The Daily Aggie :: 12/21/10

The Aggie men's basketball team hosts Louisiana tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Pan Am and it's a chance for the Aggies to notch their fourth victory in a row. The Aggies defeated the Ragin' Cajuns in the season opener but that was a much different team than the one that takes the floor tonight. The scout will be the same but the players are different for the Aggies. Louisiana snapped a seven-game skid with a 68-65 victory over Larmar two nights ago. The Cajuns are winless on the road and head coach Marvin Menzies is hoping that their road woes will continue at least for one more night.

Louisiana has three players averaging over 10 points per game, however, leading scorer Josh Brown (14.3 PPG) in just six of the Cajuns' 10 games. Travis Bureau (10.6 PPG) and David Perez (10.2 PPG) are the other two double-digit scorers with Randell Daigle at 9.6 PPG.

It will be interesting to see how the Aggies fare on defense tonight. They've put together the best three-game stretch of defense we can remember in quite a while. Hopefully the Aggies can hold the Cajuns under 40 percent shooting and also hold them to fewer than 65 points. If they do both of those things, it should be another win for NM State.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and the game can be seen on AggieVision, ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court. Radio coverage will be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

As you may have heard the Connecticut women's basketball team takes the court tonight at 5:00 p.m. (MT) against No. 14 Florida State and with a win they will eclipse the 88-game win streak that the legendary John Wooden coached UCLA Bruin team put together from 1971-1974.

There has been a lot of talk about whether the Huskies' streak should even be compared to the 88-game win streak that UCLA put together. We are among those who think it absolutely should. What they have accomplished is phenomenal and they have done it against the very best competition that they can schedule.

We asked Aggie head women's basketball coach Darin Spence for his thoughts on the subject and this is what he had to say:

"I'm really happy for them. To do something for that long and sustain that level of play is remarkable. He's done an amazing job and along the way he has played the best of the best. He hasn't done it against a lot of guarantee games. He's done it against the Dukes, Baylors. People that want to be negative about that and want to say it's not as big as what UCLA did on the men's years ago can go jump in the lake. All you can play is who you play. The UConn women can't go play Elvin Hayes and Houston and they can't go play those Phi Slamma Jammas because it's men and women. It's the sport, it's the competition that you're looking at and how remarkable it is to sustain that effort at that high of a level.

I saw Geno's [postgame] press conference and he is so true. The people that really care about it right now are the ones that want to try to say something negative about it and how it doesn't match up to what the UCLA men did. It just goes to show you where we are. They don't want to give a women's program that kind of credit and they really deserve it. They've done something really special and he's built something really good and I hope they keep winning."

We also asked Coach Spence for his thoughts on what it takes to sustain that type of excellence over an extended period of time. Coach Spence has a bit of experience in that regard. He led Butler Country CC to a 117-47 record over the span of five seasons and then led Cowley County CC to a 171-26 record over the span of the next six seasons.

"It's what my junior college level was all about, we had to do a lot of the same stuff, my philosophy is when you're winning games, as the head coach you become a lot more stern. You become a lot more nitpicky, you demand more. The ones that really back off and think they're doing something because they've won a few games are the ones that set themselves up for failure.

As the head coach you may turn into a big pain the backside but there's a method to the madness. It's not that you don't care about the people around you, it's that you're focused and you have to keep everybody else focused. You just have to keep your foot on the pedal and keep it going. Sometimes the players don't realize what you're doing.

Kind of like Herb Brooks and the 1980 USA hockey team. He was on those guys, same type of thing. When you're winning a lot, those are the times that you put in new wrinkles to your offense and it forces your players to focus more and concentrate more. It's when you lose a couple games, that you loosen up and try to create a little more enjoyable atmosphere to help bring the kids through it but when you're winning, it's fun to win but it's a long drawn out process because just keep the hammer down and keep pushing forward."

So regardless of where you stand on the UConn/UCLA debate, we encourage you to watch the game (or Tivo it if you're planning on going to the Aggie men's game tonight which we hope you all are) and appreciate the history that will be made tonight, either the record will be broken with an 89th straight victory or the streak will end at 88 just like UCLA's did.

On to today's links...

Aggie Men's Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News previews tonight's game and talks about the Aggie defense.

Joshua Parrot of The Advertiser previews tonight's game and discusses Louisiana's road woes.

The Ragin' Cajun athletic website previews tonight's game.

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