bleedCrimson.net will be interviewing Aggie men's head basketball coach Marvin Menzies throughout the 2008/2009 season as the Aggies take aim at their third consecutive WAC championship. This week talked with Coach Menzies about the victory over Idaho, what makes Wendell McKines a great rebounder and the upcoming games against Boise State and Idaho on the road.
bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the Idaho game?
Marvin Menzies: The Idaho game was obviously a big win for us being that we really needed that win coming off two home losses and playing another game at home and having that opportunity of playing at home three games in a row, I thought it was big that we didn't get swept here in those three games. That was huge for us. I knew it was going to be a close game with them being much improved and pulling it out down the stretch was critical.
bc.net: Troy Gillenwater had 17 points and was 9-9 from the free throw line, Wendell McKines also had 14 rebounds and 15 points. What is it about Wendell that makes him such a great rebounder?
MM: His energy, his passion, it's his attitude. He knows it's something we need for the team, he knows it's something he can do well because of his quickness, instinct and his athletic ability. I think some of that stuff you can teach but I'm not taking credit for Wendell. He was a great rebounder before I got him and he's going to be a great rebounder wherever he goes to play after New Mexico State.
As far as Troy is concerned, I'm just really proud of his growth, his attitude, his development just in this short time. I really see bright things in his future. I think he can be a staple here going forward.
The two really like each other, they play well together, they play off each other, they look for each other in the post to post situations. Those two are big time players and they're helping us as we go forward.
bc.net: You led by five at halftime but they slowly cut into the lead in the second half. What did you tell your team at the under eight minute timeout when they had taken the lead for the first time in the second half?
MM: I think we just talked execution defensively. When they did what they did it was based off of some very good execution and making shots. That's something that Idaho has done a very good job of this year is shoot the ball and execute in their offensive schemes. So we needed to do a better job of taking them out of their stuff and make them take some more challenged shots. I think we did a decent job of that but we've obviously got to do better when we're on the road.
bc.net: The final 19 seconds of the game were very similar to the final 30 seconds of the Nevada game. The difference this time is that you were able to grab three rebounds which led to three points for you. How much did you talk about the Nevada game?
MM: Right. We didn't address it much outside of right after. Right after the Nevada game we put on the video, learned from it, took those lessons and moved forward. When we were in the situation, then you have an opportunity to capitalize on what you learned earlier. I just made reference, I didn't make reference to the [Nevada] game, I just made reference to this is winning time, we've got to do the right things down the stretch in terms of not fouling, getting rebounds and getting high percentage shots on every possession and we did that and we came out victorious.
bc.net: With the fact that Idaho is coached by long time Stew Morrill assistant Don Verlin, how much did it help having played Utah State the game before in your preparation?
MM: It did help a little bit. He runs some things similar but he also has some tweaks to what he does based on his personnel. I would imagine he's changed some things but the core of what they do is pretty much the same and so that gave us, I don't know if it was advantage, but it gave the kids some familiarity.
bc.net: Thursday night you take on Boise State, Mark Sanchez is one of the big surprises in the league this year, last year he was a limited reserve and this year he's leading their team in scoring.
MM: Yeah, Mark knows the system. He's a senior that's very experienced in the fact that he's had plenty of reps even though they haven't all been with a referee and a whistle but he's had plenty of opportunity to go out and do the things that are necessary to execute what the coach wants. I'm not surprised by the success he's had so far.
bc.net: Kurt Cunningham, their inside man, is hitting 69% of his shots. At one point this season his field goal percentage was higher than all but one player in the WAC's free throw shooting percentage. That should be a good matchup for your big guys.
MM: He's a very talented kid obviously. He plays within himself and I think that's the key. He's not going to try to do things he can't do. He's not going to try to step out and take shots, that's not who he is. So our guys are going to be very challenged by that matchup because he's such a savvy player and playing within himself. A lot of times a younger player doesn't have that experience. It'll be a good challenge for the young kids.
bc.net: Then on Saturday you take on Idaho again. What adjustments do you make or not make the second time around with them?
MM: Well we've got a couple games and they'll have played a couple games before we see them so we'll have a chance to watch those films and see what they're doing differently. And also revisit what happened in our game. We'll go to an analysis, an evaluation at that point of what gameplan we want to have coming into the game. Even with that all being said once the game begins and the ball goes up you have to make adjustments and be ready to make adjustments. So you have backup plans in your repertoire as well. It's gonna be interesting to see how the game unfolds. I know that Coach [Verlin] will have some tricks up his sleeve so to speak and so we'll see what those are and then try to make the adjustments hopefully quick enough to try to stay ahead of the game.