The Aggie basketball team is back in action tonight as they take a break from non-conference play. We'd say a rare break but this is the first of three non-conference games before the end of the regular season, we seriously doubt any non-independent team in the country has this many non-conference games left on their schedule.
The Aggies take on Cal State-Bakersfield (one of the few Division I independents, future WAC member Seattle being one of the others) tonight in a return game from their early January meeting in Bakersfield, aka The Great Escape. If you recall, the Aggies were already starting to make the mark in the loss column as Wendell McKines sent Issiah Grayson to the line with less than two seconds left and the game tied. Grayson hit one of two and it looked like the Aggies were going to come away with a big fat 'L'. Instead, Tyrone Watson was fouled on a rebound, went to the line and hit a pair of free throws to give the Aggies the unlikely 'W'. That was part of a 10-for-10 free throw performance that night from Watson (who went into the game hitting less than 50 percent of his free throws on the season, more on him later).
So flash forward to tonight. It's a non-conference game, it's sort of a throw-away game if you will for the Aggies, a win or loss doesn't do anything but affect their overall record (again, this team is not getting an at-large so this game doesn't factor into that equation, though a loss would definitely adversely affect the Aggies RPI). So how do you approach a game like this? Coach Menzies and the staff will use this game tonight to prepare for Louisiana Tech on Saturday, a game that does matter.
"The similarity that Bakersfield has to other conference teams is only to a couple other teams. I don't know if we can use it going forward but I think we can use it going into LA Tech's game because they will use some man-to-man, they play a lot of man-to-man and so does LA Tech."
Back to Tyrone Watson. We've talked a lot with Jason Groves about Tyrone and he's one of the players that we both agree is a good, solid basketball player (sorry to steal your thunder Jason). Sure, he's got one of the funkiest hitches in his shot that you may ever see (think Jim Furyk on the golf course) and he doesn't make a ton of buckets but he's solid defensively, he ALWAYS hustles (his motor is second only to Wendell McKines) and he is clutch. That 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line against Bakersfield was the difference between a win and a loss. He hit a pair of huge free throws with the game on the line against Fresno State on Saturday. Simply put, Tyrone is a winner and his stats back that up.
There's a stat that isn't regularly used in basketball but is a favorite among the sabermetric, John Hollinger-types and that is plus/minus. Plus/Minus is defined as the difference between the number of points a team scores while a player is on the court minus the number of points the team's opponent scores while a player is on the court.
When you look at his plus/minus in "clutch" situations (clutch is defined as neither team ahead by more than five points with less than five minutes left in the second half or overtime), Tyrone is actually ranked first on the Aggie team in clutch plus/minus (shocking right?). Basically put, when the game is one the line, you want Tyrone on the court. This also bodes well for next season when Tyrone will be one of the team's seniors and there is no more Wendell or Hernst to provide leadership on the court.
Tonight's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tipoff and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com.
On to today's links...
Aggie Men's Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News blogs about the Aggie offense.
Jason Groves also previews tonight's game.
The OC Register reports on an Aggie signee.
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