The Daily Aggie :: 11/02/10

The Aggie volleyball team moved up a couple of spots to 59th in this week's RPI released by the NCAA. While we don't know for sure, we'd imagine that the Aggies need to be somewhere in the 40's (probably low to mid 40's) RPI-wise to feel good about their chances for an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament. Whether or not that can happen depends a lot on how they finish out the season. If they win their final five regular season matches then win their semifinal match in the WAC tournament against whomever they might face and then meet Hawai'i in the championship match, they might be able to break into the 40's. The Aggies jumped four spots in the RPI after playing Hawai'i (who is ranked 7th in the RPI).

One thing that hurts the Aggies is that their final five opponents have RPI ratings of 159 (Fresno State), 209 (San Jose State), 181 (Idaho), 123 (Boise St.) and 83 (Utah St.). Not knowing how the RPI is calculated, it's entirely possible that the Aggies could drop a few spots in RPI even if they do win simply because they're playing such low RPI-rated teams. We'll keep an eye out on how the Aggies' RPI moves after this week's matches.

The Aggie women's basketball team will hold a preseason social next Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. Tickets and reservations are available by calling (575) 646-5151 and season tickets are available by calling the Pan Am ticket office at (575) 646-1420.

Finally, we have some conference expansion news for you. While it's not necessarily WAC related, it does in some way affect the WAC. The Big Sky announced yesterday that North Dakota and Southern Utah will be joining their league in 2012. They are also very close to adding South Dakota as a 14th team (football playing). If you recall, just a couple months ago the Big Sky also added Cal Poly and UC-Davis, two teams that were thought to have been on the list of potential WAC additions.

You're probably asking how this affects the WAC. The expansion of the Big Sky seems to point to the scenario in which Montana, the program that the WAC covets the most, remaining as an FCS football program. The Big Sky's press release had the following to say about the situation, "The Big Sky does not anticipate losing any of its current nine core members." It's current nine core members includes Montana.

Montana's athletic director Jim O'Day told the Missoulian in regards to the Big Sky's expansion, "It's something I think the Big Sky has to do. It's similar to what the WAC is going to do in the next few days, when they announce an expansion. It will not include Montana - we're not to that point yet - but they have to do their due diligence."

The Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton also had this to say, “We have to change a lot of mindsets. Every time someone from our division has sustained success, the national media believes that school has to move up to the FBS level, and that’s not the case.”

It's not so much the national media that believes (or is even promoting that) as much as it is WAC commission Karl Benson when he references Nevada and more specifically Boise State.

That statement by Commissioner Fullerton would appear to be a shot across the bow of Commissioner Benson.

Here's the interesting part. Kyle Whelliston, proprietor of the outstanding Mid-Majority site and now contributor to the Basketball Prospectus, brought up the point that this expansion by the Big Sky is a serious blow to the Great West Conference. He had this to say in an essay about the Big Sky's expansion:

Not so sure about the Great West, though. The league that began just two seasons ago and held its first tournament this past March doesn't have an Big Dance bid, and isn't close to earning one. The NCAA requires at least seven non-transitional Division I members. Seven "core members" must have held full D-I status for at least eight years, and six of those must be in the same league for five years. The loss of the two Dakota schools leaves the GWC with five teams: the Houston Baptist Huskies, NJIT Highlanders, Utah Valley Wolverines, Chicago State Cougars and Texas-Pan American Broncs. And those programs have a commitment to the conference that only runs through next summer.

With the WAC looking to solidify itself, could there be a chance (and the timeline fits) that the WAC adds Utah Valley and Texas-Pan American as non-football playing schools? If the WAC does indeed add Texas State, UT-San Antonio, Seattle and Denver could that be the straw that finally breaks Hawaii's back and sends them to football independence and Big West affiliation and if that happens would the WAC look at adding UVU, UT-Pan American and even perhaps Houston Baptist making the league predominantly Mountain/Central time-zone oriented? (And for those of you who are wondering about HBU... they have a pretty decent non-conference men's basketball schedule).

Karl Benson himself said, “Right now I don’t think anything would surprise me in terms of conference changes and membership changes in any conference.”

Just food for thought.

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The Daily Aggie :: 11/01/10

Welcome to November Aggie fans. Basketball season is just around the corner. We hope to have our 2010-2011 women's basketball season preview up this week (no promises though).

It was an up and down weekend if you were an Aggie fan. On one hand the Aggie football team defeated San Jose State in one of the most exciting endings at Aggie Memorial Stadium and earlier in the day the Aggie cross country teams placed 2nd (men) and 3rd (women) at the WAC Cross Country Championships with Courtney and Camille Schultz dominating the field for their second consecutive 1-2 finish.

On the other hand, the Aggie soccer season came to a close on Friday evening. The Aggies had been eliminated from postseason contention when Fresno State tied Boise State in a match that ended about 30 minutes prior to the Aggies' kickoff. It meant that regardless of the outcome of the Aggies' match against LA Tech that the Aggies were done for the season after the match. The Aggies would lose 2-0.

And last night the Aggie volleyball team was swept by No. 5 Hawai'i. It essentially means that Hawai'i will win the regular season title again this season (it's HIGHLY unlikely that Hawai'i loses the rest of the regular season). It also pushed the Aggies a little bit closer to Nevada who is now 7-4 and in third place in the WAC. The Aggies still have some cushion at 9-2 and essentially a three match lead over the Nevada by virtue of sweeping the season series, however, the Aggies need to win all their remaining matches during the regular season, reach the conference championship match and at the very least put a good scare into Hawai'i if they hope to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament. A win over Hawai'i in the championship match would of course be the best route since it would give them an automatic bid.

The Aggies return home for a pair of matches against the California schools this week. The Aggies host Fresno State on Thursday night, a match that will be televised on AggieVision. Saturday they'll take on San Jose State.

Back to the football game. First, this is a devastating loss for San Jose State. The Aggies know a little something about losses like that (Idaho in 2005 immediately comes to mind). It was looking like it was going to be a devastating loss for the Aggies when Matt Christian fumbled the ball with less than four minutes left to play. However, the Aggie defense was able to get a stop and force a field goal attempt from San Jose State. Harrison Waid, the Spartans' kicker, would be out of a job this morning if this were the NFL. He missed his third field goal of the afternoon (even if he would have made it the Aggies would have had a chance to still tie the game with a touchdown) setting up the epic 79-yard, 52-second game-winning drive.

We can't say definitely, but that might have been the longest and fastest touchdown drive for the Aggies in two years (going all the way back into the end of the 2008 season). What made it so unbelievable was the fact that the Aggies have not at any point this season shown the ability to drive the length of the field in under two minutes (much less 52 seconds) and yet they did it which is why we love sports. You can always expect the unexpected.

Speaking of unexpected, two teams who ranked in the absolute bottom of the FBS in terms of offense and scoring combined for 56 points and nearly 1,000 yards of total offense on Saturday. We honestly felt going into the game that 14-10 might win the game. As it turns out, the two teams scored that many points in just the fourth quarter alone!

It's an over asked question in sports but we'll ask it again. Is this a springboard win for the Aggies? Everyone asked that same question after the UNM victory last year, after the Utah State victory last year and after the UNM victory this year, however, this truly could be a springboard win for the Aggies. They really seemed to find their offense in this game. Do you realize that they scored on three of their five possessions in the first half and three of their six possessions in the second half? They scored on over 50 percent of their possessions in the game? When was the last time that happened? It's certainly a first in the DeWayne Walker era (and as prolific at times as the Hal Mumme/Chase Holbrook offense was, scoring 50 percent of the time wasn't always guaranteed).

Defensively the Aggies played fairly well. They held San Jose State to just three points in the first half (part of that is due to the fact that SJSU missed two field goals) but the Spartan receivers did not help Jordan La Secla much in the first half. They dropped a couple of deep passes in the first half. They gave up 24 points in the second half and continued their trend of playing well in one of the two halves. Fortunately they came up with just enough defensive stops to win the game.

The road is tough from here on out and the Aggie defense will have to be much more consistent than it has been the past three conference games. The Aggies finish up with Utah State, Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Hawai'i. All four offense can flat out score. Utah State got shut out in the first half against Nevada and then put 42 points on the board in the second half against Nevada on Saturday. In conference only games, LA Tech is averaging 28.2 points per game, Nevada is averaging 37.3. points per game and Hawai'i is averaging 41.4 points per game and in conference only games they are 2nd (UH), 3rd (NEV) and 4th (LATECH) in total offense per game.

Winning any of the four remaining games will be a huge feather in the Aggies' cap.

And the last football related item for today, Tyler Stampler earned WAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his 3-for-3 performance in Saturday's win. It's Stampler's second POTW honor this season and he becomes just the eighth Aggie ever to earn two WAC POTW honors in the same season joining Jimmy Cottrell (2005, Defense), Paul Dombrowski (2002, Offense), Tony Lukins (2001, Defense), Cody Ledbetter (1995, Offense), Gary Jessie (1995, Defense), Andy Kohl (1999, Special Teams) and Nick Cecava (1998, Special Teams). Nick Cecava was the Aggies' place kicker from 1996-1999 and is the all-time leader in field goal percentage in a single season at .929 (13-of-14) in 1998. Tyler Stampler is currently 9-of-11 (.818) which would put him second on the single-season field goal percentage list.

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Tyler Stampler Earns Second WAC Special Teams Player Of The Week Honor

Written By: NM State Athetic Dept.

ENGLEWOOD, CO - The Western Athletic Conference announced Monday morning that sophomore place kicker Tyler Stampler has been named WC Special Teams Player of the Week. This is Stampler’s second player of the week honor this season.

Stampler, a sophomore from Davie, Fla. (Ventura College), was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts in New Mexico State’s 29-27 win over San Jose State. He made a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the first half and then added a 25- and 43-yarder in the fourth quarter of a tight game. The latter was a career-long.

The Aggies take on Utah State in Logan, Utah this coming weekend. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. (MT)

Aggie Volleyball Swept By No. 5 Hawai'i

The Aggie volleyball team was swept by No. 5 Hawai'i on Sunday night in Honolulu as the Wahine took the match by winning the first set 25-18, the second set 25-10 and then holding off the Aggies 25-23 in the third set. The Wahine hit .384 on the match while the Aggie offense struggled hitting just .140. Kayleigh Giddens was the only Aggie in double-digit kills with a match-high 12 as she hit .194 for the match. Kanani Danielson was the only Wahine is double-digit kills with 11 and hit .240 for the match but also added three service aces, a solo block and two block assists.

The Aggies held an early 7-6 lead on the Wahine in the first set. The two score would be tied at 8-8 on a kill by Whitney Woods but four straight points by the Wahine would give them a 12-8 lead forcing an Aggie timeout. The Aggies would cut the lead back down to two points twice at 18-16 and 19-17 but the Wahine would get a kill by Kanani Danielson followed by a service ace by Danielson to take a 21-17 lead. The Aggies would get a kill from Kayleigh Giddens to cut the lead to three at 21-18 but the Wahine would rattle off four straight points to take the first set 25-18.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 10/31/10

Apologies for the late, light post today. We'll have a full wrap up of this weekend's games tomorrow including our thoughts on yesterday's wild and crazy ending to the Homecoming game.

In the meantime, don't forget that the Aggie volleyball team is in action tonight in less than three hours as they try to trick the Wahine and treat themselves to a Halloween victory (sorry, we couldn't resist). The match will be televised on AggieVision and streamed online via ESPN3.com.

The Aggies must do a much better job of just about everything over their first match with the Wahine and we suspect that they will. Whether that will result in a victory tonight remains to be seen. However, the Aggies have beaten the Wahine in 2006 and 2008 and if the trend holds then this year would be the year for the Aggies to earn the victory over Hawai'i. Maybe they can even do it twice because if they did, the second win would almost certainly come in the WAC Volleyball Tournament championship match and that of course would mean an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

If you don't get AggieVision and you can't access ESPN3.com, we'll be posting score updates on our Twitter page (@AgsBleedCrimson).

Names to know for tonight's match: Kanani Danielson. The Aggies must find a way to keep her impact to a minimum. Brittany Hewitt. Leads the nation in blocks per set. The Aggies must find a way to get balls past her. They also need to do a better job defensively on her. In the last match, Hewitt set a UH record for hitting percentage (rally scoring) as she hit .917 with 11 kills, no attack errors in 12 swings and also had five block assists. Emily Maeda. If there's a "weak link" on this Hawai'i team, it's probably Maeda. She's a defensive specialist for the Wahine but she can be attacked. She's not the strongest Wahine in serve receive and doesn't get the same kinds of digs that standout libero Elizabeth Kaaihue does. Chanteale Satele. Absolutely pounds the ball on the right side. The Aggies need to be able to dig her attacks (obviously easier said than done).

For the Aggies, it's all about the big four plus one. Giddens, Brennan and DeVries need to all be strong. The Aggies need to get a good game out of Whitney Woods who doesn't have the best track record against the Wahine. And the plus one? The Aggies need someone else to step up offensively. When the Aggies have beaten the Wahine, someone else, one of the role players, has had a great match. In 2008 it was middle blocker Erin Birmingham (five kills, four block assists and a solo block). In 2006 it was Anna Callis (14 kills, five block assists). The Aggies need that "unexpected" breakout game from someone whether it's Amanda Tonga, Rocio Gutierrez, Michelle Kuester. Whoever it may be. The Aggies need that big "out of nowhere" performance.

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bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Harkins Interview :: 10/30/10 :: WAC Championship Post Race

bleedCrimson.net: You guys had a pretty darn good day out there with the men finishing second, the women finishing third, the Schultz girls finishing 1st and second and five athletes earning All-WAC.
Paul Harkins:On the women's side with the Schultz girls going 1-2 and Chelsa going 7th we had three girls on the First Team All-WAC which was great. We need to work on our four and five a little bit but it was solid. Our 4/5, we've kind of had the gap issue all year long and it kind of continued today but the girls ran tough. Sammie Hamilton had a great race. She hadn't been in our top five all year and she really stepped up and ran tough for us coming in as our fifth girl and closing really well. It was really solid. Chelsa's had a foot that's been hurting her a little bit and she just went out there and it was an extremely gutsy performance. The Schultz girls they just totally showed themselves to be the class of the field. Those girls are tough. They went out right from the beginning led wire-to-wire and didn't look back once. It was an impressive performance by the Schultz girls.

The men's was probably one of the more exciting races I've ever seen as a cross country coach. They went out and established their position on the first loop. It was four 2,000 meter loops and they established themselves very well on the first loop and then Boise State really kind of charged up over the next two loops and we were rolling over the last 2,000 meters. Anthony Ellis came from quite a ways back to get up to 11th overall. Kevin Palmer ran extremely tough and then the pack, as it's happened all year long, was very tight and very tough and just couldn't quite make up enough ground on the Boise State guys to get that win but they were close. I honestly think if the race were 200 or 400 meter longer we could have won that thing. The men were moving so well over that last section.

It was a fantastic day for the men and the women. The coaching staff couldn't be any more proud of those guys right now. From where they've come four years ago to where they are now is pretty unbelievable. We're extremely excited for them.  Continue Reading This Post >>

NM State vs. San Jose State Game Photos

NM State vs. San Jose State Game Photos

Matt Christian Rallies Aggies For Stunning 29-27 Homecoming Victory

Matt ChristianThe Aggie football team jumped out to a 14-point lead at halftime but then fell behind 27-23 before rallying for a dramatic 29-27 victory as time expired. Matt Christian found Taveon Rogers from eight yards out for the game-winning touchdown. It was the second touchdown connection between Christian and Rogers on the day.

The Aggies and Spartans combined for 980 yards of total offense as New Mexico State had a balanced attack rushing for 180 yards and passing for 259. Matt Christian finished the day 23-of-44 with two touchdowns and no interceptions, however, it was a fumble by Christian late that nearly cost the Aggies the football game.

With the Aggies down 27-23 and under four minutes to play the Aggies had a 2nd and 20 at their own 34 yard line. Christian kept the ball and rushed ahead for five yards but fumbled as he was tackled by SJSU's Vincent Abbott. Travis Johnson recovered the ball at the Aggies' 40 yard line and it looked like the Aggies' Homecoming hopes would be dashed. However, the Aggie defense rose to the occasion as they forced a field goal attempt by SJSU kicker Harrison Waid after the Spartans had driven down to the Aggies' 21 yard line. Waid, who had missed on two earlier field goals, missed his third field goal of the day.

Christian and the Aggies took over at their own 21 yard line with just 52 seconds left to play. On first and 10 Christian delivered a 34-yard strike to Marcus Allen to the Spartan 45 yard line. On the very next play Christian would hook up with tight end Kyle Nelson for a 19 yard gain down to the Spartans' 26. After an incompletion, Christian would again find Allen for 18 yards down to the Spartans' eight yard line. After three consecutive incompletions, the Aggies were faced with a fourth down, do-or-die situation with less than four seconds left to play. Christian took the snap, rolled to his right and fired a pass on the run from the right hashmark as he found Taveon Rogers rolling across the right side of the endzone. Rogers would haul in the pass with a Spartan defender draped over him and was immediately mobbed by his teammates on the ground.

The Aggies would take a knee on the extra point attempt to end the game and cap the victory.   Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggie Cross Country Has Strong Showing At Championships; Men Finish 2nd, Women 3rd; Five Aggies Earn All-WAC

The Aggie cross country teams posted podium finishes at the 2010 WAC Championship meet as the men's team recorded a runner-up finish just nine points short of champion Boise State while the women's team posted a third place finish. The Aggies had five athletes earn All-WAC honors and Courtney Schultz repeated as WAC Women's Athlete of the Year. "That's a great honor. I was so proud of the kids. The two men who were All-WAC and the three women who were All-WAC, it just goes to show that we're a talented team and they deserve all the accolades that they get. They're out there 365 days of the year working their butts off," said cross country coach Meaghan Gregory.

Courtney Schultz repeated as as the women's individual champion at the WAC Cross Country meet while her sister Camille Schultz finished second as the two dominated the women's field for the second time in as many years helping the Aggies to a third place finish at the 2010 WAC Championship meet. "The Schultz girls proved themselves to be the class of the field. They went out right from the beginning and led wire-to-wire and didn't look back once. It was an impressive race for the Schultz girls," said cross country coach Paul Harkins.

The Aggie men's cross country team posted their best finish in program history as they finished in second place just nine points behind Boise State. "The men's was probably one of the more exciting I've seen as a cross country coach," said Coach Harkins. "They went out and established their position very well on the first loop of the four 2000 meter loops. We were rolling over the last 2,000 meters. Anthony Ellis came from quite a ways back to get up to 11th overall. Kevin Palmer ran extremely tough and then the pack, as it's been all year long, was very tight and very tough."

Aggie sophomore Kevin Palmer finished seventh with a time of 25:09.36 for the Aggie men and earned First Team All-WAC honors while junior Anthony Ellis earned second team honors with an 11th place finish and a time of 25:17.12. Sophomore Jonah Ruybalid finished just outside the Top 14 as he led a group of three Aggies across the line at 15th, 16th and 17th with times of 25:29.22 for Ruybalid, 25:33.26 for sophomore Robert Selph and 25:34.09 for junior Kevin Taft.

"It was a fantastic day for the men," said Coach Harkins The coaching staff couldn't be more proud of them. From where they've come four years ago to where they're at right now is unbelievable and we're extremely excited for them."  Continue Reading This Post >>

AggieVision :: NM State Homecoming Victory Highlights