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 split against Utah State and Nevada, Hamidu and Wendell and the upcoming games against Fresno State and Louisiana Tech.
bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the Utah State game?
Marvin Menzies: Utah State was a tough one. That was one of those games, it was such a great opportunity, they had just broke into the Top 25 so you're hopeful that you go in and pull off the upset and take one of those golden opportunities and perhaps use it to grow your program. Unfortunately we weren't able to get the job done. We played a very solid first half, we started off a little slow but we showed a lot of heart and fought back and did some good things there in the first half to be down only three with them making seven threes in the first half. I thought that was pretty admirable for my guys. Eventually they wore us down there in the second half and we didn't have the same level of execution, credit their defense for taking us out of our comfort zone. As a result we didn't get the job done out there.
bc.net: Your thoughts on the Nevada game?
MM: Nevada obviously was surrounded with a lot of distractions with the discipline issues that we had going on. But I thought it actually made our guys focus a little harder. They rebounded from that loss at Utah State, they knew as real competitors needed to go out and show a great performance and that's what they did and luckily we were there down the stretch and able to pull it out at the end.
bc.net: Hamidu made some great passes and big buckets down the stretch and of course Wendell McKines had the game winning three pointer.
MM: Hamidu, I really had to challenge him because he really wasn't playing that solid up until midway through the second half. I was real happy with the way he responded to that challenge. He didn't just go in and try to do it all himself. He was very poised in that when he got doubled he threw the ball out and made good passes and when he had one on one opportunities he went at the basket strong.
Wendell's three was basically a shot that is normally an option out of the offense and they laid off of him and gave him that opportunity in the way the play was designed. That was probably about the third option in the play but they [Nevada] did a good job taking away the other things. He was straight ahead and he shoots those from a high percentage up there and so we were lucky that he knocked it down. He was confident when he took that shot and that's half the battle.
bc.net: Saturday you take on Fresno State, they're 2-8 and have had a bit of a rough season and you beat them pretty good up in Fresno. However, they've played everybody else since then very close. What is the biggest challenge for your guys going into that game tomorrow?
MM: Probably just what you said. Not taking them for granted, looking at their record and not taking those things lightly. We have to come to this game understanding that they're a very capable team. They took Utah State into overtime, they beat Boise State at home, they had a tough road loss yesterday. They're capable. They're up and down, they're very young just like us and just like teams that play us, I'm sure that their scouting reports go out that you've gotta be ready for this team because even though they're just 12-12 on the season they're very capable of beating a very good team on any given night.
bc.net: Then on Monday night you take on Louisiana Tech. They're kind of the ultimate what-if team. They've lost four or five conference games in the waning seconds of the game. They've also played 15 games away from home so they're very well adjusted to playing on the road. What's the biggest challenge for your team against them?
MM: At this stage it's going to be one of those games that both of us will have played a very tough schedule up to this point with a lot of adversity. We're real similar in that we're young teams that have had to go through a lot of growing pains this year. It'll be a true testimony to which team will be able to pull it out in the end. I believe it'll be a close game and I believe both teams will play very very hard with them feeling like they have a chance to win. I'm sure La. Tech will come in confident as will we. But at the end of the day confidence doesn't win games. Execution and effort does. We will find out possesses those two "E's" on Monday.
bc.net: Louisiana Tech's Kyle Gibson drew the challenge of guarding Fresno State's Paul George last night. George was coming off a 29 point and 10 rebound game and held George to just eight points and forced six turnovers, five of those were steals. Do you expect to see him up front on Jahmar?
MM: I would imagine that's what they'd do. He's a very solid player. He comes from a school of coaching, a lineage of coaching. His father's a coach. He grew up playing the game and grew up with it from a basketball IQ standpoint. His older brother played Division I as well. He's a very heady player. He's got a big heart and does a very good job so I would imagine that's who they'd match up on him [Jahmar]. But our offense is designed around defensive opportunities of what they give us. We'll have a lot of different people that will have opportunities. If it's not JY it'll be someone else and we've got a lot of capable scorers so I'm not too worried about the internal matchup just the team going out and playing the best they can.