under 44 points. Even Texas A&M, an SEC team, surrendered 57 to the Bulldogs. LA Tech is also coming off a game in which they scored 70 points, 56 in the first half, against Idaho.

The good news for the Aggies? They should be able to score a few points today. Louisiana Tech's opponents are averaging 36 points per game and 24 points is the fewest points any team has scored on them this season.

Will the Aggies be able to win the game today? It's going to take a herculean effort to do so. The defense has to get off the field and keep LA Tech to just field goals and the offense has to do what they did last week in terms of controlling the clock. What we really want to see from the Aggie is just improvement on both sides of the ball. Last week against a very good Utah State defense the Aggies were able to move the ball fairly consistently. If they can do that again today and capitalize on their scoring opportunities then perhaps they can keep the game closer than most people think it will end up.

For the defense, they've put together a couple of respectable games but this will be their toughest challenge of the season. If the defense can hold LA Tech under 45 points we'll consider that a win for the defense.

Today's game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tonight as they take on Denver. The Aggies are coming off an impressive sweep of UNM on Tuesday night in a match that could be the springboard into consistent play that this team has been searching for.

Sophomore outside hitter Meredith Hays hit .438 and had 16 kills against the Lobos and it was a bit of a slump busting performance. Over the previous six matches Hays had been hitting just .119 with 80 kills but also 48 attack errors on 267 swings. It goes without saying but when Hays is effective and efficient, the Aggies generally win.

Denver is riding a four game win streak going into tonight's match. This is another critical match for New Mexico State to try to keep pace with Utah State. The Aggies currently sit alone in second, a half game ahead of Idaho who lost at UTSA on Thursday night. Utah State is a game head of the Aggies in both the win and loss columns having played two more matches in conference than the Aggies have.

The Aggies can't afford another loss in conference play if they want to win the regular season title. It's unlikely that USU would lose more than twice more in their final five WAC matches (that's including a potential win by New Mexico State over USU when the two teams meet next Saturday) and the Aggies also want to make sure they stay ahead of Idaho (who they still face in Las Cruces) and secure a top two seed in the conference tournament.

Tonight's match is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. first serve with Live Stats available via the Denver athletic website.

The WAC Cross Country championship meet was held this morning in Ruston, LA. Unfortunately senior harrier Courtney Schultz's bid for four straight individual titles came up just short. Schultz finished second behind Idaho's Hannah Kiser. The Aggie women's and men's teams both finished outside the top three (full final results will be available later today). The Idaho women won their third straight title while UT Arlington took the men's title.

Congratulations again to Schultz, even though she wasn't able to four-peat, three first place finishes and a second place finish is still one heck of a career record. There will be at least one more meet for Schultz, the Mountain Regional at Colorado State and hopefully another trip to Nationals for Schultz.

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/23/12

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tonight against in-state rival UNM. The Lobos and Aggies square off in Albuquerque and for the Aggies, it's a big game for them to try to get some of their early season mojo back. The team has lost two of three, both to rather pedestrian teams (Texas State and UT Arlington) and has fallen behind Utah State by a game and a half in the conference standings. The Lobos are 18-5 on the season with a win in Mountain West play over Colorado State.

Chantale Riddle is their clear go-to player averaging 4.17 kills per set. Defensively, the Lobos average 14.3 digs per set and 2.3 blocks per set, comparable numbers to the Aggies who are averaging 13.3 digs per set and 2.5 blocks per set. Lobo opponents are hitting .146 on the season while Aggie opponents are hitting .173.

The question for the Aggies is which team will show up tonight? The Aggies have struggled on the road this season with losses at UTEP and at UT Arlington really standing out. The biggest area of concern has to be the Aggies' struggles in the passing game. Their serve receive let them down in the matches against UTEP and Arlington. When the Aggies pass the ball well they look like world beaters. Unfortunately, when their passing has broken down, they've been very just an average team.

Tonight's match is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MDT) first serve and streaming video will be available for the match (it appears that it's free as well).

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/22/12

It was another rough weekend for Aggie sports as the football team fell 41-7 to Utah State and the soccer team lost both of their conference matches over the weekend thereby eliminating them from WAC tournament contention. The lone bright spot of the weekend was the volleyball team's 3-1 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday afternoon.

But the good news is that it's a new week and it's a big one for Aggie sports. On Saturday the cross country teams will head to Ruston, LA for the WAC Championship meet. The men are seeking their first ever WAC title while the women are hoping for a second WAC title in four years. Individually, Courtney Schultz is seeking her fourth consecutive title, with only Aggie men's golfer Tim Madigan coming close to matching the feat (Madigan was a part of four consecutive conference team titles).

Aggie volleyball faces in-state rival UNM tomorrow in Albuquerque. The Lobos are 18-5 overall with a win over Colorado State. This is the Aggies' last chance for a high-RPI win, though at this point, the Aggies will need to win the conference tournament in order to reach the NCAA tournament, particularly after suffering "bad" losses to UT Arlington and Texas State.

Aggie football hosts Louisiana Tech on Saturday for homecoming and it will be a big challenge for the Aggies. LA Tech just hung 70 points on Idaho, a team that defeated the Aggies 26-18. Idaho's loss also marked Robb Akey's final game as head coach of the Vandals. Akey was fired yesterday afternoon, though the loss to Idaho was not the main reason, it certainly did not help his cause. The Aggie defense has been porous this season and LA Tech's offense is the best in the WAC. It'll be a challenge for the Aggies just to keep LA Tech under their season average of 50 points.

Hoops season is just around the corner and that means it's time to unveil our preseason picks and all-conference team picks which we submitted on Friday to the WAC office.

On the men's side our picks look like this:

1. Utah State
2. New Mexico State
3. Denver
4. Louisiana Tech
5. UT Arlington
7. Texas State
8. Idaho
9. Seattle
10. San Jose State

Now, it's important to note that these are our regular season picks and they're based strictly on what teams have coming back and we actually feel like any of the top three teams are interchangeable (as are the bottom three teams). We also believe that in the end, New Mexico State will win the WAC tournament which is really all that matters because the WAC is unlikely to be a multi-bid league.

These are our picks for the Preseason All-Conference teams as well as Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year:

Player of the Year:
F Chris Udofia - Denver

Newcomer of the Year:
G K.C. Ross-Miller - New Mexico State

The remaining four Preseason All-WAC picks:
G Raheem Appleby - Louisiana Tech
G Daniel Mullings - New Mexico State
G Preston Medlin - Utah State
F Kevin Butler - UT Arlington

On the women's side these are our predictions for the regular season finish as well as the All-Conference teams. Again these picks are based strictly on what teams have (or don't have) coming back.

1. Texas State
2. Utah State
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Denver
5. Idaho
6. Seattle
7. San Jose State
8. New Mexico State
9. UT San Antonio
10. UT Arlington

Player of the Year:
G Devyn Christensen - Utah State

Newcomer of the Year:
G Stefanie Gilbreath - New Mexico State

The remaining four Preseason All-WAC picks:
F Alyssa Charlston - Idaho
F Kacie Sowell - Seattle
G Diamond Ford - Texas State
F Ashley Ezeh - Texas State

It should be noted that on both sides, there are so many question marks it's unreal. The WAC this year represents essentially four different conferences, the WAC (NMSU, USU, Idaho, SJSU and LA Tech) the Sun Belt (Denver), The Southland (UTSA, UTA, Texas State) and an independent in Seattle. Additionally, nearly every team has massive turnover from last year's squads and in almost every team's case on the men's side, the leading scorer from a season ago is no longer there or a big chunk of last year's starting five is gone. That's what makes this year's league so difficult to predict but it's also what will make this league fun to watch. Much like in volleyball this year, you may see unprecedented parity from top to bottom with any team being able to knock off any other team on any given night.

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