The Aggies take on Nevada tomorrow night in a battle for first place and one of the big keys for the Aggies will be to guard the three point arc against Nevada. The Wolf Pack were a decent three point shooting team in non-conference play hitting 39 percent of their threes but they've really kicked it up a notch in conference play hitting 43 percent of their threes in their five wins. They hit nine against Idaho, ten against Utah State (including Deonte Burton's dagger four-point play when the Pack led by just two late), a whopping 16 against San Jose State. They've hit just five and six in their past two games respectively.
The two players the Aggies really need to be aware of in respect to shooting the three are Deonte Burton and Malik Story. In five WAC games they're 14-of-32 and 15-of-34 respectively, 43 and 44 percent. "You've gotta limit his [Deonte's] touches," said Coach Menzies. "Even though he's the point guard you've still gotta try to keep the ball out of his hands and when he gives it up you've got to try to do a good job of making him work to get it back, just the basic things you would do with any scorer whether he was the point or on the wing position."
"Guys like that are hard to guard, guys that can shoot it and bounce it are always the trickiest because you've got to protect the dribble and protect the paint but you've got to be aggressive about challenging shots."
The Aggies also need to take advantage of their depth, in particular the fact that they've got two capable scorers coming off the bench in Tyrone Watson and to a lesser degree Tshilidzi Nephawe. The entire season the Wolf Pack have gotten the a majority of their scoring in games from their starting five. It's extremely rare when a bench player for Nevada is a major contributor in terms of point production. Just twice this entire season has a bench player scored more than 10 points coming off the bench and both of those were in the first three games and by the same player. They've had a small smattering of eight and six point games from a bench player but it's usually just one player and never more than one play. If the Aggies can get Olek Czyz or Dario Hunt in foul trouble (or both) early, it could be a huge advantage because of the lack of bench production we talked about. That's not to say that one of the Nevada players isn't capable of stepping up but through 19 games, it hasn't been the case.
If the Aggies are able to get one of the Wolf Pack starters in foul trouble early, could the Pack break out a junk defense? Hawai'i did and had some success against the Aggies (as did UTEP earlier in the season). Coach Menzies doesn't believe the Aggies will see more junk defense from opponents and also feels that the Aggies made the adjustments necessary but just didn't finish by making shots. "We just missed shots. I don't think the junk defenses are what hurt us. We had great looks, we had 81 attempts but we missed 48 I think. I don't think that hurt us as much as us just shooting ourselves in the foot." Regardless of what defense the Aggies see tomorrow night, making shots will be the key.
On to today's links...
Aggie Men's Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News previews tomorrow's game.
Jason Groves blogs about a few trends for the Aggies.
Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal talks about Nevada head coach David Carter's long term vision.
Chris Murray also blogs four keys to the game and a prediction.
Chris Murray also blogs his weekly WAC rankings.
Teddy Feinberg of the Las Cruces Sun-News talks about the Aggies' one constant this offseason.
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