The Daily Aggie :: 01/26/11

The college softball Preseason Top 25 polls were released yesterday with a pair of WAC teams garnering votes. The Aggies did not receive votes but with a strong non-conference showing, they could earn a Top 25 ranking this season. The Aggies will have plenty of opportunity to showcase their senior-laden squad with games against Preseason Top 10 teams in Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Hawai'i as well two other teams who are receiving votes in the Preseason Top 25 in Fresno State and East Carolina.

This could be the season that the Aggies finally break through to the NCAA Regionals but much of that will depend on the stability and consistency in the circle. The Aggies will rely heavily on a pair of true sophomores in Carissa Theis and Alex Newman. Newman was a rock for the Aggies coming out of the bullpen last season as a true freshman. The Aggies also have a heralded freshman pitcher by the name of Celisha Walker who has already been thrown into the frying pan when she started against the NPF All-Stars last fall.

We'll have more in the next week or two on the Aggie softball program when we preview the 2011 team with Coach Rodolph.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 01/25/11

Editorial Note:This week's interview was conducted through a teleconference with members of the media from the Las Cruces Sun-News and Albuquerque Journal. The questions asked by are marked as such.

Jason Groves: Your thoughts on being 4-3? You're right there.
Marvin Menzies: Yeah, we're in the hunt. I wish we could have at least split this road trip. Obviously the first choice would have been to win both of them. We were playing pretty going into that, I knew Nevada was due for a good game just watching them. They played very well against us and we didn't play very well. Partly because of their defense, they did a good job. It's one of those games where you look at that one and then the Utah State environment is always tough to win in, we got off to a good start and then shot selection and in general our offense sputtered real bad. That took us out of having a chance to win that one because I thought we defended real well at Utah State. Everything's gotta be a perfect storm, everything's gotta come together to win at that place. They've got a phenomenal environment. You need to have experienced guys and then you need to play well too to win there. Overall now at 4-3, obviously we'd like to have a better record at this point and still say we're competing for a league championship but right now Utah State is in the driver's seat but there's nine games left and that's a lot of games. We've gotta hold serve here at home first. That's the biggest thing we can put our focus on right now is just taking care of business here against Boise and Idaho this weekend. If we can do that I'm sure next week sitting here we're feeling a little different and heading in the right direction.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Kelly Conrad Earns WAC Swimmer Of The Week

DENVER, CO - New Mexico State senior swimmer Kelly Conrad was named the Verizon WAC Swimmer of the Week, for Jan. 17-23. This is the first time she has earned the award this season and third time in her career.

Conrad led NM State to a pair of road wins at Northern Colorado and Colorado State, Jan. 21-22. Her performances lifted the Aggies to victory over Northern Colorado. She swam the anchor leg of the winning 200-medley relay (48.14), and also claimed victory in the 50 free with a time of 24.69. Conrad went on to wrap up the 132-108 victory for the Aggies as the leadoff leg for the winning 200-free relay team (1:36.29).

Her two individual wins against Colorado State helped propel the Aggies to their first-ever victory over the Rams in 14 dual meets. Conrad claimed the top spot in the 100 free, recording a season-best time of 51.98 in the event, and in the 200 free with a time of 1:53.71. The Aggies won the meet, 156.5-143.5.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 01/25/11 :: WAC Members Intact For Now

The Mountain West Conference has opted against expanding their conference to 12 teams at least for the time being according to a statement issued on the Mountain West's website.

"Over the past two days, the Board of Directors has engaged in a very thorough discussion of several key topics pertinent to the future of the Mountain West Conference. This has included, but not been limited to, issues related to television, the Bowl Championship Series and membership. The Board feels strongly the membership configuration already established going forward creates outstanding prospects for future success. In addition, we are continuing with our strategic initiatives related to our television partnerships and the MWC's efforts to effect change in the BCS structure. The Board is excited about what is undoubtedly a bright future for the Conference."  Continue Reading This Post >>

NM State Swimming and Diving Team On Its Way To No. 1

Written By: Lauren Cordova, For NM State Athletics

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -With the WAC Championship coming up in February, there is a lot of buzz going around that the New Mexico State swimming and diving team has a good chance at capturing its first title. The Aggies excelled in the 2010 season finishing second at the WAC Championships.

In 2008, NM State finished in fifth place with a score of 460.5 points. The Aggies scored in the diving events for the first time in program history with diver Mariesa Cloud setting a school record on the platform. The relay teams also posted three school records. In 2009, the Aggies set a school record with the highest score at the WAC Championship, with the total of 572 points while placing third. There were also 17 school records that were broken.

“I feel that we are going to finish the best that we ever have finished. I think we are going to win,” senior Alannah Lawrence said.  Continue Reading This Post >>

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.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

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 >> Weekly Coach Spence Interview :: 01/24/11 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.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>