Reality sets in quickly for the Aggies

The victory lap didn’t last long for Paul Weir.

The 37-year-old coach who is going to his sixth NCAA Tournament with the New Mexico State men’s basketball team but first as the program’s head coach, admitted things got emotional after winning the Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nev.

Just not for long.

“After the handshake line, for the next three to five minutes, it was a little emotional for me,” Weir said about the moments after beating CSU-Bakersfield on Saturday. “Those emotions were real. It was a culmination of a lot of things — exhaustion, joy, I mean I can go down the line of the things that were going on in my mind, but really, at that point, it wasn’t about me. It was about our players really getting to enjoy it — all the fans who came, the school, the community, lots of different people getting to enjoy that moment.”

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Then, Sunday night when the Aggies heard their name announced on CBS as the No. 14 seed playing No. 3 Baylor in Tulsa in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, a frustrating reminder of this state’s place in the college basketball landscape hit the fan base, too.

NCAA.com’s March Madness Live website and mobile app immediately posted a picture of UNM Lobo junior guard Elijah Brown along with the NMSU profile for its matchup with Baylor. By 10:30 a.m. Monday, it was still a picture of Brown, wearing a turquoise UNM Lobo jersey

Eventually it was swapped with a picture of WAC Player of the Year Ian Baker, the Aggies’ leader.

It didn’t stop there. ESPN.com, behind their paid “Insider” section reserved for premium content, listed in its tournament capsule of the Aggies that their two best wins were against San Diego State. They did not play the Aztecs this year, but the Lobos did.

And to cap off a paragraph about the Aggies’ poor strength of schedule, ESPN wrote of the Aggies tall order in playing the nationally ranked Bears:

“Unfortunately for NMSU, its opening-round matchup isn’t coming by way of the Mountain West.”

So, despite wearing dancing shoes and participating in five of the past six NCAA Tournaments, the NMSU Aggies were reminded they have hardly arrived at a destination they should be content with.

Weir, a cerebral man who relies heavily on studying statistical data in his approach to coaching, acknowledged Monday morning the slights didn’t go unnoticed.

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“Basketball is a game of emotion,” Weir said. “I like to make it about X’s and O’s and the tactical side of things, but if I’ve learned anything in this year from these guys, it is that it is a game of passion and playing with great effort and energy.

“And if some of those things will be of value to us, we’ll definitely bring them up when the time is right.”

ROOKIE: Weir, in what he called a “rookie coaching mistake,” was the first up the ladder to cut a piece of the net from the WAC championship win.

“I’ve never really paid attention to who’s supposed to cut the net when,” he said.

RADIO: NMSU’s tournament game can be heard Friday in the Albuquerque area on 101.7 FM as well as all its regular affiliates around the state.

MOTLEY: Baylor junior forward Jonathan Motley, the 6-foot-10 power forward who was pictured alongside Brown and later Baker in that online promo of Friday’s game, was named Monday a Second Team All-American by the voting members of the United States Basketball Writers Association. It is the first time a Baylor player has ever earned such an honor.

Motley this season averaged 17.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and blocked 1.0 shots per game. When the Bears hosted NMSU in 2014, the then-freshman scored 16 points, had five offensive rebounds and blocked five shots in Baylor’s win.

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