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The Daily Aggie :: 01/01/11 | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

The Daily Aggie :: 01/01/11

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Happy New Year Aggie fans! Unfortunately 2010 did not end the way anyone hoped it would. The Aggies lost on the road at Boise State 81-78 after leading the first 36 minutes of the game. Unfortunately for Aggie fans, it was a familiar feeling but we'll get into that in a bit.

We talked yesterday about Boise State's Jekyll and Hyde defense and it showed again last night. This time it was a bad first half followed by a good second half as the Aggies shot 69.6 percent in the first half but just 37.5 percent in the second half.

The Aggies struggled in the final 2:00 of the game committing three straight turnovers after tying the game at 72.

Despite the loss it's still a good road split and the Aggies have the exact same conference record after two games (1-1) as last year's NCAA tournament team did. The Aggies have a three-game homestand and all three will be tough games and the next five games will say a lot about where the Aggies will finish in conference play. The three upcoming games at home are against Fresno State (1-0), Hawai'i (0-2 but much improved) and San Jose State (also 0-2 but played their first two on the road and have the best scorer in the league in Adrian Oliver). After that the Aggies head to Nevada and to Utah State. If the Aggies can survive that stretch and come away with a 3-2 or 4-1 record, they'll be in great shape heading into the final two months of the season with six of their final 10 games at home (including a Bracketbusters game).

We mentioned in the opening that yesterday's loss was a familiar feeling for Aggie fans. For all the highs of 2010 (a WAC men's basketball tournament title, a WNIT trip, another WAC men's golf title, another individual cross country title for Courtney Schultz), 2010 was marred by tough losses where the Aggies gave up late leads and also injuries. The Aggies were relatively healthy to start 2010 but the fall 2010 season was unlike any other we can remember in Aggie sports in terms of injuries. Nearly every team that took the field/court in the fall/winter of 2010 had to deal with injuries to key players.

Aggie football lost several offensive linemen for the season, lost starting quarterback Matt Christian for several games, saw injuries to Kenny Turner and Seth Smith and lost a projected starting safety before the season even began. Those are just the ones we can remember off the top of our head.

Aggie soccer played without Crystal Burns for a couple of games, Burns is one of the best players on the Aggie squad and definitely one of the biggest scoring threats the Aggies have. They also lost starting goal keeper Mikaela Bitner for a good chunk of conference play (to a concussion if we remember correctly).

The Aggie men's cross country team ran without their leader, Ian Ruybalid who suffered a stress fracture and did not compete for the Aggies the majority of the season. Had Ruybalid been healthy the Aggie very well may have hoisted their first WAC championship on the men's side as they finished second to Boise State this year.

Aggie volleyball saw outside hitter Stephanie Ziegler go out with a season-ending foot injury just six matches into the season. The Aggies were 5-1 when Ziegler went down and they would struggle to find a replacement at the second outside hitter spot the rest of the season. The Aggies also middle blocker Kelsey Brennan miss time with an ankle injury (going down in the match against Pepperdine, a match that they likely would have won had she not been injured in the first set). They also lost libero Ellen Miks midway through conference play to a concussion. Miks never returned to action after suffering the concussion. Aggie freshman Amanda Tonga also suffered a shoulder injury and was limited in her effectiveness.

Aggie women's basketball lost Madison Spence for just over a month after she suffered a concussion. The Aggies went 3-2 without Spence in the lineup and even though she has returned, she has not yet returned to the high level of play that she was at prior to her concussion. The Aggies have also played without Kelsie Rozendaal for the first 13 games of the season, Rozendaal is a glue player for the Aggies and one of those kids that often times goes unnoticed in the box score but does all the little things that helps teams win games. The Aggies have also lost Camila Rosen for the season after she suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Senior guard Danisha Corbett is also hampered by an MCL sprain which limits her explosiveness.

And of course the Aggie men's basketball team has been hamstrung by injuries as Wendell McKines has not played at all this season after suffering a broken foot in the first week of practice. Troy Gillenwater and Hamidu Rahman both missed significant time with injuries and Gordo Castillo also missed a game with an ankle sprain.

Update: We completely forgot to mention Aggie baseball losing their top two hitters for extended periods of time. Catcher Ben Harty at the time of his wrist injury was absolutely crushing the baseball, hitting over .400 and the team's home run leader at the time. The Aggies also lost Mike Sodders, a First Team All-American, was also playing very very well at the time of his injury.

You'd be hard-pressed to find another school that has endured as many injuries to key components as the Aggies did in 2010.

The second part of the story in 2010 was heartbreaking losses, many of them ending Aggie seasons.

Obviously the one that sticks out in everyone's mind is the men's basketball team's 70-67 loss to Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament but there were several other tough losses to swallow in 2010. The Aggie softball team lost 4-3 on a walk-off home run in the 8th inning against Fresno State after rallying to tie the game with home runs in the sixth and seventh innings. We'll get back to softball in a second.

The Aggie volleyball team lost in five at New Mexico after taking a 2-1 lead in the match, they lost in five at LSU after rallying to win sets three and four (after getting dominated in sets one and two). But the toughest loss of the season came against Utah State in the WAC Tournament semifinals as they held a 13-10 lead in set five and lost 16-14 ending their season (a bit of the sting from that loss was take away since Utah State would go on to win the WAC tournament in stunning fashion over heavily favored Hawai'i).

The Aggie football team had a 20-17 lead at Utah State with 9:29 left to play but lost 27-22. The Aggies jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half of the game but could not hold on. This was a disappointing loss for the Aggies but after coming from behind to beat New Mexico AND San Jose State "at the buzzer", sports has a funny way of evening things out. Call this loss penance for those two exciting come-from-behind wins.

Okay, we can all agree that those were all heartbreaking losses. However, no two Aggie teams suffered devastating losses quite like the Aggie baseball and softball teams did in 2010, particularly in the postseason.

The Aggie baseball team lost twice late in the regular season in walk-off fashion. The Aggies held an 8-3 lead over Hawai'i but lost in the 10th inning on a walk-off home single. Four nights later the Aggies lost 9-8 in the 11th inning on a walk-off home run at USC. This coming after the Aggies had scored rive runs in the top of the 7th inning to erase an 8-3 deficit. And the most devastating loss of the season came in the final game of the season as the Aggies led Nevada 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning and had for the most part dominated the game. Nevada's Cullen Mahoney hit a pinch-hit two run walk-off homer to send the Aggies into the offseason, 5-4.

Those were all tough losses, no doubt. But nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the heartbreak the Aggie softball team suffered in 2010. After a disappointing conference season in which they had to win six of their final seven games just to make the WAC tournament, which was being held in Las Cruces, the Aggies jumped out to an 8-0 lead on Boise State only to see the Broncos rally to score nine unanswered over the next four and a half innings to send the Aggies to the losers bracket.

The next day the Aggies jumped out to a 6-0 lead on San Jose State. The Spartans rallied to take a 7-6 lead heading into the sixth inning. The Aggies scored two runs to take an 8-7 lead but the Spartans scored two in the bottom of the sixth to take a 9-8 lead. The Aggies ended the season losing an eight run lead and a six run lead.

With all the injuries and heartbreaking losses in 2010, the Aggies are due for some good fortune. Here's hoping that 2011 will bring better health and better results for the Aggies.

On to today's links...

Aggie Men's Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News recaps last night's loss.

Dave Southorn of the Idaho Press-Tribune recaps the Aggie loss.

Nick Jezierny of the Idaho Statesman recaps the game.

The NM State athletic website recaps the loss.

Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News offers his take on Utah State.

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