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bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 03/14/10 :: Championship Thoughts | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 03/14/10 :: Championship Thoughts

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Marvin MenziesbleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the tournament as a whole. The team played phenomenal defense the whole tournament, you got the key stops when you needed them and your rebounding, particlarly limiting the opposing teams' offensive rebounds, was outstanding.
Marvin Menzies: When you're teaching lessons all year long and you're at a point in the season where they have to adhere to the lesson or else their season is over, basically the kids have to make a decision that they're going to have to commit to getting stops, commit to rebounding, commit to playing defense the way we do it in practice and when we emphasized several times that that was the only way we were going to win this championship was if we improved our defense drastically. We talked about it several times, especially after the two road losses and the kids responded. We've known for quite some time that we have the talent but we've been constantly working toward developing it and getting better and the culmination of their efforts and the coaching from the staff just all came together at the right time.

bc.net: Your team is 11-0 in games decided by six points or less and both the semifinal and the championship game were tight games. What has been the biggest factor in that success versus last year when you had such a young team and lost a lot of those close games?
MM: Well the experience is obviously the key factor when you're growing a program and you have a paradigm in place that you commit to and say we want to bring in young kids and develop them and have the type of program where you're just reloading rather than rebuilding and that's what we're doing. Losing Jonathan Gibson this year will be a blow but we feel comfortable that the returning players will be able to pick up the slack based on their offseason training.

bc.net: All season long, especially when it became evident that you weren't going to get Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater back in the first semester, you kept pointing to conference play and you kept pointing to these three days at the WAC Tournament, how were you able to keep your team focused on that end goal?
MM: There was no option. They had to stay focused on it because there really wasn't an alternative. We did not allow them to splinter, we did not allow them as a staff to be negative. We constantly preached the goals in front of us and we had not achieved them. No matter what the naysayers said, we were together and our goals were in front of us the whole time. We had full support from our administration and the campus community in terms of the people that know us and know what we're trying to achieve there from everything academically, to off the court and on the court and it just took a little time for it to unfold. So many times people judge you before the body of work is completed and it's just the kind of mistake... it's human nature, but I've learned after coaching for 29 years that you can't evaluate your season until your season is over.

bc.net: Describe the feeling that you had when the buzzer sounded last night.
MM: I was actually very calm. It was very surreal. It was satisfying obviously and euphoric but at the same time it was just a goal being met. It was like, Job Accomplished and we have another goal that we have set in front of us that we're working toward. It was a great feeling obviously but we have a mantra right now, "One More Win." We started that mantra before we played San Jose State and it's continued ever since. One More Win. We had to get one more win.

bc.net: For the team and the coaching staff, how did these three wins feel, particularly that you guys had to go through and beat Nevada and Utah State after disappointment of the final road trip of the regular season?
MM: It's just a matter of perspective. You could look at those games after they were over and say, "Oh, they can't win on the road or whatever" or you could look at them and say, "Those are great opportunities to learn and grown and they'll get them next time." Immediately after losing the opportunity to win the regular season conference championship we knew that we had to refocus on our next goal and that entailed beating whoever we played. We just shifted some things defensively and put some different emphasis in and tweaked how we prepped them and made some adjustments from a coaching perspective and the kids have been on board and have bought into what we've been selling for quite some time so it was just a matter of going out and executing what we've been talking about.