bleedCrimson.net will be interviewing Aggie men's head basketball coach Marvin Menzies throughout the 2008/2009 season as the Aggies take aim at their third consecutive WAC championship. This week talked with Coach Menzies about the home sweep of San Jose State and Hawai'i, the Bracketbusters matchup, Gordo Castillo and the upcoming road trip against Utah State and Nevada.
bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the San Jose State game?
Marvin Menzies: I was a little worried about that one coming in. I knew their team was going to come in hard having lost at home in a close game, in a game they felt they could have won. Then obviously it was going to be one of those deals where you've got to make sure your guys are ready to play. I think we showed that, we responded. I was happy to see our guys had a lot of energy and came out with some passion and got the job done.
bc.net: Adrian Oliver and Jahmar Young had a pretty good offensive battle going on. Jahmar wound up with 32 points to Oliver's 28.
MM: They did go at it. The good thing is Jahmar came out on top because he got the 'W'. In the end that's the deciding statistic. I thought he played well. He's really been patient lately and he's been playing with a much more positive demeanor. He's had very good body language. He's growing up right before our eyes. He's turning from a young man into a man. Obviously guys take steps back from time to time but he's been pretty steady since the early non-conference. Having him win the Player of the Week honor was a credit to the way he's handled himself the last couple months.
bc.net: With 4:53 left in the game, Troy got a technical foul for a delay of game.
MM: Right and we've got sophomores that do that and they shouldn't do it and they got warned. Troy thought that was okay and he did not know that it was something you could do to get a technical. Another lesson, another point of education for the freshman.
bc.net: I thought he responded to that situation very well. On the next possession he got the block that led to the JY three and then got the layup on the Aggies' next possession that tied the game up. We've talked a lot about the youth of the team but that was a very mature response to that situation.
MM: Yeah and that was the difference from last time when he had a little mental faux pas. It was good to see he had the wherewithal to try to have the "let me get it back" attitude and he did a great job at that and had a couple good plays right after the technical that helped spark us.
bc.net: Your thoughts on the Hawai'i game?
MM: Hawai'i was one of those weird wins, if that's possible. I thought we played good enough to win but I didn't think we played really well. That team is pretty tough in the sense that they don't have a good record but they stay in every game they play in. They're probably a guy or two short from being a very good team and getting over the hump. They got a split on the road by beating La. Tech with a tip-in and they're very good at home obviously so we can't take that win we had here and take that lightly going into Honolulu. We'll focus on these two teams this week and see where it goes from there.
bc.net: They seemed to have a fair amount of success inside with some back screens and similar type plays.
MM: Yeah, they're a very balanced team in that they've got a pretty steady little point guard, a scorer in their wing Fleming, they've got a couple bigs that are pretty talented. But because of their junior college experience, even though they're juniors they're still learning and still trying to figure out how to get adjusted to Division I basketball. I think those kids will be much improved next year.
bc.net: Gordo went 4-4 from three, he really seemed ready to shoot when he caught the ball.
MM: Gordo's been shooting real well in practice and how you practice is usually how you play. Typically at least, not always true. Sometimes guys have a really bad practice and then really get after it in the game. He's been shooting it well in practice and shooting it with a lot of confidence right now. Stepping into the line and anticipating his teammates finding him which is what he's doing a very good job of. He took one of the four which was a little challenged but it still went down and that's what happens when your confidence is rolling.
bc.net: And in that game Jahmar did something that's a lot of times hard to do and that is follow up one big scoring game with another big scoring game as he finished with 25 points.
MM: The way he's doing it is he's just shooting at a very high percentage. That's because of the shots he's taking, they're very high percentage shots and that's what's really been the key to his success. He's been patient, he's letting the game come to him, he's still playing offense to find people and once you become a better passer you become a better scorer. In essence he's creating opportunities for other people which is in turn creating opportunities for himself. He's just figuring it out. He's got a great basketball IQ.
bc.net: The final 2:30 of the game there were 14 fouls, 25 free throws and took about 25 minutes to play.
MM: Yeah it felt like a marathon game because of those last couple minutes. Hawai'i had to do what they had to do because they were close enough to stay in the game had we missed some free throws and they kept scoring. And they did keep scoring, they had plenty of opportunities where they drove to the basket and just really got hard to guard because they were so aggressive. We were trying not to foul but unfortunately we kept doing it trying to play some semblance of defense without just giving them a wide open shot. It was a long drawn out couple of minutes but I'm glad I was on the winning end of it.
bc.net: On Thursday night you've got Utah State. They broke into the Top 25 this week. Obviously your team doesn't need any extra motivation for this game but does them being in the Top 25 give the players any added excitement?
MM: As much as you could talk about that, that doesn't really have anything to do with it. I'm sure they'd love to beat a ranked team, as would I. I'm glad they are ranked because we've got to play them anyway so it gives us an opportunity that if we are fortunate enough to win, it gives us a good quality win. At the end of the day we're still playing to get ready for three games in March and show continued improvement every time we go out on the floor.
bc.net: On Saturday night you take on Nevada and much like Idaho felt after their first game against you I'm sure the team and coaches feel like you should have won that first meeting.
MM: We had an opportunity, but it was at home and so you're supposed to have an opportunity. Utah State we didn't have that opportunity. Nevada we did but that was a lot. A lot like San Jose thought they had a chance to win at San Jose but they didn't. Home has a lot to do with it and both of these teams are playing at home. There's always an x-factor when you play Nevada because of the extra motivation that both teams play with because they both want to beat each other. Hopefully we'll play with a little bit more maturity I think it'll be a close game. I feel like if we can make good decisions again down the stretch we'll put ourselves in position to win.
bc.net: The Bracketbusters matchups were announced today and you drew Cal State Fullerton.
MM: I'm happy we don't have to go back east which is obviously a possibility with some of the conferences involved in the Bracketbusters. We played a team from the Big West last year in the Bracketbusters, I would have liked to maybe played a team from a different conference but having an opportunity to go back to California is always nice for recruiting purposes. We fell a little short on the road without Gibson in the lineup due to violation of team rules. I feel like if we would have everybody we might have had a chance to win that game and got a 2-0 run on the Bracketbuster. We've got them [Fullerton] at home and we're contemplating playing in the afternoon.