Lou Henson: New Mexico State as physical as Michigan State

Lou Henson doesn’t watch much less basketball now than he does when he was coaching. In fact, now that he’s retired and has every television package he can imagine and doesn’t have to concern himself with all of the other details of running a college basketball program, the former Illinois and New Mexico State coach may be more hoops obsessed than ever.

After two tenures in Los Cruces, in which he led New Mexico State to its only Final Four appearance in 1970, there is no team he follows closer than the Aggies. He has homes in both Los Cruces and Champaign, Ill., and he attends as many NMSU games as he can. His message to Indiana is that it needs to be prepared for a fight inside.

“They will probably be the most physical team Indiana plays this year as far as covering the posts,” Henson said. “They’ve got a 6-foot-6 guy who is one of the best rebounders I’ve seen in (Wendell) McKines. They have two really good athletic guards. They are a really athletic team.”

When reminded that Michigan State plays in the Big Ten where he once coached and the Hoosiers had to play them twice, Henson backed down, but only slightly.

“They’re just as physical as Michigan State,” Henson said. “They’re not as talented. They’re really physical and they shoot a lot of free throws. They beat everybody on the boards.”

The numbers, of course, back Henson up. New Mexico State has the third best rebounding margin in Division I and no one in the nation has shot more free throws. But they’ve come across those numbers in the Western Athletic Conference, which even he admits is down and would never bother to compare it to the Big Ten.

But the Aggies’ size, he says, still makes them special.

“They have a 6-10 guy on the wing,” Henson said. “And two or three other big guys. They’re just huge.”

New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies’s approach to building his program was slightly different than Henson’s was, but he’s trying to overcome the same obstacles. There simply aren’t enough Division I caliber players in New Mexico — or even in much of the surrounding area — to recruit regionally, so the Aggies coach has to be creative.

For Henson —who also took Illinois to a Final Four in 1989 using more conventional methods — that meant taking flyers on players that no one else wanted. It also meant recruiting a future pro in Sam Lacey from Mississippi who was available at the time because the SEC schools in his state hadn’t yet integrated the team.

“There are probably only two or three prospects from New Mexico every year,” Henson said. “… You’re going to have to get the player that was passed over by some of the big ones.”

Menzies, he said, has done that by using contacts outside U.S. boarders. The Aggies have five players on the roster from Canada, two from France and one from South Africa.

“You have to have contacts,” Henson said. “Otherwise, you are not gonna get a player like that. There are a lot of great players overseas. Maybe not as great as some of the players here, but they have size.”

Of course, Henson did point out that as much as Indiana will have to deal with New Mexico State’s size, the Aggies will have to deal with their speed and skill, and that won’t be easy either.

“When Indiana is hitting those 3-point shots, who knows how far they could go,” Henson said. “They’re highly skilled, of course, with Zeller inside. If they’re making threes and running and scoring inside, they could go a long way. But they better not take this team lightly.”

25 comments

  1. Can’t imagine that anyone on the Hoosier team or coaching staff is taking them lightly. Seriously, Henson thinks this is the most physical team IU will play this year? But, oh, wait, he forgot IU plays in the Big Ten. Indiana wins by +10.

  2. I’m sure the ‘appear’ to be as physical but you have to take into account the other teams on the floor with them. I’m sure they just brutalized Arkansas Pine Bluff, McNeese State, Idaho, Southern Mississippi, Western New Mexico, Cal State-Bakersfield, Central Michigan, Drake, etc.

    Some of them twice.

    There’s not a team on that list that Iowa wouldn’t crush.

  3. Nonetheless, I am hoping that IU does not take NMSU lightly,(think Minnesota & Nebraska). In the NCAA tourney a team like NMSU only needs to get a little confidence going & IU could get down & then look out. I agree that NMSU strength of schedule is not B10 caliber but I am still nervous. I hope that the ‘good’ IU team arrives ready to play in Portland. If IU gets Watford going early on, as well as Zeller, plus Jordy hitting some early shots IU should do well. Also, Victor needs to finish at the rim not just get there like he did against Wis. Layups are fine, but Vic…slam a few!! Go IU!!

  4. Do you really think our guys are going to go into an NCAA Tournament game taking ANYBODY lightly? This is the biggest game any of them have ever played in. They are pretty good in ‘big’ games.

    My subjective analysis of ‘big’ games this season has them winning every one except the tourney game to Wisconsin in which there were so many aberrations it’s hard to list them all…and they still could have won.

    I’m WAAAY more concerned about them playing at 9:45 at night against a western team.

    I think CTC will have them ready, though.

    You’re supposed to be nervous. It’s The Big Dance, baby!!

  5. I have a theory about 4guards/Jomama/whatever.

    He actually despises Steve Alford and his goal is to make the former Hoosier legend so unpalatable to IU fans with his postings that there is no way he would ever be accepted back into the fold in any capacity.

    He’s doing a bang up job, I must say.

  6. “It’s the big Dance baby!” I love it! I am not worried about the start time in the least. These guys would rather play a 9:45 game than one at 11 am or noon. When I was in college, 3 am was late. This game will be over at midnight. We started our night at midnight. I think the Wisconsin game had a little to do with losing VJIII and not having any time for the team to adjust to it. He is a leader on this team. The younger guys look up to him.

  7. So Lose Henson believes the Aggies are as physical as MSU and probably thinks more so than IU. …OKAY…

    RPI SOS

    MSU 3 1

    NMST 59 116

    IU 17 31

  8. In respect to the time issue, IU is on the West Coast, they are accliming right this moment, game time on the West Coast is 6:45pm, game over by 9:00pm. You will lose sleep but the team will be fresh and ready to play, hopefully.

  9. I have a theory about 4guards/Jomama/whatever.

    He actually despises Steve Alford and his goal is to make the former Hoosier legend so unpalatable to IU fans with his postings that there is no way he would ever be accepted back into the fold in any capacity.

    He’s doing a bang up job, I must say.

    Chet- I would gladly go searching the Scoop archives for the that exact same theory I had two years ago explaining why 4guards obsesses and drools over Alford. His anti-Crean/pro-Alford spiels operate in planned manipulative purpose to relentlessly antagonize until the opposing view is adopted out of mere disgust his continued hostility and “my way or highway” tactless indignant judgments. 4guards is likely part of the Christian right; anti-IU more than anything else. He would love nothing more than watching Indiana hoops digress into a narrow sanctimonious subculture; a rotting sect removed from the tolerance rooted in the traditions our storied basketball program and embraced in the halls of higher learning a university founded on diverse and liberal principles.

    It is that desire to ‘close off’ Indiana Basketball(much like those that go over-the-top with simplistic labeling those that embraced fundamental and inclusive principles an Indiana that looked beyond specific adherence to religious doctrines as the Knight-worshiping crowd)that puts our future, a stagnant resurrection rooted in intolerance anything outside the pious walls our castle, in potential gravest state.

  10. Christian right, anti IU, religious doctrines? There are church BB leagues all over this country.

  11. I don’t know if you guys know about tunicates. Their larvas resemble tadpoles. They drift through the ocean until they find a rock that they can affix to. They don’t really have a brain but they have a cerebral ganglion which controls their movement and in many ways is the equivalent of the human brain. Many physical changes occur to the tunicate’s body once it finds a place to cement itself to, one of the most interesting being that it digests it cerebral ganglion, since it doesn’t need it any more.

    Tunicates remind me of Chet. There he is drifting around and attaching itself to this blog. Whop! The brain is gone. Whenceforth hours and hours of mindless, incoherent, and thoroughly inconsequential blogging follow. Witness his latest idiocy: that there is a conspiracy of hate against Mr. Alford. (Well who was writin “Good luck in the NIT only last week?”) And then we have none other than Mr. Halva himself supporting the nutjob’s theory with ruminations on “planned manipulative purposes”.

    Idiots. Next time someone posts “Congratulations to Coach Alford” have the minimal decency to not say anything if your dim foreheads can’t muster anything good in response.

    So: Congratulations to Steve Alford for yet another great season! Never underestimate the heart of a champion!

  12. If the game was Friday, who knows how many posts, under various aliases, that Downing’s Fifth could post? D-5, another alias, is eloquent he just really doesn’t have anything to say, he’ll massage an ego or two along the way but eventually he’ll stick the dagger in an unsuspecting heart. For those of you who don’t shop at Wal-Mart, allow me to introduce you to the Scoop’s poet laureate, HARVARD FOR HILLBILLIES.

  13. I think we should all start sharing photo shots of our homemade dishes(pizzas, pastas, original sandwiches, burgers, grilled favorites)…I would love to see some mouth-watering digital pics of HT’s pizzas he’s described on Scoop.

    Recipe sharing could be another great way to bond with our fellow Hoosier bloggers. Things are bound to get quite dull once the Big Dance ends…Food for thought? JPat’s blueberry pancakes? Laffy’s tuna casserole topped with Parmesan dusted bread crumbs? Chet’s mountainous pulled pork sandwich? Tsao’s perfect fried chicken? 4guards Mahi Mahi tacos?

  14. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. ” Matthew 10;32

    The only person who cannot learn anything is the one who already is convinced that he knows everything. -Joyce

    It is the presence of Jesus Christ in your life – in your family – in your church – that empowers what you do.

    Evil is simply the result of rejecting God’s plan. -Joyce

    Jeremiah 17:7 – Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

    “Success is the realization of Gods will in your life.” Pastor Jack Graham

    God loves you and He is never ever too busy for you.

    Stop being a “people pleaser” and start being a God pleaser!

    God is always present, but we are not always paying attention. -Joyce

    Current week’s tally:

    God 4
    Someone named Joyce 3
    Lord 2
    Father 1
    Mathew 1
    Evil 1
    Jeremiah(not to be confused with Doc Rivers oldest son) 1
    Heaven 1
    Church 1
    Jesus Christ 1
    Verdell Jones 0

  15. HfH, Downing’s 5th, D-5, and other names, you are the biggest lying jerk on this blog. You can’t face the truth, so you make pity posts for TTG and Chet to buddy up to you, then you put a knife in their back. Your arrogance is not fooling everyone, just people like you who are here for self-indulgence. Wal-Mart is waiting your hypocrit self-indulgent posts!

  16. Harvard’s no battleship. More resembles a German U-boat, sneaks up and sinks civilian ships or hospital ships and cruises away and brags about his great exploits, once he gets home.

  17. It’s official alright. Much like Jordy Hulls against every superior defender in Division 1 hoops, sometimes Harvard is just too damn hot to handle.

  18. That’s right when you’re beat you play nice, you may even show a stupid link, oh wait you’ve already done that. Keep up the good work, you just prove a sane person’s point.

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  20. ^ I don’t know who posted this but I certainly hope that Dustin doesn’t delete it. If he feels the need to, I’d appreciate if he pointed out the offending word or phrase that would justify censorship! I hope he leaves it.

    I hope Chet isn’t hurt. I heard words can’t hurt him.

    I hope Tsao’s OK too. He might be the type to get hurt by words but there aren’t any above so…

    Chuckle.

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