McKines, Rahman and Laroche have led 21-8 NMSU squad
There are thousands of reasons to bid a bittersweet farewell tonight to the three senior men of New Mexico State basketball.
The Aggies host Western Athletic Conference foe San Jose State (9-18, 1-10) in the regular-season home finale for guard Hernst Laroche, forward Wendell McKines and center Hamidu Rahman.
San Jose State at NMSU, 7 p.m. TV: AggieVision (Comcast Ch. 4 in Las Cruces, 77 in Albuquerque). Radio: KQTM-FM (101.7)
In what has become a good season for the Aggies (21-8, 8-3), and still with possibilities of turning great, each of the three became 1,000-point career scorers. That’s never previously happened in NMSU basketball.
Three of the top 27 scorers in team history, they’ve helped establish the model of what an upper-echelon, so-called “midmajor” program can be: players who might not be the one-and-done prototype NBA talents, but certainly good enough to win at this level. And especially so if they stick around to add upper-class leadership and talent to their abilities. Guys whose play seemed to back up their talk that winning mattered more than individual numbers.
They’ve been feathers in the cap of coach Marvin Menzies.
“It’ll be a tough night,” said Menzies, referring to the expected bubbling over of emotions. “I might not speak.”
Odds are long against that happening, and perhaps longer against the outspoken McKines clamming up.
The 6-foot-6 native of Oakland, Calif., is a leading candidate to be WAC player of the year – “Wensanity,” as his Twitter account calls it – and only the second Aggie (after Sam Lacey) with both 1,000 career points and rebounds.
Along the way, he’s never been boring. After an outstanding freshman year, he wanted to transfer. But he came back. Two years later, he missed the first 11 games as an academic casualty. Then he helped lead a stirring run to the WAC tournament title and into the NCAA Tournament.
Last year, he broke a foot and redshirted for what would have been his senior season.
“I think Wen’s gonna cry,” Rahman said about tonight.
Rahman, 6-foot-11 of Somerset, N.J., carved out a solid career working often against players who were more athletic. After a freshman year of development, he flourished a sophomore, labored as a junior while playing through a calf injury, and bounced back this season.
Rahman’s next block will be his 125th, breaking a second-place tie for second place on the Aggie list with Slab Jones.
The rock-steady Laroche is second all time in steals with 203, just behind William Benjamin’s 209. Laroche also is second in assists.
The play that personified Laroche might also be the Aggies’ play of the season. Late in a tight game at Utah State, he was tripped by a screening Utag player. But immediately he rolled up and dashed over just in time to leap and block a 3-point shot, recover the loose ball and get a layup.
USAToday.com called it the defensive play of that week.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that NMSU is 47-25 with the three in the lineup. They all have the 2010 NCAA Tournament berth on their résumé, and then finally got a win at rival New Mexico early this season.
— This article appeared on page D3 of the Albuquerque Journal