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Mustangs at Orediggers

February 23rd, 2013 No comments

Coach Coleman said last weekend that getting to eleven wins in conference should get us into the playoffs; that allowed for a split on the road and while there are no easy games and getting a sweep was realistic, you had to expect WNMU could pull out the win last night at Christian. YOu also wanted to see Mines have a tough time against Highlands. Neither happened. So WNMU will have to turn around quickly and recover from a flat 2nd half performance, mostly defensively and on the boards to take on a Mines team that dominated NMHU and is flying high.

The last time these two teams met in Golden WNMU handed Mines their first loss of the season 97-93 and it was a wild and exciting affair. Chad had 24 points on the night, 16 in the second half as he only missed one shot. Earlier this season WNMU got the win over Mines in Silver City 77-66 essentially controling all aspects of the game. We didn’t win the rebounding battle but it was 41-39 so that is a wash. We had 19 assists to only 12 turnovers while limiting CSM to only 9 assists and forcing 15 turnovers to go along with 6 steals.

Juan Saurez led the way with 23 points, 9 assists against 5 turnovers; he got great dribble penetration hitting 6-12 overall and 9-10 from the free throw line. Brelan Berry was the recipient of several assists from Suarez as he was 6-10 for 13 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Te Branch added 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Chad had 11 points to go along with 8 boards. It was the kind of performance we thought we’d see more often offensively. We can certainly do it again tonight.

Mines is a different team; when they came to Silver they were early in the season and learning to play without one of their top players as he injured a knee just before the season started. They are scoring about 71 points a game while giving up 74 but their offense is somewhat inconsistent. They scored 90 last night but have been held in the low 60s or even in the 50s several times.

Trevor Wages is the force inside; the 6-9 Jr post player hits 54% of his shots scoring just under 16 a game and grabs 9.6 boards a game. He’s not very good from the line, 62% and doesn’t shoot outside. He only took 5 shots in the first game and got 5 points. Brelan, Chad, Darryl and Te all frustrated him and the guards dug down nicely keeping him from getting in a rhythm. But now he’s got 20 double/doubles on the season and he’ll be looking to get revenge.

The leading scorer for Mines is Luke Meisch, a 6-6 Jr F who likes to play facing the basket. He’s getting 17 a game shooting almost 50% and 40% from deep. He also grabs 8 boards a game and has picked up his scoring as the season goes on. He was 3-10 including 0-4 from downtown in the first game as WNMU frustrated him and kept him out of rhythm.

The third head of the scoring threat for the Orediggers is Brian Muller, 6-5 So G, is continuing to build on a solid freshman season getting 16 a game but only shoots 36% from the floor; 30% from downtown; he’ll put it up quickly and often. He was the big guy in the first contest with 22 points on 8-19 shooting. He can get hot from downtown but was only 3-10 in the first game.

Mines will play a bit slower but can push the ball off of a miss and will, like WNMU look for quick, easy baskets trying to put together runs that can kill the opponents and put games away early. They are long and athletic and a better team that what we saw in December but they are still inconsistent. However, they are at home where they are 10-2 so the Mustangs will have their work cut out for them.

Mustangs at Colorado Christian

February 22nd, 2013 No comments

When you looked at the schedule early this season and saw this game, you figured it would be a playoff contender, WNMU, versus a cellar dwellar; not much of a contest and you’d be thinking tomorrow night’s game at Mines would be much more important. Little did we know Christian would still be in playoff contention and Western is fighting for a playoff spot with any number of teams still in contention for the playoffs including Christian. AND Christian is playing as well as almost anyone in the RMAC right now.

Christian has won 6 of their last 9 games including an impressive road win over Adams State followed by wins at home over Colorado Mesa and Western State. But that also includes a loss to Chadron State albeit on the road. WNMU, despite the disappointing performance against Colorado Mesa at home last Saturday is similarly playing well at the right time. OVer the same period, the Mustangs are also 6 of 9 and have wins over FLC and ASU and a close loss to Highlands; but we have that dismal performance against Pueblo a forty point loss.

When these two teams met in Silver City on 12/1, the Stangs came out with a 72-63 win at a time when Christian was then 5-5, 0-2 in RMAC play and WNMU moved to 3-3 and 2-0 in the RMAC. Now CCU is 7-12 and the Mustangs are 9-10 in RMAC play. At the time WNMU’s defense was playing very well; in fact it was #1 in the RMAC; that’s changed a bit.

But back in the first game Western held CCU to just 29% from the floor; created 18 turnovers to go along with 10 steals but did get out rebounded 41-33 and we gave up 15 offensive boards. Kyle Weaver led the way in scoring with 21 points but was only 4-15 overall; he hit 12-12 from the charity stripe. Michael Weaver shot similarly poorly but hit 4 of 5 from the line to tally 14 points.

For the Stangs Chad got 19, Suarez 15, Brelan 10 and Te 9. The Stangs shot 44% from the field and moved the ball well. But as I said it was our defense that frustrated the shots put up by CCU; they were off balance, always challenged and the rotation was very good.

Both teams come into tonight’s game scoring about 70 pts a game while hitting about 41% of their shots; CCU is a bit better from downtown with a 35% succes rate to WNMU’s 33% but in both cases CCU has taken a lot more shots 200 more from inside the arc and 80 more from downtown. They’ve also gotten 110 more shots, roughly, than WNMU at the line. The play up tempo and get quick shots; they’ll look to push it up the floor which Western will like as well but they draw the fouls a bit better than we do.

Christian only gives up about 71 or 72 a game while WNMU is giving up 75 a game this year. Neither team is a good rebounding team as CCU is -.7 per game far better than Western’s -7.7 per game. You know what that means; we have to do a good job tonight with the rebounding.

Michael Brown, Kyle Weaver and Avery Redmond lead the way in scoring at 12, 12 and 11 a piece per game. That will put more pressure on the Mustang defense to play well. Christian is a tough, physical team similar to Colorado Mesa; which could give us trouble if we back down. It’s important to get off to a good start tonight and keep the pressure on both offensively and defensively.

More tonight in the tip off show…

Mustangs host Mavericks

February 16th, 2013 No comments

This is a game that has tons of playoff implications. Mesa and WNMU aren’t competing against each other for playoff positioning with Mesa in fourth place easily and WNMU in a tight battle for what could be any one of the final playoff positions in the bottom half of the bracket.

Colorado Mesa’s coach, Jim Heaps, hates this trip to the NM schools. Absolutely hates it and while I’m sure he tries to downplay the negative vibes, it does affect his team. They come in off a loss at NMHU last night 74-70 which dropped them out of second place. If things pan out the way WNMU hopes, winning out or even going 5 of 6 to close the season, these two teams could very well play each other in the first round of the RMAC playoffs. So mentally this game has a ton of importance.

In the first meeting WNMU almost pulled out the win in Grand Junction losing 58-57. Western was out rebounded in that game 42-28 including giving up 14 offensive boards leading to 17 second chance points. Now WNMU did get 8 offensive boards themselves leading to 13 points on put backs but we can’t let Mesa dominate the boards like that again. WNMU did not shoot well, 39% overall and only 4-17 from downtown but our defense was solid as Mesa shot 43% and only 3-10 from downtown. And they have the best three point shooter in the RMAC, Lance Vermeer but he was held to only three attempts making two but that’s how you stop him; he hits for 50% from downtown on the season.

Western only turned the ball over 11 times while creating 14 and getting 8 steals which kept the Mustangs in the game as the defense lead to 22 points. Mesa was dismal at the line, 9-18 on the night; Western only attempted 8 shots from the stripe hitting 7.

It was the Colton Burgon show, as usual, for Colorado Mesa. The six eight SR hit 9-15 and pulled down 12 boards. His 22 points lead the Mavericks as no one else was in double figure scoring. Three players had 8 points a piece. Burgon averages 15.5 points a game and is strictly an inside player; back to the basket but he can play off the dribble.

Jeff Hart, 6-4 190 Jr, also average 15 a game and like Burgon hits 52% of his shots. He will play facing the basket and can hit the jumper as well. He’s a 39% three point shooter. What’s interesting about Mesa, they don’t shoot many 3 point shots. Mike Melillo has taken the most with 66 while Hart has attempted 63 and Vermeer only 47. Most teams have at least one player with over 80 three point attempts.

So Mesa tries to beat you up the floor and get easy buckets; if it’s not there, they’ll pound it in to Burgon where he’ll look for a cutter when the shot isn’t there.

Mesa average about 72 points a game which is middle of the pack in the RMAC but is second in field goal percentage at 47%. They are fourth in three point shooting at 36% but next to last in free throw shooting at 66%. The Mavs are about even with their opponents in the rebounding category and are, along with WNMU dead last in offensive rebounds per game which is a bit surprising.

But WNMU will have to be careful on the boards, they can’t give up 17 offensive boards to this team and hope to win; even though we did that last night.

It’s always the same keys for WNMU; the big worry will be the mental approach of the Mustangs. We’ve seen them fall flat on the second night so many times; but the didn’t do it last weekend and despite a solid run by Western State last night, the Stangs were tough and repelled the charge. Maybe this is a different team we are seeing…

For WNMU Carter had 16 on 6-17 shooting while Luttrell added 10 on 4-8 from the floor. Suarez and Branch each had 8 points with Darryl adding 6. Again balanced scoring but not enough scoring.

Mustang set for rematch with Western State College of Colorado

February 15th, 2013 No comments

For the Mustangs every game left on the ever shortening schedule is important but tonight’s game against the Mountaineers of Western State College of Colorado looms just a bit larger as the two teams enter tonight’s action tied in the standings. The two teams are tied with Mines and Highlands for the 6-9 spots in the standings and have taken very different roads to this spot so far this season. WNMU did not get off to a good start in RMAC play and has been hurt by inconsistent play on the road, well poor play on the road to be exact.

WSC got off to a great start in conference play, 4-0 before dropping two on the road to Ft. Lewis and Adams State but bounced back with an impressive 30 point win over Mines and a win over Christian to get to 6-2 and a tie for second place. One of those early wins was over the Mustangs, 73-71, a game we really could have won. They then went on a 7 game losing streak that saw them get blown out of a couple of games, including 20+ point losses to Regis and Christian. But they only lost to Metro by 5 during that stretch. Now they are on a 2 game winning streak with wins at home over Chadron and Black Hills.

So why the Jekyl and Hyde performances; seems there has been some internal strife on the Mountaineers team with a couple of key players not seeing action at times. Terrence Boyd and Charles Joseph along with Steve Aldridge have been out for games and it appears that has cost WSC some consistency and potentially wins.

Let’s look back at the first meeting between these two teams on Dec. 8. This was back when WNMU’s defense was still the best in the RMAC and the Mustangs created 27 turnovers and got 10 steals leading to 22 points. We got hurt in a couple of areas; we were out rebounded by 10 which lead to 17 second chance points but the rebounding discrepancy was big in the first half and almost even in the second half. In fact, we got more offensive boards in the second half than did WSC; a half that we won 45-36 in scoring. WNMU got 19 from Chad, 18 from Te and 16 from Brelan but only 8 points from our bench and only 4 fast break points.

For WSC four players had double figure scoring as Terrence Boyd lead the way with 16 followed by Charles Joseph with 15 & 12 boards 4 of which were offensive, Travis Shepherd had 12 and Steve Aldridge had 10. Mike Vandahl came off the bench to score 9 as their bench outscored ours by 18-9. This was really the first game where a team shot well against the Mustangs, 51.9% overall and 50% from downtown. They were horrible from the line in the second half, 7-20, which helped the Mustangs come back and have a chance to win on the road.

Overall these two teams score about the same number of points per game, 72 for WSC 70 for the Mustangs; both give up 74 points a game. However, WSC is the best in the RMAC in opponent’s shooting percentage, only allowing teams to hit 39% of their shots overall while WNMU gives up about 45%. Western State packs the defense inside where they rely on the 6-8 300 lb Charles Joseph to clog up the middle and force awkward shots or force teams to start shooting from outside where percentages drop. They are fairly athletic and have long wingspans bothering opponent’s shots.

Offensively, the Mountaineers are 3rd best in the RMAC in shooting percentage, 46% overall and 34% from downtown which is 5th in the conference. What’s really surprising is they are hitting only 59% from the charity stripe. That’s unusual for a good shooting team. In rebounding neither team is very good, WNMU is still at the bottom, -7 per game while WSC is -2 per game. But here’s where Western New Mexico has a chance to win the game, offensive rebounding; WSC gives up a league worst 14 offensive boards per game. If we hustle, Te and Darryl especially will have a chance for some put back buckets.

The Mountaineers have 4 guys averaging double figure scoring; Boyd leads the way with 16 a game even though he has only played 16 games starting 7 and averages 22 minutes a game. Charles Joseph gets 13 a game as both he and Boyd get 7 boards a game. Joseph Charles adds 12 a game while Travis Shepherd chips in 11. Shepherd is their three point specialist taking 107 attempts from downtown on the season, 50 more than anyone but Mike Vandahl who’s taken 72. He hits 40% while Vandahl hits only 27%.

Boyd and Joseph are very good inside players both hitting over 53%, Joseph 59% on the season. But then again when you are 6-9 300 lbs, you just bull your way inside and lay it in; which he’s done against the Mustangs often in his career. The key will be to get him in foul trouble and on the bench. Also, the Stangs would like to push the tempo as much as possible and tire him out. If Juan and Te can move the ball up the floor quickly, Joseph is not a factor defensively.

While looking back it’s been mostly Boyd and Joseph leading the scoring and rebounding, this time like most others has players that can step up. Lately it’s been Joseph Charles, 5-11 G, who has been leading the way. He’s been the leading scorer for WSC in 3 of the last 5 games getting 39 against Mines, 20 against Metro and 24 against Chadron. Charles Joseph had 21 pts and 17 rebounds last Saturday against Black Hills so he’s back being a beast.

As usual, the Mustangs will have a tough assignment defensively. With so many players to pay attention to, they’ll have to play heads up on the defensive rotation. We’ve been doing well on that first rotation to the ball handler but it’s been that second rotation to the open man that’s hurt us. When we made the runs last weekend to take control of the game, it was in no small part due to the good defense that got to the open man and contested the shot.

Of course, rebounding will be a big part. Each and every game we’ve won, we’ve controlled the boards at some point in the game; we don’t win the battle often but we do get close and you can see it like clockwork, the rebounding battle swings our way along with good defense. That also leads to some fast break opportunities as there aren’t many players in the conference that can stay with Juan or Te on the fast break.

Chad will have to lead the way with his usual 16-20 points and if Te and Juan are getting dribble penetration they will chip in double figure scoring along with Lucio and potentially Andy from the perimeter. That back door cut will also open up for Lucio. Darrly will be huge on the boards and defensively against Joseph inside. He can’t push 300 lbs around but he can block the shots and get defensive rebounds, along with Chad and Te.

It’s going to be another good one or at least it shapes up that way. The Mustangs will have to avoid an emotionally flat start and get out early gaining confidence.

Mustangs host #14 Adams State

February 9th, 2013 No comments

There are potentially so many themes to the rematch between these two teams; the Mustangs wanting revenge after blowing a 20 point lead in the 2nd half; ASU angry after losing a tight one last night to Highlands; WNMU trying to avoid an emotional let down after a big win (see WNMU @ Pueblo last weekend). The simple message from Coach Coleman will be forget about last night, get focused and get ready for another tough, physical game and take care of business at home. The only thing I can imagine he’d say about the past is remember, we let one guy beat us in the second half; don’t let it happen again. OK maybe two things, we got up by 20 on this team on their home court, we can do it on our floor.

In the first matchup the Stangs played solidly hitting 42% overall and 40% from downtown. In the first half we went off hitting 50% and leading by 12 at the break. We then came out strong to start the 2nd stanza but fell off after about 5 minutes. We then shot only 32% overall and hit only 4-7 free throws. We got out rebounded by 14 (25-11) after coming close in the first half 21-18.

While ASU got some balanced scoring overall, it was one guy, John Jackson, who doomed the Mustangs. Jackson had a career high 26 points, 22 in the second half. He hit 10-12 free throws and 7-12 from the floor. He was just a monster that we didn’t have an answer for. Shaheed Young added 16; Norvell Arnold 14 and Kaimyn Pruitt 11. Pruitt had a double/double grabbing 13 boards.

That rebounding edge allowed ASU to get 16 second chance points and WNMU uncharacteristically turned the ball over 13 times leading to 18 points off of TOs for the Grizzlies. WNMU forced 16 turnovers getting 18 themselves but most of those came in the first half with a handful down the stretch after blowing the big lead.

After holding ASU to just 41% shooting in the first half, the Grizzlies hit 50% in the 2nd and then hit 17-19 from the charity stripe.

The key tonight is once again, get off to fast starts in both halves especially on the defensive end. Limit offensive rebounds for the Grizzlies and use the speed advantage we have at point guard to get up the floor aggressively but don’t force it. Delicate balance, true, but we saw the Stangs do it the first time. Then don’t wilt from the big moment.

Mustangs host Ft. Lewis

February 8th, 2013 No comments

The Mustangs host #20 Ft. Lewis College on Drag’s court looking to repeat what has become something of an odd pattern in Mustang/Skyhawk history. WNMU doesn’t play well at Durango; looking at 3 of the last 4 seasons WNMU has been trounced by Ft. Lewis losing by over 30 including an 86-47 drubbing this season. But in the game at Silver City, WNMU holds a 2-1 edge having one some very close games including a double OT victory 3 years ago. Coach Bob Hoff says the games in Silver have been some of the most exciting games he’s ever coached. Western hopes to continue that trend tonight.

Nothing really went well in the first game for the Mustangs. The Skyhawks got off to a quick start and while WNMU stayed with them for a while, cold shooting doomed WNMU’s chances. WNMU shot only 29% from the floor on the night and that includes a solid 35% from downtown but most of the made threes came in the second half when the teams were already playing just to finish and get home. Western was out rebounded by 23, 51-28. Officially FLC only had 7 boards on 11 offensive rebounds but I can tell you it was much more than that. Even the stats guys fell asleep.

Western did protect the ball well, only 11 turnovers and they hit 5-6 from the charity stripe in the first half. Nobody on the Stang roster scored in double figures; three guys had 8 points, Te, Andy & Nate while Darryl and Chad added 6. That’s balanced scoring, which we need but not exactly what Coach Coleman meant. And we did force 16 Skyhawk turnovers leading to 13 points. Not much to cheer about on the purple and gold sideline. Once again it was a game to forget and move on.

Ft Lewis is a good all around team, no surprise there. They score 77 a game, fifth in the conference, while giving up 67 a contest, third best in the RMAC. WNMU is giving up 75 while improving to almost 70 points a game themselves. FLC hits about 45% overall but is third best in three point shooting at 37% a game while WNMU is in the middle of the pack at 41% and 34% respectively. Western is still among the best in creating turnovers, 17 a game and that can help us tonight as it did, albeit minutely, in the first game. It’s rebounding that once again will be big this weekend. WNMU is improving but is still a minus 8 in that category while FLC is a plus 2. We’ve got to rebound well to have a chance.

Nick Tomsick and Alex Herrera lead the way against WNMU in the first game with 23 and 14 points a piece. Tomsick was huge from long range, 5-6 and 7-9 overall. Herrera is the conference leader in shooting percentage and was 6-12 with 13 boards for a double/double on the night. FLC host 52% overall and 48% from downtown led by this pair but with help from the rest of the roster everyone that played seemed to be on fire.

Tomsick and Herrera have been the leading scorers for FLC all season averaging 15 and 14 a piece. Marcus Ayala also gets about 13 a game so the Mustang defense has to be solid all around. Rotating over to help against Herrera inside while finding the open man to prevent the easy bucket. We’ve shown we can do it at times but not consistently game in and game out. There are players all over the Skyhawk roster that can jump up and bite you if you’re not careful, Weissl, Udall both play well inside and McKenzie is a 50% shooter from downtown but only takes about 3 a game. However he can be streaky just like our Andy Solich.

WNMU will get Darryl Littleton back on the roster and he’s raring to go. His defense inside and his rebounding and key buckets will be needed tonight. However Brelan may not be available. Chad Carter is feeling better but is still beat up and will likely see relatively limited action. He was key down the stretch once again at Pueblo hitting a couple of key shots and free throws even though he’d been held relatively quiet the rest of the game as Ryan took control.

It’s pretty simple for the Stangs, on paper that is; Juan and Te need to penetrate off the dribble, Lucio drives off the wing or baseline along with Chad for the dish; Andy and Ryan outside and off we go to the races. It’s getting down to crunch time and now is the time to get hot for the Mustangs. We’ve got tough teams facing us in the stretch run but we’ve got four in a row at home. We need the sweep; get it and we’re back in control of our destiny.

Oh my!!!

February 2nd, 2013 1 comment

Once again the Mustangs were involved in a close road game coming down to the wire; but for the first time this season WNMU was able to pull out the road win against UC-Colorado Springs, 81-80. We said in the preview, someone would have to step up and Coach Coleman needed someone from the bench to play well and surprise, surprise, Ryan “Ollie” Crane poured in a season high 24 points on 8-10 shooting, 6-7 from downtown. Brelan Berry also had a solid game with 12 points in just 21 minutes of play and Andy added 13. Chad was off and still saw limited playing time getting 11 points. WNMU still turned the ball over too much, 18 times and was out rebounded by 7 but when it came down to crunch time, WNMU owned the boards in the second half. Torrid shooting didn’t hurt either; 54% overall and 53% from downtown overcame bad shooting from the charity stripe.

Things in the RMAC probably couldn’t have gone any better for WNMU last night either. Highlands pulled out a 3 point win at Pueblo, 89-86 while Mesa downed Mines in OT, 77-74 and Christian dominated Western State, 83-60. Talk about shaking up the standings, that’s an understatement.

Things stay the same in the top 4 positions as Metro won at Chadron, albeit by only 13 to remain undefeated. FLC and ASU were idle and Mesa remains a 1/2 game back in the loss column with their win. But now you have 3 teams tied for fifth with 7-7 records; Mines, Highlands and Pueblo. WNMU and Western State are next, tied for eighth at 6-8 followed one game back by Regis, who got the win at BHSU. Right now you’ve got 6 teams separated by only 2 games vying for the final 4 playoff spots.

Highlands will be at Springs tonight with WNMU at Pueblo and Western State at Mines. Regis makes the trip down the road to Chadron. Adams and FLC play tonight while Mesa goes to Christian so the top four spots will find either FLC or Adams likely slipping from second to fourth if Mesa gets a win but don’t count on that happening.

For WNMU we would ideally like Springs to beat Highlands. It’s really a wash between Mines and Western State as either team losing helps us but since we get WSC at home and have to play Mines on the road, let’s pull for WSC. Also let’s get Regis off our backs and root for Chadron to pull one out at home. But first, Western needs to continue riding high and get the win at Pueblo tonight.

Mustangs at Colorado Springs

February 1st, 2013 1 comment

The Mustangs enter this weekend’s action on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. For the first time this season the Stangs are not in the top eight teams and they only have themselves to blame for that; not winning a conference road game yet this year. Four of those losses have come by a total of 9 points and a fifth one, Adams State, saw the Stangs blow a 20 point lead with 15 minutes to go in the game so we’ve definitely had our chances. A couple of hustle plays, one or two fewer mental errors or a basket made and the Stangs have 5 road wins and are battling for a home playoff game instead of trying to get into the playoffs.

Here’s the good side of the schedule for the Mustangs: of the remaining 9 games on the regular season schedule, 5 are at home. 3 of the 4 road games are against teams we beat at home. If we can get the sweep this weekend, even a split is OK, we then have 4 in a row at home albeit against tough teams but against teams we can and do beat when they come to Silver City.

Despite the fact that tonight’s opponent, UC-Colorado Springs, is 3-10 in the RMAC and should be an easy win, we can’t take anything for granted on the road much less against the Panthers, who got their first win of the season against the Stangs in Silver City. You can make a very strong argument that the win by UCCS in Silver City marked the downturn in the Mustangs’ season.

What was it that cost the Mustangs that win? Defense and rebounding. The Mustangs didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, 34%, and only hit 1 of 7 three point attempts but they allowed a winless team to shot 58% in the first half. WNMU was down by nine at the break only because they hit 11 of 14 from the charity stripe outscoring Springs by 6 at the free throw line. WNMU was out rebounded 45-24 for the game. Western did create 23 turnovers while only giving it up 6 times themselves but most of those steals were in the 2nd half and despite that, Springs still shot 52% in the second stanza. Western hit 50% but it was too little, too late. Springs, believe it or not, is the top rebounding team in the RMAC at 40 per game; they hustle and crash the boards.

Five players from Springs hit for double figures lead by 6-4 Freshman Derrick White with 22 to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. White got a lot of points through penetrating off the dribble but showed he could also hit the mid range jumper as well. White is the top scoring freshman in the RMAC at 16 a game. He has been the team’s leading scorer in 13 of their 17 games.

Two players hit for better than 75% of their shots in the first meeting; Alex Welsh 6-7 Fr F, was 7-9, all of his shots coming inside. Jordan Carter, 6-7 Jr F, added 15 on 6-8 shooting getting a couple of offensive put backs. He did turn it over 6 times so the Mustang defense can bother him as he puts the ball on the floor in traffic.

Darius Pardner, 5-10 So G, had the second most points, 15 on 5-9 shooting. He hit a couple of big three point shots. He’ll run the point but doesn’t distribute the ball well garnering only 2 assists to 4 turnovers. You’d expect more assists when a team shoots over 50% for the game but that shows you the Panthers play a lot of one on one ball and don’t necessarily run sets that create assists; the assists they got, 17, came off of dishing the ball off when the Mustang defense rotated to help on the ball handler but didn’t get over on the open guy.

Alex Koehler, 6-2 So G, was the final player in double figures. Koehler was 3-5 from downtown ending the night with 11 points and a team high 7 boards. Essentially the Mustangs let a team that had only 2 guys averaging double figure points at the time put 5 guys in that category. We also let a young team get an emotional lift and play above their ability while the Stangs played down to the Panther’s level.

WNMU came close last weekend and missing Darryl Littleton, who will be back for tonight’s action, was tough but we saw something last week that we hadn’t seen before; that was a lineup on the floor that didn’t have a starter in it and they played well. Chad Carter and Brelan Berry are both banged up and didn’t play as much as usual and that may be the case again tonight, although I suspect Chad will play more than he did last week. But if we can get the production from Ryan, Chad A., Estevillo, Solich and Murdock that we got last week that will greatly improve our chances of winning tonight.

Both teams score in the high 60’s per game and give up 73 and 75 pts (WNMU-UCCS) per game so they are fairly well matched in all of those categories. While Western has improved the rebounding differential, it’s still -7 per game and Springs is +2.7 per game. We’ll say it again, we don’t have to win the rebounding battle but we’d better be close. Western is among the best in the RMAC at creating turnovers and turning them into points; we got 26 points off of turnovers last time and will need that kind of production tonight. Springs is not a great defensive team getting only 13 TOs a game. Both teams shoot the ball, whether inside or from downtown about the same; I think that means the game will rest on defensive rotation and rebounding even more than usual.

Chad should be able to get his 20+ points tonight but he’ll need help from Lucio and Juan. Te had a run in the Highlands game where he was more aggressive on offense as well looking for and making his shot. He and Juan can get inside off the dribble against the Panthers and that will spark the Mustang offense. It’s getting closer and closer to crunch time and the Stangs need this win tonight to keep some pressure from building. I’d say put the… nope I’m not going to say it, no predictions or kiss of death.

Mustangs @ Highlands

January 24th, 2013 No comments

It’s a rivalry game and there’s no doubt that these two teams will forget whatever they’ve done this season so far, even though what they’ve done is pretty similar. Looking back at the last three trips to Las Vegas, defense has been non-existent for either team. The Stangs have lost all three in Las Vegas allowing the Cowboys to score over 100 points each time. This season both teams had solid pre-conference outings but have pretty much followed similar paths to their current 5-7 conference records. To say that this game has big implications for the post season would be an understatement. While the Stangs have lost in Vegas they have been able to win at home in the rematch so winning this one will be huge and give WNMU a leg up in the standings.

One difference between the two teams is in offensive output. Highlands is #2 in the RMAC at 81 points a game while WNMU is #11 at 67 pts per contest. Highlands has taken 1026 shots playing an up tempo type game, more than anyone else in the RMAC, hitting 44% of their attempts overall. Pueblo is the only team that’s taken more 3 pt shots than NMHU, 503 to 338, but Highlands hits 41% from downtown. WNMU hits only 40% of their shots overall and is right behind the Cowboys in number of three point attempts, 317 but hits only 31%.

Defensively, WNMU is getting back to the top of the RMAC allowing 72 pts a game but Highlands doesn’t really think about playing defense giving up 81 a game, next to last in the RMAC. Highlands has a better rebounding differential, -1.8 than WNMU, -8.4 and that will be a big key in this game. Highlands doesn’t really hit the boards as hard as you might think a team that wants to run the ball would. They are giving up 14 offensive boards a game while the Stangs give up about 11; so WNMU will have a chance to get some put back shots as they’ve been rebounding better in the last couple of games.

Highlands has a lot of new faces this season and really struggled getting the rotation and chemistry figured out early in the year. Lately Mannie Cass, 6-7 Jr G/F, has been taking over as the leading scorer in 4 of the last 5 games. He’s averaging 16 a game while pulling down a team high 4 boards as well. He’s a 49% shooter overall and will put up the three hitting 35/70, 50% for you Highlands graduates. But he can disappear in games; there have been times he’s only taken a handful of shots. Generally he likes to get out and run the floor and get shots off of the dribble.

Lavell McDade, 6-4 Jr G, is the second leading scorer at 14 a game. He also likes to go to the basket hitting 45% overall and shoots from outside as well but hits only 38% from downtown; which is still not bad. He also grabs a team high 4 boards a game. Both he and Cass are good from the free throw line as well at 81 & 83% respectively.

Dominick Baca, 6-2 Jr G, is their three point specialist. Like our Andy Solich, he can get hot from downtown having hit for over 20 pts a couple of times this season. But if he isn’t on early, he’s a non-factor and may not play a whole lot. The opposite of course is true.

Augustus French, 6-7 So F, is a hometown product who is the current RMAC offensive player of the week. He’s slowly been getting better as the season has gone on and is earning more playing time, not just because he’s been more productive but also because other players have left the squad. He hits 69% of his shots overall but has yet to even attempt a 3 pt shot. He’s quick and gets to the basket off the dribble but will also crash the boards, getting 33 offensive rebounds so far.

In general terms, this is an athletic team that has a ton of potential but as isn’t living up to it. Several players are no longer on the team, which is a combination of injury and other ‘issues’. Coach Harge has had a tougher time controlling this team and getting them to buy into his philosophy than usual but he’s a good coach and has them playing competitively.

WNMU is going to have to play a good defensive game overall. As we’ve said this team can score from inside or out; on the fast break preferably but also in the half court offense. A big key will be the rotation and help defense in not giving up easy baskets. It’s not likely but if Highlands get a lot of inside buckets don’t be too surprised if the Stangs go to a zone at times to try and make Highlands shoot from outside. Another key will be controlling the tempo of the game. Not slowing it down so much that the Stangs begin standing around on offense but enough variation to take Highlands out of a consistent up tempo game. Allowing Highlands to score often and at will sets a tone that hasn’t been successful for WNMU the last three trips to Vegas and likely won’t be successful this time either.

WNMU hosts Chadron

January 19th, 2013 No comments

The Mustangs will look to make it two in a row as they face the 1-9 Eagles of Chadron State. Chadron is at the bottom of the RMAC standings and haven’t been as competitive as they were in past seasons. But given the Mustangs’ propensity to play down to their opponent’s level, especially after emotional, hard fought wins, anything can happen tonight.

CSC got their only win at Regis on Dec. 15, 71-62. Other than that, they have not been very competitive at all with most losses coming by large, double digit margins. They’ve lost five in a row by an average of 19 points including a 16 point loss to BHSU last weekend. But last night the Eagles took a very talented but vastly under achieving Highlands team into double overtime losing by 3. So watch out WNMU; we’ve already given Springs their first win of the year, Chadron hopes to catch us off guard and in a bit of a let down tonight.

As you might expect, Chadron is at or near the bottom of every statistical category in the RMAC. They get only 64 pts a game; hit for 39% from the floor (just behind WNMU’s 40%); but they are good from 3 point range, #5 in the RMAC at 36.9% and they’ve taken 403 long shots, behind only Christian and Adams. WNMU for comparison has taken 312 three point shots. CSC is also pretty good at the offensive end rebounding, getting almost 12 a game. WNMU is still last although Mesa is catching us. Chadron turns it over 18 times a game and will be vulnerable to even more if the Stang defense gives 40 minutes like they did in the 2nd half last night. But Chadron is only a -2 rebounding differential, much better than WNMU’s -8.5.

Chadron’s defense allows opponents to hit for 48% overall and 38 from downtown. CSC will try and slow it down some to limit shot opportunities.

Zac Bargen, 6-5 Jr F, is their big scorer. He’s in his first year coming over from a JC, Butler CC but is a native of Chadron NE. Bergen is among the league leaders at 19 pts a game and can hit from anywhere. He’s 43% overall and 46% from downtown. He’s only taken 74 shots from beyond the arc, which leads the team but is not that many shots to have taken so far. He’s also getting 5.5 boards a game, which is a team high.

Grant Stone, 6-5 J G, is the only other Eagle to average double figure points with 10 per game. Another Juco transfer in his first year at CSC. He’s another solid shooter in the low to mid 40% from all over but doesn’t take a lot of three point shots, only 51 on the year. He prefers to shoot jumpers but can take it to the bucket if the opportunity is there.

Chadron then has a whole slew of players who average between 6-7 points a game. Bargen plays about 29 minutes a game but most guys are in the low 20 minute or high teens; CSC substitutes a lot so the key for WNMU will be once again, don’t let some role player have a career night and beat you at home. Kendrick Holliman, 6-4 So F, played a lot last year, 21 points in the season opener but didn’t come close to that for the rest of the season and now gets about 6 a game. Justyn Anderson, 5-11 RF PG, is the only other player, besides Holliman and Bargen to start all games for Chadron. He was a 32 pt per game scorer in HS but only 7 a game now. He’s about even in assists to turnovers but leads the team in steals with 17. He’s quick but a raw talent and can make a lot of mistakes.

They have a lot of guys that are young and good in some area of the game but not complete players. The Mustangs will have to be solid as anyone can jump up and beat them tonight.

Last night the Stangs got the kind of output they needed from Lucio both in scoring, 20 points and in hustle plays. With Chad struggling early before coming on late then fouling out, the team stepped up and did what they had to do to get the win. I really like that Chad has stepped up to become more of a vocal leader on the floor; he was leading the cheers from the bench when we was no longer able to contribute on the floor.

Darryl also came up big at key moments doing whatever was needed. Juan and Te protected the ball and got to the bucket sparking the offense. When they are aggressive off the dribble, things happen in a good way for WNMU. Andy wasn’t stellar but got buckets when we needed them, both from downtown and driving into the lane. Then keep up the defensive intensity; WNMU in the 2nd half got out in the passing lanes and frustrated the Yellowjackets. We did give up some easy buckets behind that D but good awareness and a quicker move will cure that.

Tonight really could be the night the Mustangs begin to make a move to solidify a spot in the postseason.