Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 01/04/11

Editorial Note: This week's interview was conducted through a teleconference with members of the media from the Las Cruces Sun-News, Las Cruces Bulletin and Albuquerque Journal. The questions asked by are marked as such.

On whether redshirting was a difficult decision for Wendell:
Marvin Menzies: It was. Wendell is very competitive by nature and really didn't want to sit out the full year but the injury just took longer than we anticipated in getting him back to 100 percent. It kind of forced our hand a little bit. He's close to 100 percent now. He has a green light to practice. He'll probably be a little out of shape and probably take a little bit longer to get all the way back in sync with the team, it wouldn't take too long because of his experience. But at the end of the day when we looked at everything the signs kept pushing to him coming back and having a great senior season and getting his degree. He loves Las Cruces, he's in no hurry to leave. It was just one of those deals where all the signs eventually made it pretty clear what he needed to do.

On when they sat down to decide on the redshirt:
MM: On the Idaho/Boise swing we kind of came to the conclusion. That's when it was really finalized.

On whether there was any thought to bringing him back this season to take a run at making the NCAA Tournament:
MM: Obviously having him be a part of the team right now would be a huge bonus for us but we've got a lot of talent still and we have a lot of guys that are going to get an opportunity as a result of Wendell not coming back. I think in the long term it'll be good for the program and Wendell for him to come back for his senior season and redshirt this year. With Wendell redshirting, does that change anything in terms of minutes for the rest of the team now that the decision for him to redshirt is finalized?
MM: I don't think it changes it because he's been gone for so long. We'll just stay the status quo in terms of how we've been playing guys. As guys get healthy, with Hamidu and Troy, I think that'll have more of an impact on minutes than with Wendell not coming back.

On how it affects recruiting for next year?
MM: It affects it in the way that it's like signing a great player. We've got a guy who is going to occupy a scholarship now that is experienced and will be an instant bonus where had we used that scholarship for a high school player they wouldn't been able to contribute at the level that Wendell can in his senior year. It affects it in that sense. I don't think the trickle down effect will hurt us too much.

On whether potentially reaching the all-time rebounding mark was a thought for Wendell in the decision to play a full season:
MM: That's always in the back of your minds, some of the personal goals that you set when you're trying to help the team win games. We knew that obviously he'd have a much better chance at doing that if he had a full season under his belt. It wasn't a consideration in the decision, just kind of a benefit of coming back. How did the team react to the decision? Were they surprised at all or did they have an idea that this was a strong possibility?
MM: No, I think they were just supportive of Wendell. They just wanted him to be 100 percent. Obviously Gordo would have loved to play with him in his senior year but as of now all the guys will have a chance to play with him again. It's not like their careers playing with Wendell have been exhausted.

On what his role with the team is now:
MM: His role is assistant coach. I just don't pay him. He's doing a great job of giving the moral support to the guys, adding insight into the smaller nuances of the offense and defense. He's just a very positive entity on and off the court for the guys. It's a big plus.

On whether Remi Barry will be on scholarship next year:
MM: He will.

On the Fresno State game and them playing their third game of the week on Saturday against the Aggies will give New Mexico State an advantage:
MM: I hope so. I'm not sure. I'll tell you after the game! I think any time you play in conference you run into situations where being at home in general is the big advantage. Whether a team has played one, two or three in the same week, I'm not sure how much that'll play a role to be honest. I would like to think that we would play well just because of the conveniences that we're afforded by playing at home. I can't really speak to their conditioning and their practices of their road play. I don't really know. Can you talk about the switch that gets flipped when you go from non-conference play to conference play? When you look at a team like Fresno State that struggled in non-conference play at 4-6 but here they sit at 2-0 in the league beating San Jose State and Nevada.
MM: It's a different season. I think that players and coaches alike approach the season with a fresh clean slate and that's an opportunity. You look at a team like Oregon beating Arizona and Arizona State on their home floor in the opening of the Pac 10, those kinds of opening to the conference are an indication that it truly is a brand new season. It is a switch that is flipped by players and coaches with a fresh, renewed sense of opportunity and that's what you're witnessing.

On whether there may be an increase in the minutes for Troy and Hamidu on Saturday:
MM: There increase will come based on their conditioning not based on Wendell's absence. Troy played 28 minutes which are pretty good minutes but I can see where Hamidu with a good week in practice could play more minutes. Is conditioning a factor in when Troy and Hamidu will return to the starting lineup?
MM: Not really. I could care less who starts. That's an individual ego thing and we don't have that problem with our guys. We're basing our lineups on what can help us win the game. Coach Menzies mentioned that your role has been like that of an assistant coach. Do you see things differently from the bench, strategically, things that guys are doing offensively or defensively versus if you were on the court?
Wendell McKines: Yeah. I see things a lot differently. Especially how they defend, especially how they defend Troy. I notice certain schemes other teams do. It's definitely helped me become more of a student of the game. Still being a part of this team and part of this family, there's still benefits. My IQ for the game and my love for the game is at an all-time high right now.