By Dave Burge
The New Mexico State University men’s basketball team has been handling business so far this season, and the scary thing is that the players believe they can do even better than their 11-2 record shows.
“I think we’re in a good place,” said Redshirt senior Clayton Henry. “It’s even better; We all know that we are still a long way from being as good as we can be. “
The Aggies finished the game without a conference with a winning streak of six games, including four straight wins. Those road wins consisted of narrow wins over arch rivals UTEP and the University of New Mexico, a win over Loyola Marymount despite making 26 sales and beating Pac-12 opponents Washington State 18 points behind.
“We’ve seen stats like 26 sales and all of that multiple times, and we’re still winning,” said Henry of Calgary, Canada.
“We just know that when we get a full game, it gets really scary (for the opponents),” added Henry. “We’re trying to get there.”
The Aggies finished the game without a conference with two home wins – 93-60 over Northern New Mexico on Dec. 18 and 84-59 over UT Permian Basin on Dec. 20, in a competition largely closer than this.
“As Coach (Chris Jans) always says, we are not a finished product,” says PhD student Yuat Alok. “We still have areas where we can improve and improve.”
Alok, who is from New Zealand, is in his freshman year with the Aggies, having previously played for Coppin State and Texas Christian.
“We just have to listen to the coach; he has a plan, ”said Alok. “We all have a role to play. We just have to grab the scriptures, gamble, and play as best we can. The result will be better than we all thought. “
Alok, like many of his teammates, brings a no-nonsense attitude to the pitch, but he also brings something else with him – a briefcase that he takes to every game.
It’s a reminder that he has a job to do. He also carries his Bible and some things to remind him of home.
“It’s (the briefcase) in our team color, so that’s a plus,” he said with a laugh.
Jans said the team has shown some determination and valuable experience that can help him during the Western Athletic Conference game.
“We were back across from Washington State at 6pm. They stuck together in the huddle and on the ground and found a way to keep competing, ”said Jans.
“We’ve talked about it since then,” he added. “It was really her defensive presence and her ability to make consecutive stops. “We have proven that we can win on the road. That will be huge for us for the rest of the year because we were there and did that. “
Jans said the team has been able to win in difficult environments and overcome adversity.
“These experiences will help this particular team in the future,” said Jans.
The team was able to take a longer break over the winter holidays, which was not possible last year because they were locked in a hotel in Phoenix during the pandemic.
“So this year we made damn sure we were taking a meaningful hiatus to make sure everyone has the opportunity to do this (hang out with friends and loved ones),” Jans said.
But now it’s back to business.
The state of New Mexico was scheduled to open the WAC game on Thursday, December 30th in Seattle U, but the game was postponed because
Covid protocols within the Redhawk program. Next, the Aggies will host Chicago State at 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 1st at the Pan Am Center.
“You just try to get better every day and prepare your team,” said Jans.
The Aggies hope that the factual approach will bring success and prosperity in the new year as well.