bleedCrimson.net: What are your impressions of the new players you've added to the team this year?
Marvin Menzies: We've got a nice injection of a variety of players that I think can help us across the board from Sim Bhullar at center giving us additional depth there, B.J. West coming off his redshirt year as well as looking at the wing position and point guard position and Matej Buovac to K.C. Ross-Miller and Eric Weary coming off his redshirt year as well as Terrel [de Rouen] who only played nine games last year and is kind of like a new player and also Kevin Aronis who is my first junior college transfer and can shoot the ball well. You look at the guys we already had coming back and you complement them with the new guys I think it gives us some added depth and puts us in a position to be a little more competitive in practice and adds the component of versatility with most of those guys. I think it creates a nice coaching environment.
bc.net: With so many new players what's the chemistry been like, I know that was a big component to your team's success last year.
MM: The chemistry starts with character and we've got some very good kids on the team. I think our student-athletes are very solid individuals and solid people. When you have those ingredients to begin with I think it's pretty easy to satisfy the chemistry.
bc.net: Defensively from your team, you've got a lot of size at all of your positions. When you look at guys like Sim and Chili in the middle and guys like Bandja, Tyrone and Daniel Mullings, are blocked shots a bigger emphasis this year with the kind of size and athleticism you have?
MM: It's always been an emphasis for us, rebounding has always been an emphasis and obviously our size can help us with that area. We lost the number two player in NMSU history in blocked shots in Hamidu Rahman so we've obviously had that as something that we've tried to teach these guys how to do it and the timing of it and when and where to use it technically. We've stayed true to form in teaching that to these new kids. A lot of the things we've had in the past we're simply building on that with the new players.
bc.net: In terms of your offense and getting all the new kids acclimated and used to your system, is there any changes or tweaking at all in the style of play because you do have a little bit more size?
MM: No, we'll still be very aggressive defensively and still press and mix up our man and zone and matchup zone. We'll play a little bit more conservative with the big guys in reference to we're not going to have them running around chasing ball screens and things like that. So we've made some adjustments for specific personnel but it's not our goal to revamp our system just because we've got some slightly different personnel. I think these kids are very capable of fitting into the system that we have.
bc.net: What are some things that you've seen early that you think right off the bat you're going to be better than you were last year?
MM: Well I don't know. We were pretty good last year, we won 26 games last year and I don't know what we're going to be better at this year. I know what we're working on and I know what we're teaching and emphasizing but that doesn't always lead to being good at it. You're talking about a relatively young team that's got a few upperclassmen but they've still got a long way to go and a lot to learn so I'm not really sure what our area of strength is going to be. The team's identity is going to unfold as we have more competition under our belts.
bc.net: You've had some very good road teams in the past, what has been the key to your success in getting your guys ready to play on the road?
MM: I think teams with experience, teams with balance in the classes, I think those are the teams that are the most productive on the road. It's tough to win on the road as it is so you need some guys that have been there that are not rattled that understand the routine they need to go through that have developed a nice routine, not just with the team but for themselves in terms of preparing themselves mentally. There are a lot of factors that go into being a good road team and this being our first road test we'll see how things unfold and the necessary changes that need to be made, we'll make them.
bc.net: As far as Tyrone and Bandja, what are your expectations for them this season?
MM: Well, those two guys are obviously guys that have a lot of experience and are very capable seniors so I expect them to carry the torch of leadership by example and also as a calming influence to the younger kids to keep their adrenaline under control and use it to focus on the things they need to be concentrating on instead of letting it run rampant through the systems and be a distraction. They've got a lot of weight on their shoulders in being the only two seniors but I think they'll be up to the task.
bc.net: As far as your point guard position and losing Hernst Laroche who was a very steady player for you, what are your expectations for the players who will fill that role?
MM: Well those are some big shoes to fill and I think that the jury is still out on how capable and how well they'll carry out that task. They've been working hard in practice and we're optimistic that down the road they'll be suitable replacements but as the season starts out it's hard to replace a four-year starter.
bc.net: You open up your season on Sunday night against Oregon State and they open up their season on Friday night. Is there any advantage for them at all?
MM: I think it's an advantage for them to get a game under their belt. We'll be traveling and it's one of those things where you always want to have some rest and some conveniences that put you in a place where you're ready to roll physically but it's our schedule, it is what it is and every game you're going to have games that could argue that one team or another is going to have an advantage because of the travel or because of amount of games played but at the end of the day you still have to go lace them up and give your best effort and wherever that comes out, it comes out.
bc.net: When you look at Oregon State and what they have coming back this season and what they were able to do last season, how do you see your guys matching up and what type of game to you expect to be played?
MM: Well we're both very good scoring teams, I think we were 11th in the country and I think they were 10th in scoring so obviously the experts will tell you that you can anticipate two teams that can put the ball in the basket but we have a different complexion with having lost three of the top scorers in the school's history. We've got some ground to make up and improve and we've got some things to work on and I'm sure the Beavers do as well. If I had to guess I think it'll be a pretty good scoring game and I think both of the coaching staffs will be trying to get their teams better when they go the film rooms the next day.
bc.net: In terms of your team what are some things that you want to see them do on the court on Sunday, aside from trying to get the win.
MM: I want us to play together, I want to see us execute and make good decisions, I want us to take care of the ball. I want to see us play the best defense that we're capable of playing with the different zones and the different types of defenses that we're going to put on the floor from the presses to the man-to-man to the zones and I want to be able to try to see if they can execute jumping from one defense to the next while still maintaining a high level of execution.