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bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News
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The Daily Aggie :: 01/25/11

Will today be the day that the Mountain West finally delivers the coup de grâce to the WAC? Word leaked out early yesterday afternoon that the Mountain West Conference was about to make an offer to Utah State (for the second time in the past eight months) and much like Colorado and the Pac 10, they don't intend on turning it down. According to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune, Comcast is driving the inclusion of Utah State in the latest (and perhaps final) round of MWC expansion as they hope to keep a foothold in the Utah market (namely Salt Lake City). The surprise to many however is the potential inclusion of San Jose State as the 12th MWC team. Keep in mind that this has everything to do with television money and less to do with AQ status in the BCS. San Jose is the sixth largest television market in the country and Comcast is a major player in the cable market there. Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News was the first in the media to report the possibility of an SJSU defection to the MWC last week.

The MWC wraps up their meetings today and there could be an announcement today or there could be no announcement. The two teams, Utah State and SJSU, have until July 1st to announce their intentions to withdraw from the WAC in order to join the MWC for the start of the 2012 season.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens but in any event, things do not look good for the WAC. Should USU and SJSU indeed depart the WAC, it would leave the conference with just five football playing schools and six total schools. Recently passed legislation did away with the continuity clause instead replacing it with a minimum of seven schools to retain autobids. The WAC should have no problems finding non-footballs schools to fill the void (Utah Valley and Seattle are two schools that have been mentioned), the problem is what will the WAC be able to do about adding football programs.

Should this happen, the greatest concern could be more poaching of WAC teams, but not from the MWC, from the Sun Belt. We were enlightened to the thought by a very smart friend of ours and it makes sense. The Sun Belt currently has nine football teams with South Alabama joining the ranks of FBS soon to make ten.

If you're SBC Commissioner Wright Waters, you're making a call to the Presidents of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State to gauge their interest in joining the Sun Belt, which at this point is now a much more stable league than the WAC is (hold on, we're shaking our head in disbelief at that last statement).

Adding those two schools would bring them to 12 teams and the SBC could then split into an East/West configuration with UNT, UTSA, Texas State, UL-Monroe, UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State in the West and Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky in an Eastern Division. It's scares us how well this fits together and it should scare Karl Benson, Aggie, Vandals and LA Tech fans even more (can you imagine the former Sun Belt trio getting left out of a "new and improved" Sun Belt) and before you laugh and close the browser at that last statement, the Sun Belt had three bowl teams this year and went 2-1 in those bowl games. The WAC had just one more bowl team than the Sun Belt did and went 2-2 in bowl games. Just food for thought.

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Gary Ward Inducted Into ABCA Hall Of Fame

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

NASHVILLE, TN - New Mexico State assistant baseball coach and alumni Gary Ward was inducted into the America Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame on Jan. 7 during the ABCA's 66th Annual Convention.

This season will be Ward's eighth as a hitting coach and assistant for head coach and son, Rocky Ward. Ward began his stint with the Aggies as top assistant coach in 2000 and was head coach for the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

"Induction into the ABCA was appreciated because it represents recognition at the highest level from your peers and it was my eighth Hall of Fame induction with the last two coming from the two foremost national organizations," Ward said. "This puts an exclamation mark on a lifetime of work and I am pleased that it may bring additional attention to New Mexico State University. I had the honor to address the National Convention with an hour of instructional information on developing the college hitter. In addition, my son Rocky was on stage with me as we presented to over 4,000 baseball coaches in attendance. We both wore the NMSU Aggie baseball uniform with great pride"  Continue Reading This Post >>

NM State Athletics Looks to Continue Success It Had In The Fall

Written By: Kyle Purcell, For NM State Media Relations

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State University Athletics thrived in both competition and the classroom during the 2010 fall semester with awards won, good grades and records broken.

Women's Golf was quite possibly the most successful in both areas. It posted the highest grade point average among all athletic teams with a 3.59 team GPA. Along with its high GPA, the women's golf team also won the 2010 Price's "Give 'Em Five" Intercollegiate in Las Cruces, N.M. to close the fall season. Freshman Demi Mak led the way for the Aggies as she finished second on the individual leaderboard. Men's Golf was also very good on the course this past semester. Senior Ross Prachar won the Cactus Thaw in Silver Cityn N.M. and junior Joon Lee earned WAC player of the month for October.

"We are all proud of the accomplishments our student-athletes have achieved,"NM State President, Dr. Barbara Couture said. "With the men's basketball team improving in academics and the women's golf team having the highest GPA of all teams, it shows that our student-athletes are making progress on the academic side as well as in their athletic endeavors. The student-athletes are also learning time management techniques and other skills that will prepare them for life after graduation."  Continue Reading This Post >>

bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Spence Interview :: 01/24/11

bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on Saturday's big win over Utah State, a very solid effort from your team.
Darin Spence: It was fun. The interesting thing is I asked our team after we played at Fresno, "Is it fun?" As a coach seeing us, what we've gone through this year, the tough schedule, the injuries, it just hasn't been a lot of fun. So let's go make it fun. From how we've practiced, how we've gone on road trips. And I don't mean middle school giggle fun, I mean in a Division I sense, enjoying each other's company, bringing out our best in practice and game and really trying to compete at a higher level. So we're getting there. We've been a little sharper, a little more focused. Utah State is a very good basketball team. There's not a lot that separates them from us or a lot of the schools in our league. On any given night it's just who has the fewest mental turnovers, the fewest amount of mistakes and who can capitalize on the other team's mistakes.

It was a game that we needed to win and I was really pleased with most of our players and how they grouped together and two of our seniors, Madi and Day Day were pretty focused and locked in for 40 minutes and we had others step in and do a good job. It was a good win for us.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 01/24/11

The Aggie women's basketball team picked up a gutty victory Saturday night coming back from a seven point deficit in the second half as seniors Madison Spence and Danisha Corbett powered the Aggies to victory. The duo combined for 19 of the final 22 points in the first half and with New Mexico State down by seven points it was Spence and Corbett who hit back-to-back treys out of an Aggie timeout to bring the Aggies to within one.

Freshmen Andrea Chenier and Jasmine Rutledge along with transfer Ariella McGhee were also clutch for the Aggies. Chenier scored a floater after Spence and Corbett had buried the two second half threes to give the Aggies the lead after being down by seven. Rutledge had another fantastic night on the boards (perhaps she can teach the Aggie men a thing or two about rebounding) as two of her offensive boards led to Corbett treys. She finished with nine rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds and in the past two games she has grabbed 24 rebounds. McGhee did not play in the first half and only played six second half minutes but scored four points, grabbed three rebounds and had one steal in those six minutes.

The win puts the Aggies at 3-2 in league play as they head to the state of Idaho next week.

The Aggie men suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Utah State on Saturday night. The loss drops them to 4-3 in conference play and in fifth place in the WAC. The road sweep suffered by the Aggies make this coming week's games against Boise State and Idaho all that much more important. The Aggies are competing with Idaho, Boise State and Nevada for the final three spots in the top half of the league. It should be assumed that Utah State, barring some unforeseen and unprecedented collapse that they will finish in the top four in the league. As of right now the Aggies are tied with Nevada at 4-3 in the league (Nevada obviously holds the head-to-head tiebreaker at the moment) and in fourth place. Idaho and Boise State are each 5-2 in conference play. If New Mexico State can sweep the homestand, something that they are more than capable of doing, they would move back into the top four. However, the margin for error in maintaining a top four standing is slim, much moreso than if they had split last week's road trip.

Obviously with nine conference games left to play there is no need to panic, we're just laying out the scenarios that fans need to be aware of. It's pretty safe to say that the Aggies are going to make the conference tournament. The question is, will they need to win four, three or two games to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

There are a couple of things that absolutely have to improve regardless of how many games the Aggies will have to win in the conference tournament and chief among those are rebounding, transition defense and free throw shooting. Although to be fair, it's probably pretty hard to knock down free throws when you're looking at Wild Bill (photo number 27, you can't miss him).

First, the easiest one to fix. Free throw shooting. The Aggies shot just 5-of-13 from the free throw line on Saturday night. Troy Gillenwater made just 1-of-4, Hernst Laroche made just 3-of-7. Those are two guys that are normally excellent free throw shooters. In a ten point game (that really wasn't necessarily as close as the final score indicated) that's seven points that the Aggies left on the court. A ten point game suddenly turns into a three point game. It does the Aggies no good to lead the nation in free throw attempts if they can't make them.

Second, transition defense. First of all, we thought the Aggies did a solid job in the half court last night. Where they got burned was transition defense off of missed shots where Utah State pushed the ball ahead quickly. Too many times last night were there moments when the Aggies would miss a shot and lag behind on defense and give up an easy basket.

Finally and most importantly. The Aggies have to do a much better job of rebounding. The Aggies were out-rebounded by 15 against Utah State and by 13 against Nevada. This area has to improve for the Aggies if they are going to win the WAC tournament.

Up next for the Aggies are the Idaho schools. The Aggies defeated Idaho and lost to Boise State earlier this season. A home sweep would go a long way toward restoring some confidence for the Aggies.

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NM State vs. Utah State Game Photos

NM State vs. Utah State Game Photos

New Mexico State Falls 59-49 At Utah State

The New Mexico State men's basketball team was held under 50 points for the first time since February 17, 2005 when they scored 49 points in a 42-point at Louisiana-Lafayette as they fell 59-49 to Utah State on Saturday night in Logan, UT. New Mexico State led the UtAgs 19-18 with 7:14 left in the first half but a 17-0 run by Utah State proved to be too much for New Mexico State to overcome. Troy Gillenwater scored a game-high 20 points but was held to just six points in the second half.

After Utah State scored the first four points of the game, Troy Gillenwater pulled the Aggies to within two with a jumper, Utah State's Nate Bendall would answer with a jumper to put Utah State back on top by four 6-2 with 16:09 left in the half. The Aggies would still trail by four after a layup from Utah State's Nate Bendall but the Aggies' Christian Kabongo would bury a baseline three to spark a quick 9-0 run as Troy Gillenwater and Tyrone Watson would each hit threes to put the Aggies ahead of Utah State 13-8 with 13:17 left in the half. Utah State's Tai Wesley would hit one of two free throws to end the Aggie point run but New Mexico State would get a layup from Tshilidzi Nephawe to extend their lead to six at 15-9.

Tyler Newbold would bury a three to cut the Aggies' lead in half. After a Tyrone Watson hit one of two free throws to give the Aggies a 16-12 lead with 11:14 left, Tai Wesley would get a layup to cut the Aggies' lead to two at 16-14. The Aggies would get one of two free throws from Troy Gillenwater but Wesley would get another layup to cut the Aggies' lead to one at 17-16. Wesley would continue his point run with a jumper to put Utah State up 18-17 with 8:41 left in the half but Troy Gillenwater would bury a jumper with 7:14 left to put the Aggies back on top 18-17. That would be the last bucket the Aggies would score for nearly six minutes as Utah State would go on a 17-0 run to take a 35-19 lead capped by a three from Pooh Williams, a dunk by Morgan Grim and a three from E.J. Farris.

Troy Gillenwater would end the Aggies' scoreless drought hitting a jumper with 1:22 left in the half and New Mexico State's defense would hold Utah State scoreless the remainder of the half as Gillenwater added another bucket to send the Aggies into halftime down 35-23.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggie Women Defeat Utah State 75-71

Madison SpenceThe New Mexico State women's basketball team picked up a crucial conference victory over visiting Utah State winning 75-71 on Saturday night as they rallied from a seven point deficit in the second half. Madison Spence scored 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting and fellow senior Danisha Corbett added 21 points on 5-of-10 from three point distance.

The first half saw both teams go on point runs as the Aggies rattled off five straight after falling behind 4-0 early. The UtAgs would score four more in a row to take an 8-5 lead but a pair of free throws by Danisha Corbett and a Jasmine Lowe layup would give the Aggies a -8 lead. Utah State would answer with a 5-0 run to take a 13-9 lead. The teams would trade a pair of threes and a pair of twos leaving the northern Aggies ahead 18-14 with 10:46 left in the half. New Mexico State would rattle off a 14-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 28-18 lead. The UtAgs would score four in a row to cut the Aggies' lead to six at 28-22 but Madison Spence would bury a three pointer with 3:22 left in the half to give the Aggies a 31-22 lead. The Aggies would miss a golden opportunity to extend their lead as Danisha Corbett missed a fast break layup, Tabytha Wampler would grab the offensive rebound but had her putback blocked and Utah State would capitalize on the missed opportunity as Alice Coddington would bury a three to cut the Aggies lead to 31-25. The triple would spark a 9-0 run tying the game at 3. The Aggies would get a three pointer from Erica Sanchez with under 30 seconds left in the half to send the Aggies into halftime with a 34-31 lead as Madison Spence and Danisha Corbett combined to score 19 of the final 22 points of the first half.  Continue Reading This Post >>

NM State vs. Utah State Tennis Photos

NM State vs. Utah State Men's Tennis Photos

The Daily Aggie :: 01/22/11

As big as Thursday night's game at Nevada was supposed to be, a win would have sent the Aggies into Logan with a chance to tie for first place with a win versus the northern Aggies, tonight's game is even bigger for New Mexico State. In fact, you could almost call this a "must-win" game for the Aggies. You don't often hear us call a game a "must-win" but this is about as close to a must-win as you can get and here's why.

Tonight's game has serious implications for the Aggies as it pertains to their postseason hopes. Forget about regular season title hopes for just a second, everyone knows that if the Aggies want to return to the NCAA tournament this season they are going to have to do it by winning the WAC tournament in March. Here's why tonight's game is so important.

A loss by the Aggies tonight drops their conference record to 4-3. Now that may not seem like a big deal with nine conference games left to play but it's significant because with an Idaho win over Boise State (in Moscow) and a Nevada win over Louisiana Tech (in Reno) tonight it would drop the Aggies into fifth place in the league standings (both Nevada and BSU currently own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Aggies). Fifth place is a bad place to be. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place teams all have to win four games in four days in Las Vegas in order to be crowned WAC tournament champions thanks to a new tournament format that gives the third and fourth place teams a first round bye and the first and second place teams a double-bye into the semifinal round.

A win by the Aggies keeps them just a game behind the UtAgs in the loss column with USU still having to make the trip to Las Cruces at the very end of the season. It also keeps them ahead of Nevada in the loss column and depending on the outcome of the Boise State/Idaho tilt tonight it could keep them ahead of Boise State in the loss column as well with both Idaho and Boise State making the journey to Las Cruces next week.

So hopefully now you understand just how important tonight's game is. It's huge. Winning four games in four days is a daunting task that the Aggies no doubt want to avoid having to try to accomplish.

As far as tonight's game goes the Aggies have to play better on defense tonight than they did on Thursday night. Plain and simple. New Mexico State gave up too many layups and dunks (Coach Menzies counted at least 10). The Aggies also have to get a big contribution from Gordo Castillo tonight. He was conspicuously absent in the box score on Thursday night after scoring 17 points in a blowout win over San Jose State last Saturday night. The Aggies need him to step up his scoring.

Hernst Laroche has to stay out of foul trouble. He'll be going up against another strong point guard tonight in USU's Brockeith Pane who nearly recorded a triple-double in the UtAgs win over Louisiana Tech with 11 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. The Aggie big men will also have their hands full with Tai Wesley and Nate Bendall. No doubt Wesley (and for sure the Utah State students) have not forgotten the broken nose suffered by Wesley in the WAC tournament championship game. Troy Gillenwater and Hamidu Rahman can expect to receive more than their fare share of hostility tonight from the Utah State fans as a result of that broken nose last March.

The UtAgs come into the game riding a record 20-game regular season conference winning streak. The last time these two teams met, the UtAgs were riding a 17-game winning streak. New Mexico State ended that streak and earned themselves a dance card. Hopefully tonight the Aggies can end another lengthy win Utah State win streak. New Mexico State is also one of the only WAC teams to win in Logan (Nevada being the other), however, that was in 2006. The results have not favored New Mexico State since then and as we mentioned yesterday the last two trips have resulted in 19 and 18 point losses respectively.

If the Aggies want to avoid hearing this at the end of the game tonight they will need to play much much better than they did on Thursday night.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 9:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on ESPNU with streaming video available via ESPN3.com. The game can be heard on the radio on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

The Aggie women are also back in action tonight as they host Utah State. The WAC race on the women's side is very interesting with five teams, including New Mexico State and Utah State, tied for third place at 2-2.

Utah State's Ashlee Brown and Devyn Christensen are both averaging 17.3 points per game in conference play. Brown is also averaging 10.8 rebounds per game. It should be an interesting battle in the post between her and Tabytha Wampler. Wampler has been relatively quiet in conference play averaging 11.75 points and 6.25 rebounds per game. She scored 17 points in the conference opener against Hawai'i but has not scored more than 12 in the three games since and had just six points and four rebounds in the last game against Fresno State and was just 1-of-4 from the field.

Tonight's game can be heard on KSNM AM 570 with streaming video and audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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