Wednesday, January 28, 2009

San Jose State versus New Mexico State on Thursday

San Jose State hits the road, starting with a Thursday night game in Las Cruces against New Mexico State. The Aggies are one of the most athletic teams in the WAC with starters Jarmar Young, Jonathan Gibson and Wendell McKines each more than a handful to defend.

Young and Gibson need to be played closely as both are long range shooters but each can also dribble-drive with the best. McKines has increased both his shooting range and his ball skills.

A possible wild card is 6-8 freshman Troy Gillenwater, another good athlete who has been up-and-down in his initial season but has been coming on of late.

Winning or losing is usually determined by how well the Aggies play together -- creating for each other and making that extra pass for a more open shot.

These two teams met on January 5 and the Aggies converted more plays at then end.

San Jose State falls 75-73 to New Mexico State

Well, this one was a proverbial nailbiter but New Mexico State converted at the end and San Jose State didn't.

Like with Louisiana Tech on Tuesday, the Spartans were behind late in the second half, trailing 72-67 with 3:12 remaining.

Justin Graham tallied two free throws to cut the Aggies lead to three.

Aggie Jahmar Young was subsequently whistled for a charge on his dribble-drive layup attempt and SJSU got possession.

Graham hit C.J. Webster inside for a layup at the 2:25 mark. That made the score 72-71.

Jonathan Gibson missed a top of the key trey attempt and NMSU was called for an over-the-back foul on the rebound. Webster hit both free throws to put the Spartans ahead 73-72 with 1:58 showing.

NMSU center Hamidu Rahman then missed inside and SJSU rebounded but Adrian Oliver subsequently missed a jumper with 49 seconds remaining.

Backcourter Jonathan Gibson was then fouled by Graham on a drive to the basket and notched one of two free throws to tie the score at 73.

Graham nabbed Gibson's errant second attempt but he then missed on a dribble-drive to the hoop at the 11 second mark and the Aggies rebounded.

Young missed a 10-foot jumper for NMSU but Rahman grabbed the rebound and was fouled attempting a putback with 2.7 seconds on the clock. He nailed both free throws putting the Aggies up by two, 75-73.

A long Spartan in-bounds pass was tipped away in the right frontcourt with 0.8 showing. Adrian Oliver received the next in-bounds pass, turned and fired from the right corner but the shot hit the rim and missed.

At halftime, San Jose State had a 39-37 lead. Oliver enjoyed a pair of nice drives to the basket in the first 20 minutes that cut through the Aggie defenders like, well, that ol' knife through butter.

For the game, C.J. Webster was dominant in the paint and led SJSU with 22 points on 10-14 shooting from the floor. Oliver scored 15 on an off-shooting night for him and Graham supplied 12. Tim Pierce led the Spartans with 10 boards.

Ex-Richmond High star Wendell McKines led NMSU with 21 points and also topped the Aggies in rebounding with eight. Young finished with 17 points on 8-18 shooting overall. Rahman with 13 points, seven boards (four on the offensive end) and three assists exceeded his seasonal averages -- all in 28 minutes of play.

The teams were fairly close in shooting but the Aggies sank four more treys than San Jose State. The Spartans nailed six more free throws than did NMSU. SJSU won the rebounding battle 38-30.

Season to date

Jan 03 @ Fresno State 79-66 (W)
Jan 05 @ San Jose State 75 - 73 (W)
Jan 08 Nevada 71-79 (L) OT
Jan 10 Utah State 67-77 (L)
Jan 15 Idaho 74-71 (W)
Jan 22 @ Boise State 84-87 (L)
Jan 24 @ Idaho 57-67 (L)

The expected NMSU starting five

C Hamidu Rahman 6-11 freshman 7.8 ppg., 4.6 rpg.
F Wendell McKines 6-6 sophomore 12.9 ppg., 8.9 rpg.
G Jahmar Young 6-5 sophomore 17.2 ppg., 3.9 rpg.
G Jonathan Gibson 6-1 junior 15.6 ppg., 2.0 rpg.
G Hernst Laroche 6-5 sophomore 4.5 ppg., 2.2 rpg., 4.5 apg.

-- He is a redshirt freshman with the expected ups-and-downs of an initial season. He's massive with somewhat limited mobility but can overpower those lacking close to equal his weight/strength.

-- One of the quickest jumpers at the college level, he's good for a couple of spectacular dunks and other plays a game. His numbers this season indicate better ball skills and more range to his shot.

-- He is the leading Aggie candidate for WAC All-League honors. Currently at 45% shooting overall and 43% from three-point range, Young is the top creator on offense and has also passed for 64 assists.

Gibson -- Gibson has been disciplined a couple of times this season -- something incongruent with an upperclassman who should be the leader on the team as a junior and as the most veteran player. His shooting numbers are about six percentage points below Young's.

-- Call this kid the leading candidiate for the WAC Surprise of the Season as he currently leads in assist/turnover ratio (2.90)

Off the bench

Troy Gillenwater -- He started early on but has been coming off the bench of late. Count him as another solid freshman, he's shooting and rebounding well and leads the team in blocked shots. Gillenwater has been positioned at center at times and usually can hold his own if he isn't up against some physical behemoth.

Terrance Joyner
-- A newly eligible freshman, he's more a scorer than a true point but it's his creative ability that will pay dividends down the road.

Gordo Castillo
-- Call him the NMSU designated shooter.

The complete NMSU roster (by position)

Tray Britt G 6-3 195 Jr.
Jahmar Young G 6-4 160 So.
Hernst Laroche G 6-1 170 Fr.
Makhtar Diop G 6-0 165 Fr.
Jonathan Gibson G 6-2 180 Jr.
Terrance Joyner G 6-2 175 Fr.
Aaron Castillo G 6-4 180 So

Kelly Merker F 6-4 190 Sr.
Robert Lumpkins F 6-6 190 So.
Wendell McKines F 6-6 224 So.
Troy Gillenwater F 6-8 230 Fr.
Tyrone Watson F 6-5 220 Fr.

Hamidu Rahman C 7-0 240 Fr.
Chris Gabriel C 6-11 240 Fr.

What Else

From a recent blog post by Jason Groves, the beat reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News:

This is just a thought and perhaps its too late in the game to shake the lineup up, but I think they need to do something. I think Wendell has shown an improved abilty to put the ball on the floor and knock down an occasional jumper, so why not start him at the small forward and get Gillenwater into the starting lineup at his natural position, the four with Rahman at the center.

So who gets left out? I hate to say it because I like watching him play, but I think Gibson comes off the bench. I think he would bring instant offense and athleticism to the lineup and J.Y. would play the two, which would fit his stature and game. Justin Hawkins had two inches on Jahmar as the small forward last year. And just because Gibson would be coming off the bench, he would probably get starters minutes anyway because the Aggies play small a lot, but if Gillenwater continues to rebound like the other night and with Wendell at the three, the Aggies wouldn't get outrebounded at those two spots at least.

Gibson's role is expanded this year and it doesn't seem like he has made the necessary adjustments. He played within himself in a win against Idaho and then reverted back to his old self at Boise. We shall see what he does tonight

Plus, this is from Sam Wasson who runs a NMSU fan site:

"The Aggie men's basketball team lost to Idaho last night f67-57 or just the third time ever. The Aggies trailed by as many as eight points in the first half but an 8-2 run to end the half pulled them to within two points. In the second half Idaho scored the first four points to go up by six points. The Aggies would take their first lead of the second half at the 12:00 mark and held their last leave at the 6:35 mark. On the next Idaho possession Mac Hopson scored and was fouled and then Troy Gillenwater was called for a technical foul. We thought that might have been a major turning point in the game from a score standpoint, it gave Idaho three free throws. Hopson missed two of three and Idaho went up by just one point at 55-54. At that point the Aggies were still very much in the game but were unable to get anything to fall down the stretch as they scored just three points in the final 5:31 of the game. The Aggies missed two front ends of one-and-ones, one when the Aggies were down three at 57-54 and one when the Aggies were down 61-57.

...Any time the Aggies score in the 50s, it's going to be a toss-up on whether they win or not. This is Aggie squad is a team that likes to score in the 70s and 80s, in fact they lead the league in scoring in WAC games at almost 80 points per game.

The Aggies will have to regroup with San Jose State coming in on Thursday night followed by Hawai'i on Saturday night. There are still over half the league games left to play and anything can happen, however, it appears that with the way Nevada and Utah State are playing right now, it's a race for the 3-seed in the WAC tournament between Boise State, Idaho, New Mexico State and San Jose State. As it shapes up right now Boise State and Idaho both hold tie-breakers over the Aggies, while the Aggies hold the tiebreaker over SJSU (via their head to head win, which they can solidify with a season sweep on Thursday night)."

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