Bill Harty's TMM Season 9 Recaps

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Bill Harty's TMM Season 9 Recaps

TMM9 :: Round One of the Rio Grande Rivalry

(This is the eleventh installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

Round one of the Rio Grande Rivalry between the New Mexico Lobos and the New Mexico State Aggies this year was held at University Arena in Albuquerque, also known as the Pit. The two teams play an annual home-and-home series despite not being in the same conference since the Lobos abandoned the Border Conference for the Skyline Conference in 1951. They are the only Division I programs in the state; there are three Division II schools, NM Highlands, who the Lobos faced in an exhibition, Western NM, who played an exhibition with the Aggies, and Eastern NM, who faced neither this year, as well as the NAIA Northern New Mexico Eagles, who were a last minute addition to the Aggies' schedule when an additional game in the Wounded Warrior Project tournament became available.

The all-time series is led by UNM, 113-95; the teams split two games last year, each winning on the other's home court. It was particularly galling to Lobo Coach Steve Alford when the Aggies won in the Pit in November last year, and he has continued to complain in the media to his team about it ever since, even after the Lobos evened the score in the Pan American Center last December.  Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: Coasting To The Red Line Upset

(This is the tenth installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

December 1 was another busy sports day for Las Crucens, but much of it came to us on the radio. In the afternoon, the Las Cruces High Bulldogs won their state semifinal football game at Albuquerque’s Wilson Stadium, defeating the Eldorado Eagles. NMSU Aggie football traveled to San Marcos, Texas, for the (presumably) last WAC football game, losing to Texas State after teasing us in the first half. In Cedar City, Utah, early evening saw the NMSU women’s basketball team win its fourth straight game in yet another thriller, 70-68, over Southern Utah; the four wins were by a total of twelve points. As that game concluded, fans came out for the first ever basketball game in the Pan American Center against the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi.  Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: Aggies-Miners Game One: This Is Always A War

(This is the ninth installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

I know of no other non-conference rivalries that regularly play two annual games, home-and-home, besides the ones between New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico, and between New Mexico State and the University of Texas at El Paso. Tonight begins the “Battle of I-10,” named for the cross-country highway connecting Santa Monica, CA, and Jacksonville, FL, but particularly for the forty-mile stretch connecting NMSU to UTEP. No matter how good each team is, these are always hard-fought games, with both fan bases sharing a mutual loathing of the other. We wrote about the Aggies’ 89-73 victory in Las Cruces last year, and shared some of the matchup’s history; the Miners won last year’s return match in El Paso 73-69. This was NMSU’s seventh game of this season; their record of 3-3 included no wins away from the friendly Pan American Center. Similarly, UTEP opened with an easy home victory over Oral Roberts, followed by four straight losses away from El Paso.   Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM 9 :: Sasha Weber: Start and Finish

(This is the eighth installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

It was the end of a long sports weekend in Las Cruces. After three basketball games on the Friday after Thanksgiving, with the students on their holiday hiatus, Saturday began with Aggie football, followed by George Mason’s 76-70 triumph in the consolation game of the Hotel Encanto Classic. Just under 1,000 dedicated fans were in the Pan American Center for the tournament final matching the UC-Irvine Anteaters against the host New Mexico State Aggies. (Shout out to the Roadrunner Revue pep band, who literally changed clothes after a long afternoon of football and came out to play for the women’s team; they even helped teach the new Pistol Pete how to do the Macarena!)  Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: Another Close Escape

(This is the seventh installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

For the past several years, due to the generous sponsorship of Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces, several of New Mexico State women’s sports teams host an annual “Hotel Encanto” tournament. In the fall, several outstanding volleyball teams come to town; over the past five years fields have included Northwestern, Cincinnati, Illinois, LSU, Florida State, Texas, Utah, and Houston. In February, Big Ten softball squads looking for warm weather head to Las Cruces; Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, Penn State, and Ohio State have participated in the past five years. This year’s basketball tournament was held over the Thanksgiving weekend and brought three pretty evenly matched squads to compete with host New Mexico State for the championship. At 2:30, the first game of Friday afternoon matched the Drake Bulldogs of the Missouri Valley Conference against the Big West’s UC-Irvine Anteaters, with the Anteaters sneaking away with a 69-64 victory.   Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: RIP, Kelsey Crooks

(This is the sixth installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

The day after Thanksgiving, New Mexico State basketball fans saw the first round games of the women’s Hotel Encanto Classic. In the first, the Anteaters of the University of California at Irvine nipped the Drake Bulldogs 69-64; the second saw the NMSU Aggies defeat the George Mason Patriots 55-52. The third game of the day involved the Aggie men’s team; they hosted the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The men’s game was dedicated to former Aggie player Kelsey Crooks. Crooks was a standout player at Las Cruces Oñate High School, leading the state in scoring his senior year and setting Oñate records that still stand. He then played four years for Lou Henson ending in 2004; he was a good player, averaging about eight points and six rebounds per game in his senior year, and was well liked and respected in the community for his work with youth sports, and his strength during his mother’s battle with cancer that began while he was playing for the Aggies. Soon after his graduation, Crooks was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which finally took his life during the summer of 2012. At halftime, Crooks’s father, who played football for the Aggies, his brother and young nephew were introduced to the crowd, and Kelsey received one more standing ovation in the Pan American Center. RIP, Kelsey.  Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: A Tune-up For Both Teams

(This is the fifth installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

Thanksgiving eve brought the second-ever matchup between the Northern New Mexico Eagles and the New Mexico State Aggies. Northern New Mexico College took the “Junior” out of its name only seven years ago. This is the fourth year of their men’s basketball program, and the second year that the Eagles have competed as an NAIA independent. There was great excitement in Española to play for the first time against one of the state’s D-I programs last season, losing to NMSU in February to complete a thirty loss season (with no wins). This year’s Eagles have already won three games, losing seven.

For New Mexico State, this game wraps up the four-game 2K Sports Classic, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. Disappointingly to their fans, the Aggies lost on the road at both Oregon State and Niagara, a neutral site loss to Bucknell at Niagara sandwiched between; the NMSU home opener against Southeastern Louisiana was not part of the Classic.  Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: Rozendaal Leads Aggies To Overtime Victory

(This is the fourth installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

The New Mexico State women’s basketball team opened their season hosting the Loyola Marymount Lions on Monday, November 12. This was the Lions’ second game of the young season, having lost two nights earlier at UTEP, 79-51. NMSU and LMU had only one prior meeting in women’s basketball, a 1997 68 67 win for the Aggies in their Pan American Center. Neither team was expected to finish highly in their conference pre-season polls. LMU was projected by league coaches to finish seventh of the nine members of the West Coast Conference. WAC coaches picked NMSU eighth among the ten Western Athletic Conference members. Each school placed one senior guard on their respective preseason all-conference team: Lion Alex Cowling and Aggie Stefanie Gilbreath, the latter a transfer from Southern California.

A count of the sparse crowd I estimated as 500 at the opening tip was not included in the box score. Early on the Aggies moved the ball well against the LMU man defense. Aggie sophomore guard Danesia Williamson scored nine early points by slashing to the basket and making layups.  Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: Guarantee Game; Expected Result

(This is the third installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

After a loss at Oregon State to open the season and the Wounded Warrior Classic, New Mexico State hosted the Southeastern Louisiana Lions of the Southland Conference. This was the Aggies’ home opener, against a school they had only faced once before, in 1997. The Lions came to Las Cruces after opening the season with road losses at Wisconsin and Marquette. While NMSU is predicted to finish near the top of the WAC, Southeastern is anticipated by Southland coaches to be just below the middle of their conference.

Conference realignment has greatly affected both of these leagues. The ten schools in the WAC this season include five new members, three of which (UT San Antonio, UT Arlington, and Texas State) came from the Southland; all three of them will leave the WAC after one season, UTSA to Conference USA, UTA and Texas State to the Sunbelt. The Southland had nine returning members after these defections, but has this season added Oral Roberts, which is favored to win the championship in its first year, and three schools for next season: Houston Baptist and two Texas schools moving from Division II, Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word.

A smallish crowd of just over 5,000 showed up to see the Aggies’ first home contest. The Lions started the game with an 8-2 run; their patient motion offense was led by junior guard Jeffery Ricard’s long jumper and longer #superhoop. The Aggies’ 9-0 run following the first media timeout, with senior wing Tyrone Watson scoring six, put NMSU back in the lead. The two teams traded baskets for a while, with Watson driving to the basket for the Aggies, and preseason all-conference guard Brandon Fortenberry scoring both inside and out for the Lions. With about eight minutes left in the half, the Aggies shifted to a zone defense and scored ten straight points, including #superhoops by sophomore guard Daniel Mullings and junior wing Kevin Aronis, to take the lead for good.   Continue Reading This Post >>

TMM9 :: Bill Harty's NMSU vs. Western New Mexico Recap

(This is the second installment of Bill Harty’s game recaps as part of The Mid Majority ninth season taking readers to mid-major college basketball games around the country. Visit midmajority.com to find out more about this group-sourced effort to spread the word about the many fine basketball programs around the country that are having success on and off the court while generally not having access to the resources brought to athletic programs by big-time college football. Bill will be recapping most Aggie home games, and the occasional road foray, for both The Mid Majority and bleedCrimson.net.)

The only exhibition game of the 2012-2013 season for the New Mexico State Aggie men’s basketball team brought the Western New Mexico Mustangs to town. The Division II Mustangs play in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, where they are predicted to finish ninth among the fourteen teams. The Aggies and Mustangs have met many times over the years, primarily because the distance between the schools is just over 100 miles. Oh, and also that the state funding for both New Mexico State and the University of New Mexico was for many years statutorily conditioned on scheduling one of the D-II schools in men’s basketball. Last year, this was a regular season matchup, won 92-65 by the Aggies on December 19.

Even though it was an exhibition contest, over 3,700 fans showed up to see the game. Several hundred were rooting for the Mustangs, including families of Las Cruces High alum Lucio Lutrell and nearby El Paso Hanks High graduate Christian Velasquez; the Velasquez family, sitting all around us, was very loud when he entered the game near the end. Many of those present had seen the Aggie team twice, once for an intrasquad scrimmage, and once at a Saturday practice open to season ticket holders. Hopes are high for a return to the NCAA Tournament for the defending WAC champion Aggies.   Continue Reading This Post >>