bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on this last stretch of games you played with four games in six days?
Marvin Menzies: Well it's been a tough stretch of the season. We knew it would be with the wear and tear of travel as well as with the games back-to-back and not having a chance to really practice in between and that kind of thing. It was a challenging stretch but to come out with a couple wins in Alaska was obviously a good then and then to play as well as we did, unfortunately falling short to Arizona, I was still satisfied with our effort. We've just got some things to clean up. They're very coachable corrections that can be made. We're feeling pretty good, still feeling very optimistic about the rest of the non-conference schedule.
bc.net: Out of the four game stretch and obviously playing back-to-back-to-back nights in Alaska and then traveling back and playing Arizona two days later, what were some of the things that you took away from that stretch that you maybe didn't know about your team that you found out?
MM: Well the guys were very mentally tough during that period. I thought that they understood what was necessary to keep their bodies in the best physical condition to be able to play hard throughout the tournament and then also with the Arizona game so that was good to have. Guys were getting sleep and taking care of themselves and that was important. We found also that you need practice. We need practice to continue to get better. We had made some very good strides through October into November but we haven't created habits that are continuous yet. We still need to get back in the gym and shore up some things before we're able to be the team we want to be going into conference.
bc.net: Taking a look at the two losses, the one to Southern Miss and Arizona, you got down in the second half in both of those games but the defense really played well in the final four minutes or so of both of those games to help you get back into a position to try to win those games.
MM: Yeah we've been preaching defense and fundamentals of defense since day one and we talked about that at any given time the defense is hopefully going to wear down your opponents and force them into some mistakes. It just so happens that both those game we had opportunities to climb back into them, falling short both times but I think if we can avoid the mental areas earlier then when you have those types of runs they can be runs to push you over the top rather than to push you back into challenge.
bc.net: You face Southern Miss on Sunday in a rematch. What did you learn about their team in the game in Alaska that you can apply to the game in Hattiesburg on Sunday?
MM: I know we've got our hands full. They're a very, very talented squad, very athletic, a little undersized in the post area but very aggressive and very sound in that area. It's a challenge for us to be able to us to do a better job of handling that pressure in that area. They'll front the post and be aggressive on the ball and make it difficult to go inside to there's a lot that needs to be worked on and unfortunately still not a lot of time. They've had a chance to be at home for a week there and get some rest so they'll be sitting waiting and we've just to come in and try to bring an 'A' game. That's the only way we're going to win there is to play one of our better games of the year, almost reminiscent of the UNM game. That's the only way you win in Hattiesburg is to not shoot yourself in the foot and give yourself a chance to maybe win the game in the last few minutes.
bc.net: Obviously everyone's been talking about Remi Barry and when he might get some minutes what's the plan for him?
MM: Having to sit the six games really threw off his schedule and he was gone from the team during that period so it's tough to say where and what level of contribution he may have until we get a chance to get him an opportunity which may come this weekend. I'm hopeful it'll come this weekend but it'll definitely come here in the next home stretch of games. He's moved in the right direction and he's doing everything he's supposed to do so I'm optimistic about his contribution this season.
bc.net: Terrell De Rouen saw his first action in Alaska, what is your evaluation of his play?
MM: Terrell is a pleasant surprise as a freshman, to be able to come in. The two games he played in, we won, based partly on his contribution. In giving Hernst a rest and playing that role has made us a stronger team. He did not play against Southern Miss and he's another one that I would think that if we can get him into that game and give Hernst a little rest and he's solid during that time then we should be in good shape there as well.
bc.net: Top to bottom this team appears to be the most athletic team you've had in your time at New Mexico State
MM: I think that we've recruited that way for quite some time trying to bring in athletes that can compete at the highest level and possibly play multiple positions. We've been doing that and now we're reaping the benefits of having those types of players and we've still got a ways to go but we're seeing some signs that we're headed in the right direction.
bc.net: There have been some stretches where the shooting has been a bit of an issue this season, is that more due to the lack of practice time or is it something that the team may struggle with all season?
MM: I just think it's reps. You've gotta get guys shots. We haven't had too much down time to get in the gym and work on our game and practice since that stretch of games started. It took it's toll and I think we're a much better shooting team that we were the night against Arizona. Wendell shot it well but that was it. I think we were 0-for-14 for the rest of the team and we're much better than that. I'm not too worried about it going forward.