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.
On the team's injury situation:
MM: Troy's ankle is still bothering him. We're kind of going day to day and just waiting to see Saturday how he feels. He's definitely going to travel, it'll probably go all the way to Saturday until we actually know if he's going to play or not. Gordo will practice, his ankle is sprained but he'll be okay. Hamidu should be good to go, he'll practice today.
On who might get the extra minutes if Troy is unable to play:
MM: It just depends on who we're playing. You've got different guys now. We feel like we can go to CK and go small and put Tyrone at the four or we can play Renaldo now and keep the guard rotation the same. It just depends what we feel like the best way to start the game off will be. You'll see all those rotations at some point but it's just really about trying to get a good start.
On whether Bandja is struggling:
MM: No, I wouldn't say he's struggling. We've got to get him to be more assertive. He's doing a great job defensively. People hang their hats on offense because that's the glory but I think he's been doing a real good job of keeping the offense alive. We've got to get him more aggressive about rebounding and he's got to make open shots when he gets them. But with Troy, Hernst, Tyrone and Gordo, there's only so many shots to go around. He's gotta continue to improve and work on his game, he's potentially a guy that can put up good numbers for us once he goes through the program.
On Idaho upsetting Utah State:
MM: Jack [Nixon] and I kind of called it. We talked about that game and they were just due for one of those nights. They've been shooting the ball so well and I think last night they might have been around 30 percent. I watched the game and Idaho did a really good job of pressuring them and Don obviously had Stew's number that night. That was the first night that Tai was wearing that mask and he didn't look totally comfortable with that.
On Hernst passing Sam Crawford on the All-Time assists list:
MM: We have lofty expectations for all our guys and sometimes you don't really know where guys are in different categories until their time is winding down. We had talked about Wendell potentially being a 1000/1000 guy before the season started and now we've got a chance for Hernst to be the top [assist] guy All-Time. That would be big time. You're talking about a program that's been here for a while. We just keep driving on the team concept and let the cream rise to the top and when it all shakes out you've gotta measure the body of work when it's all done anyway. Right now to reach second all-time is good stuff.
On Jonathan Gibson and Jahmar Young being Top 6 scorers when they left and now Hernst being Top 2 in assists and whether it's the system or style of play:
MM: Partly the style of play lends to a high scoring type of offense, guys are making shots. It would lend to having lofty numbers. You've gotta look at Gib, he was here for four years, Hernst is here for four years and JY was here for three years. It's getting away from the junior college transfer, that kind of paradigm that was here before I think will inevitably, if we continue to grow the program like I think we will, we'll see a lot more records going down over the years.
On stressing the importance of getting road wins to the team with three of the final five conference games on the road:
MM: It's all pretty self evident and the writing is on the wall because you can see we're still all jammed up behind Utah State and anybody on any given night, example last night with Idaho's win, can make a run at second place in this thing. I guarantee there are five locker rooms that are saying, "Hey we can get a couple byes here still." We've got a chance to get a couple byes but we've still gotta take care of business and there might be three or four teams that control their own destiny in terms of getting two byes. That's a pretty big log jam there.
On Tyrone Watson's increased scoring over the past few games:
MM: We went to him a couple more times offensively when we saw there were some matchup advantages, a couple times against [DeAndre] Brown against LA Tech. But the other games, it's not like we were drawing up plays for him, he's just using his energy and experience to get in there and get cutbacks, he's using some of our basic offensive philosophies in terms of when to cut to the basket, when to post the ball if you're high and he's getting some good looks off the system just by being in the system now for two complete years.
On the team's effort containing Olu Ashaolu in the first meeting:
MM: Well you know, first of all we've got to play him twice so if he goes 30 and 10 then he averages out pretty good against us so we've gotta make sure we take of Saturday. I think the road was a factor, I think we did a good job in our scouting report but he didn't have his legs the way he's had them in home games and games on the road in the first game where he's usually a little fresher. Our guys did a good job of identifying his strengths and weaknesses and Paul Weir did a good job on the scout. We're hopeful we can go out and do the same thing on Saturday.
On whether Idaho's win over Utah State is a confidence boost for the rest of the league in now knowing that Utah State can be beaten instead just thinking they can be beaten.
MM: I think the kids are pretty confident these days and I think all of them feel like when they walk out there they think they can beat Utah State. I'm sure San Jose State and Fresno State and LA Tech all feel like on a neutral floor with good execution that they can beat anybody in conference. That just confirms it, whether that plays a role or not, I don't know.