Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 01/26/09 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 road trip to Boise and Moscow, rebounding against Boise State and the upcoming games against San Jose State and Hawai'i. Your thoughts on the Boise State game?
Marvin Menzies: Boise was a well fought battle by our kids. We had a few defensive lapses in defensive transition that hurt us in the big picture. We had a chance to get it done down the stretch, the ball bounced literally the wrong way a couple of possessions. But with all that being said we still had a chance to make a shot and put it into overtime, it just fell a little short. That was kind of a microcosm of the game. Just fell a little short. Jahmar Young had 25 points, six assists and six rebounds. He really likes playing up there in Boise.
MM: Yeah he does a great job. I don't know if it's just Boise but that energy when you have a big game, he's been pretty good about showing up for those games. I'm happy with his numbers and Troy's numbers, we just didn't get the result we wanted overall. Rebounding which has been a bit of an issue this season definitely was not an issue in that game. You out rebound BSU by 13 and held a 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
MM: It's really amazing when you look at the statistics you would think that we should have won the game based off a lot of the things that I preach to the kids, that if we do these things, the area of turnovers, we had 10 in the first half. You can't win on the road with that. Rebounding the way we did, the deflections we had, we were up there in our deflections, close to 30. We did well in some areas, just not enough to complete the cycle. Despite the loss you've got to be pleased with the way the team played down the stretch in that game. They were very effective in the inbounding defense and then halfcourt press. You had several plays in a row where you were just a hair away from getting a turnover.
MM: The road is a tricky deal for a lot of reasons. That extra emotional dynamic that exists by being on the road compared to being at home often times takes its toll. I think that played a role. Being in the game with a couple minutes to play, really making some good decisions at Boise then not really doing as well at Idaho in the last few minutes. That's the things that made the difference in the game in Idaho. I feel like the game at Idaho we win that game with a few better decisions in the last few minutes. Going into the game the matchup with Kurt Cunningham was going to be a good test for your young post players. What's your assessment of their play against him?
MM: I thought they did a great job. Mark Sanchez didn't play a lot. That'll be interesting to see how we perform with him in. I think that the fact that our bigs are coming along is going to be critical coming down the stretch here in the second half of conference. We need them to steadily improve and if they can do that it'll give us a bit of an edge going into the conference tournament. You were leading Idaho 64-62 with about six and a half minutes in the game, Idaho's Mac Hopson gets a layup and gets fouled, Troy Gillenwater gets a technical foul called on him. Hopson misses two of the three free throws and you're down just one point as opposed to maybe three. It wasn't a turning point in the game from a score standpoint but maybe from an emotional standpoint it was.
MM: It got them going a little bit, there's no doubt about it. If you look at the play by play it's only a one or two point deal but they really played at a higher level of intensity going forward from there and we didn't match it in our execution. As a result it was still a two point game with about a minute to play but we just didn't get it done with the possessions we had in hand offensively. I think guys got a little too antsy. We shot the ball too quick, didn't get good possessions, some reversals, look a little inside-out. We didn't play smart the last minute of the game. We've talked a little bit about the youth of your team in a few of our interviews, there's a very interesting statistic put up by Ken Pomeroy ranking the teams based on experience. Your team is ranked 341st out of 344 teams in Division I in terms of experience meaning you have the 4th youngest team in America.
MM: Well that's good news! It's one of those things where we knew we were young, I didn't know we were that young in relation to the other teams in the United States. It makes you feel good because you know you're in every game, you're competing, our average margin of defeat is only about two points over the last seven or eight games. But I know that we're going to grow, I know we're going to get better, I know that we're going to develop. I'm going to make sure and demand that the kids are working at the level that they need to to achieve the results we want. That's what we are as coaches, we're teachers and I know that they'll learn. You just have to continue to embrace the process and that's hard sometimes when you lose. But it's still a part of the process. Thursday night you face San Jose State. You got a two point victory on the road against them earlier. C.J. Webster who averages about 12 points a game scored 22 in that game. What do you need to do to keep him, Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham in check?
MM: They're playing very well right now. They just beat Fresno State, they were down and fought back to win that game. They're a good team and we've got to be ready to play. We're studying some of the tape from last game and seeing some things we can do differently. We didn't have Troy in the second half based on some disciplinary reasons, hopefully he be fresh for us the whole game and be able to contribute and be up to guarding those guys. Then on Saturday you face Hawai'i. They're 1-6 in conference play but have played Nevada and Boise State close on the road.
MM: Hawaii's got some guys who have struggled a little bit from the field but I know a couple of those kids can shoot it. We've just gotta make sure we you get out to them and give them good hard challenged shot and decrease their percentage a little bit. Those teams are scary, teams that you know have some decent talent, they just haven't put it together because all it takes is one game for them to click and they can beat anybody in conference. They're a scary team because of their losses, ironically. It's scary because they don't have a good record and you worry about your kids looking at their record rather than their skill level. Speaking of their talent, they've got an All-Conference level guard in Roderick Flemings and a talented post player in Bill Amis.
MM: Both of those guys are quality players. The thing that people have to understand is that every game in the WAC this year is going to be a competitive game. I don't think there's going to be many blowouts from top to bottom. Those two kids are very capable scorers and good defenders as well. A lot of times it comes down to the depth of the team and I know that they're one of the deeper teams in the conference and I think that's hurt them at times but they play with people very close at other times depending on the pace of the game. If they're able to get the pace the way they want it they could be a team that you need the last three or four minutes to beat.