New Mexico State surprise of WAC | NevadaAppeal.com

New Mexico State surprise of WAC

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

Through the first three weeks of conference play, the surprise story in the WAC is the performance of New Mexico State under first-year head coach Reggie Theus.

The Aggies are currently in a three-way tie for third with Nevada and Hawai’i. All three teams have 3-2 records.

“I think it surprised a lot more people around the WAC than it did myself,” Theus said during Monday’s weekly teleconference. “From the beginning, I said that we would out-work people. What we lack in numbers, we make up for in work.

“I told the team that if they play harder than everybody else that we would win our share of basketball games. We’re tied for third. That’s a tribute to our hard work.”

Nevada fans won’t get their first glimpse of the Aggies until Feb. 9 when Theus brings his young club, led by Tyrone Nelson, into Lawlor Events Center.

TEN IS BETTER

Every coach in the WAC believes it would be better if the conference had 10 teams because travel would be easier.

Nevada’s Mark Fox said it should only be done with certain stipulations, however.

“I’m against adding a 10th school unless we add a good one,” Fox said. “I don’t want them to add a team with a perennial low RPI.”

Fox wants to keep the league as strong as possible.

“It’s not an ideal schedule,” Fox said. “Hopefully we will manage better next year.”

The unbalanced schedule favors New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech because

they usually travel together and are always home at the same time. Boise State has six weeks where they are on the road for one and at home for one. That’s not an easy task given the crummy travel in the WAC.

HOSLEY HONORED

Fresno State’s Quinton Hosley was named the Xbox Live Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week.

Hosley, a junior, averaged a double-double last week as Fresno State split conference games against Nevada and Hawai’i.

Last Wednesday, Hosley torched Nevada for 35 points in an 87-77 win, going 10-for-14 from the field and 10-for-11 from the free throw line. He also pulled down seven rebounds, blocked four shots and had three steals.

Against Hawai’i, Hosley scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a 77-62 loss. It was his ninth double-double of the season.

THE SAGA OF HERNANDEZ

Fresno State’s Hector Hernandez has had to overcome a lot to take the court for the Bulldogs this year.

The 6-9 Hernandez had to undergo an emergency appendectomy in August while competing with the Mexico junior national team. Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland said Hernandez almost died as a result of complications from the surgery.

‘He was out eight weeks,” Cleveland said. “He has four holes in his stomach. He’ll have to be opened up again after the season, and he’ll be out for a month.”

Cleveland said Hernandez is improving his post defense despite the fact that he gives up some height and a lot of weight to opposing center.

Hernandez has to deal with day-to-day maintenance stemming from the surgery, according to Cleveland.

TROUBLES IN SAN JOSE?

San Jose State has been one of the worst teams in the Western Athletic Conference the last few years, but for some reason Louisiana Tech has had problems with the Spartans.

The Bulldogs have won three of their last four games at The Event Center in San Jose, but their performance has been sub-par, according to coach Keith Richard.

“We’ve struggled in that arena for the last four or five years,” Richard said. “I don’t know why we’ve struggled there,

“The first year (in the WAC), we played well there. I look at the stats, and not a lot of people are shooting the ball well there. It’s a difficult place for us to play.”

Part of the reason may stem from the fact that there is a lot of room behind the baskets; a big dead area. That open space could throw shooters off.

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281