ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Senior not offering UNM any bulletin-board material
Wendell McKines likes to think of himself as outspoken. But apparently, the candor dial apparently no longer turns all the way to 11.
Earlier this month, the Aggie senior forward called rival UTEP a “disgrace” on his Twitter account after the Miners lost an exhibition to Division II Eastern New Mexico. All good-natured fun, he insisted.
Alas, he’s offering nothing of any nature, good or bad, in advance of walking into the Pit tonight against a team that has beaten the Aggies seven consecutive times.
NMSU at UNM, 8 p.m. TV: The mtn. Radio: KKOB (770-AM), KQTM (107.1-FM)
“I may be outspoken,” said McKines, “but I’ve also been in college five years. I’m not dumb.”
In the void of any bulletin-board, social-networking motivation, UNM must brace for an Aggies squad that is likely the best that fifth-year coach Menzies has brought to the Pit. That’s not saying a mouthful; through injuries or academic/eligibility issues, NMSU rarely has been at full strength before conference play in recent seasons.
And now? Well, the Aggies still are missing their most hyped newcomer. Remi Barry, a 6-foot-7 freshman originally from Paris, has been ruled ineligible for six games under an “excessive benefits” clause in NCAA bylaws. New Mexico State is appealing the ruling.
Nonetheless, “we should be able to put a better product out on the floor,” Menzies said Tuesday. “We’ve got more ammo. But the game will be the game, and the best team will win.”
The Aggies match the Lobos’ 1-0 record after an 89-75 win at Northern Colorado Saturday night.
In that game, New Mexico State shot 61 percent, won on the glass 41-27, rallied from a seven-point second-half deficit and, perhaps most compellingly, outshot the Bears 41-15 on their own floor. McKines, after sitting out all of last year, picked up where he left off as a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) machine.
The routines of the road trip have been experienced, but the road-game experience in Greeley, Colo., before an announced turnout of 2,259, isn’t the Pit.
“This will be a different animal,” said Menzies.
He feels this Lobos team is the best he will have faced, including the 30-5 unit of two years ago, and on par with Arizona as the best squad on New Mexico State’s schedule this season.
“Everybody says they have questions at point guard, but when you’ve got a junior (Jamal Fenton) and some other guys in the mix, I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. Their athleticism is clear. Their passion to play defense is clear.”
Three seniors pace the Aggies. Point guard Hernst Laroche has started 100 consecutive games at NMSU. Center Hamidu Rahman had a 14-point, 17-rebound game against UNM last season.
And there’s McKines, whose last Pit game was in 2008.
“I’m excited, I’m excited,” he said. “I know Drew (Gordon). It’ll be a great challenge. We’ll find out who’s the best team in New Mexico.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal