2007 New Mexico State Aggies Basketball Preview
It was one game and the New Mexico State Aggies (25- 9 overall, 11- 5 WAC) were out of the March Madness picks, as the team lost to a dominant Texas team 79- 67. Although the Aggies were out quickly, the second-place WAC finishers had to consider the season a success as the club made it back to NCAA March Madness for the first time since 1998- 1999. First-time head coach Marvin Menzies gets a gift in his initial year at the helm—the best team in the conference. Or is it? Menzies will be compared to former coach Reggie Theus, who is now coaching the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
Last season the New Mexico State Aggies proved that they could score and drive the NCAA point spreads, as they finished first in the WAC and 25th in the nation with 78 PPG. Shooting .479 from the floor, they placed second in that category. The club’s plus-4.8 rebounding margin was second best in the league. The Aggies defense allowed 72.4 PPG, putting them near last in scoring-D. Their turnover plus/minus was minus-0.1, but they led the conference in steals with 7.12 per contest.
Freshman forward Herb Pope brings a whole lot of talent, athleticism and skill to the court. As a high school senior he averaged 19 PPG and 11 RPG. Senior Justin Hawkins (15.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG) looks to start at forward, although he’s also an extremely capable guard. Two senior centers—Martin Iti (6.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG) and Hatila Passos (8.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG)—will be asked to contribute even more.
The Aggies have a whole lot of depth at guard, including senior Fred Peete (9.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.6 APG); look for Peete to offer point scoring and leadership skills. There are a whole lot of new guards coming in, including two transfers and five freshmen. Someone will have to play point, but Menzies is unsure who it will be.
Reggie Theus may be gone, but he left behind a lot of fine talent, including a top-rated incoming class. Look for the Aggies to be highly competitive in the conference. They have a good shot at making it to a second straight March Madness appearance. The team’s deep bench will be extremely helpful.