This week in the Lone Star Conference

September 22nd, 2016 No comments

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It’s early in the season, especially the conference season, but there have already been a couple of key games that are shaping the race for the conference championship and post season berths. Last week was no exception with 2 games that could have a big impact on the race putting a couple of teams on the inside track and a setting up the losers to need help later in the season if they want to get into the postseason.

Probably the most significant was #12 Midwestern State at Texas A&M Kingsville. Midwestern needed a FG with 18 seconds left in the game to get a come from behind victory. So. RB Vincent Johnson got three 2nd half TD’s to lead the Mustangs back from a 15-3 half time deficit as MSU won their conference opener and improved to 2-0 on the season. Their win moved them up in the DII coaches’ poll to number 11 in the nation and in the D2.com poll to #9. Kingsville was receiving votes in the polls and had a very good chance to challenge MSU & Commerce for the top spot in the conference.

The other game that I think had some bearing on the standings was Tarleton State hosting Angelo State. Both teams are facing what is for them down years but both are still good programs. Either one could get on a roll in the conference and make a run at the top spot or an at large bid in the post season, but they can’t lose games like this or against lesser competition. Tarleton State ran away with this one, 35-5. It was a defensive battle with the teams tied at 3 mid way through the third quarter. TS’s special teams blocked a FG attempt by Angelo State and it was off to the races for Tarleton as they took the momentum all the way to the end of the game.

In other action, #7 Tx A&M Commerce had an easy time defeating Eastern New Mexico, 49-10. The Lions held ENMU to 287 total (only 60 passing yards) while running up 479 yards themselves, 388 through the air. QB Luis Perez threw for 5 TDs on the day without any miscues. The Greyhounds had been averaging 455 yards of offense on the season, leading the NCAA in rushing yards. Not any more. Commerce will now host Kingsville in their first big test of the conference schedule.

The other game, that wasn’t WNMU, saw our opponent this weekend get brought back down to earth as UT Permian Basin fell to West TX A&M 48-14. A&M dominated on both sides of the ball amassing 468 yards of offense while the defense came up with 3 INTs to frustrate the UTPB offense. A&M was paced in the rushing department by SR RB Devon Payne who got 98 yards on just 14 carries. QB Ethan Brinkley connected on 34 of 50 passing attempts for 336 yards and 2 TDs without an interception. While 9 different players caught passes from Brinkley, Jaquarius Daniels was the main target grabbing 9 balls, one for TD.

After the first full week of LSC play, four teams are 1-0 in LSC play: Midwestern State, West Texas, Commerce, and Tarleton State. The 2 NM schools, Western & Eastern sit at 1-1 in conference play with all others winless.

The big games coming up this weekend include TX A&M Commerce hosting TX A&M Kingsville while West TX A&M will host Tarleton State. Other games have WNMU visiting UT Permian Basin; Angelo State hosts Eastern NM; OK Panhandle visits Midwestern State.

Mustangs get win!

September 18th, 2016 No comments

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The first possession of the game was a peak and valley experience that struck fear into the hearts of long time Mustang fans. The opening drive was well planned and executed as WNMU’s offense was able to use the run to march down the field, mixing in the Wildcat formation. The Stangs took 6 minutes off the clock and appeared ready to get into the end zone with a first and goal at the one yard line. Yeah Stangs!

But once again, a penalty pushed the Mustangs back to the 6 yard line changing the situation. WNMU couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone settling for a chip shot field goal. Now we’re starting the downhill slide, but it get’s worse. The FG attempt is blocked and OPSU returns if for a TD. It was a scenario we’ve seen too many times as Mustang fans over the years.

On the next possession, Tredonte Hill set up the offense with great field position after a huge kick off return. WNMU’s offense sputtered settling for a FG that was good. Then the Stangs took the lead with a TD but the 2 pt attempt was not good. Was this going to be another Mustang tease of it’s fans? Not so fast.

WNMU was able to take advantage of their talent edge and mistakes by the OPSU defense to build a 37-14 lead going into half time. Javia Hall threw the ball well as the Mustang wide receivers were able to get behind the defense. Xavier Ayers had only 2 catches in the first half but they were 75 & 25 yard TD catches. Not too shabby. Javia showed poise in the pocket and his 13 yard scoring pass to Gordie Longville while on the run gives Western fans hope that they have a solid starting QB.

Preston Blincoe ran the ball well, especially early, as did Javia. Give the offensive line credit. Those guys controlled the line of scrimmage early giving the Mustang backs room to run.

The Mustang defense gave up some yards in the second quarter and again in the third after being unbelievably stingy early in the game. But while Panhandle marched up and down the field, the Stangs only gave up two TDs. Their goal line stand keeping the Aggies out of the end zone on 4th and 1 1/2 may have just sealed the victory.

Typically, the Mustangs let down mentally in the third quarter but the big plays came on our side of the ball more so than the Aggies side. Yes, we had some mental lapses that led to scores but for the most part the Stangs limited their mistakes and made some big plays.

To be sure, while the Aggies lone win was against a D1 program, they aren’t the cream of the crop in the LSC, but if you want to win some games, this is what WNMU needs to do, beat the lesser teams handily. And they did that. The Aggies probably had a bit of an emotional let down after their win at AK Pine Bluff last week, an historic win for the program; the Mustangs need to learn from that and not let down on the road against UT Permian Basin. It’s a winnable game if we play like we did this week.

Mustangs at home for first time this season

September 16th, 2016 No comments

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WNMU will look to get its first win of the 2016 season as they host Oklahoma Panhandle State in a key game for WNMU. Western holds a 19-16-2 advantage in the series but this will be the first time the teams have met as conference foes. The teams haven’t met since 2006 when WNMU won 61-17. The Mustangs have won the last 3 meetings.

Things are bit different in this matchup with Western coming in at 0-2 having lost to San Diego and Eastern NM while OPSU has faced 2 NCAA D-IAA foes coming away with a 1-1 record. The Aggies fell to #2 Sam Houston State in the opener, 59-21, then got a road victory against Arkansas Pine Bluff, 20-16.

It was a typical first game of the season between a highly ranked team and a team in OPSU that didn’t have a great outlook for the season. SHS got out to a 14-0 lead before Panhandle was able to get their offense going trading TDs with Sam Houston. Just before the end of the 1st quarter it was 21-14 in favor of the Bearkats. It was big plays for OPSU scoring first on a 90 yard kick off return then a 68 yard pass for another score.

Sam Houston would roll off the next 4 scores, 3 in the second quarter and one in the third to put the game away. Panhandles’ only other score would be a 35 yard pass. The final score was 59-21. OPSU was pass heavy gaining only 55 yards on the ground and 311 through the air on 26-41 passing for 2 TDs and no ints. The running game got only 1.6 yards per carry. The D gave up 279 yards rushing and 389 through the air.

Against Pine Bluff, OPSU fell behind early but took the lead into the intermission at 7-3. APD would dominate the third quarter and hold a 16-7 lead going into the final stanza. The Aggies came up big with 2 long drives culminating in TDs for the final 20-16 margin of victory. The last drive was a 91 yard march that ended with another big pass play, 55 yards for the score.

OPSU found a running game getting 115 yards, averaging 3.4 per carry. The passing game was efficient once again gaining 228 yards on 22-34 passing for 3 TDs and no INTs. The defense held Pine Bluff to 140 yards rushing, but had tackles for losses totaling 47 yards. They gave up only 203 yards passing allowing no scores on the passing game.

The passing game is run by Sr QB Shane Truelove, 6-1 219 from Norco CA. He’s 39-61 for 440 yards and 4 TDs with no turnovers on the season. He’s got a big arm and can move in the pocket. He’s also a threat to run carrying the rock 16 times for 44 yards. But he’s clearly a pass first QB who gets rid of the ball quickly. They’ll set up the long ball with intermediate passes.

12 players have caught the ball for OPSU but Truelove’s favorite target is El Paso native Andrew Hernandez. He’s a 5-8 172 Sr with great speed and elusiveness. He’s caught 14 passes averaging 15 yards a catch with a long of 69 and put the ball in the end zone twice. The other main target for Truelove is Brandon Trotter, another Sr, from Phoenix AZ. Trotter, 5-11 193, also has good speed. He’s caught 8 passes, 6 against Pine Bluff. He’s got 1 TD with the long of 55 yards.

The defense for Panhandle is likely better than their stats will tell you. They’ve played 2 DI opponents and have given up a lot of yards and points, but most of it in the game at Sam Houston. Their leading tacklers are DBs and LBs which isn’t always good. They can be aggressive and will bring blitzes often. They can come up with tackles for loss and did so against both of their opponents. The Mustang offensive line will have their hands full.

What can WNMU do to counter Panhandle’s defense and can we stop their passing game? Tune in to the kickoff show right here at 11:30 on Saturday to find out. Or listen on 92.9 FM

Mustang football loses LSC opener

September 12th, 2016 No comments

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WNMU entered Lone Star Conference play by facing cross state foe Eastern New Mexico University. What a fitting way to enter the new conference with a chance to knock of ENMU; if that could have been done. ENMU is an established program that also happens to run the triple option offense; something hardly any school does these days. Not to mention that ENMU was inaugurating a new stadium so it was like homecoming for them. WNMU was trying to replace a number of talented players on both sides of the ball but especially on offense. It did not set up well for WNMU and the game played out that way.

WNMU did improve slightly on offense, over week 1, by gaining a total of 294 yards on the ground. But they gave up 572 yards, 466 on the ground. Much of what WNMU was able to gain offensively came later in the game when Eastern let down a bit. That said, Javia Hall came back into the game, after being benched, and was able to move the ball down the field. Hall may have solidified his position has starting QB going 14-26 for 242 yards and 2 TDs against 2 INTs. Xavier Ayers showed why he was an All American last year with a solid game; 6 receptions for 118 yards. Rodney Lawson grabbed 3 balls for 60 yards and a TD. Henry Norman also caught 3 balls from his TE position for 44 yards. Tredonte Hill caught a couple of balls including a TD. I really thought he caught more but those are the official stats.

There’s the bright spots for WNMUs offense. Maybe, if we are real homers, we can say the offensive line did a little bit better job of providing some pass protection for Hall and Matt Hommel when he was in at QB. But that’s being relative. Let me back up a bit too, Deandre Williams, the FR RB from Tucson, I thought showed some potential as a running back. Officially he carried 5 times for 24 yards, but again I thought he carried for more yards. And he showed some ability to run downhill. Maybe if he’d had more room to run, along with Blincoe, McNair and company, we’d have put up more yards offensively.

On the other side of the ball, a couple of guys stood out to me, starting with Connor Mowat at tackle. He had 9 tackles including an assist on a sack and a TFL. But he made some plays that don’t show up in the stats, because he’s clogging up the middle and letter the back 7 get to the ball carrier or QB. Leo Marin and Alfonso Wilson benefited from his work. Ivan Dangerfield also had a lot of tackles. Steven Stewart was also all over the place making plays. Just having a lot of tackles doesn’t mean to me that you made plays; it can also mean that the other team was on the field more than our offense was; we lost that battle 39 minutes to 21 minutes. So we had 100 tackles as a team while ENMU only had 56 or thereabouts.

But let’s talk about the eye test for WNMU. We dug a hole early because ENMU’s offense is designed to run a lot of plays and stay on the field. Our offense didn’t help that by not moving at all early in the game. My overall impression of the defense is that we are, more than ever, back to what we were 5-6 years ago. There is clearly a ton of athletic ability on the defensive side of the ball. We saw that from the some of the plays that were made by individuals, such as Mowat, Stewart, Marin, Wilson to mention a few. But almost like clockwork, after we made a solid stand, or a good play like a sack, we invariably gave up a big play right away. The lack of intensity and discipline was apparent once again. ENMU’s Kamal Cass is a good runner, but his 230+ yards were as much a product of good line play, giving him room to run, combined with WNMU players being out of place a few times. Look at his carry chart: a bunch of runs for less than 5 yards, then a few for 6-11 yards. Boom, 78 yards for a TD or 22 yards for a 1st down after a WNMU tackle for a loss (of course on 3rd down & long)

Coach Clark said the plan for the defense was to force the QB to make a late decision in the read. We did that a lot of times, but it was the inconsistent play due mainly to mental errors that allowed ENMU to keep drives alive and make big plays. The DBs were supposed to keep the WRs in front of them and not give up big plays. 80-85% of the time they did that, but once again, they’d bite on a run fake and give up a 20+ yard pass for a 3rd down conversion that kept a drive alive.

Offensively, it’s no surprise that we were going to suffer a bit after 4 years of being one of the top offenses in the nation due to the loss of Mitch Glasman and a very talented WR corp. Marques Rodgers being ineligible doesn’t help either. Throw in a new offensive coordinator and you’d expect to have some growing pains. There is talent outside as I said before about the WRs. Williams shows potential at RB as well but he’s still unproven. The offensive line play, 3/5 of which have started for multiple years now, well it’s not good. Too many mental errors, picking up the wrong key or not being able to block the other guy. It’s not surprising as I watched this group in spring ball and in pre-season loaf through drills too often. You play the way you practice and if you don’t practice smart, practice hard, and work on your craft, then you play that way as well. It’s the rare player that can turn on the switch for games. I’ve seen talent in this crew, but simply they don’t work hard enough in practice. Surprisingly I thought this unit did a better job against Eastern of pass blocking than they did run blocking; pass blocking is harder and more technical. Again there were flashes but not enough consistency.

And much of that comes down to coaching. It’s the same modus operandi for WNMU that we’ve seen for too many years. A lack of consistent mental discipline, mental toughness, which leads to too many mistakes. Other teams do make mistakes but not as many and often not in the big situations. At least the teams that win don’t make those types of mistakes. And to get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a big defensive play, for taunting; well that typifies the problems this team faces.

IF, and it’s a BIG IF, this team can find a way to match the mental toughness of our opponents, we have the talent to win a few games. Right now, as we looked at the schedule there were 2 games most observers thought we’d have a chance to win: UT Permian Basin and our opponent next week, Oklahoma Panhandle State. UT Permian Basin is in their first year of football and they are now undefeated, 2-0 having downed Sul Ross State and Arizona Christian University. We know those teams and have beaten them in the past, but those weren’t easy wins. We open at home next week against OPSU, who are 1-1 on the season having lost to #2 Sam Houston State and beat Arkansas Pine Bluff by 4 points on the road. If we play smart, disciplined football we can win both. If we don’t… volleyball is playing well.

#24 Mines in Silver City

December 31st, 2015 No comments

The Mustangs will get back on the floor against the #24 team in the nation. Now, the last poll was in mid-December so I’m not sure Mines will be ranked in the next poll or would be today if another poll were published. Looking at their schedule, it’s been very favorable; 7 of their 11 games have been at home, with one road game at Christian which is 15 minutes away. They opened the season at #10 nationally but were only picked 3rd in the RMAC getting only 4 first place votes. They were behind CSU Pueblo in the Mountain Division pre-season poll.

Among their non-conference games, they got wins at home against St. Mary’s (5-5, Lubbock Christian (7-4 with wins over Regis, Lady of the Lake, Sul Ross & Little Girls of Baptist U) Evangel (2-10) and Haskell Indian U (3-9). Not a very impressive resume. They lost at Ft. Lewis, won at Adams State and Christian, lost to Mesa and beat Westminster, both at home. I’d say they are performing middle of the road right now and probably won’t even get votes in the new poll.

Mines is middle of the road in scoring, 76 per game (9th), with WNMU 66 ppg (15th). Mines is #3 in scoring defense, 66 per game, led by pre-season Defensive POTY, Gokul Nateson. The Mustangs aren’t too bad defensively #8 @ 75 ppg. Mines is very efficient offensively, 44% FG made #2 in the RMAC, while Western is dead last at 37%. Western NM is #3 in FG % defense limiting opponents to 41% made while Mines is #6 allowing 46% made.

Western is also #1 in 3 pt FG defense, 31% while Mines is #4 allowing 36%. Mines is #2 in 3 pt FG made, 39.9% and the Mustangs are dead last, making only 28% of their 3 pt shots. The Mustangs are being out rebounded 41-38, while Mines is up on their opponents, 34-31.

Really, Mines is very efficient; they move the ball well and that leads to a lot of assists off of made baskets. They will also create off the dribble as they look to push the tempo some, when they can, but create mismatches with the pass, tiring out the defense and working deeper into the clock on the set offense. Gokul is leading them with 21 pts per game; in fact it’s all about him; no one else even averages 9 pts a game. He hits 45% of his shots, will make a couple of threes, but is more of a guy who drives to the bucket.

Dallenbach and Waitsman average 8 per game. Waitsman is a 6-8 215 lb Jr who hits about 48% but only plays about 19 mins a game. He grabs about 5 boards a game, which leads the team, but G Zach Rusk is right behind at 4.6 boards per game. Dallenbach is 6-6 225 Sr F, who hits about 52% but gets only 3 boards a game. He also only plays about 1/2 the game.

But if you look down the roster, you see a lot of guys who play 9 or more minutes a game. 5 of them hit over 50% of their shots and everyone else hits over 42% except for PG Zach Rusk who hits only 34%. Talk about efficient. Rusk and Natesan lead the way in assists with 3 1/2 per game but just about everyone gets an assist or two per game. This is a balanced team that supports what Nateson does for them.

Compare that to WNMU, who’s leading scorer is Willie McCray at 12.5 per game. But when you look at any category for WNMU, I don’t think it makes much of a difference who is leading in any particular category, because there hasn’t been anyone who has been consistent in shooting, scoring, rebounding, etc.

In watching practice this past week, I’ve seen some things that are interesting to say the least. These are fundamentals that we’ve talked about with almost every team in the past, but I’m not sure why we don’t emphasize them. Coach Law was putting together a different drill, one Coach Coleman has used in the past; it’s a fast break type drill setting up 2 on 1, 3 on 2, 4 on 3 and 5 on 5. I watched for about 15 minutes and rarely did any of the wing players keep going to the bucket; almost exclusively they stop at the wing, usually on the three point line. If you are hitting 3 pt shots regularly or need to come from way behind, maybe that works; but man, get to the bucket when you have the numbers. That’s simple.

I also watched several drills where our outside players do not crash the boards when a shot is in the air. At best they are standing around the 3 pt line or at worst are heading back down court. Maybe this is how they are being coached but we are not a consistently good shooting team and need to get offensive boards and put backs or get to the line.

On the bright side, it looks like some of our help defense schemes are getting better. Coach has spent some time on this in practice and if we can take it to the game, we’ll continue to stay in games with good defense.

A couple of quick observations: several guys are out of shape, winded and/or throwing up after high intensity drills. And they are not freshman. That is flat out pathetic. I watched a couple of guys pull out of drills and get younger guys to go in. I asked; none reported being ill. IF you are that out of shape at this point in the season or your career, stay on the bench.

Some guys also appear to be mailing it in; going half speed in practice. That’s how you play, how you practice. The young guys are still playing hard and will continue to get better as the season goes on; can they keep their psyche together through tough times? I hope so because the core is there to have a good team in the next couple of years.

The RMAC at the break

December 29th, 2015 No comments

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It’s not the halfway point of the season but it’s the Christmas break, so it’s a good time to take a look at the RMAC standings and see which teams have been living up to, not living up to or exceeding expectations.

Early on in the season, entering RMAC play, there were some definite surprises, especially Metro State, who didn’t have a winning record, in fact they were 2-4. MSUD was picked to win the RMAC overall beating out CSU Pueblo by 7 overall points although both received 5 first place votes. On the other side, Westminster was not expected to do much, although part of that may have been due them just having joined the RMAC; but they exceeded early expectations by getting off to a 5-0 start then coming up with big wins over MSUD and Colorado Mesa to open the RMAC season.

But as usual, give teams time to get back into a rhythm, get players back from injury and get into the routine of the RMAC schedule and things will start to return to ‘normal’; for the most part.

MSU Denver moved back to the top of the Rocky Division tied with UC Colorado Springs at 4-1. UCCS has a solid 20 pt road win over Mesa, lost to Metro and dealt Westminster their only home loss of the season. Their other wins are at home against lowly Regis and middling Chadron State. Don’t expect them to sit on to of the division for too long as they hit the road against undefeated Ft. Lewis and then to Adams, with Mines, Westminster, and Mesa on the horizon.

Metro has what should be a good win against Mesa and easy wins against Regis and Chadron; they’ll also face FLC and ASU as they are UCCS’s travel partners. We’ll find out just how much better they are soon.

The continuing surprise, underperformer is Colorado Mesa, which warms the cockles of our hearts. Despite having Ryan Stephan, the 6-10 259 Sr, pre-season player of the year and an absolute beast; they are 2-3 in the RMAC and 6-5 overall. They have played a tougher schedule with losses to Metro and UCCS as well as Westminster in SLC but got a good win over Mines in OT. They have South Dakota Mines and Black Hills at home, not easy wins but they should get the W’s before facing Metro, UCCS and Ft. Lewis. They could conceivably be out of the running early if Stephan doesn’t get any help.

NM Highlands is clearly the biggest surprise of the year so far, sitting atop of the Mountain Division at 5-0. They were picked to finish 10th overall in the pre-season poll and 6th in the Mt division. Don’t get too excited yet Cowboy fans, their current record is built on easy wins, WNMU being one of those. But also wins over the Dakota schools, Western Colorado and a solid win over Pueblo; although I’d say that Pueblo may not be as good as everyone thought they would be; based upon what we did to them. But they have Mines and Christian with before they go back to Pueblo and Western State. They’ll lose 3 of those 4 and come back to earth before getting Regis and some easier matches again.

FLC is also slightly exceeding early expectations; they were picked 6th overall and 3rd in the Mt division. They are 4-1 and 9-1 overall. They feasted on home cooking and easy games against Haskell Indian and Evangel in the non-conference schedule before getting good wins against Mines and Pueblo along with Western Colorado and Christian. Their lone loss was at rival Adams State to open the conference schedule. They have Springs and Metro at home which are winnable before 4 road games at Christian, Mines, Mesa, and Westminster; not any easy ones in that grouping. We’ll know a lot more about the Skyhawks but not for a few weeks.

Everything else in the RMAC is about what you thought with the Chadrons, Regis, Dakota schools and everyone else in the middle of the pack or bringing up the rear.

Mustangs host CSU P

December 11th, 2015 No comments

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The Mustangs open the home RMAC schedule with what might be one of the toughest contests on the schedule. It didn’t appear to be that way but CSUP is playing very well early in the season. Of note, they got huge wins over nationally ranked teams and they’ve won 5 of 6 road games including a 3 point win over Western State Colorado in their RMAC opener last week.

CSUP’s lost to then #22 Midwestern State in Pueblo by 16 before turning around a week later and beating then #11 Midwestern State on the road by 13. But the bigger win came about a week later on the road as the T-wolves downed the top ranked team in the nation, Tarleton State, on Tarleton’s home floor in a 3 pt overtime victory. Despite those two very impressive victories, CSUP is not ranked nationally but is getting votes in the polls.

The T-wolves are led by a 6-1 sharp shooting guard, Chris Golden. He can light it up and hits about 41% of his shots overall but is 28-60 from downtown, 48%. Golden ranks #5 nationally in 3 pt shots made per game, 7.4, while the team is #18 nationally with 10 three pointers made per game.

Josh Smith, 6-5 guard, is the other hot shooter; 51% from the floor with 41% from deep. He comes off the bench and gives them a huge spark offensively. Against Western State he hit 4-8 from downtown.

The team can go deep scoring wise but they are also very athletic. They will push the tempo when they can and they play aggressive defense, trying to trap out of the 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones. The will create 15 turnovers per game but also turn it over 14 times. What they are really hoping to do, is force you into a bad shot choice and they want to beat you from beyond the arc.

One bright spot, Bronson Moton, who has been a top tier player for CSU Pueblo, has left the team and won’t be a problem for us as he has been in the past.

The Mustangs are still looking for that right mix in the line up. Look for another couple of changes in the starting line up tonight. We’ll talk more about that on tonight’s broadcast.

RMAC this week

December 10th, 2015 No comments

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The RMAC schedule got under way this past weekend with all travel partners playing each other on Saturday, except for SD Mines and Black Hills State, who played on Tuesday. There were a couple of surprises, mild, and now only 1 undefeated team overall. Most of the games were fairly close, with WNMU losing to Highlands by 20 as the lone blowout (that wasn’t really a blowout).

In the Mountain Division, #15 Colorado Mines, CSU Pueblo, Adams State, & NMHU all got wins and are 1-0, while Ft Lewis, Colorado Christian, Western State, & WNMU suffered losses. In the Rocky Division, Westminster (5-0), Chadron State, South Dakota Mines, and MSU Denver all got wins, meaning Colorado Mesa, Black Hills State, UC Colorado Springs, and Regis suffered losses.

Probably the most interesting thing is Westminster. They were picked next to last in the RMAC pre-season coaches’ poll but are 5-0. Their non-conference schedule was not particularly tough, but they did lose by 1 to D-I Idaho State. Their RMAC win this week was over Colorado Mesa, who was picked 4th in the preseason poll; CMU also features Ryan Stephan, the 6-10 250 Sr Preseason POTY in the RMAC. He averaged 25 pts a game last year and has been a beast so far this year. The Griffins played solid defense holding the team to about 33% from the floor and Stephan to 4-15 overall. They also out rebounded the Mavs by a ton. That’s a big loss for CMU.

Metro State continues to be a conundrum. They got by UCCS at home by 3 points and UCCS is a good team, but without Derrick White, UCCS isn’t nearly what they were last year. Apparently neither is the preseason favorite, MSUD. They are struggling more than was expected. And really, struggling for them, meant they weren’t going to be a clear cut favorite in the RMAC.

FCL losing to Adams State in Alamosa was a mild upset. FLC had been playing very well and ASU isn’t as good as they normally are; not quite as athletic and that hurts their pressure defense and up tempo offense some. But they won a relatively low scoring game.

Friday games of interest this week included UCCS at Colorado Mesa and MSUD at Westminster. It will be interesting to see how both MSUD and WU react to this game. Is Westminster a real threat in the RMAC or is MSUD just an early season disappointment. UCCS at CMU; Mesa needs the win at home over a good team and will likely get it. Mines at FLC will be a good one as well. Mines has to look at this road trip as a possible split but the tough game will be against FLC where the Skyhawks are always very good.

Of course those games will be flipped on Saturday and MSUD, Mesa, Westminster, & UCCS will be playing tough games on Saturday.

NMHU pulls away from Western

December 9th, 2015 No comments

It clearly wasn’t a great basketball game last week against our instate rival, but it was close and exciting for about 80% of the game. The Cowboys kept trying to pull away from the Mustangs, but Western just kept hanging around. When NH Highlands would build a lead and seem to pull away, the Stangs found a way to fight back into the game, but in the end, it was defensive breakdowns that allowed Highlands to pull away in the last 7-8 minutes and put the game into the win column keeping WNMU winless.

The shooting wasn’t consistently great for Western but neither was it good for Highlands. Part of that was the Stang defense would turn up the pressure at times and force them into bad shots. Willie McCray is developing into a solid defender and is drawing the assignment of guarding the best ball handler for the other team.

I like that, at times, the offense was a bit more aggressive as well, trying to go to the basket and drawing a lot of fouls. We took 29 free throw shots making 22, not too bad at 75%. Steven Loucks was 4-4 as was Jordan Enriquez and Makhtar Fall, who couldn’t buy a bucket, did make 5-6 from the charity stripe. Willie didn’t have a good day from the line, 5-10 which is unusual for him. But he seemed to set that tone of getting inside and drawing the defense into the paint.

The problem is, you’ve got to finish inside more often or kick the ball out for a made shot and we’re still shooting poorly, 33% overall, and 6-21 from downtown (29%). Steven and Jordan led the way with 15 points, but while Steven was 5-9 from the floor, Jordan was 4-12 (3-7 from deep). The move to the bench and taking some of that pressure off of him has been good and he’ll get even more comfortable as the season progresses and his shooting % will improve. Steven, just take about 5-6 more shots a game.

Emery was 2-7 and needs to find more open shots but he’s got to be a consistent scorer for us to win. Willie either needs to take more shots or get more assists, which of course means other guys have to make their shots after he gets them the ball. Part of the problem, is guys just don’t know how to run a defender off a screen to really create space; that will get Emery more shots, as well as Jordan more open shots.

Rebounding was a huge issue, 50-27, leading to 19 second chance points for Highlands compared to Westerns 4 second chance points. Part of that is technique, boxing out and part of it is crashing the boards, especially on the offensive end. But some shots are being taken early in the offensive set when the Stangs aren’t in position to even try to get a board.

But it was defensive breakdowns in the last 1/4 of the game that gave Highlands some wide open dunks and layups. All afternoon we seemed to be missing in the rotation defense and especially in the end, the help defense wasn’t there. That’s just fundamental basketball and can be fixed easily, or it should be. Some of it may be the youth and being unfamiliar with the college games but still, protecting the basket is something that should come naturally.

We had our chances to take control and just couldn’t get over the hump. We are watching guys begin to grow into the college game but it takes time and experience, which can’t come as fast as we would like. The key for the coaching staff will be to keep the mental attitude positive and keep the guys trying. That also has to come from them as well.

Mustangs need a win tomorrow…

November 30th, 2015 No comments

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WNMU is still looking for the first win of the season after coming close on 3 occasions. Quite honestly, if the Stangs don’t get a win in the rematch against Benedictine University tomorrow night, they may be looking for a long time to come. The RMAC schedule starts after that game and it’s going to be against some better competition than what we’ve seen so far.

This edition of WNMU’s team is still looking for it’s identity. Part of the problem is that there is not a floor leader or two, a player who wants to take the 14-15 shots a game and can make most of them. A player who can take the team on his shoulders and keep them in a game or carry them to victory. I’m not necessarily talking about a dominant player but someone who sets the tone and other guys find their roles in the scheme and do what they need for the team to win. There are a couple of freshman on the squad who could fill that role in the future but they aren’t in position to take it on right now.

On the defensive side, WNMU has got to have a more consistent effort. Shooting comes and goes for everyone (Steph Curry not withstanding) but hustle and smarts should be consistent; defense is based purely on hustle and smarts. It seems like this team lets its success on the offensive end dictate how hard they try on the defensive end. If guys are shooting well on offense, the defensive intensity is notched up; if the ball’s not falling for us, the defense is lacking in intensity.

Defense can keep a team in every game. The potential is there with Makhtar, Carter, and Daniel inside. They can and have disrupted the inside game and our rebounding has been more competitive early this year than it has been in past years; we’ve out rebounded our opponent in more games than not so far. We also have some shot blocking ability that we haven’t had in the past.

Emery is averaging almost a double/double. Steven has to pick up his scoring game as do Tanter and Adam, who are both shooting horribly. One of the tough things about a passing based game plan on offense, is guys tend to stand around too much. They’ve got to move better on offense. We’ve seen what happens when there is good movement, guys get open and get some easier shot opportunities.

Talking to the coaches, BenU was able to come back last week and get the win, because they were a step or two ahead of us going after loose balls, getting to rebounds, or playing defense; that allowed them to come from behind in the 2nd half and pull out the win.

BenU has had 3 games since we played them, all were losses but were competitive games. They lost to San Diego Christian by 10, Trinity International by 14 and Vanguard University by 6. All three opponents have winning records; two are undefeated. BenU continues to go deep into their bench and rotates a lot of guys in and out of the game. They are still getting double digit scoring from 2-3 guys a game and the 2-3 that provide it is rotating depending upon the hot hand. Tough to defend against.