#45 New Mexico State: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #45
Conference Rank: #2 Western Athletic Conference
2009-10: 22-12, 11-5
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Marvin Menzies (60-41 at New Mexico State, 60-41 overall)
New Mexico State needs to replace their two major scoring threats in the backcourt from an NCAA Tournament team, but the true strength of this team is in the frontcourt. It was last year too, but the Aggies were rarely at full strength among their big men. With academic and injury issues behind them, this team will rely heavily on the frontcourt and that should turn the Aggies into a much better rebounding team and open up the offense for the new scorers on the wing.
Key Losses: G Jonathan Gibson, G Jahmar Young
NMSU will need Drew Herig and Christian Kabongo to add depth on the perimeter right away. Kabongo is expected to develop into a fine shooting guard, but he will have little time to adjust to life in the Western Athletic Conference with the Aggies lacking in depth on the perimeter. Tshilidzi Nephawe is a versatile 6-10, 250 pound forward who will be a key player on this team at some point, but for now he will likely be stuck behind quite a few talented forwards in front of him, but it would be beneficial if he could contribute ten minutes or so every game.
Hernst Laroche started all 34 games last year at the point guard position. He was the catalyst of the offense and dished out 3.7 assists per game and only turned the ball over 1.8 times. For a team that scored over 78 points per game, those lack of turnover numbers are quite impressive. Laroche has not been a great scorer for the Aggies, but he does have a good enough outside shot to keep the opposing defense honest. Without Jonathan Gibson and Jahmar Young; however, Laroche may have to score a few more points during his junior campaign. Whatever pressure Laroche feels to score, Gordo Castillo will feel much, much more. Castillo only started two games last season, but he was a very productive shooter off of the bench. Now the senior has to step into a starting role and if he can start using his size to attack the basket, Castillo could turn into a surprisingly effective scorer.
Wendell McKines and Hamidu Rahman spent most of last season as the starting duo in the paint. McKines is a truly unique player. At 6-6 and 224 pounds, the senior can do just about everything. A year ago he averaged 10.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and even nabbed a few steals and blocked some shots here and there. McKines’ versatility and tenacity on the glass make him a very difficult match-up for any defender and he should be averaging a double-double by the time the 2010-2011 season comes to and end. Rahman may average a double-double as well. After tallying 10.3 points and 8.0 rebounds, it is very plausible for the 6-11 junior to continue to improve on his rebounding numbers. Rahman is more than just a shooter and a rebounder though. He is the shot blocking force under the basket and the clog in the paint.
Who to Watch:
Troy Gillenwater only played in 13 contests last season due to academic issues, but those are now behind him. In those 13 games the 6-8 forward averaged 14.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. With Gillenwater presumably back for an entire season, the NMSU offense will have two versatile big men who can score inside and outside. With Gillenwater and McKines on the floor, the Aggies offense will be extremely tough to stop even without Young and Gibson.
The problem is NMSU rarely plays any defense. Having Gillenwater around for an entire season gives the Aggies two solid shot blockers, but even when Gillenwater was on the floor last season the defense was not much better. Assuming the rebounding improves with the larger lineup on the floor, Coach Marvin Menzies can lead a very good team back to the NCAA Tournament as long as the defense is capable of improving.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Hernst Laroche, Junior, Guard, 6.3 ppg
Gordo Castillo, Senior, Guard, 5.4 ppg
Wendell McKines, Senior, Forward, 10.7 ppg
Troy Gillenwater, Junior, Forward, 14.6 ppg
Hamidu Rahman, Junior, Center, 10.3 ppg
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