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Mustangs open at home against Northern New Mexico

November 16th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments


I know what some of you are saying, “What’s Northern New Mexico?” There is a college in Espanola and they’ve been around since 1901, or so they claim, in some form or another. They’ve been a junior college and a 4 year institution and come close to closing a number of times. They’ve been a high school with college curriculum, starting as a teacher’s school for Spanish language students. While most of their life has been primarily as a community college, they were given the OK 10 years ago to offer a 4 year degree elementary education and a year later the OK to offer any four year degree.

Athletically they are an NAIA school meaning they can take anyone they can get to fog a mirror. They offer basketball and cross country for both men and women. Until last year, they basically recruited Northern NM and into AZ. They were always small and fast. But over the last couple of years, head coach Riley Cordova has realized he can recruit from all over and has a varied roster, ranging from NM and AZ kids to adding kids from NC, VA and Egypt, Brazil, and Cameroon.

They are coming off a 20 win season and just missed getting back to back AII Conference championships losing the last game of the season in a thriller to the Ashford Saints. The Eagles are tabbed as the #2 team in their conference in the pre-season poll.

As usual they will try to play an uptempo game and will go deep into their bench. No one on the roster averages more than 19 minutes; in fact 4 guys average 18-19 minutes a game and only one guy gets less than 10 minutes a game, he gets 9.5 minutes a game. They are a mix of young players with experienced players; 8 freshman or sophomores, with 9 upperclassmen. 4 are transfers from other schools while the rest have been in the program.

The Eagles are 2-1, getting easy wins over Dine College & Future College, 111-43 & 96-65. Their lone regular season loss was to Arizona Christian, ranked #4 in NAIA(?), 61-79. They did lose to exhibition games to RMAC members, Adams State (91-80) and Colorado Springs (88-71). Both schools are pretty good.

Physically, WNMU and NNMC are similar with some decent size but a lot of guys in that 6-4 to 6-5 range with lanky builds. Like us they don’t have a ‘go-to’ scorer but a lot of guys contribute. Only 2 players average double figures with a whole bunch of guys getting 6-7 points a game. That means defense, team defense, will be key for the Mustangs.

Marcus Ellis, a 6-2 guard, leads the way with 11 ppg and a season high of 14 against ACU. He’s a decent 3 point shooter, 3-7 on the year, but prefers to get inside and create on his own. He is a solid defender and will get 2-3 steals a game but will also turn it over a couple of times.

Thomas Bullock, 5-9 guard, is second in scoring at just under 11 per game but he’s had a couple of good games, 13 & 15, while being held to just 4 against Az Christian. He shoots 75% from the field, having hit all 6 shots against Future College and 5-8 against Dine.

Their leading rebounder is Patrick Bendegue, 6-7 220 center. He’s grabbing about 8 per game and can get off inside, if he’s playing against smaller players. He was also shut down by ACU as they have players inside who can match up with him defensively. Makthar Fall will get the task of handling him inside.

As we said, there are a lot of guys who can score 6-7 a game. They are very active but for the most part create their own shots, their leading assist man has only 3 per game and isn’t a starter. They’ll push the ball up the floor and penetrate off of the set offense, looking for high percentage shots. They hit about 48% from the floor. They do turn it over a lot, almost 20 per game but they also create about 20 turnovers per game for their opponents.

They do not shoot free throws well, 57% from the stripe on 54 attempts. They also hit only about 31% of their 3 pt attempts. But they will out rebound their opponents by a ton as they crash the boards well.

In a quick overview, the Mustangs are relying on Makhtar Fall for about 15 a game while several guys are getting between 5-9 a game. We are shooting solid from inside, 43% overall, but terrible from 3 point range, 22% and the charity stripe, 46%. We have been out rebounding our opponents but need to protect the ball better, a lot better.

This is a game we can win and after losing two on the road to OPSU, we need to get a win tonight. We’ll go into more detail in the tip off show.

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