By: Joseph Fullbright
The 2016-2017 season is now officially underway for the New Mexico State men’s basketball team and first-year head coach Paul Weir.
Weir, an assistant coach for the Aggies the past nine seasons, will look to fill the shoes of former coach Marvin Menzies, who chose to depart for the UNLV head coaching position back in April.
“I think it’s been a really good offseason, as far as just implementing some new standards, especially physically,” said Weir. “We have a lot new things in place, as far as some parameters that [the team is] going to need to meet until they’re able to be compete. We have a few guys that still haven’t gotten there yet, but I think the rest of the culture has done really well as far as getting the guys to where we need to get to.”
Weir will look to have his team run more of an up-tempo offense this season, something that should go hand-in-hand with NMSU’s nationally ranked defense, which he was in charge of.
“We want to get more possessions in a game, especially in conference play. Hopefully to increase our chances of winning. We want to play more players, play at a faster tempo [both] offensively and defensively. It’s obviously going to change a little bit game-by-game based on who we’re playing, but the intent is to increase the possessions in a game.”
“I love the new offense,” said three-point marksmen Braxton Huggins. “It fits our personnel. We have a lot of quick, athletic guards and our bigs can move and are really mobile. So, I think it will work for really well for us.”
It can pretty much be etched in stone that senior point guard Ian Baker will be one of the team’s five starters. The rest is still unknown. With the loss of Pascal Siakam, who was selected in this summer’s NBA draft, the Aggies will look for one or two guys to contribute along with Baker. Junior college transfers Marlon Jones and Chance Ellis join the crowded Aggies roster, all of whom are competing for sparse playing time.
“It’s the most exciting part of this team right now,” Weir said. “Not really knowing who’s starting and not really knowing who’s playing. Kind of opening it up to competition, which I don’t think we have necessarily had here before from a depth perspective. It’s really exciting to have it.”
NMSU is coming off of a 23-11 season, which did not end as planned. Looking for a fifth consecutive WAC Tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth, the Aggies were upset by Cal State- Bakersfield in the WAC Championship game. Thanks to strong regular season, the Aggies were selected to participate in the NIT, where they fell to St. Mary’s in the first round.
“All we can guarantee right now is we are going to work really, really hard,” Weir said. “We’re going to be tremendously unselfish and we’re just going to overcome any adversity that comes our way.”
The regular season tips off on Friday, November 11, vs. Arizona Christian at the Pan American Center. For a more in-depth preview on the men’s basketball team, make sure you keep your eyes open for our basketball-themed issue of The Round Up, which should be hitting the shelves on October 24th!
Joseph Fullbright can be reached at: email@example.com or on Twitter: @trusports_